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History


Schlesinger's Story


The Brewster House
New Windsor, New York

The Brewster House was built in 1762 and began as a simple fieldstone house that Samuel Brewster built during Revolutionary times. Originally the house consisted of one large room with two smaller rooms in back, each with a single window, while the upstairs was built as a loft.

Although the house was modest, its location made it useful for officer's quarters. In 1781, an order from Washington's New Windsor Headquarters read: "A sergeant, corporal and twelve privates to be sent immediately as a guard to Lord Stirling's quarters at Deacon Brewster's one and a half miles north of General Knox's quarters."

It is also believed that Joel Barlow, army chaplain and poet (and later minister to France) may have been quartered here. One legend tells that Washington was so impressed by the youthful Barlow's sermon at West Point at the treason of Benedict Arnold that he invited him to dinner, placing him at the right hand while Stirling sat on the left.

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Samuel Brewster was the great grandson of a Long Island minister (who had been a member of the first class at Harvard). Samuel and his brother Henry came to New Windsor about 1743 and had been among the first proprietors of the township in 1749. Later he held the town officers of assessor and overseer of the poor. When the Presbyterian Church of New Windsor was organized in 1764, he was chosen an elder. Perhaps it was from his church activities that he earned his title "Deacon".

Brewster was a member of the Committee of Safety during the American Revolution. He is mainly remembered in local history as the owner of a saw-mill, forge and anchor shop and assisted in forging the chain which was stretched across the Hudson River in the hope of checking the movement of British vessels up that stream.