Cherry Hill Mansion is a historic home located on South Pearl Street… right in my backyard… no literally in my backyard of my house in Albany, New York. It is dated to the late 18th century.
It was built by Colonel Philip Kiliaen van Rensselaer for his bride Maria Sanders, who was the granddaughter of Peter Schuyler. These are all very big names in the capital region. Many cities, streets, and areas are still named and dedicated to these people.
During the early 19th century, it was the home of Solomon van Rensselaer, who served in Congress. It eventually became the manor house of a large farm. When looking at our street now, you’d never think the Port of Albany had such extensive farm lands, but it did!
Within several years during the 1820s it was the scene of a murder, known as the Cherry Hill murder. It is reputedly haunted too! I love everything true crime and with it being about something so close, literally to me, it’s even more intriguing.
I’ll give you a brief synopsis…
Among the 17 people living there in 1827 was John Whipple, a prosperous businessman who had married into the van Rensselaer family. His wife, Elsie Lansing, became romantically involved with Jesse Strang, a drifter who had left his own wife and children in Putnam County. He was living under an assumed name as one of the servants in the house. Elsie and Jesse plotted together to murder Whipple. Strang was caught and confessed to the whole act thinking that the establishment in Albany would never hang Elsie and thus spare him the same fate. But not a chance bub….while he was convicted and sentenced to death, she was acquitted. His execution was the last public hanging in the city’s history. The affair drew national attention, and many thought Strang a victim of socioeconomic inequities of the time. Escandolo!
Van Rensselaer’s descendants lived there for nearly two centuries, preserving intact not only the original interior finishes but also its furniture, portraits, kitchen ware and family documents. Since their tenure, it has been operated as a historic museum by the Historic Cherry Hill Association.