Merle Explores The Gomez House - The Earliest Surviving Jewish Residence In North
The Gomez House or Mill House,
as it's known,
located just off 9W, five miles north of Newburgh, NY, on the Hudson River, is
not only the oldest house on the National Register of Historic Places in Orange
County and the earliest surviving Jewish residence in North America, it has been
continuously inhabited for more than 280 years.
Site of an ancient
Indian ceremonial ground; frontier trading post; earliest extant Jewish
residence in North America; center of patriot activity in the American
Revolution; home of writers and artists and men of affairs, it symbolizes Orange
County´s regional and national history.
In 1714 Luis Moses Gomez, who
had fled from the Spanish inquisition, purchased 6,000 acres of land along the
Hudson Highlands where several Indian trails converged. Here he built a
fieldstone block house into the side of a hill and by a stream that became known
as "Jews Creek."
The great walls of the house, about three feet thick,
still stand today. Native Americans came to hold ceremonial rites at their
campground at the Duyfil´s Danskammer, aka Devil Dance Chamber, on the shores of
the Hudson on Gomez´s property. Luis Gomez and his sons conducted a thriving fur
trade from the house for about 30 years and Luis Moses Gomez became the first
parnas (president) when the synagogue of New York´s Spanish and Portuguese
congregation was built. Among the family connections were poetess Emma Lazarus
and Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo.
Future ownership followed
with: Wolfert Acker, a Revolutionary War Patriot, who bought Mill House in 1772
and added the elegant second story, made from bricks baked in kilns on the
property; Harry Armstrong, Gentleman Farmer, who came to Gomez House in 1862 on
his honeymoon, brought his southern bride Maddie and stayed for the next 60
years; Dard Hunter, Artisan and Craftsman, in 1909 built a mill in the style of
a Devonshire cottage; Ms. Martha Gruening who tried to establish a Libertarian
school at Gomez House. Martha encouraged tolerance and the rights of all people;
The Starin family purchased Gomez House in 1947 and preserved its heritage and
tradition. The Gomez descendants took over and added their collection.
By Merle Exit
Tours of the Gomez House run Wednesday thru Sunday, from 10
a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more about the Jewish history of the Gomez House visit
Use this link to go to the New York Travel Guide