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Signs to tell the story at Pruyn House

Written information and graphics will make site’s history more accessible

A new educational initiative at the Pruyn House aims to bring visitors back to the 19th century home and focus on what makes it such an important historic site.

As the 30-year anniversary of Friends of the Pruyn House comes to a close, the Friends have passed a resolution to create a task force that will create new informational signs around the property.

“There is very little written info and graphics around the house so we are creating the task force to explain different rooms and buildings,” said Frank Miller, who is a treasurer and member of the board of trustees for the organization.

The Friends of the Pruyn House is a nonprofit, community organization that operates the cultural and historic building and grounds in the Town of Colonie.

In a statement from the Friends of the Pruyn House, president of the board of trustees Mary Brizzell said that the task force will develop informational materials, displays, signs and exhibits that will highlight the historical and cultural significance of the house in 1830s, when it was occupied by the Pruyn family.

Casparus F. Pruyn was a rent collector for Stephen Van Rensselaer III and covered the last Patroon of the 600-square mile territory known as the Manor of Rensselaerwyck. On the property, there is also a carriage house, privy, smokehouse and the Verdoy Schoolhouse, which was moved there in 1996.

The signs will include facts about the family, the Van Rensselaer Patroonship and important political events. The first part of the project will be creating informational signage for the inside of the mansion.

“One sign will talk about the Patroonship, and another sign will talk about education in the 1830s. Other signs will talk about what their meals were like,” said Miller.

The task force, which is still selecting members, is in the process of finding a sign-making business to help them. Miller said the Albany Institute of History and Art has agreed to make the signs. The indoor signs will be made of a 2-by-3-foot laminate and sit on an easel. The outdoor signs will be permanent and made of a durable material.

Jennifer Hull Dorsey, a professor at Siena College, has volunteered to serve as a mentor to the task force and said the new project will provide research opportunities for Siena students.

The president of the Friends of the Pruyn House appoints members of the task force, and the executive committee has to approve of the selections. The project is being funded by donations and bequests.

“It was an exciting period in our history. The Erie Canal was built in 1825, and the end of slavery and the beginning of women’s suffrage was coming up,” said Miller.

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