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Philipse Manor Hall

On November 28, 1776, the same year that fifty–six Americans signed the Declaration of Independence, well over two hundred colonial New Yorkers placed their signatures on a “Declaration of Dependence.” These signers were Loyalists, citizens who remained faithful to their sovereign, George III, King of Great Britain. Prominent among the signatures was that of Frederick Philipse III, Lord of the vast Manor of Philipsburg and resident of the elegant mansion known today as Philipse Manor Hall.

Surrounded by the City of Yonkers, Philipse Manor Hall stands on a site which was inhabited long before Europeans settled these shores. The Algonquian –speaking Lenape Indians called it “Nappeckamack,” or “trap fishing place,” because fishing was so plentiful on the nearby Nepperhan, or “trap,” River. In 1646, Dutchman Adriaen van der Donck obtained a grant for the region from the Dutch West India Company, secured this title by purchasing the land from the Indians, and built a saw mill on the river. The Nepperhan has since become know as the Saw Mill River. The City of Yonkers attributes its name to Adrian Van der Donck, for he was a “youncker,” or young nobleman, and his property came to be called “the Youncker’s Land”.

Van der Donck gave Yonkers its name; however, the real founder of the city was another Dutchman, Frederick Philipse I. Philipse came to New Amsterdam in the early 1650s as carpenter for Governor Peter Stuyvesant. Through trade, land acquisition, and a strategic marriage, Philipse amassed a fortune. In 1672, Philipse purchased the Yonkers’ Nepperhan mill site. This was the beginning of what would become a 52,500-acre estate which was established by a royal patent in 1693 as the “Lordship or Mannour of Philipsborough.”

By that time, Philipse had already been operating profitable grist mills at both his Yonkers property, or the “Lower Mills,” and his “Upper Mills” site on the Pocantico River, located in what is today the village of North Tarrytown. Philipse constructed a dwelling at his Lower Mills site in the 1680s, although his main residence was in Manhattan. Around the Yonkers site clustered the mills, barns, and other structures from which developed the present city. When Frederick Philipse I died in 1702, the Manor was divided between his oldest surviving son, Adolph, who received the Upper Mills, and his orphaned grandson, Frederick II, who received the Lower Mills and the Manor House.

Frederick Philipse II came of age and into the title of Lord of the Manor in 1716. As Commissioner of Roads for the colonial government of New York, Frederick II established the Albany Post Road (from New York City to Albany), which would later become Broadway. He also designed New York’s first public park, Bowling Green, and represented British royal authority at the famous “freedom of press” trial of John Peter Zenger. The Manor Hall served as his family’s summer residence. When his Uncle Adolph died in 1750, Frederick II inherited the plantation at the Upper Mills, bringing the entire Manor of Philipsburg together once again, and allowing Frederick II’s son, Frederick III, to inherit the Manor intact.

Generally known as Colonel Philipse, Frederick Philipse III appears to have had little interest in either the mercantile, political, or legal endeavors of his forebears. Instead, he seemed more inclined towards enjoying the rewards of gracious country living. A man of refined taste, he was determined to make the Yonkers mansion a showcase of English gentility and the principal family seat.

Frederick Philipse III and his family lived in luxury, well–supported by rents from the many tenant farms on his property. But times were changing, and while others rebelled against Great Britain, Frederick III defended the Crown. His Loyalist beliefs were so strong that, under orders from General George Washington, he was arrested in 1776. He and his family later fled to British–occupied New York City and then to England, where the last “Lord of the Manor,” broken in spirit and health, died in 1786. His land and his mansion were confiscated by the New York State Legislature and sold at public auction.

Philipse Manor Hall passed through the hands of several owners in the years that followed. As the nineteenth century progressed, an urban community developed around the mansion. In 1868 the building was purchased for use as the village hall, and soon after became the first city hall for the ever–expanding City of Yonkers. By the twentieth century, city growth threatened the Manor Hall's future. Fortunately, in 1908, Mrs. Eva Smith Cochran of Yonkers generously provided the means for New York State to purchase the building. Open as a museum of art and history since 1911, Philipse Manor Hall, home to the Cochran Collection of American portraiture, has in recent years made great strides in the areas of education and curriculum development, establishing valuable partnerships with the Yonkers Board of Education and other community groups. The result of these efforts has been the fostering of a greater sense of local pride and awareness among Yonkers students, as well as amongthe citizens of the greater Yonkers area.

Yonkers Civil War Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument

The Yonkers Civil War Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument that stands in front of Philipse Manor Hall at the corner of Warburton Avenue and Dock Street was erected on September 17, 1891 to “honor the men of Yonkers who fought to save the Union” in the Civil War.

Honoring the Yonkers patriots of the Civil War was so significant that a book entitled “Yonkers in the Rebellion of 1861-1865” by Thomas Astley Atkins and John Wise Oliver was published in 1892. The book contained a “history of the erection to honor the men of Yonkers who fought to save the Union” and provided the information contained herein. The concept of a monument was first made by William Allen Butler in 1888, who subsequently appointed several prominent Yonkers citizens to the Yonkers Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument Committee. In early 1889, the Committee had a fund of $98. By 1890, subscriptions brought the amount of $5,489. The fund was augmented when Mr. Butler offered what is today called a “matching grant” – that is, if subscriptions totaled a certain amount, he would match it. The match brought in an additional $2560. By the time negotiations to build the monument were entered into with George Mitchell of Chicago, donations had totaled $10,500.

Visiting Philipse Manor Hall

April - October on Tuesday to Friday 12 noon - 5:00 PM, Saturday-Sunday 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM. November-March on Saturday-Sunday 12 noon - 4:00 PM. Tours are on the hour. Last tour one hour before closing. Closed holidays.

Specifics on visiting Philipse Manor Hall were correct at time of publication. We would suggest that you confirm dates and times prior to your visit.
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