l will open by disappointing you, fine reader, with a confession – I’ve never seen or listened to Hamilton the Musical, nor had I prior to yesterday ever visited the Schuyler Mansion. The first offense is probably more forgivable in light of the difficulty and expense of getting tickets, but there’s really no excuse for the latter. I live less than two miles from this fine historic site.
What finally brought me to the Schuyler Mansion was my 6th grader and a project on which he is working. His school, ASH, holds a Living History Museum each year and he selected Alexander Hamilton as his topic. To meet the requirements of the project he did some research, wrote an essay, prepared a display and will have to create a costume and a one-minute monologue which he will share with those who visit his display. It seemed to me that the time was right for a primary source visit to the place Hamilton made home for some years – and how lucky are we that it is literally right down the road?
After checking out the historic property’s website I learned that there is actually a Hamilton themed tour available and I quickly reserved for Quinn and me.
We arrived a few minutes early for our tour and checked in at the visitors’ center. As our group gathered, we browsed the small souvenir cases, took in some of the video displays, and did a little reading about the history of our city. Our group of about dozen gathered together and headed to the mansion next door a short time after 2:00.
For the next hour or so we learned about the Schuyler family, the city of Albany, life during the 18th century and one of Albany’s most esteemed former residents, Alexander Hamilton. While it’s hard to imagine the mighty Hudson flowing so much closer to the property than it does currently, it wasn’t difficult to see that Phillip Schuyler picked a choice setting for his family’s home. The plentiful windows provide a view in each direction and the interior is rich with luxurious fabrics, wallpaper and rugs.
The Mansion has surprisingly few rooms, 4 on each floor along with a large central interior area staged as a foyer on the first floor and a ballroom on the second. The public rooms, including two parlors and a somewhat more private study, provided a glimpse into the lives of what was a very wealthy area family. Our visit gave Quinn a wonderful understanding of the life Hamilton found himself in following his marriage (in this very house!) to Elizabeth Schuyler and I can’t wait to witness his portrayal of one of Albany’s most famous sons. While obtaining tickets for Hamilton on Broadway will set one back some serious cash, $5 for this informative and interesting tour was an absolute bargain.