NEW PALTZ, NY (February 18, 2015) – Historic Huguenot Street seeks documentation of fine examples from private and museum collections of 18th-and early 19th-century Dutch-style cupboards known as grote kasten (singular kast). The documentation and study of these kasten will ultimately be part of an exhibit, symposium, and fully-illustrated compendium planned for 2016.
Radcliff kas from the Historic Huguenot Street Permanent Collection
Although variations exist, the typical kast is a large, free-standing cupboard or wardrobe with two paneled doors surmounted by an over-scaled, molded cornice. The cupboard usually sits on a base with a single drawer or drawers and ball-shaped feet. Some simpler versions made by country craftsmen feature cut-out or stylized feet and may, or may-not have drawers. The planned study, exhibit and compendium will feature both styles.
“Kasten are known to have been made exclusively in New York, New Jersey, and coastal Connecticut beginning in the early colonial period and continuing, at least in the Hudson Valley, through the 18th century and into the early years of the 19th century,” explained Sanford Levy, Historic Huguenot Street Trustee and Vice President.
“As large, free-standing wardrobes, kasten were often the most valuable item owned by a family, and central to domestic life in colonial New York. While serving a utilitarian function as the primary storage for clothing, linens, and other personal and domestic items, these impressive pieces were quintessential to the furnishings of Dutch-American homes, signifying the heritage of the owners, as well as their wealth and social status,” said Josephine Bloodgood, Historic Huguenot Street Collections Manager. “In the 18th century, kasten were often conspicuously placed where they could easily be viewed and admired by visitors.”
Historic Huguenot Street exhibits one of the largest collections of Hudson Valley kasten in the country. In bringing more kasten to light, the exhibit will expand public knowledge regarding the historical uses, construction, and conservation of these important pieces of material culture.
To submit photos or information about kasten, please contact the Curatorial Department at Historic Huguenot Street at 845-255-0180 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century. It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve their French and Dutch heritage. Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.
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