The Nation’s Last Pre-Revolutionary Intersection

It’s home to four buildings, each dating back to the 18th century.
by | November 2014
David Kidd

One hundred miles north of Manhattan, just off the New York State Thruway in Kingston, N.Y., sit four stone houses, one on each corner at the intersection of Crown and John streets. It is said that the Four Corners, as it’s known, is the only remaining pre-revolutionary intersection in the nation. The oldest of the four buildings was erected in the mid-1600s, two were constructed in 1754 and the last one was built 240 years ago in 1774. Three years later, though, they all went up in flames. In 1777, the New York state constitution was ratified just two blocks away, and Kingston became the first capital of New York. In retaliation, the British burned the city to the ground, but Kingston and its Four Corners were rebuilt the following spring. Since then, the structures have been home, at various times, to several doctors, a school, a gallows, the Underground Railroad, a butcher shop, restaurants and a Sears appliance store. Three of the buildings are privately owned. The fourth, the Matthewis Persen House, is a museum, and has been the property of Ulster County since 1914. Nowadays, any fighting that takes place is simply a reenactment of the burning of Kingston or the occasional skirmish between historic preservationists and those with commercial interests.

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David Kidd | Design Director | dkidd@governing.com