Located on 48 acres overlooking the Hudson Valley, Mount Guilan is a restored historic house museum in Beacon, New York. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is known for serving as the the headquarters of Major General Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben during the American Revolution. It was also here in 1883 that American and French officers founded the Society of the Cincinnati, the country's first veteran's fraternal organization. Mount Gulian continues to serve as headquarters for New York's chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati. Today, the museum offers children various educational programs for students such as exploring colonial life in the Hudson Valley and during the Revolutionary War. Also on the site is an 18th century barn, available to rent for weddings and other events, and a four acre garden.
Backstory and Context
1783 was a critical year in the history of Mount Gulian. The Continental Army's drillmaster and inspector general, General Baron Friedrich von Steuben, established his headquarters there and intensely trained the inexperienced American army. In that same year, the American and French armies established the Society of Cincinnati, intended to support veterans. Mount Gulian continues to operate as the New York headquarter to the Society of Cincinnati, one of 14 chapters still in existence.1
For 200 years, Mount Gulian acted as the home of the Verplanck family until it was tragically burned to the ground by an arsonist in 1931. it was more than 40 years later in 1975 that a reconstructed Mount Gulian was opened to the public for tours. Visitors today enjoy a trip back to Colonial America and can view artifacts gifted to Gulian Verplanck by the Wappinger Indians in the 1600s. Mount Gulian also offers a first-hand glimpse into the life of an escaped slave named James F. Brown. Brown served as head gardener at Mount Gulian and left his diaries for posterity.2
The historic gardens that Brown tended were designed in 1804 by Daniel Verplanck and his daughter Mary Anna. At the time of their creation, the gardens were six acres of flowers and vegetables, now the garden covers four acres. Brown managed the garden from around 1827 to 1866. In his diary he wrote about everything from births and deaths to his ferry excursions to Newburgh to purchase plants from the Andrew Jackson Downing nursery.3 Today Mount Gulian, which overlooks the serene Hudson River, serves as a premier setting for weddings and other events. More importantly, Mount Gulian serves as an education site for adults and children; a history that almost was forgotten.
2. Mount Gulian Historic Site. Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. Accessed June 19, 2018. http://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/sites/Mount-Gulian-Historic-Site/details.
3. The Garden. Mount Gulian Historic Site. Accessed June 19, 2018. http://www.mountgulian.org/garden.html.