Colonial Houses of the Mohawk Valley

The Central Mohawk Valley in the mid-eighteenth century was colonial New York’s frontier of settlement. Houses were being constructed to create a new cultural landscape, replacing that of the Mohawk Nation with one which created and supported an English identity.  In 2009, I conducted fieldwork in the Mohawk Valley to explore this aspect of the colonial enterprise. This project will endeavor to gain a better understanding of the colonial landscape, and provide information to interpret the role of the landscapes in creating a new colonial identity for the residents of the Central Mohawk Valley. Two houses will be the focus of the project, Old Fort Johnson and Fort Klock, but the broader context of colonial settlement in the Mohawk Valley in the eighteenth century will be explored to develop a more complete understanding of this colonial frontier.


Old Fort  Johnson and Fort Klock were both completed in 1750. These houses were built by markedly different people within colonial English society, and their houses reflect that difference. Old Fort Johnson was a house of the rising colonial elite, and was constructed with a central passage like houses of a similar nature in New England and the Chesapeake. Fort Klock was built by German Palatine immigrants in the English style, but its central-chimney plan was comparable to the houses of the middle classes of New England. These two houses represent two very distinct social, economic, and political groups in colonial society. Both houses, designated as National Historic Landmarks in the 1970s, have been preserved and restored. Both sites are owned by non-profit organizations which have conducted extensive historical research on the houses and their owners; this body of knowledge will serve as the foundation for the current investigation.

This work is an expansion of my dissertation research. A summary can be found here in a conference paper from the SAA annual meeting in 2000:


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