Located in the Stockade Historic District on Fair Street in Kingston, New York, this limestone building housed the first meeting of New York’s newly organized State Senate. There, delegates approved the State’s first Constitution in April 1777, having moved the state government to Kingston two months earlier—chased north from New York City by the British Army.
At the time, the building was already a century old, having been built 12 years after the British took control of New Netherland from the Dutch in 1664, re-naming it New York.
In October 1777, British forces entered Kingston, setting fire to its buildings, including the Senate House. By the late 1800s, the building, rebuilt, became a historic community site.
It is now restored to its 1777 state. Nearby, on North Front Street, is the Hoffman House, a Dutch Colonial style stone house built about 1679.
Portrait of John Jay, an author of the first New York State Constitution, painted by Gilbert Stuart, 1794, oil on canvas. Courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Washington
Portrait of Gouverneur Morris, an author of the first New York State Constitution, painted by James Sharples, 1810, pastel on paper. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Miss Ethel Turnbull in memory of her brothers, John Turnbull and Gouverneur Morris Wilkins Turnbull
A print of the Senate House in Kingston, NY. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library
A handwritten page of the first New York State Constitution, 1777. Courtesy of New York State Archives, Series A1802-78