Huis ter Hope, fort (Hartford)

While it is likely that early fur traders, such as Adriaen Block and Cornelis Hendricksz, also explored the Connecticut River, there is no proof they established a permanent presence. Noticing English interest, the West India Company sent Jacob van Curler to purchase land there and to establish a trading post on the river in order to support its claim to the area. In June 1633 Van Curler began building “the trading house named the Hope” , but this did not stop English colonists from developing similar plans as a group under the leadership of William Holmes started a settlement a little further upstream, thus cutting off the fur trade route. Protests to and fro were issued, insults exchanged, and injuries inflicted, with neither side willing to budge for two decades.

While the building is called a “fort” in some of the Dutch documents, little information is available as to what it actually looked like. William Bradford described it as a “slight forte”, with “2 peeces of ordnance”. According to a protest drawn up in 1642, i.e. nine years later, it consisted of a blockhouse, furnished with a garrison and ordnance. In 1641, the English surrounded the house with a fence of palisades, in order to stop the Dutch from accessing land claimed by them. This suggests that a perimeter fortification had not been constructed earlier. By 1647, the House the Hope was reported to be in need of repair. Despite being outnumbered on the Connecticut the Company officials in New Amsterdam decided to maintain it in order to keep up the honour of the West India Company. The end of House the Hope came in 1653, during the First Anglo-Dutch War.

The exact location of the House the Hope is obscure in some of the early documentary sources. The creek De Vries refers to is the Park River, nowadays subterranean. It is presumed that House the Hope was located on what was formerly known as Dutch Point, on the north side of Park River. However, according to Paul Huey, it may a bit further south, at the junction of Whitehead Highway and Interstate 91, where nineteenth-century maps show a landing site. It is possible that the work carried out in 1940 on Park River by the Army Corps of Engineers left part or all of the location of House the Hope unscathed.