Entering the Rensselaer Technology Park in North Greenbush, visitors are surrounded by green meadows and lush forests, evidence of the rich glacial soils of the Hudson River valley prized by Dutch farmers more than 300 years ago. Today, it is the ground for the nearly 2,500 employees of 75 resident companies of the Tech Park representing a diversity of high-technology enterprises.
Situated on the homestead of the Philip DeFreest family, one of its original Dutch settlers in the mid-18th century, the land includes historic buildings typical of a working Dutch farm: a farmhouse restored 20 years ago to house the park’s administrative offices, and a magnificent Dutch barn. The DeFreest Homestead is a longtime interest of honorary trustee C. Sheldon Roberts ’48, and especially of his wife, Patricia. Roberts was one of the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor, the first company to manufacture integrated circuits — a development that fueled the growth of California’s Silicon Valley. As Rensselaer trustee, he was on the team that implemented Rensselaer 2000, the plan that foresaw the development and ultimate success of the Tech Park and a budding regional technology economy.
The DeFreest House was originally built in the 1740s, partially constructed of European brick used as ballast in Dutch fur trading ships that sailed up the Hudson. Patricia Roberts, committed to the preservation of the house, enjoyed a hands-on involvement in the restoration project. Today, the house and the surrounding homestead are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The adjacent Barn was restored in 2009 and features orginal hand-hewn beams. Patricia Roberts took the initiative to preserve this rich piece of history, so the Barn was appropriately named after her. Pat's Barn is now used for RPI programs, retreats, conferences and special events.