Guy Park Manor
|Location||W. Main St., Amsterdam, New York|
|NRHP Reference #||73001206|
|Added to NRHP||February 6, 1973|
Guy Park, also known as Guy Park State Historic Site, is a house built in 1774 in the Georgian architectural style for Guy Johnson, nephew and son-in-law to Sir William Johnson, 1st Baronet, the British Superintendent for Indian Affairs in colonial New York. He came to New York from Ireland, where he married Mary (also known as Polly), one of the senior Johnson's daughters with his first common-law wife, Catherine Weisenberg. In 1773 the senior Johnson gave his nephew and daughter a square mile of land near the Mohawk River as a wedding present, where they built their first house. The next year it was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
Guy Johnson commissioned a limestone house in the Georgian architectural style, which was built in 1774. After William Johnson died in 1774, Guy obtained the appointment from the Crown as British Superintendent for Indian Affairs and was determined to keep the powerful Iroquois on the side of the British in the face of increasing colonial tensions. A Loyalist, because of increasing local hostility related to the coming American Revolutionary War, Johnson risked imprisonment.
He gathered allies and friends and left the area in 1775 for Canada. His wife Polly died in Oswego during the journey. Johnson lived from 1776-1778 in British-occupied New York City. By 1779, he directed forces against the rebels in the Mohawk Valley from his headquarters in Niagara, Ontario. After the war, he returned to London, where he died in 1788.
In 1779 the new governments of the United States and New York declared Loyalists who had gone to Canada as traitors and confiscated their properties. The state sold Guy Park to a private owner. A steady flow of migrants moved along the road in the plain by the Mohawk River; it was a time of wide-scale settlement of former Iroquois lands by thousands of land hungry migrants from New England.
Guy Park was used for years in the early nineteenth century as a tavern and stagecoach stop, as it was on the Mohawk Turnpike next to the river, the main transportation routes west. Later, the house served again as a private residence for many years.
In 1907 it was purchased by the state for preservation as a historic site. In the early twenty-first century, it was adapted for use as a local history museum, the Walter Elwood Museum. Elwood, a history teacher, began collecting in the 1930s. The museum has featured exhibits from his large collection of local artifacts, ranging from objects crafted by the Mohawk and other historic Iroquois tribes of New York, as well as items related to the development and history of the Erie Canal, the local carpet industry, and the history of Amsterdam. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In August 2011, shortly after being occupied by the museum, the house was severely damaged by flooding of the Mohawk River in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. Half of two floors have been destroyed and contents soaked and scattered. The state has struggled to stabilize the building.
- Thomas, Earle, The Three Faces of Molly Brant, 1996, ISBN 1-55082-176-8
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Guy Johnson", Tryon County, NY, Rootsweb, accessed 10 October 2011
- Earle, pg. 69
- Liz Leyden, "Manor That Has Stood for Centuries Teeters in Storm's Wake", New York Times, September 1, 2011