The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has announced that the privately owned Nicoll House, perhaps the oldest house in New Windsor, will be available for tours on Saturday, September 1st. This will be a rare opportunity to visit this 1730’s farmhouse built along the Moodna Creek on the sight of the first settlement in New Windsor, and which has been carefully maintained over the years by a succession of conscientious homeowners who have appreciated the historic significance of the home.
Visitors to the Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point along the Hudson River and at the mouth of the Moodna Creek, may remember a plaque there citing the presence of the first settlement in the area by Captain Patrick MacGregorie and a group of fellow Scotsmen in 1685. Actually, this settlement was established on a nearby spot along the Moodna which can be accessed today from a driveway on the east side of Route 9W just next to the Moodna Creek bridge. And it was here that Dr. John Nicoll, another native Scot, bought the land in 1734 after it had become available following the death of MacGregorie. The present house was built by Dr. Nicoll and his son John Nicoll II around that time, and the son inherited the place at the doctor’s death in 1743. There, he raised four sons: William who went off to sea; the other three remained in the area and contributed significantly in the Revolutionary War. Leonard and John III both were in the local militia fighting against the British under Captain Thomas Machin, who helped design and install the chevaux-de-frise, the wood and chain device installed to halt the British ships from sailing up the Hudson. The plan was unsuccessful, and the British warships did make it through all the way to Kingston in 1777, sending canon balls into the settlements along the River and eventually burning Kingston, the capital of New York at the time. The cannonballs missed the Nicoll house, fortunately. Meanwhile Issac, the third brother, not only helped to build the battery on Plum Point to defend against the British, but he became the Sheriff of Orange County and helped to capture the notorious Tory outlaw Claudius Smith, bringing him to trial in Goshen where he was hanged.
The Nicoll family descendents helped to build the First Presbyterian Church at Bethlehem Road, and also built the 1842 mansion they called “Linden” on Nicoll Hill at the height of their acreage. That house is best remembered as the 20th century Coloni Funeral Home
Visits to the historic 18th century farm on Saturday, September 1st will be limited to two tours of 25 people. The first will begin at 1 p.m. and the second at 2:30. A $10 donation to the Historical Society secures a spot on one of the tours and can be booked online at newburghhistoricalsociety.com/events.