On November 16, 2022, the Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site in Yonkers, New York was reopened after a $20 million renovation of the building and grounds, as well as the design of new exhibits.
These new exhibits advance the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation‘s Our Whole History initiative, which is an effort to ensure that the state’s historic sites embrace stories that reflect the diversity of our state and nation’s history.
Yonkers Downtown Waterfront BID Director Sara Brody said, “The reopening of this beautiful National Historic Landmark here in the City of Yonkers is very exciting for the community. Philipse Manor Hall, with its upgrades and updates, is another great attraction to not only bring out the local community but visitors from across the County and New York City to visit Downtown Yonkers. While visiting the museum, we encourage everyone will also take the time to explore all of the remarkable restaurants, shopping, places to live, coffee shops, and art galleries. With the holidays approaching, a membership to the museum would be the perfect gift for any historian or art enthusiast. Thank you to New York State for this investment in the growth of the Downtown and for the rest of the City of Yonkers.”
Philipse Manor Hall is a National Historic Landmark and a Yonkers City Landmark; a status that informed State Parks’ approach to the rehabilitation of the site.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “We do not show history through subtraction, we show history through telling the whole story. With the addition of key Yonkers figures and milestones, Philipse Manor Hall will now be a place that takes our residents and visitors on a bona fide journey. I want to thank our partners at the state level for this investment which will document and preserve our city’s growth and development for generations to come.”
In addition to the architectural restoration of the Hall, the grounds and building have been updated to improve accessibility, which includes a newly constructed, discreet rear addition that houses new bathrooms and an elevator.
Friends of Philipse Manor Hall Board President Dave Martin said, “The restoration and renovation of Philipse Manor Hall has undoubtedly produced a world class museum.”
The new exhibits have been designed to meet the needs of multilingual speakers, the hearing and visually impaired, visitors with wheelchairs and walkers, and is sensitive to visitors of all ages, abilities, and cultural experiences.
Prior to its reopening, Philipse Manor Hall received approximately 15,000 visitors a year, and renovations are expected to double the amount of visitors to approximately 30,000 a year.
The exhibits are additionally offered virtually for those who are not able to visit the site in person, which expands the reach of the site’s dynamic history to an international audience. A website devoted to additional historic and interpretative content called the “Virtual Wing” will include a 360° virtual tour.
The new exhibits incorporate the journeys of the Philipse family, the indigenous people from whom the Philipse lands derive, and enslaved Africans, whose work and trade allowed the Philipse family to prosper during the pre-Revolutionary era. While past exhibits and lectures have documented the role that Africans and indigenous people contributed to New York State history, these expanded permanent exhibits more fully depict and share this complex history with visitors.
Assemblymember Daniel J. O’Donnell said, “I am thrilled to re-open Philipse Manor Hall, and for its next era of creating community, connection, and education for locals and tourists alike. Tourism not only drives the New York economy, bringing jobs and revenue to local destinations across our State, it also sparks our imagination. By connecting us with our past, historic sites allow us to learn and grow to create a better future. I am proud of New York State’s dedication to expanding the accessibility and diversity of the stories we tell about our history and pleased with the investments and renovations at Philipse Manor Hall. I look forward to an exciting future for this treasured historic site.”
The exhibits include a variety of interactive elements including augmented reality experiences, touch, sound – including the languages heard in the colonial period, Munsee, Dutch and KiKongo – and smell elements in support of diverse learning experiences.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Today is an exciting moment for Philipse Manor Hall as it reopens with a new focus. The newly permanent and accessible exhibits will help visitors more fully understand all that Africans and Indigenous people contributed to the history of New York State and the City of Yonkers. I encourage everyone to visit, and congratulate Philipse Manor Hall and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on the reopening.”
In addition, New York State is partnering with the Municipal Housing Authority of Yonkers (MHACY) and Yonkers Arts to curate an exhibition about the late rapper and actor Earl Simmons, the also known as DMX. The exhibition, “Look Thru My Eyes: a DMX Story,” will open later this year. The exhibition is co-curated by Ray Wilcox of Yonkers Arts with curation and creative support from Raissa Fitzgerald and Wilson Kimball of MHACY.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, “I want to thank Governor Kathy Hochul for investing $20 million in Philips Manor Hall, one of the oldest National Historic Landmarks in our beautiful County. The Manor House dates back to the 1600’s and was home to Frederick Philipse III, and also served as the first Yonkers Village Hall in 1872. This extensive restoration brings the site up to the 21st Century and will allow future generations to experience its rich history through new art, exhibits, presentations and educational programs.”
These updates align directly with State Parks’ Our Whole History initiative. Our Whole History’s approach is to provide multiple perspectives to create relevancy and meaning.
Assemblymember Nader Sayegh said, “The City of Yonkers has always recognized, appreciated and enjoyed the historical significance of Philipse Manor Hall. Thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul’s leadership, New York State will provide $20 million for the restoration of exhibits which will provide greater awareness of the Region’s Indigenous Peoples and Enslaved Africans, as well as their history. This remarkable effort will allow generations of New Yorkers to understand both our State and our Nation’s “whole History” by embracing and reflecting on our diversity. We’re excited at what this project will teach all of us, and I look forward to its successful completion in the near future.”
New York State’s ownership of the site was established through benefactor Eva Smith Cochran, who entrusted the state to preserve the site in perpetuity for the benefit and education of New Yorkers. Prior to this, the site served as the Village of Yonkers and subsequently, City of Yonkers City Hall.
New York State Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid said, “This commitment to new exhibits, interpretation, and programming across our historic site system better depicts the diversity, humanity, and influence of our state’s peoples and further highlights the role that traditionally under-represented communities have played in shaping our state’s history.”
The new exhibits additionally explore these eras of transition and the gift from Cochran to the City, as well as the transfer to the state for the site’s preservation and interpretation for the benefit of all New Yorkers and visitors.
“Philipse Manor Hall provides a unique window into early Colonial-era life in New York and lends itself to telling the first chapters of the nation’s path to independence,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“The people who lived, worked and traded at the Philipse family home in the 18th century had a tremendous impact on shaping the lower-Hudson Valley. This renovation of Philipse Manor Hall reflects New York State’s strong commitment to preserving our shared heritage – illuminating the full spectrum of our state’s diverse culture and history,” she concluded.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which are visited by 78 million people annually.
Photo courtesy of New York Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.