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Duanesburg Town


Duanesburg Town Hall is located at 5853 Western Turnpike, Duanesburg NY 12056; phone: 518-895-8171.

Beginnings [1]

Duanesburg derives its name from its founder and proprietor, the Hon. James Duane (1733-1797) of New York City, who was a respected jurist and influential New York delegate to both sessions of the Continental Congress. During the Revolution, Duane was devoted to the cause and applied himself tirelessly to its successful conclusion, playing an invaluable role in its financing. After the war, in 1784, Duane was appointed mayor of New York City. In 1788 he was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention, and under the new constitution was nominated by President Washington to become the first federal District Judge of the New York District, retiring in 1794.

In pre-colonial days, the rolling hills of present day Duanesburg served as hunting grounds for Mohawk Indians from settlements along the Mohawk River and the Schoharie Creek. European settlement and land speculation reached the area in the early part of the 18th century. In 1741, James Duane's father, Anthony Duane, a New York City merchant, purchased 6000 acres of Albany County wilderness, which he later bequeathed to his four sons. Through inheritance and purchase, by 1764 James Duane had acquired a Christ Episcopal Church total of 20,000 acres in the wilderness west of Schenectady.

On March 13, 1765, by action of the Governor and colonial Council, the Town of "Duanesburgh" was created with 42,000 acres included within its boundaries. Duane had the land surveyed and laid out in 100-acre farms called "great lots."

Duane worked tirelessly to populate his town, vying with numerous competing 18th century land developers, most notable among whom was Sir William Johnson. In 1765 Duane was successful in attracting a group of German families from Philadelphia, and a few years later a large group of Scotsmen (hence, Scotch Ridge Road and the Duanesburg Presbyterian Church). Duane continued to acquire land, ultimately owning 36,000 acres in Duanesburg. By the time of his death in 1797, all of the farm lots were occupied. For most of its first century, Duanesburg was a sleepy farming community. However, by the middle of the 19th century, the railroad made its way through the heart of the town. By 1907, the Village of Delanson had not only taken its name from the railroad responsible for its founding (Delaware and Hudson), but it hosted a major depot and boasted the largest coaling station in the world.

With US Route 20 (the Great Western Turnpike), the nation's longest highway, cutting through the town, the automobile brought the world to Duanesburg's door in the first half of the 20th century. Today, Duanesburg remains a characteristically rural community, but with the completion of I-88 in 1980 providing easy access to the greater Capital region, the town has become a bedroom community for the cities of Schenectady, Albany and Troy.

The Town's present layout remains much the same as it was throughout the 19th century: farmsteads with hamlets and villages at the major thoroughfares. Of the eight historic byways, five communities remain intact of significant historic concentrations of properties: the Village of Delanson, the larger hamlets of Quaker Street, Mariaville, and Duanesburg Four Corners, and the small hamlets of Eaton's and Braman's Corners. These settlements contain important and broad ranges of architectural styles, including pre-Federal, Federal, Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne/Eastlake and Colonial Revival designs. The Town contains numerous structures identified in the New York and National Registers of historic places, among them Christ Episcopal Church consecrated in 1793, the Quaker Street Meeting House built in 1807, the North Mansion built in 1791, and the Duane mansion built in 1812. There are 55 cemeteries and at least 15 natural sites of interest such as Christman Sanctuary, Sheldon and Undine Falls, Schoharie Creek Gorge, Featherstonaugh State Forest, and Sheep Dip on South Chucktanunda Creek.

  1. Comprehensive Plan Committee, Town of Duanesburg Comprehensive Plan, 2006, Town of Duanesburg, Schenectady County, New York; www.duanesburg.net, accessed January 2008.
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