Historic Cherry Hill

and the Edward Frisbee Center for Collections & Research

Public Programs

Weekly Offerings

  • After a decade long restoration project, Historic Cherry Hill will reopen for tours with restored interiors & reinstalled furnishings on Friday June 25, 2021!

    Members of Historic Cherry Hill have the opportunity for a "sneak peak" Friday June 18 and Saturday June 19.

  • "The Rankins: Struggling with the Loss of their World" house tours are offered on Fridays from 1-4pm and Saturdays from 10am-4pm.

  • Reservations are required, as space is limited. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for children (6-17), and free for HCH members, Blue Star veterans and Snap Card holders. No admission charged for children 5 and under.


  • Looking for a new picnic spot? The historic grounds and gardens are open and free to the public during tour times, Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Safety Protocol: In order to protect our staff and patrons and to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, visitors are asked to practice social distancing and to wear masks when necessary.

  • For more information to help you prepare for your visit, including self-guides, go to our About page and scroll down to Visit.



Group Programs



"The Rankins: Struggling with the Loss of their World" house tours are available for private groups of up to 6 people, $30 minimum for the group.

Virtual tours are available, $40 per group.

Outreach Programs

Let us come to you- virtually! Historic Cherry Hill can present these illustrated talks via Zoom, GoToMeeting, or Google Meet. $40 per outreach.

  • A Different Kind of Collection

  • a different kind of collection

    Historic Cherry Hill's collection distinguishes the museum from most others. Its 70,000 items, spanning over two centuries and ranging from the rare to the mundane, all belonged to one family — the Van Rensselaers of Cherry Hill. This talk explores some of the unique objects in the collection, the family's motivation for accumulating and saving its possessions, and how the museum's significant collections have defined its course today.

  • The 1827 Cherry Hill Murder

    murder at cherry hill

    In 1827, a murder occurred at the Cherry Hill farm, home of the well known Van Rensselaer family. The crime aroused tremendous public interest, and the subsequent trial culminated in the last public hanging in Albany. Although it appeared to be a crime of passion, it uncovered some simmering issues of the day including women's roles and legal rights, social class, punishment and the law, and slavery in New York. Hear the words of those involved in the crime and decide whom you think was guilty or innocent.

  • Unpacking the Experiences of Child Servants at Cherry Hill

    Minnie Knapp (age 2), Jane Amelia Knapp (age 9) and another child posed with dresses, red jewelry in an ornate 19th century daguerreotype picture.
  • Harriet Maria Elmendorf "Minnie" Knapp (1852-1903) and her sister Jane Amelia (Knapp) Briles (1845-1898) came to Cherry Hill in 1854, shortly after the death of their mother, Jane Jackson Knapp. They and their two brothers were raised as wards and servants of four Van Rensselaer households. How common was this practice, in Albany and elsewhere, during the 19th century? What was the special relationship between the Knapp family and the Van Rensselaers of Cherry Hill? This lecture will explore their experiences and their mysterious connection to earlier generations of the Van Rensselaer family, dating back to time of enslavement.

School Programs

We've been hard at work creating online resources to support all types of instruction, including digital teaching units, remote outreaches and virtual versions of our popular school programs. Our innovative programs continue to reflect New York State curriculum needs and feedback from teachers, and we are probing deeper into underrepresented narratives, particularly the African-American experience at Cherry Hill.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Call Shawna Reilly, Education Coordinator at (518) 434-4791 or email shawna@historiccherryhill.org


Remote Outreach Program Available in 2021:


The Cherry Hill Case

History takes on a whole new meaning when seen through the lens of a detective! This inquiry-based program illuminates mid-19th century life in one Albany, New York household using primary source documents, photographs and objects. Students investigate the different roles, relationships, and experiences of people within the household, learning how class, race and gender affected their lives. The Cherry Hill Case is “closed” when students test their hypotheses through participation in a document-based Reader’s Theater.


How to use these materials: Designed for 4th and 5th grade New York State curriculum, this program has been adapted for in-person and remote classrooms.

Virtual Instruction: (FREE) Presented with Google Slides, three lessons walk students through an exploration of primary source materials related to the lives of four children who lived at Cherry Hill and the adults they became. Each lesson contains an introductory letter, an interactive glossary and timeline, graphic organizers, and step by step instructions on how to use primary and secondary source documents for historical investigation. (Video prompts are coming soon!) As each lesson brings students closer to discovering the roles and relationships of the four children, they are also encouraged to uncover their own histories, create personal timelines, family or VIP trees, and more.


Schedule a Remote Outreach for In-Person Classrooms: The case is opened with two pre-outreach activities, using Google Slides and video prompts, introducing the Cherry Hill mansion and household. Then, a museum teacher will work with you to provide live remote instruction to your classroom, using Zoom Enterprise. Email Shawna at shawna@historiccherryhill.org, or call (518) 434-4791 to schedule. Cost: Grant funding is available for eligible schools; contact Shawna for more information.


The Cherry Hill Case Remote Outreach Program Materials for Teachers:

Many Thanks to the Teaching the Hudson Valley, whose support made it possible for us to develop the remote version of this Outreach Program!


More Online Learning: 


Play the Hudson River Trading Game at Home!

Usually, the Hudson River Trading Game is 34 feet long and fills most of a room at a local museum.  But now YOU can play the game at home! When you play, you will pretend that you are a captain, sloophand or passenger traveling on a sloop (a giant sailboat) on the Hudson River.  Sailing on the river during the 1700s was unpredictable, and you will find that the game is too...All we can say is stay safe and good luck!


Dig a Little Deeper!

Click on the links below for more information and activities about Hudson River trade.

Passengers on the Hudson River worksheet

Activities for After the Game

Hudson River Trading Game Resources



About the Game

Created by Historic Cherry Hill, the Hudson River Trading Game uses primary sources-- documents, objects, and visual sources-- which belonged to Philip Van Rensselaer, an Albany merchant and the first of five generations to live at the Cherry Hill mansion. Every year, hundreds of 4th- and 5th-graders play the game and discover what people in Albany experienced when sailing on a Hudson River sloop 250 years ago.


Many Thanks to Our Partners

We owe a huge thanks to the Port of Albany whose support for the past eight years has allowed thousands of City School District of Albany students to play the game as part of a field trip eperience.Thank you as well to our partners, the City School District of Albany, Discover Albany, and the Albany Institute of History & Art, who graciously offered to host the program for 2020. We would also like to thank the 2nd Regiment-Albany County Militia, Eileen Finn, Jim Sparks, and Maryrita Dobiel for making sure we have great props--hundreds of props--for the school program and public events.  Finally, thank you to all our volunteer museum teachers for your dedication and hard work--we cannot wait to set sail with you again!



Off-site Education Programs ON HOLD

Hudson River Trading Game

This hands-on program creatively combines history, economics, science, ELA and math. Students role play using a 34-foot game board to experience the challenges of 18th-century trade and travel on the Hudson River, discover how Hudson River trade was linked to global trade, and view scenes from the Hudson River School. In partnership with the Albany Institute of History & Art.

  • Level: 4th and 5th grades

  • Cost: $5.00 per student, $100 minimum group fee, chaperones free.

  • Group size: Up to 60 students

  • Length: Approximately 2.5 to 3 hours (depending on group size)

  • Duration: December through June

  • Location: At our partner site for this program, Albany Institute of History & Art
  • Reservations: Email Shawna at shawna@historiccherryhill.org or call (518) 434-4791

  • Accessibility: Please inform us of any special needs when making your reservation

  • Late Arrivals: If you are running late the morning of your program, please notify the Albany Institute of History & Art at (518) 463-4478



Field Trip Funding Opportunities

  • City School District of Albany 5th Graders: Free Admission to the HRTG&NS program, supported by a grant from the Port of Albany. For more information, contact shawna@historiccherryhill.org


On-site Education Programs ON HOLD

While under the last stage of restoration, on-site programming may be arranged on a case-by-case basis. Contact shawna@historiccherryhill.org to plan your visit. $4 per person, $48 minimum, chaperones free.

  • Middle School: Students investigate a notorious 1827 crime in the house where it occurred.  They examine the scene of the crime, re-enact the murder and retrace the killer’s footsteps.  A variety of learning activities also help students understand how the choices of the major people involved in the event were affected by the social and economic conditions of the period.  The program stresses critical thinking skills and personally involves students in the process of interpreting the past. This program runs 2.5 hours, in addition to pre-visit activities.
  • High School: Experience the Murder at Cherry Hill by retracing the steps of confessed murderer, Jesse Strang, and through selected readings from his confession, explore the motivations and reactions of those who were at Cherry Hill that fateful night.  This interactive tour uses the unqiue circumstances of the infamous murder at Cherry Hill in Albany to examine how attitudes about class, race and gender shaped life in early 19th century America. This program runs 1.5 hours, with an optional pre-visit power point presentation. 
  • Other topics upon request for younger grades, college, and mixed age groups.



Document-based Teaching Units

Students become historians in their own right. Designed for classroom use, Historic Cherry Hill teaching units use a wide variety of primary sources to engage students in analyzing and interpreting historical evidence. Cross-curricular and “teacher friendly.” Award winners, American Association for State and Local History.

  • Different Voices, Different Truths: The 1827 Murder at Cherry Hill (grades 7 and up)

  • Kittie Putman and the Cherry Hill Household: 1860-1884 (grade 4 and up)

Click here for more information about these teaching units and how to order them.