The Greek Revival in Columbia County, New York


My great-great-grandmother, Martha Brandt, grew up in Ancram, Columbia County, New York. The Brandt’s neighbors possessed a good Dutch surname—Kipp. Just this October I was two towns north from Ancram, in Claverack, and stumbled upon an 1847 Greek Revival farmhouse for sale, and photographed it with the owner’s permission. Their last name is Kipp.

This line of the Kipp family had purchased the farm around 1900 from the Van Rensselaers, who had built it (see note below about my own descent from the early Van Rensselaer family). I had the pleasure of meeting two of the grown children who are selling the property—I thank them for the opportunity to record this place! The realtor, Tammy Molinski of Coldwell Banker, was also wonderfully gracious and patient as I pored over every detail of this remarkably preserved Greek Revival home.

The Greek Revival style was popular during the Early Republic, both as a show of solidarity with Greece as it fought its own war for independence, and as means of imbuing our new country with a semblance of history. Miss Columbia, America’s secular goddess symbol, was born from this same urge toward creating an American culture rooted in European history.

Background on me and Columbia County: Though my paternal grandmother’s farm in Pine Plains, New York was just 10 miles south of the Columbia County border, I’d never crossed that line until this year. The Shekomeko Creek passed through her land on its way north through Dutchess County to rendezvous with Columbia’s Roeliff Jansen Kill. The word kill, Dutch for creek, highlights the region’s history.

The Roejan, as it’s locally known, flows through the Town of Ancram. My maternal grandmother’s grandmother, Martha Brandt, was born and raised on Ancram’s west side, which could place the Brandt farm on the Roejan.

My mother’s mother had said that the Brandt family was Hudson River Valley Dutch. My own research showed this was mistaken: just as the Pennsylvania Dutch should be called Pennsylvania deutsch, Martha’s ancestors were born in Germany. Martha’s great-grandfather was a Hessian soldier hired by the British, who then defected to the Patriot side of the Revolutionary War. He settled in Ancram at the cessation of hostilities.

While the Brandts are on my maternal grandmother’s side, as noted in a previous post, my maternal grandfather descends from the Van Rensselaer family. The Van Rensselaer name passed from my lineage when Maria Van Rensselaer married Pieter Schuyler in 1691.