Historic Cherry Hill

and the Edward Frisbee Center for Collections & Research

Our Story

More than just a historic house museum, Cherry Hill is a family home brimming with thousands upon thousands of artifacts and manuscripts spanning three centuries. After five generations of Van Rensselaer family ownership, Emily Rankin, the last Cherry Hill descendant, bequeathed her house and its contents to “the people of New York State.” It opened as a museum in 1964, one year after her death.

Emily probably envisioned Cherry Hill as a place to celebrate her ancestors and a bygone way of life—but today it is so much more. With award-winning educational programs and a critically acclaimed public tour, Cherry Hill helps students build critical thinking skills and encourages visitors to use history to understand their own places in the world.

Our Mission: Historic Cherry Hill invites visitors and researchers to explore American history through the unique lens of one Albany household and, through intimate encounter with the past, encourages audiences toward new perspectives on their own stories and place in history.

Our Vision for Cherry Hill's Future

Our Vision:  Historic Cherry Hill will be a vibrant community anchor, a recognized research center, and a focal point of heritage tourism.

Prior to 2003, the entire collection—70,000 items strong—was housed in the 1787 structure. Through the years, this weight caused significant damage to the museum's largest artifact—the house itself. The museum's emergency response was to build The Edward Frisbee Center for Collections & Research.

The Frisbee Center opened up exciting opportunities for Cherry Hill: to make collections accessible to students and researchers in a way that they never were before--and, with the weigt of collections removed from the attic, to finally restored the historic house.

  • Restoring the nationally significant 1787 historic structure

    This extensive project involves structural stabilization, window restoration, and environmental improvements. All of this work is necessary to safeguard the historic structure and collections exhibited within it.

The restoration work began in 2009, and--when all is said and done--it will have taken ten years and $2 million to complete.  We are finishing the final phase of work this year and look forwared to welcoming visitors once again into the restored house, its rooms once again overflowing with five generations of Van Rensselaer treasures.


  • restoration restoration restoration


Want to help us finish the job? Join the Collection Connection Campaign! Learn more

Board and Staff


Executive Committee

  • Maryrita Dobiel, Esq., President
  • Robert Englert, Vice President
  • James Campbell, Treasurer
  • Erin Leary, PhD, Secretary
  • Hon. Lynne Lekakis, at-large


  • Krysta Dennis, PhD

  • Richard Hendrick
  • Frederick Schrock


  • Deborah Emmons-Andarawis, Executive Director
  • Lauren Mastin, Business Manager
  • Janine Moon, Collections & Facilities Assistant
  • Shawna Reilly, Director of Education
  • LaReina Torain, "History Is Now" Teaching Assistant
  • Meghan Willis, Education Assistant


Community Advisory Board

The CAB counsels on a variety of topics and museum initiatives, by way of quarterly meetings, focus groups, and surveys. Their work supports the museum's mission to preserve local history through educational programs, our commitment to equitably serving our diverse audiences, and our vision to become an anchor in our community.


To learn more about HCH's community initiatives, contact the Director of Education at shawna@historiccherryhill.org.


  • Kallyn Alexander
  • Shameka Andrews
  • Dan Barker
  • Lurvin Calix
  • Kori Graves, PhD
  • Lindsay Kesten-Slater
  • Maeve McEneny
  • Sue Silverstein-Gilligan
  • Bryony Spaziani


Historic Cherry Hill's 2022 tour season is from Friday, May 6 through Saturday, November 26.

For information about educational programs for schools and groups, visit our Programs page.


Covid-19 Safety Protocol: We will continue to follow the most current recommendations from the NYS Department of Health and the CDC. Visitors are encouraged to contact the museum prior to their visit for the most up-to-date protocols.


Accessibility: The first level of the historic house is accessible to visitors with limited mobility, and materials are available to explore the rest of the house virtually.


We encourage visitors with accessibility questions to call us at (518) 434-4791 or email shawna@historiccherryhill.org.


The Edward Frisbee Center for Collections Care & Research is fully accessible.


Visitors can also visit Cherry Hill virtually! Click here to take a virtual, 3D tour of Cherry Hill!


Looking for a new picnic spot?

Want to explore a historic garden on your own, or with family or friends? Historic Cherry Hill's grounds and gardens are open and FREE to the public during tour times.


Scroll down for more information about the landscape and house tours, including admission rates.



Current Offerings:


"The Rankins of Cherry Hill: Struggling with the Loss of their World" Guided House Tours.


2022 Tour Times:

Tours begin on the hour and run about an hour in length.


May 6 - July 10      

           Fridays & Saturdays 12, 1, 2, 3pm

July 11 - August 14    

           Tuesdays - Sundays 12, 1, 2, 3pm

August 15 - November 26  

           Fridays & Saturdays 12, 1, 2, 3pm



Adults: $6

Seniors, students, & AAA members: $5

Children (6-17): $3

Historic Cherry Hill members: Free*

Blue Star families: Free *

Museums for All (Snap Card holders): Free*

Neighbors in the 12202 zip code: Free*

AAM & MANY members: Free*

No admission charged for children 5 & under


*Call 518-434-4791 to make reservations at the free or discounted tour rate. 


About "The Rankins of Cherry Hill" Tour

Our guides will lead you on a story of how one Albany, NY family reacted to loss and change.

Cherry Hill was home to Catherine Putman Rankin and her family from 1884 through 1963. During her  lifetime, she and other members of America's elite faced profound social, economic, and political changes that they perceived as threatening to their position in American society. Catherine and many others in her class chose to recreate a rose-colored version of the past as a means of coping with these changes.


Visit Historic Cherry Hill to see how Catherine recreated the interiors of Cherry Hill as an expression of colonial aristocratic nostalgia and identity- as well as the spaces in which other members of the household lived and worked through the centuries.


Free Self-Guided Tours of Cherry Hill's Historical Gardens,

During tour hours, May 6, 2022 - November 26, 2022

Over the course of three centuries of family ownership, Cherry Hill and its grounds changed as each family altered the structure and added their personal touches. 


Read about how the grounds changed from Hudson River manor farm to urban backyard. Step back into the mid-1900s with peony beds dating back almost a century, and a reconstructed arbor and garden temple.


Use our site plan to explore Cherry Hill's historical landmarks and gardens.


Download pdfs for the self-guided landscape tour: Garden History  &  Site Plan


Nature Scavenger Hunt for all ages!

Paper copies available under the entrance sign, as supplies last.

E-copies are coming soon!


Parking: Free parking is available in the small lot at the bottom of the driveway, as well as on both sides of South Pearl Street.

Visitors who need to are welcome to park at the top of the driveway opposite the house, leaving space for emergency vehicles to drive through.


Historic Cherry Hill is located at 523 12 South Pearl Street in Albany, just off Exit 2 of Interstate 787. From the North, take Exit 2. At the light, turn left, and look for Historic Cherry Hill immediately on your right. From the South, take exit 2, and follow the ramp straight to the end. At the light turn left. Under the overpass, take anther left onto Route 32 South. Bear right onto 787's exit ramp. At the light, turn left, and look for Historic Cherry Hill immediately on your right.

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