There’s a crisis in historical societies and historic house museums across the nation. Membership dues and visitation are in decline. The costs of maintaining buildings and collections is exhausting resources.
Volunteers are under pressure to digitize archives and make resources more widely available to the public without having the expertise or budgetary supports that would be necessary to do so. Exhibits and programming are stagnant while trustees work tirelessly to triage the symptoms. And the public is largely unaware of the treasures that these institutions have to offer. Continue reading
Heritage tourism is a new name for an old concept. As an archaeology student in Greece, I remember seeing Lord Byron’s name carved on the Temple of Poseidon. His mark among the hundreds of forgotten names reminds us of the well-established motif of traveling to the classical world as part of the Grand Tour. The German word “Bildungsreisen,” used among the nineteenth century elite in Europe, described travel for educational and cultural enlightenment. Continue reading
The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has cut down the Balmville Tree, a historic and unusually large Eastern Cottonwood tree that has been growing since before 1699 in Balmville, a hamlet in Town of Newburgh, Orange County. The tree sat at the intersection of River Road, Commonwealth Avenue and Balmville Road at a place commonly known as the Balmville Tree Circle. It was believed to be the oldest eastern cottonwood tree in America.
DEC issued a statement to the press saying the tree was deemed “an immediate threat to passing traffic” by DEC and Newburgh officials, “due to its deteriorated condition and a greatly expanded crack”. The statement said DEC consulted with a professional arborist who inspected the tree and found it to be an extremely high risk to public safety and recommended removal. Continue reading
Kalmar Nyckel will sail up the Hudson River into Newburgh for the first time in its history this July 24-26, for a weekend of day sails, guided deck tours, and more.
Kalmar Nyckel is a recreation of the original ship that brought the earliest settlers from Sweden to Delaware in 1638, just a couple of decades after the Mayflower. During the same period when the Dutch were settling New Amsterdam in what is now Manhattan, Kalmar Nyckel made four successive round trips to supply the colonists of New Sweden. Continue reading
The Newburgh Historical Society invites the public to celebrate 200 years of Newburgh’s favorite son, Andrew Jackson Downing, as it kicks off its 2015 season on Sunday, April 12th, between 1 and 5 pm.
This opening day event will begin with a presentation introducing Downing and how the memorial urban park in his name came to be. Following the talk members offer guided tours of the historic Captain David Crawford House and an opening reception for the Artist’s Choice exhibition featuring the work of fifty local artists. Continue reading
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has announced that a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to college bound high school seniors or college students from the Hudson Highlands region who have shown an interest in the history of the area and have demonstrated this interest through participation in related activities. Continue reading
The Newburgh Historical Society’s annual Candlelight Tour will take place this year on Sunday, December 14th. The self-guided tour takes place between 12 noon and 5 pm and includes over a dozen decorated homes. The authentically decorated 1830 Captain David Crawford House is the starting place for the Tour.
The house circuit features a diverse assortment of public and private spaces, including mansions, structures in the rehabilitation process, new construction, architectural gems, and some of Newburgh’s most important landmarks. Continue reading
On November 9, 2014, the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands will host a talk on Newburgh’s manufacturing history at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site.
Industrial Historian Russell Lange, former President of the Newburgh Historical Society, will deliver his popular talk titled, “Made in Newburgh”. For 150 years manufacturing drove the economy of Newburgh providing jobs for over 8,000 men and women. Open to members and the general public, this free talk will take place during their annual meeting starting at 3 pm. Continue reading
The Annual Meeting of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and Highlands will take place on Sunday, October 19th starting at 3:00 P.M. at their headquarters, the 1830 Captain David Crawford House in Newburgh. Members of the Board of Managers are to come together to review 2014.
Following the meeting a panel organized by Society member Tom Kneiser will discuss local buildings they have remodeled for vibrant new uses. Continue reading
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands will continue its popular Heritage Series this year with an afternoon to enjoy the story of local Irish-Americans on Sunday, September 21st.
The Irish Feis (a Gaelic word for festival) will be held at the Newburgh Heritage Center, 123 Grand Street. Doors will open at 3:00 P.M. to the sounds of the Newburgh Firefighters Pipe Band leading visitors from their headquarters just down the street. Continue reading
There are many stories circulating about Newburgh’s Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck (better known today as Washington’s Headquarters). Some are believed true, such as Tryntje Hasbrouck sitting in “sullen silence” when told that her home was chosen as Washington’s Headquarters, and some are simply made-up. One such story involves Washington’s stay at the house from 1782-1783.
General Washington loved horses. In fact he loved to go for rides on his favorite mount whenever possible. The story told to me, after a lecture, involved General Washington, Col. Hasbrouck and Hasbrouck’s sons. They would sometimes go horseback riding together. A favorite stop was the vast Hasbrouck family orchards. Washington, the story goes, loved peaches. Hasbrouck, his sons, and Washington spent hours picking peaches. When enough peaches were picked the Hasbroucks and Washington delighted in feasting on them. This story is obviously false for one simple reason; Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck had died in 1780. Continue reading
He was the Supervisor of the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County, a member of the New York State Assembly, a State Senator, member of Congress, and New York’s first Superintendent of Banking, as well as one of Monticello’s most successful merchants. And in 1851 he joined with seven others in founding what would become one of America’s most respected newspapers.
He was Daniel Bennett St. John, and he was one of the original owners of the New York Times. Continue reading
On Sunday, July 20th at 1:00 P.M., a walking tour through Newburgh’s East End Historic District will start from the Captain David Crawford House, the headquarters of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands. Members of the Society will guide the public through a one mile walk as they peel back the image of the present to showcase the city’s past.
Newburgh’s historic district is the second largest in the State of New York, comprising of over 1,000 buildings. The Society’s tour is a concise sample of local history covering businesses, cemeteries, churches, residences, and schools. An itinerary was organized to show the community the part Newburgh played in design, development, and the story of the area. Along the way, Newburgh’s characters will be discussed and buildings highlighted in their context. Continue reading
Sunday, June 22nd, marks the opening of a new exhibit by the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands entitled “Made in Newburgh”.
The exhibit, which shares its title with the theme of this year’s Newburgh Illuminated Festival, aims to highlight the manufacturing history of Newburgh. Between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. visitors can expect to be welcomed by the Society’s members as they glimpse into the history of the city’s industries and how they shaped Newburgh. Continue reading
A new book by Dave Richards, Swords in Their Hands: George Washington and the Newburgh Conspiracy (Pisgah Press, 2014) is being hailed as the first book-length account of a plot that can be described as the closest thing to a coup that the United States has ever experienced.
In late 1782, many Revolutionary War officers in the Hudson Highlands had grown angry and frustrated that they had not been paid—for months or even years. With victory in sight, they feared they might never get their back pay and promised pensions, because the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia under the Articles of Confederation, had no authority to raise money. Nationalists wanted Congress to have direct taxation authority, while their opponents insisted that only individual states should have that power. Continue reading
Beginning in the mid-1800s, steamboats carried people between New York City and the Albany area on the Hudson River. Romantic images lull us into believing it was a quiet means of travel, but a crowded river, faulty equipment and the bravado of the captains resulted in at least one major catastrophe every year. Night boats collided and sank, carelessness caused boiler explosions, races put passengers at risk and fires would quickly swallow the wooden vessels.
The grand Empire of Troy suffered many collisions. The Swallow broke in two on a rock, Reindeer’s explosion took forty lives at once and the Oregon and C. Vanderbilt entered into an epic and dangerous race. Collected from eyewitness accounts, these are some of the most exciting and frightening stories of peril aboard steamboats on the Hudson River. Now, local historian J. Thomas Allison has written Hudson River Steamboat Catastrophes: Contests and Collisions (History Press, 2013). Allison provides an entertaining look at the romantic but perilous age of steamboat travel on the Hudson River, including tales of reckless captains racing each other and passengers’ eyewitness accounts of collisions, crashes, explosions, and fires. Continue reading
Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site will present two Martha Washington Woman of History Awards. The 2014 Martha Washington Woman of History Award recipient is author/historian Mary Sudman Donovan.
This award is given each year in honor of Martha Washington, a perennially outstanding woman in history who resided in the Hudson Valley with her husband, General George Washington, during the last days of the Revolutionary War. Continue reading
The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay & the Highlands will host a fifty-year retrospective recalling the 1960’s conflict over a plan to curb welfare costs to help meet the city’s financial struggles. The decision sparked a national debate that became known as the “Battle of Newburgh.”
In August 1961 a national Gallup poll revealed 85% support for the Newburgh City Council’s 13 point plan to balance the city budget by reforming requirements for individuals to receive payments from the welfare relief program. Two months later, the State of New York ordered a permanent injunction, effectively ending the City of Newburgh’s attempts to curb welfare costs. Continue reading
One of the saddest stories I have ever tracked in the newspapers is the Martin Weigand Tavern in the City of Newburgh. It is the story of a property allowed to deteriorate to a point where today it is almost beyond repair.
Located on Liberty Street, it is a relic of the American Revolution where many Revolutionary notables spent time. The tavern was also the center of political life in early Newburgh. It stands today at the Northwest corner of the Old Town Cemetery as it has for over two centuries. Continue reading
The Sound and Story Project whose mission is to strengthen community through the power of listening, and the Newburgh Free Library invites the community to participate in the making of a multimedia documentary featuring their personal impressions of Newburgh. “Our Story,” a collaborative multimedia program, will take place at the Library on June 1, 2013 from 10:00 – 4:00. Contact Chuck Thomas at 845-3614 to reserve a space.
Community members, assisted by local artists Eileen McAdam, Mia Lobel, Ilene Cutler, and Mariel Fiori, will record stories, take photos and shoot video to tell the story of Newburgh through their eyes. From the material collected and the participant’s impressions, The Sound and Story Project will produce a multimedia presentation that will premier during a public celebration at the Newburgh Free Library. Continue reading