Pruyn House - The Buhrmaster Barn
Buhrmaster Barn History
The barn, now located at the Pruyn house, was one of a number of outbuildings on the Martin Cregier farm located on River View Road, along the Mohawk River. The Cregiers were a prominent Dutch family according to Albany annals and later located north of the Manor line, where they were not required to pay the usual fees to the Patroon as did the rest of the farmers in the Van Rensselaerswyck Manor.
Reconstruction contractors were visibly excited at the sight of many of the early features of the structure, such as hand-hewn beams and wooden pegs, which had been retained when the barn was rebuilt after a fire in the late 1800's, when the property was owned by the Lucas and Thomas Witbeck families, who also stemmed from early Dutch settlers in Albany.
The next owners were the Buhrmaster family who grew and shipped extensive farm crops on the Erie Canal, including hops for brewing beer in western New York. In 1910-1915 the Barge Canal was constructed on the banks of the Mohawk River to replace the outgrown Erie Canal and much of the farmland along the river flooded to accommodate the enlarged route. In 1911 the displaced Buhrmaster family moved from their home along the banks of the Mohawk River to their newly built home on Troy-Schenectady Road. Neighbors recall seeing the barn rolled up the hill on logs pulled by a horse with a bull-wheel (similar to the operation of a winch). This seems like quite a feat since the barn measures 40'x6"x5O' and 40' high, not counting the handsome Cupola at the top.
In 1987 the Albany County Legislature authorized (Certified Resolution #250) an agreement for Transfer of Title for the historic Buhrmaster barn. This barn was condemned by the Federal Aviation Authority and was acquired by the Friends of Pruyn house for the sum of $1 for the purpose of removal to the Pruyn house property on Old Niskayuna Road. The barn was dismantled and brought to the Pruyn house, where it was reassembled and restored. It was a replacement for the large barn that burned about 25 years ago. The Henkes family lived here at that time.
A grant for $25,000 was received from the New York State Legislature and matching funds of $25,000 were raised by the Friends of Pruyn House. The Town of Colonie then provided an additional $50,000 in order to complete the restoration.
The Barn has been used mainly for our Concert Series, Flower Shows, Quilt Shows and Contra Dancing and meetings. It has also been the site of many lovely weddings and receptions in the summertime when the gardens and grounds are at their best. Proposed uses include fund-raising events, such as antique and craft shows, theatrical performances and further exhibits. Other suggestions are welcome and will be considered.
Jean S. Olton Trustee '92