Sitting on the village green and the Boston Post Road, the Square House has welcomed visitors to the entrance of Rye for nearly three centuries. It has served as a home, an inn, a tavern, and city hall. Today, it is a historic museum, exhibit hall and the home of the Rye Historical Society.
The Square House Museum is a faithfully-preserved 18th century inn and tavern. Back in the 1700s, when the Boston Post Road was the primary way to travel, the inn sat between mile markers 25 and 26, offering rest and replenishment to weary travelers. George Washington, John and Samuel Adams all stayed at the cozy inn. In fact, Washington “tweeted” it’s “A very neat and decent inn.” 10-15-1789.
The Square House has five period rooms: the front hall, tavern room, the warming kitchen, upstairs hallway and the innkeeper’s bedroom. Each room contains antique furniture, decorative arts and everyday objects that illustrate tavern life during the late 1700’s. There is also a tavern bedroom furnished with reproductions that can be touched and handled so that 18th century tavern life can be experienced first-hand.
Built in 1667, the Knapp House is the oldest home in Westchester. It now houses the archives of the Rye Historical Society and the Village of Rye. The Knapp House Archives contain over 25,000 items pertaining to local history, including photographs, maps, census data, books, pamphlets and manuscripts.
Behind the house, the Kay Donahue Memorial Garden is a historic kitchen and herb garden with authentic plantings maintained by The Little Garden Club of Rye.
The Knapp House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has also been designated a landmark by the City of Rye.
To read more about the history of the Knapp House, click on the tab below.
Over the years, Rye History has collected and stores thousands of everyday artifacts that help illustrate our collective stories. The collection of over 8,000 artifacts portrays the daily life of Rye citizens from the colonial era to the present.
The collections include furniture, decorative arts, toys, political memorabilia, archaeological artifacts, bed linens, wedding and other apparel, military uniforms, dummy boards and tools. Yearly exhibits in the Square House display and highlight items in the collection. For example, recent exhibits have included sports equipment, police gear, World War II medals and clothing the collection.
The Rye Historical Society serves as the official archivist for the City of Rye in all its past forms. We have a collection of over 25,000 documents including police reports, maps, photos, books, manuscripts, census data, real estate deals, government reports and other historical documentation. The collection also includes the Parsons Family Papers, an important collection of papers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries from John E. Parsons (patriarch and prominent NY lawyer), Herbert Parsons (a U.S. Congressman), his wife Elsie Clews Parsons (a prominent anthropologist) and John Parsons (prominent role in intelligence during WWII). We even have letters from John Quincy Adams to his son in college.
These archives are carefully stored in the Knapp House. A state-of-the-art fire suppression system has been installed to protect the archives and the structure. Documents, photographs and rare books are kept in a limited access, climate-controlled area. Public access is available by appointment. The Rye Historical Society plans, over time, to digitize the collection and make the archives accessible on-line.