Historic Cherry Hill

and the Edward Frisbee Center for Collections & Research

Public Programs

Historic Cherry Hill is closed for regular public tours during the winter months. We will see you in the spring of 2022!

Weekly Offerings (June through November 2021)


  • Guided Historic House Tours: "The Rankins: Struggling with the Loss of their World"

After a decade long restoration project, Historic Cherry Hill reopened for tours in June 2021 with restored interiors & reinstalled furnishings! Thanks to everyone who helped make this tour season a success!


Covid-19 Safety Protocol: In order to protect our staff and patrons and to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, all visitors ages 5 and up must wear masks and practice social distancing as much as possible inside the historic house. Visitors to the grounds should social distance from other parties and wear masks when social distancing is not possible. These rules are subject to change based on the latest recommendations from the NYS Health Department and the CDC.



Self-Guided Tours of the Gardens & Grounds:

Looking for a new spot to picnic, take photos, or explore the outdoors?

The historic gardens and grounds are open and free to the public during tour times, Fridays 1-4pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm.


For more information to help you prepare for your visit, including self-guides to the historic grounds, 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.

  • The Knapp Family: Kinship & the Struggle for Autonomy

  • Daguerreotype of two young girls, the older of the two holding the other protectively.
  • Harriet Maria Elmendorf "Minnie" Knapp and her sister Jane Amelia Knapp came to Cherry Hill in 1854, shortly after the death of their mother, Jane. They and their two brothers were raised as wards and servants in 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 presentation will explore their experiences, their enduring ties to one another, 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.


To schedule or inquire about a program, contact the Education Coordinator: shawna@historiccherryhill.org


Remote Outreach Program Available 2021-2022:

Flier for the program: Program length is 45 minutes, for 4th & 5th grade, limit to one class or up to 30 students, $75 per class. The virtual program includes a 3D tour of the museum, a live show & tell, and a Q&A.


The Remote Cherry Hill Case outreach is FREE for Albany & Schenectady City Schools with generous support from The Golub Foundation and Stewarts.

This program was also made possible in part by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).


Digital Collections:


Cherry Hill Receipt Books

A collection of manuscript cookbooks kept by several generations of Cherry Hill women (and a few men) spanning the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. Individual receipts include cooking recipes, remedies for the sick, and instructions for farming, as well as newspaper clippings and other ephemera. This collection was made possible by support from the Capital District Library Council (CDLC) and in partnership with Siena College.


Historical African American Experiences at Cherry Hill

This collection includes bills of sale, indentures, and letters related to people who were enslaved by the Cherry Hill Van Rensselaers and their relatives, between 1760 and 1827, as well as letters, books, photographs, dolls, musical instruments and other artifacts related to five children of African American descent raised as wards and servants at Cherry Hill and in other Van Rensselaer households. This collection was made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom and in partnership with Siena College.


Both collections are available on New York Heritage: https://nyheritage.org/organizations/historic-cherry-hill


3D tour of Historic Cherry Hill Explore the places where people lived and worked.


Teaching Units:

Activities for grades 4 through 12 in these teaching units can be used on their own, sequentially as individual lessons, or as entire units.


Historical African American Experiences at Cherry Hill

A daguerreotype with gold framing of three young girls. Photo is black and white except for red necklaces around each girls neck.The Historical African American Experiences at Cherry Hill teaching units for grades 4-8 and 7-12 are based on the digitized collections by the same name. Guided by essential questions, students learn to read primary source documents and artifacts to examine the lives of African Americans enslaved or raised as servants at Cherry Hill.


Teacher's Guides contain lesson plans, sample answers, and connections to NYS & Common Core learning standards. Classroom Slides can be used for in-person or remote instruction, or as independent assignments. Activities include guided questions, prompts to dig deeper into an historical topic, links to primary sources and a 3D tour of the historic house. Printable worksheets correspond with the lesson plans and classroom slides.


Want these activities as fillable Google Slides? Contact the Education Coordinator at shawna@historiccherryhill.org for the free converted files.


My Right to Freedom: Slavery at Cherry Hill

Grades 4-8

Students look at primary objects and documents and take a 3D tour of the museum to learn about the institution of Slavery in Albany, New York. Activities increase content knowledge, strengthen foundational skills, and support 4-8 Common Core standards for ELA & Social Studies.

Teacher's Guide       Classroom Slides      Worksheets


Slavery in Albany, New York, Lesson 1

Grades 7-12

Guided by essential questions, students analyze primary objects and documents related to the period of enslavement to better understand the experiences of enslaved people until Emancipation in 1827. The lesson ends with the solving of a "True Cherry Hill Mystery" and a 3D tour of the museum. This is one of two lessons, and supports 7-12 curriculum standards for Social Studies & ELA.

Classroom Slides


Slavery by a Different Name, Lesson 2

Grades 7-12

Guided by essential questions, students analyze primary objects and documents related to gradual emancipation and the legacy of Slavery as it manifested at Cherry Hill. The lesson ends with the solving of another "True Cherry Hill Mystery" and 3D tour of the museum. This is the second of two lessons, and supports 7-12 curriculum standards for Social Studies & ELA.

Classroom Slides


These teaching units were made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Many thanks to NEH for making possible the research, digitization, and interpretation of the collection, and the creation of these materials.


Another thanks goes to Siena College for the use of their Digital Scholarship Center to scan dozens of books and fragile manuscripts, as well as the college's McCormick Center for the Study of the American Revolution internship program.



The Cherry Hill Case CLICK HERE


19th century photograph of the Cherry Hill household sitting in front of the house at different levels.For remote, in-person & home classrooms, 3 lessons lead students on an exploration of primary sources and historical artifacts belonging to children who lived at Cherry Hill during the 1800s. Each activity brings students closer to discovering the roles and relationships of the four children, and solving the Cherry Hill Case! Lessons compliment 4th & 5th grade New York State curricula.

In Each Lesson: You will find teacher's guides, interactive glossaries and timelines, graphic organizers, and step-by-step instructions on how to use artifacts for historical investigation. Students are prompted to explore their own histories, create personal timelines, family or VIP trees, and more. The unit is presented using Google Slides.


Many thanks to Teaching the Hudson Valley, whose support made it possible for us to develop the remote version of this outreach program!


A Virtual Hudson River Trading Game CLICK HERE

The Hudson River Trading Game is based on historical documents belonging to Philip Van Rensselaer, an Albany merchant and the first of five generations to live at Cherry Hill. In person, the game is 34 feet long.  But now YOU can play the game online! 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!

Image of a toy sloop with cargo on a game board that looks like a river.


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




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 experience.Thank you as well to our long-time partners, the City School District of Albany and Discover Albany, as well as 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!


On-site Education Programs:

Arranged on a case-by-case basis. Contact shawna@historiccherryhill.org to plan your visit.

Cost: $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 grades pre-K-12, college, and mixed age groups.


Off-site Education Programs:


Hudson River Trading Game ON HOLD

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:

  • Albany & Schenectady City classrooms are eligible for FREE Remote Cherry Hill Case outreach programs. Contact shawna@historiccherryhill.org for details.


An evaluation of Historic Cherry Hill's K-12 programs, which has informed program development, was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.