Schenectady's home for history

Mabee Farm Historic Site

If you’re interested in making a donation to support the preservation of the Brick House, please click here.

The oldest farm in the Mohawk Valley (1705), Mabee Farm Historic Site offers visitors today vibrant educational and recreational opportunities. With its deep history and riverside beauty, it’s the perfect place to explore the heritage of rural Schenectady County and the Mohawk Valley.

Mabee Farm is home to three 18th century houses, an 18th century Dutch Barn, a number of wooden outbuildings, and our modern Franchere Education Center. Walk across weathered pine floors in the home of 18th century settlers. Say hello to our resident farm animals. Ogle the hand-pegged Dutch Barn (1760s) or just meander through our orchards, gardens, and forest trails. Tied to the dock float our reproduction 18th century bateaux, giving visitors an idea of how goods were shipped on the Mohawk River when Schenectady was America’s frontier.

Inside the Franchere Education Center, we host year-round exhibitions, lecture series, workshops, and school programs, conference space, plus extensive historical collections. A virtual map of Mabee Farm is available here.

About Mabee Farm

Jan Mabee and Anna Boorsboom were the first Europeans to permanently settle on this farm when they built their homestead in 1705. For them, this was the woestyne, a wilderness covered in deep brush and surrounded by forests filled with wild animals. Anna and Jan, along with eight of their children, built their home here. And for the next three centuries their descendants continued to develop and farm this land.

The Mabee family is not famous, and you won’t find them in any textbooks. Yet, their story is a deeply American story. The transformation of Mabee Farm from a colonial homestead into a prosperous farm, and now a dynamic historic site, is the culmination of generations of hard work, perseverance, daring, and change.

Though the Mabee family created a farm that thrived for three centuries, their success was not created alone. For 120 years, the survival and success of the Mabee family depended on enslaved Africans, whose forced labor was used to develop and expand an agricultural enterprise. Through the 1700s and 1800s, the Mabee family owned at least 14 enslaved Africans, who supplemented the work force of family members and hired hands. Unlike the Mabee family lineage, which is well documented and researched, the documentary record gives us little information about the enslaved people of Mabee Farm. Of these fourteen men, women, and children, only eight names are known: Anthony, Bate, Cato, Deen, Gin, Jack, Sam and Sip.

SCHS is actively working to uncover more information about the enslaved people at Mabee Farm, so that their stories may be justly told.

Preservation of the Brick House

SCHS just kicked off a $76,000 fundraising campaign with a goal to preserve the Brick House at Mabee Farm. Constructed around 1767, the Brick House’s most historically significant role was as a dwelling for enslaved people. When you visit the Mabee Farm, it’s inside the Brick House where you meet a few of the 14 individuals who lived enslaved at Mabee Farm between 1707-1827. 

Following a critical building conditions survey, engineers indicated that the 250-year-old building is leaning to the east, and needs significant stabilization work. This vital work, along with other necessary projects such as rebuilding the deteriorated basement doorway and staircase, will cost over $76,000. 

SCHS staff reached out to Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado, himself a native of Schenectady to bring this project to his attention. The Lt. Governor visited Mabee Farm Historic Site on October 30, and toured the Brick House slave dwelling. He was supportive of the project and thanked SCHS staff for “keeping this history alive for generations of New Yorkers to enjoy.”

In a letter to members, SCHS Executive Director Mary Zawacki further explained, “So that future generations can learn these important stories, it is vitally important to preserve this building. The Brick House – particularly its barren basement – is a tangible connection to the lives of enslaved Schenectadians. It is our duty as stewards of history to safeguard this structure so that future generations will be able to delve into the complexities of our shared past.”

If you’re interested in making a donation to support the preservation of the Brick House, please click here.


Visitor Information

Winter Hours (through June 2024): We are open Friday-Saturday with tours at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3pm.

Admission: $10; children, students (with ID), and SCHS members free

Group Visits: Please book in advance by emailing Michael Diana at educator@schenectadyhistorical.org.

Accessibility: The grounds, Franchere Education Center, and all historic buildings with the exception of the Brick House are wheelchair accessible.

Nature Trails: Our nature trails loop through one mile of forest, and feature abundant wildlife, diverse plants, a pond, and access to a small beach on the Mohawk River.

Address

1100 Main Street, Rotterdam Junction, NY 12150

Hours

Winter hours: Friday-Saturday with tours at 11am, 1:30pm, and 3pm.

Parking

In the large lot