YORKTOWN, N.Y. - From the outside, the Daniel Strang Homestead looks much as it did when first constructed in the 18th century. Recently named one of Yorktown’s Homes of Historic Distinction, the sprawling farmhouse was once the heart of a 200-acre farm and is now lovingly tended by current owners Jen and Sam Ward, who purchased the home in 2005.
Family patriarch Daniel Strang, his wife, Phoebe Purdy, and their eight children occupied this house from about 1714. Much of the colorful history surrounding the place centers on Strang’s son, also named Daniel. The younger Strang was charged with attempting to enlist men into the British army during the Revolutionary War and subsequently hanged in Peekskill. A rock outcropping beneath a portion of the house was rumored to have been a hiding place for British sympathizers.
If the elder Strang were to time travel ahead to 2016, he would find that his house looks much the same from the outside, with the exception of an addition on the north side of the house. Even the old well has been restored to working order. An original barn stands behind the house, complete with chickens and a chicken coop. Magnificent specimen trees Strang himself might have planted as saplings now shade the property. Inside the house, most of the rooms are faithfully refurbished to reflect the Colonial Era.
When Jen and Sam Ward moved into the place, however, the house was a true diamond in the rough. Water damage and a collapsed roof greeted the young family (with three toddler daughters) who accepted the challenges and gamely undertook one project at a time. Over the years, Sam Ward has completed most of the renovations himself. The home now boasts a spacious state-of -the-art kitchen—actually the oldest part of the house and the original homestead cottage—where a double oven now takes the place of the old beehive version. Off the kitchen is a dining room and a parlor, added circa 1799. Hanging on a hook near the front door is a giant brass key, which is the original 18th century key to the home.
Although the house is comfortable and up to date, Jen Ward is quick to point out the many projects still ahead—replacing flooring, renovating a bedroom, repairing porch eaves and possibly creating a four-seasons room out of a covered porch. She notes wryly that “nothing is ever square in an old house,” but it is easy to observe the genuine affection all the Wards feel for their home.
In February of 2016, the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission unveiled its Homes of Historic Distinction initiative. The program was planned to identify and celebrate historic homes throughout Yorktown, and since its inception, has proved to be an unqualified success. Nineteen homes have applied for the distinction and 15 are already featuring the distinctive plaque acknowledging an historic Yorktown building.
The Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission is always seeking applicants for the Homes of Historic Distinction program. To qualify, homes must have historical significance based on age, architectural style, past ownership or association with a person or event important to Yorktown’s history. The program involves placing plaques designating the basic facts about each house’s history. The Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission will work with each homeowner on appropriate wording for the plaque and will assist in research. The cost for the application and the plaque is $100. Applications are available online at yorktown.org/planning or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was submitted by the Yorktown Landmarks Preservation Commission as part of a series highlighting Yorktown Homes of Historic Distinction.