As the largest single landowner and most influential individual in the settlement of the Mohawk Valley, William Johnson had prestige and leadership which extended beyond the region. His genius in dealing and trading with the Indians had a lasting impact on their relationship with the English, and influenced England's victory in the struggle for control of North America.
Sir William began plans in February 1763 for a house that would reflect his position. A Georgian house of wood made to look like stone, Johnson Hall became the nucleus of a working estate designed to encourage settlement and further Johnson's control of his lands. A mill, blacksmith shop, Indian store, barns, and other necessary buildings were added, as well as housing for servants.
In 1774, during a tense conference with 600 Indians at Johnson Hall, Sir William collapsed and died. Upon Sir William's death, Johnson Hall passed to his son, John. During the American Revolution, John chose to remain loyal to the Crown and fled to Canada. Johnson Hall was confiscated in 1779 by the State of New York as Loyalist property and was subsequently sold at auction. The house remained a private residence until 1906, when New York State acquired it as a historic site.
Vistors are encouraged to walk the grounds and gardens and imagine themselves back in a time when Johnson Hall bustled with activity as Sir William's home and business headquarters. House tours are offered.