Cherry Hill was constructed by Philip Van Rensselaer in 1768. Philip was a merchant by trade, as well part of the Van Rensselaer family. His lineage goes back to Kilean Van Rensselaer, one of Albany’s founders in 1629.
Philip’s trade and status made him a prime choice for Albany’s Keeper of the Store. The appointment was made in 1775 and was approved by the Continental Congress. This appointment made him the keeper of Albany’s armory as well as one of the main suppliers of the Department of War in the North. He would also be appointed to Albany’s Committee of Correspondence in 1776. These committees were set up by the patriots as secret governments that overrule colonial or royal rule. Philip would remain on the committee until it was dissolved.
The Van Rensselaers were a large family in Albany, and Philip was not the only member of his family to take an active role in the American Revolution. His father Kiliaen was a Colonial in the Colonial Militia who was wounded at the Battle of Saratoga. His brother Nicholas was also a Colonel in the Colonial Militia as well as an Aide de Camp to General Schuyler. He was present at the failed assault on Quebec in 1775 as well as at the Battle of Saratoga. He was one of the men dispatched to Albany to bring word of the patriot victory.
Perhaps the most notable Van Resselaer to engage in the war was Philip’s cousin Robert Van Resselaer. Like Kiliean and Nicholas, he was appointed Colonel of Albany’s Colonial Militia in 1775, but he rise to other military and government ranks. He was part of New York’s Provincial Congress until 1777, and then became a member of New York’s Assembly from 1777 to 1781. In 1780 he was appointed Brigadier General of the Second Brigade of the Albany Militia. His greatest glory came in October 19th 1780, when he lead troops in the Battle of Klock’s Field. He forced the advancing raiding army under John Johnson and Joseph Brant, that was getting dangerously close to Albany, to retreat across the Mohawk. While it did little in the long run, the battle protected Albany and was a much needed victory during the chaotic Great Raids of 1780 and 1781.
"ARCHIVEGRID." ArchiveGrid : Philip Van Rensselaer Papers 1775-1798. Accessed March 26, 2016. https://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/collection/data/155402382.
"Killiaen Van Rensselaercolor." Killiaen Van Rensselaer. Accessed March 26, 2016. http://exhibitions.nysm.nysed.gov//albany/bios/vr/kvr.html.
"Philip Killeen Van Rensselaer." Wikipedia. Accessed March 26, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Kiliaen_van_Rensselaer.