The first time a real estate agent took Ian Stewart to see the old saltbox farmhouse on a rocky hillside in Ghent, N.Y., he knew he wanted to buy it.
“It got its hooks into me. I loved it. It had a warmth to it,” Mr. Stewart said.
One question continued to nag at him long after the sale went through, however: Exactly how old was the house?
The agent told him the building went back to 1900, but Mr. Stewart, a historic preservationist with a longtime interest in the Dutch architecture of the Hudson Valley — “You can call me a giant history nerd” — knew it was considerably older. It might even date to the late-18th century, he believed.
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