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 diverse audiences 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.
Want to help us finish the job? Join the Collection Connection Campaign! Learn more
Board and Staff
Board of Trustees
Maryrita Dobiel, Esq., President
Robert Englert, Vice President
James Campbell, Treasurer
Erin Leary, PhD, Secretary
Hon. Lynne Lekakis, At-large
Krysta Dennis, PhD
Deborah Emmons-Andarawis, Executive Director & Curator
Lauren Mastin, Business Manager
Janine Moon, Collections & Facilities Assistant
Shawna Reilly, Director of Education
LaReina Torain, Marketing & Community Engagement Associate
Meghan Willis, Education Assistant & Head Guide
Community Advisory Board
The CAB counsels on a variety of topics and museum initiatives, by way of quarterly meetings, focus groups, and surveys. With backgrounds in education, tourism, recreation, community and family services, public and private, 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.
-October 11th, 5:30pm: "Mulled Wine & Murder," A Tasting Event with Siena Beverage Institute, RESERVATIONS REQUIRED (NOTE: Select LANTERN or JACK-O'-LANTERN-level sponsorship for admission to this event)
-October 14th, 12-3pm: "Pumpkin Party on the Hill" (free, all ages)
Accessibility: The first level of the historic house is accessible to visitors who use wheelchairs, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Edward Frisbee Center for Collections Care & Research is fully accessible.
Click here to take a virtual, 3D tour of Cherry Hill!
Gardens & Grounds:
Explore the gardens, picnic in the backyard, or try a scavenger hunt! Historic Cherry Hill's grounds and gardens are open and FREE to the public during tour times. (Fridays & Saturdays 12-4pm)
Scroll down for more information about our current tour offerings, outdoor activities, parking & driving directions.
Guided Historic House Tours:
"The Rankins of Cherry Hill: Struggling with the Loss of their World"
Our guides will lead you on a story of how one Albany, NY household reacted to loss and change at the turn of the 20th century.
Cherry Hill was home to Catherine Putman Rankin and her household 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 and Grounds
Grounds are free and open to the public during regular tour hours.
Over the course of three centuries of family ownership, Cherry Hill and its grounds changed as each household altered the structure and added their personal touches.
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 1⁄2 South Pearl Street in Albany, between First and McCarty Aves., 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.
Mailing Address: 5231⁄2 South Pearl St., Albany, NY 12202