The Story of Gomez Mill House
In April 1716, Luis Moses Gomez, a Jewish community leader from New York City, purchased 1,200 acres with river access in what is now Marlborough, NY, near the current border with Newburgh. With his two sons Jacob and Daniel, the Gomez family amassed 3,000 acres by 1723. They built a fieldstone blockhouse on what was known as Jews Creek, to conduct trade and maintain provisions as an extension of their successful enterprises in Colonial New York. Gomez launched one of the Mid-Hudson Valley's earliest commercial ventures: operating mills and lime kilns on the property, then shipping the material to New York City markets.
From these pioneering roots, through 300 years of American history, the blockhouse evolved to further serve the community. American Revolutionary patriot and civic leader, Wolvert Ecker, built a second floor of bedrooms and used his manor house to host meetings with local revolutionaries. Gomez's one-room stone structure became a center for establishing democracy. Ecker continued and expanded commercial operations on the 1,000 acres he bought, and started an historical ferry service across the Hudson. In the mid-1800s the prominent Armstrong family occupied the House, most notably, William Henry Armstrong, who built the kitchen wing. Arts and Crafts paper historian and artisan, Dard Hunter, who built the Mill in 1913, produced the world's first one-man made books here. And early 20th century social activist, Martha Gruening, sought to establish a school on the Site. These five owners' stories are interpreted on guided tours of the House and Mill.
In April 1948, Mildred Devito Starin and her husband Sidney Jeffrey Starin used his G.I. Loan to purchase the Gomez Mill House along with the 32 acres of property Dard Hunter had acquired in 1912. Millie grew up down the road in Middle Hope, on (or next to) a 500 acre parcel bought by Daniel Gomez in 1719. The Mill House was a place she’d come to love and feel a strong bond with in her youth. Millie and Jeffrey raised four children in the home, living here for several decades. Millie contributed antique furniture, gardens, and trees with historical aesthetic value. Millie researched the Site’s history, and in 1973 she secured inclusion of the property on the National Register of Historic Places. In her vision to make the Mill House a historic site open to the public, she then made a connection with Gomez relative Harmon Hendricks Goldstone. Mr. Goldstone helped form the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and served as its chairman from 1968 to 1973. He and other relatives formed the Gomez Foundation for Mill House in 1979 to buy the property and begin its next chapter. Thanks to Gomez relative Joseph Cullman, III, the sale took place in 1984. Millie stayed on as caretaker and docent for over a decade. In 1995, she worked with Gomez Foundation President Frances Low and Mill House associate Jennifer Gant to establish Sunday at Mill House, our ongoing public presentation series. Millie Starin moved out of the Gomez Mill House in 1998, fifty years after she moved in. Her devotion laid the groundwork for the Gomez Foundation’s continuing mission to preserve and promote this truly one-of-a-kind historical site.
Gomez Foundation for Mill House
The Gomez Foundation for Mill House was founded in 1979. In 1984 the Foundation purchased the Gomez Mill House and established it as a public museum chartered in the State of New York. The mission of the Foundation is to preserve this unique historic house -- the oldest standing Jewish dwelling in North America -- as a significant regional museum listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and to educate the public through tours and programs about the former Mill House owners' contributions to the multicultural history of the Hudson River Valley and beyond.
The Foundation Board includes direct descendents of the historic family owners and others dedicated to the restoration and preservation of Mill House and to the public's education of the historical significance of this irreplaceable center of the American experience.
Board of Trustees / Council
The Gomez Foundation for Mill House is a tax-exempt, non-for-profit 501(c) (3) corporation registered in the State of New York, pursuant to Section 170(f)(8) of the Internal Revenue Code. and is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents.