When printmaker Sylvia Roth moved into her home in South Nyack in 1977, she had no idea it was the birthplace of a major figure in American art, Joseph Cornell. This house on Piermont Avenue seems to have its own designs, selecting artistic occupants for over a century.
Emily Dickinson, Cornell’s enduring muse, wrote that “nature is a haunted house, but art is a house that tries to be haunted.” As Roth describes the creative output of subsequent generations of her family, one begins to suspect that this is a house haunted by art. Continue reading
Imagine the stories that would be told if houses wrote autobiographies.
This stately structure on South Highland Avenue in Nyack could tell us if slaves were hidden here during the abolition movement. We would know about the political maneuverings and legal strategies of the successive generations of lawyers who called this place home. Or learn the downside of having a neighbor who owns a private zoo. The garden could share the secrets of what makes her bloom. But alas, buildings and garden beds don’t write books.
Fortunately for us, this house has a biographer, and her name is Judy Martin. Continue reading
In June, Nyack Hospital and Montefiore Health System issued a joint press release announcing a merger. When the process is complete, Nyack will have a medical institution informed by over two centuries of history in health care. Will the philanthropic and progressive impulses that characterized the creation of nonprofit hospitals in nineteenth-century America endure?
A moment of reflection seems to be in order. Here’s a snapshot of the origins and early days of each health care institution that may provide some prologue and set expectations for what will follow. Nyack Hospital was incorporated in 1895. Initial funds were raised by an initiative called “Kirmess,” that drew inspiration from medieval festivals that used merrymaking to accomplish good. Continue reading
Cemeteries were segregated in America until the mid-20th century. Even black veterans of America’s armed conflicts were dishonored when buried. Today, Mount Moor Cemetery stands as a monument to the twisted logic of racial discrimination. But the cemetery of approximately 90 veterans and civilians also serves as a symbol of perseverance and defiance.
The gravestones at Mount Moor endure, despite the initial efforts of the developers of the Palisades Mall to obliterate the burial ground. Continue reading
The Great Nyack House Tour: Houses with a Secret, will be hosted by the Historical Society of the Nyacks on Saturday, May 3, 2014.
“Houses with a Secret,” the Society’s sixth biennial house tour, invites visitors to explore houses that have mysteries hiding behind the doors. In case your speculation does not unlock the secrets in each amazing home, volunteer docents will be there to demystify the local history surrounding each property. Continue reading
One hundred years ago this month, less than a year after the Harriman gift of $1,000,000 and 10,000 acres was leveraged to raise an additional $4.5 million in private and state funds, the Palisades Interstate Park Commission began its purchase of the five quarries that were steadily eating away at the stately Hook Mountain ridge between Nyack and Haverstraw, New York.
The first quarry purchased belonged to the Manhattan Trap Rock Company. Its facilities, including the concrete power house used to crush the rock before being loaded onto barges from the wharf, were eventually dismantled or converted by the WPA to recreational facilities. The power house, a beautiful dutch colonial sandstone building that sits at the foot of the mountain, was transformed into a bath house when swimming in the Hudson was still permitted. This magnificent example of adaptive use is now experiencing a second wave of interest by the community as the anchor of Nyack Beach State Park.
The River Trail, one of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trails, runs north from Nyack Beach for almost five miles. A magnet for runners, cyclists, bird watchers, fishermen, lovers, and artists, it is the only trail along the lower Hudson in New York that does not share its waterfront with a train line or highway. The Long Path parallels this trail high above atop the cliffs.