In 1744, Cadwallader Colden, gave to his son, Cadwallader Colden Jr., five hundred and twenty-five acres of the three thousand acre family estate known as Coldenham. It was probably a wedding gift. Colden had purchased the land in 1718, soon after he had moved from Philadelphia to New York, see the Colden family blog for more details about the purchase: http://coldensofcoldenham.blogspot.com/
Cadwallader Jr. or Cad as he was known to his family, was twenty-two years old when he receives his land from his father. He immediately starts working on his property. Everything he knows about farming, he has learnt on Coldenham. He fells the first tree with his own hands and starts farming his five hundred plus acres, and builds two homes and various structures on it. One of the homes which became known as the Colden Mansion, was constructed in 1767 for Cad and his wife Elizabeth Ellison. It was one of the first stone houses in the area and there are people who mistakenly refer to this as Cadwallader Colden, Sr's house. This is of course not true. Sr's house has long since been demolished and no one can really tell where the original Colden house was. But we know that Sr's original house still existed in 1797 because in his will Cad leaves five hundred acres and the original Cadwallader Colden house to his son Cadwallader Colden III.
The oldest surviving image of Cad's mansion is the 1859 engraving seen above. It was a handsome house that stood two and a half stories tall and was five bays wide. The first floor had two parlors, one on each side of the central hall. There were two chambers above the parlors and a basement kitchen below the east parlor.
Another description says this of the mansion, "...was a hipped roofed two story rectangle. It had centrally located front and rear doors with a connecting hall and a staircase of black walnut that swept from the entrance around the foyer to the second floor. Later Colden would add a wing to make the building "L" shaped, and still later he would restore its rectangular form with another wing. The rooms were spacious, with ten feet high ceilings, rich interior wood paneling, and fluted base relief columns balancing the doors and fireplaces, typical of its genre. Neatly sculptured cornices topped the clear vertical lines of wood paneled walls".
The mansion and Coldenham (which Cad inherited in 1761 when his father moved to the city), remained in Cad's family even when he was imprisoned from 1774 to 1784 for being a loyalist. The mansion and lands remain in the Colden family when Cad dies on February 18, 1797. His will leaves the use of the mansion to his wife Elizabeth for her lifetime.
Sometime in the mid to late 1800s the mansion is sold out of the Colden family. The mansion remains intact until about the 1930s when it is abandoned as a result of estate litigation. Below is probably what the mansion looked like before it fell victim to neglect and the elements.
It is fortunate that in 1940 The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired some of the original woodwork from the west parlor of the house. This paneling is now displayed in the museum's Verplanck room, see below for two pictures from the Met's website.
Bits and pieces of the mansion, including more woodwork and the front door and the mile marker, are on display in town hall in Montgomery, New York. Below are pictures taken during a visit to the town hall in 2004.