When you are in the New York Metropolitan area, be sure to visit the DeWint House, George Washington’s temporary Headquarters at Tappan on four separate occasions during the American Revolutionary War.
Known as the De Wint House, after the family who owned it during Washington’s visits, it is the oldest surviving structure in Rockland County, New York, and an outstanding example of Colonial Dutch architecture in the Hudson Valley.
Washington’s first stay at the House was from August 8 to 24, 1780, while he was inspecting a redoubt on the Hudson. Major Frederickus Blauvelt, the son-in-law of Johannes and Antje DeWint, who owned the house at the time, invited Washington to stay with the family.
Later, when the American Army had moved to Orangeburg, Washington returned on September 28, through October 7, 1780, for the trial and subsequent hanging of the British spy, Major John André. André had been captured after a meeting with American General, Benedict Arnold, at which they made plans to betray the fortifications at West Point.
Three years later – May 4 through 8, 1783 – while negotiating the final withdrawal of British troops from New York City with British General, Sir Guy Carleton, Washington and his key staff again headquartered at the De Wint House. Samuel Fraunces (owner of Fraunces Tavern in New York City) came up to prepare the dinner Washington hosted for the British General.
That winter (November 11-14, 1783) on his trip to visit West Point, and later to New York City where he tendered his resignation, Washington was forced to stay again at the DeWint house during a terrible snowstorm. During the War he had forbidden his soldiers to play cards because it took time away from the pursuit of the war. Now, with the fighting over, a much more relaxed Washington took off his boots and played cards.
As new families occupied the house, changes were made to the basic structure. After DeClark’s death in 1731, the house remained in his family for several years and then was sold to Rem Remsen of Brooklyn. The DeWint family, from the West Indies, owned the house from 1746 to 1795, which covers the period when Washington visited.
The Great Depression was at its height when the Grand Master of New York Masons, Charles H. Johnson, heard that the house was about to be sold for commercial use and possibly torn down. Recognizing the historic importance of the site, and its association with George Washington – who was a Mason for all of his adult life – the Masons purchased the DeWint House and the surrounding property. The Masons have maintained the buildings and grounds for over six decades as a National Historic Site and memorial to General Washington. The property has been open to the public, free of change since 1932.
After its purchase by the Masons, planning began immediately to restore the house to its condition at the time of General Washington’s four visits. In 1993-1994, the Grand Lodge of New York Masons made a major commitment to the restoration of “Washington’s Headquarters” at Tappan with the goal of putting the house in the same condition as it would have appeared to Washington during his visits.
Today, as you enter the front door of His Excellency’s Headquarters, it will be as if you were walking in his footsteps as you experience the results of the careful research and planning that led to this historic restoration.
Upon returning from the Civil War, Dr. Smith, built the basic building now known as the “Carriage House”. Today the building is used as a museum and visitor center. Inside are displays and exhibits which interpret the house and property, descriptions of the four visits of George Washington, as well as documents and artifacts which pertain to Washington’s life as a man and Mason. A video is also available for viewing and purchase.