Sands Ring Homestead Museum
Thank you for visiting the Sands Ring Homestead website. We are honored that you took the time to learn more about the Homestead. We hope you will see, after reading this short history, how important this home is to Cornwall and its history.
Our story begins with Nathaniel Sands in 1760. He built the Homestead for his cousin Comfort Sands. Comfort’s wife, however, did not want to leave her home on Long Island, so Nathaniel and his family moved in. In 1777, Nathaniel gave the house as a wedding present to his son David and his bride Clementine Hallock. David, a member of the Society of Friends, opened the house to the Quaker community as a meetinghouse until the Quaker Meeting House located at 60 Quaker Avenue opened in 1790.
In 1775, war broke out in America when shots were fired in Lexington and Concord. War soon came to Cornwall and the Homestead property served as a campsite for part of the Continental Army led by George Washington.
On September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed and the war was officially over. The soldiers of the Last Encampment were now free to leave and return to their homes. As the new nation returned to a peacetime economy, David Sands opened a General Store on the first floor of the Homestead.
In 1818 David Sands died. In his will he bequeathed the Homestead to his daughter Catherine Sands Ring, the wife of Elias Ring. Through the years the family continued to contribute to the local community. In 1865 Nathaniel Sands (David’s son) created the Sands Medal to be awarded to students who demonstrate excellence. Those medals are still being awarded to students in the Cornwall and New Windsor school districts.
The last member of the Sands Ring family to live in the house was Benjamin Ring Davis, Catherine’s grandson. He died in 1907. In the five years that followed, the house suffered from neglect. About five years later, members of the community became concerned about the future of the Homestead--the historic home of a family that left such an indelible mark on Cornwall. In 1912 the Village Improvement Society rescued the Homestead and its surrounding property, purchasing it from the descendants.
In 1913 the house was used as a Tea Room and when, in 1914, war broke out in Europe, the Homestead became headquarters for the American Fund for the French Wounded. Here volunteers made garments and collected food to be sent to the devastated countries overseas.
In 1950 the Town of Cornwall purchased the Homestead and established a museum to tell the story of the Sands Ring Family. In 1951 the State Education Department of New York granted the museum an educational charter.
Until recently students have participated in living history programs at the Sands Ring Homestead Museum. Students learned about life in the 1700’s through hands-on colonial activities such as open hearth cooking, butter churning, spinning and weaving, candle dipping, and cornhusk doll making. They also learned about the Sands Ring family and discovered an appreciation of their place in our history.
The Sands Ring Homestead is on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, however, this treasure is threatened. We need our community’s help to preserve this local historic gem. Please help us save the Sands Ring Homestead! As you have read, this home has a remarkable story, one that should not be lost in our community, county, state, or nation. It is an American story.
Currently the Friends of the Sands Ring Homestead Museum is not an active 501c3 (non-for-profit organization). We have filed to renew our non-profit status and have confirmed with the IRS that the application is reviewed and complete. We are just awaiting the arrival of the authorization to proceed. Until such time we are asking that your donations be made to the Town of Cornwall on behalf of the Sands Ring Homestead. Any help you may offer the town in maintaining the building is greatly appreciated.
With thanks for your time and support,
Christine C. McDonald
Friends and the Sands Ring Homestead Museum