Preserving the Past in a City of Change
The History of the Jacob Purdy House and the City of White Plains
White Plains Historical Society
Exhibit Overview
Preserving the Past in a City of Change

A Timeline Perspective
Timeline of the Jacob Purdy House
ownership and history the city of
White Plains from 1720 to Present

Battle of White Plains
Film by Producer Mark Sadan

Going the Distance:
Preservation through Relocation -
Jacob Purdy House History 1960 to Present

Slideshow of the Jacob Purdy House relocation

Revolutionary War Secrets
Documents found in the Jacob Purdy House
in 1969

Coming Soon:

Mark Sadan Interview
Audio interview with Battle of White Plains
Film Producer and Director, Mark Sadan

Jacob Purdy House Oral Memories
Digitized recordings from individuals associated
with the preservation of Jacob Purdy House
A photographic overview of the modernization of White Plains during various decades since the late 1880s, the opening exhibit, Preserving the Past in a City of Change, also offers a way to introduce the White Plains Historical Society's initial raison d'être, the preservation of the Jacob Purdy house. Although the building no longer rests on the original foundation, the Jacob Purdy farmland once included the present site. From the steep terrain known locally as Purdy Hill, the Jacob Purdy family and later property holders likely watched the transformation of Railroad Avenue from a dusty caked dirt strip sided by wooden boardwalks to an electrically lit asphalt roadway surrounded by cement sidewalks renamed Main Street to honor the city's central business district.
While locals attach the name of Jacob Purdy to the house, the first inhabitants were not the Purdys. Samuel Horton built the dwelling in 1720 and lived on the land with his family until about 1748 when Jacob Purdy's father, Samuel, bought the property. Over the next two hundred years, as the upper half of the A Timeline Perspective exhibit highlights, numerous people lived in the house until the building's final purchase in the 1960s by the city of White Plains and the Battle of White Plains Monument Committee. For a comparative analysis, the lower display presents a timeline of significant events in the history of White Plains across the same time period. A few of the many events on the White Plains timeline include a detailed study of the Battle of White Plains, the arrival of the railroad, the electrification of the city, and the escalation in urban renewal in the post-World War II era.
The history of the city of White Plains and the Jacob Purdy house collided during the Revolutionary War when General Washington used the Jacob Purdy House for a headquarters in 1778 and likely in 1776. Mark Sadan's film, The Battle of White Plains, provides an overview of the 1776 confrontation in the then small farming village of White Plains. While many battle stories commonly look at the roles of Generals Howe, Clinton, and Washington, Sadan keys into the views of patriot and British soldiers, members of the Society of Friends, and camp followers. An interview to be conducted in the spring of 2009 with Mark Sadan on the director's behind the scenes recollections of the filming of The Battle of White Plains will be posted in the future.
In the late 1950s, the Battle of White Plains Monument Committee, a local preservation group, became interested in saving the Jacob Purdy house from demolition associated with urban renewal. The slide show Going the Distance: Preservation through Relocation - Jacob Purdy House History 1960 to Present traces the homestead's history after 1960 including the Monument Committee's initial concern, the early 1970s relocation, the incorporation into the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, and second restoration in the early 1980s. Oral histories to be completed during the spring of 2009 will provide greater detail about the roles of community members in the effort.
Sometimes demolition-slated homes contain hidden treasures. During the late 1960s, Stephen Holden, a local lawyer and Battle of White Plains Committee member, found two Revolutionary War documents behind the walls of the Jacob Purdy house. Revolutionary War Secrets unveils the discoveries: a letter from a patriot soldier and four pages of a field marshall's dress parade orders. Surrounding the documents are photographs of the pre-restoration Jacob Purdy house.
White Plains
Historical Society

Community Images

White Plains
Historical Website