Nancy O’Connor is the Friends of the Pruyn House president. The Friends are a non-profit organization that cares for, conserves and promotes the historic Pruyn House complex on Old Niskayuna Road. The complex features the former home of Casparus Pruyn. Built in the “high style” mix of Federal and Greek Revival between 1825 and 1830 for one of the last patrons of the storied Van Rensselaer Manor, the house is listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Since the town purchased the complex in 1983 for $110,000, the Buhrmaster Barn was added in 1987 and the Verdoy Schoolhouse was added in 1996. Through the years, a carriage house, a potting shed, a garden and smoke house were also added.
Q: The Pruyn House, the grounds, the Buhrmaster Barn and the Verdoy Schoolhouse are available for rental for weddings, private parties and meetings but the complex also hosts a number of events every year including Old Fashioned Sunday, a Holiday Greens Show, a Concerts in the Barn series and a host of programs for children and the community at large. What is your favorite and why?
A: I truthfully don’t have a single favorite. Each one of the events has a special appeal. The concerts are always fun and a great way to spend a summer evening. Old Fashioned Sunday is a wonderful tradition with many vendors present and numerous children’s activities and demonstrations available. It’s always great to see young families visit the grounds. We had our first Global Wellness Day in June where we had many wellness activities, exercise sessions and discussions and this turned out to be a fantastic day. On July 26, the Young Actors Guild will be performing Anne of Green Gables which we’re also looking forward to. We’re proud of all of our programs and the great variety of events we have available.
Q: The Pruyn House is the town’s educational, historic and cultural center of the town. Why is it so important to remember, and celebrate, the past when things move so fast on places like Central Avenue and Wolf Road?
A. It’s a beautiful living Historic and Cultural Center and a piece of our history that exists for all to explore and enjoy. We are very fortunate to have this gem in the Town of Colonie.
Q: What is your favorite room in the Pruyn House and why?
A. I would have to say the upstairs bedrooms, especially the southeast bedroom. It brings me back to my youth and reminds of my grandmother’s house in different ways. It also has the most beautiful doll house and doll collection which is every child’s dream.
Q: The Pruyn House complex has come a long way since 1983, including a facelift returning it to its original brick, what is in store down the road?
A. Yes, a lot of work and repairs have been done to the house and the work is ongoing. Shutters will be going up in the not too distant future and we will also be adding additional outdoor lighting to the grounds, thanks in large part to the generosity of the Friends’ contributions to our Annual Appeal. We also received a very generous grant from the National Daughters of the American Revolution which will be put towards the refurbishment of the barn doors. This will be completed by June, 2023. There is no shortage of repairs and improvements and the list is ongoing.
Q: If you could have lunch with Casparus Pruyn, what would you like to talk about?
A. I would like to talk to him about his business. He was an accountant, business and land agent and his role was to collect the rents from approximately 900 farms. I would also be interested in knowing what gave him the vision to build this beautiful home.
If you would like to see someone featured in Five Questions contact Jim Franco at [email protected] or 518-878-1000.
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