Tag Archives: Rensselaer County Historical Society

Rensselaer Co. Historical Society’s 2014 Phelan Lecture


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RCHSThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced the 2014 Thomas Phelan Endowed Lecture Series to be held on Saturday, June 21. This year’s theme is Controversial Objects, Controversial History. The day consists of a morning lecture, an afternoon workshop and a fundraising dinner in the evening.

In 1997, the Rensselaer County Historical Society established the Thomas Phelan Endowed Lecture Series in recognition of Rev. Phelan’s longtime preservation efforts and support of the educational and cultural vitality of Rensselaer County. Prominent speakers are invited to lecture of topics relating to Phelan’s area of study as Institute Dean and Institute Historian at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, especially as it pertains to 19th century American material culture and industrialization. Continue reading

Saturday Troy History Walks in May and June


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RCHSThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) offers walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings this May and June. Tours depart from the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30am. The cost is $5 per person, RCHS members attend for free.

Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by RCHS staff. Tours frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries. Continue reading

Troy History Tour:
Footsy Magoos and the Knox-Mead Building


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RCHSThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is presenting a Hidden History tour on Tuesday, April 29th at 4:30 pm of Footsy Magoos and the Knox-Mead Building located at 13 and 17 First Street in Troy.

RCHS staff will offer a public tour of the buildings, located along a stretch of First Street known historically as Troy’s Banker’s Row because of the proliferation of banks that were once in residence on the street. Continue reading

Slavery and the Underground Railroad Conference Set


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Underground Railroad ConferenceThe Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region will present the 13th Public History Conference on the Underground Railroad Movement on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 11-13, 2014 at Russell Sage College and the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, NY.

For thirteen years, the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region has been contributing to awareness and historical understanding of abolitionists and freedom seekers and their activity, emphasizing the participation of African American abolitionists and relating the movement to our experiences today. Continue reading

Troy Labor History:
Kate Mullany 150th Anniversary History Walk


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kateimage-201x300The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is hosting a special event this Saturday, February 22nd commemorating the 150th anniversary of Kate Mullany’s historic formation of the Collar Laundry Union in Troy. The event begins at 11am at RCHS and includes a walk from RCHS to the Troy Farmers Market at 12pm and concludes with speeches at the Farmers Market at 12:30. This event is free to the public.

At the age of 23 Kate Mullany organized 300 of her fellow laundry workers to strike for higher wages and improved working conditions in the collar laundries. This Saturday, February 22nd, RCHS will commemorate Mullany’s creation of the 1st sustained female labor union in America’s history. The event begins at 11am at RCHS (57 Second St., Troy, NY) where the public will be invited to create strike signs in keeping with the historic celebration of the strike. Continue reading

Hoarding History:
New Exhibit Explores Why Museums Collect


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Why Museums CollectThe Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will debut a new exhibit, Hoarding History: Why the Museum Collects, on Friday, February 28th as part of Troy Night Out, from 5pm to 8pm.

RCHS collects and preserves letters, furniture, paintings, account books and much more. The collection exists not necessarily for the object’s sake, but for the stories that can be told through those objects. With the opening of Rensselaer County Historical Society’s new exhibit, Hoarding History: Why the Museum Collects, visitors will have the opportunity to view over 100 recent acquisitions and learn about the process RCHS goes through to bring new aspects of Rensselaer County’s history to the public’s attention while preserving the artifacts that tell these stories for future generations. Continue reading

New Board Members at Rensselaer County Historical Society


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image001(3)The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) announces the appointment of Douglas Bucher, Phyllis Conroy, Christina Kelly and Robert Matthews to the Board of Trustees. They were elected to their terms at the 86th Annual Meeting held on September 9, 2013.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum, located at 57 Second Street in Troy, is a not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. Continue reading

Hidden History: Knickerbocker Mansion, Crailo Events


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) announces their September and October Hidden History programs. Which will focus on the Knickerbocker Mansion, Schaghticoke, NY (on Tuesday, Sept 5) and Crailo, the Museum of the Colonial Dutch, in Rensselaer, NY (Tuesday, October 30).

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum is a dynamic not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. We strive to enrich the present and advocate for the future by bringing the region’s past to life, recognizing every face and every story.  RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, in Troy.

Reservations can be made by calling 518-272-7232 x12 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org

Knickerbocker Mansion, Schaghticoke, NY
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
4:30pm
$15 per person, $12 for RCHS members
The Knickerbocker Mansion located in Schaghticoke was built by Johannes Knickerbaacker III around 1780. The house was lived in by generations of the Knickerbocker family but fell into disrepair in the 20th century. A dedicated group of volunteers began restoration and after decades of work the building has been almost completely restored. Join Rensselaer County Historian, Kathryn Sheehan, on this special tour of one of Rensselaer County’s oldest buildings.

Crailo, Museum of the Colonial Dutch, Rensselaer, NY
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
4:30pm
$15 per person, $12 for RCHS members
Rensselaer County Historian, Kathryn Sheehan, will lead our visit to Crailo, a State Historic, which tells the story of the early Dutch inhabitants of the upper Hudson Valley through exhibits highlighting archeological finds from the Albany Fort Orange excavation and guided tours of the museum. Originally part of the vast landholding called the Manor or Patroonship of Rensselaerswyck, the Crailo farm was named after the Van Rensselaer’s estate in the Netherlands, variously spelled Crayloo or Cralo in the 17th century, and meaning “crows’ wood” in Dutch. Tour includes viewing the award winning short-film, Keeping Order: A Fort Orange Court Record.

Rensselaer County Historical Society History Walks


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) offers walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings this September and October. Tours depart from and return to the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by RCHS staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries.

September’s History Walks are part of the Hudson River Ramble. The Hudson River Valley Ramble celebrates the trails, the river and the historic and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. For more information about the Ramble visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com
Cost: $5 per person/ RCHS members free. Reservations can be made by calling 518-272-7232 x12 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org . For more information, visit www.rchsonline.org

Saturday, September 8 Green Island Bridge
Discover this historic Hudson River crossing point and the various bridges that have been built at this site.

Saturday, September 15 Uncle Sam’s Life in Troy
This tour takes you to sites associated with Samuel Wilson, the “real” Uncle Sam. You’ll also visit the RCHS museum, which includes artifacts from Samuel Wilson’s life and images of our national symbol.

Saturday, September 22 Amazing Architecture
Stroll the streets of downtown Troy and find a rich built environment. Tour showcases Troy’s architectural gems as you explore the range of styles found in Troy.

Saturday, September 29 The Marquis de Lafayette Visits Troy
For much of 1824 & 1825, Lafayette, the hero of the American Revolution, made a triumphal visit to the US, including visiting Troy twice. Follow in his footsteps as he was shown the bustling city that Troy had become.

Saturday, October 2 Underground Railroad
Troy was a hotbed of abolitionism. Walk to where history was made including the site of the rescue of Charles Nalle.

Saturday, October 13 Amazing Architecture
Stroll downtown Troy and you’ll find a rich built environment. This tour showcases Troy’s architectural gems and range of styles.

Saturday October 20 Monumental Troy
Join us as we look at the many monuments that remind us of wartime sacrifice, famous events and the people who left their mark on Troy.

Saturday, October 27 Murder and Mayhem
Who knows what ghosts might haunt the streets of Troy? You will, after taking part in this walk through the more colorful stories of Troy’s past

RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180.

New Exhibit on the Great Fire of Troy


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On May 10, 1862, as the nation was consumed by the ravages of the Civil War, Troy NY faced a devastating fire. As a train crossed the Hudson River on the Troy-Green Island Bridge, a spark from the engine ignited the wooden bridge. The fire spread rapidly, ultimately destroying over 600 buildings in the heart of the city in only six hours. Newspaper accounts, personal letters and even artist renderings depict a city in chaos as people struggled to save their homes and businesses. The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has opened a new exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of Troy’s Great Fire. The exhibit runs through August 18, 2012.



Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS Curator, said, “The Great Fire is one of Troy’s most significant events as it dynamically altered the look of the city. As many local towns learned after the hurricane and tropical storms of last year, natural disaster can dramatically change a location in the blink of an eye. The story of Troy’s rise after the fire is one that can inspire us today to rebuild after a tragedy.”

Advances in fire fighting technology, such as the use of steam-powered fire engines were applauded for their role in saving the city, and citizens joined together to re-emerge from the catastrophe. Well known architects designed new buildings in the latest styles and new building codes were introduced mandating the use of fire resistant building materials.

The exhibit focuses on four main themes; Troy in the 1860s, Mid-19th Century fire fighting techniques, the event itself known as The Great Fire of May 10, 1862 and the aftermath, including personal impacts, changes to city code and fire safety. A number of early photographic images, several recently discovered, show the city just before the fire and document the devastation.

Artifacts on display include firefighting equipment such as fire buckets, a rare fireman’s jacket and helmets. Accounts of the event from local newspapers and eyewitness descriptions found in personal letters, several of which came to light as research was undertaken, tell the story firsthand. A number of fire related artifacts from public institutions and private lenders will also be on display for the first time, including a toy steam fire engine from the FASNY Museum of Firefighting in Hudson, New York.

Programming during the exhibit will include a trip to see the extensive fire collections at the FASNY Museum of Firefighting. RCHS will lead a walking tour of the district impacted by the fire on Saturday, May 12 at 10:30am. The tour departs from the Market Table at the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Tour is $5 per person, free for RCHS members.

Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS curator, is available to give illustrated lectures about the fire.

The exhibit is sponsored in part by B-Lann Equipment Co., John G Waite Associates and the Troy Uniformed Firefighters Association.

Illustration: Grandma Moses, “The Burning of Troy in 1862″ (1943)


Tour Troy’s Mt. Ida Cemetery, Poestenkill Gorge


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Rensselaer County Historian Kathryn Sheehan will lead a tour of Mt. Ida Cemetery, which features some of the oldest headstones in the city of Troy, and the Poestenkill Gorge, a favorite destination for picnickers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts for centuries.

The waters of the Poestenkill collect in Dyken Pond, then make a dash for the Hudson River below. The Mt. Ida falls drop roughly 85′ into a gorge of crumbly black shale, make a right angle turn, dropping a further 75′ into a massive pool. This source of water power fueled several industries along the Poestenkill’s banks in the 19th century.

Hidden History – Mt. Ida Cemetery and the Poestenkill Gorge will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm. The cost is $15 per person and $12 for RCHS members.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) is a not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180.

Photo: Mills along the lower Poestenkill Gorge at the foot of Cypress Street including the Griswold Wire Works, Tompkins Brothers machine works, and above Manning Paper, which occupied earlier Marshall textile mill buildings. Courtesy Troy Public Library.

New School Break History Programming in Troy


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced new school-break week programming for 2012. Each day includes activities, projects, crafts and games. Children will also have time to tour the Hart-Cluett House and explore downtown Troy. The programs are for children in grades 3 – 6. The programs run from 9:00am – 4:00pm (early drop-off and late pick-up, and extended care are available for an additional fee). Each program includes materials, craft supplies and daily snacks (though not lunch). The cost for RCHS Members is $225; Non-Members, $275. Early-bird registration provides a 10% discount if you register before January 27, 2012 for February’s program and March 16, 2012 for April’s program. To register call 518-272-7232 x.12 or visit www.rchsonline.org for registration materials.

If These Walls Could Talk
Tuesday, February 21, – Friday, February 24, 2012

Buildings, buildings, they are all around us but how many times have you really looked at a building? In this program, students will explore the many sides of buildings and participate in scavenger hunts in downtown Troy looking for Lions, Bells and Faces, design their own dream home, build a model city and more.

Trail of Hope – The Underground Railroad
Tuesday, April 10 – Friday, April 13, 2012

Who were the people who made up the Underground Railroad and where did it take place? Students will take a walking tour to sites that are connected to the Underground Railroad, view an art exhibit, make their own pieces inspired by history, and perform a play about a dramatic rescue.

Rensselaerswijck: Life on the Hudson’s East Bank


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) and the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC) are partnering to present a day of lectures and a tour of a private home to highlight the history of Rensselaerswijck, the colonial estate owned by the van Rensselaer family that was located in what is now mainly the Capital District.

The program will be held on Saturday November 5, 2011. Lectures will take place at the RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY. Cost is $25 for the day, $23 for RCHS and NNRC members. For more information or to make your reservation, call 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org. Space is limited for the house tour.

Highlights of the day include an address by Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars and a chance to tour one of the oldest homes in Rensselaer County, Hoogebergh. Dr. Ruijssenaars, the New Netherland Research Center’s first Senior Scholar in Residence, is the founder of Dutch Archives, a historical research firm in Leiden, the Netherlands. Although a specialist in the history of Russia and the Netherlands, he is also a scholar of the Brontë sisters in Brussels and has published two books on the subject. Currently he is researching the life of Abraham Staats. Hoogebergh is a private, family owned property in which eleven generations of the Staats family have lived. The earliest sections of the home date to the 1690s.

SCHEDULE

9:00am – Coffee and Registration at RCHS, 57 Second Street, Troy NY

9:30 am – Welcome
Ilene Frank, Executive Director, RCHS & Charly Gehring, Director, NNRC

9:45 am – Native Americans Along the Hudson
Andy Krievs, Project Director, Hartgen Archeological Associates, Inc.

Through the years, Hartgen Archeological Associates has conducted several excavations that include Native American sites. Mr. Krievs will talk about several sites found along the Hudson River that date back to the Woodland time period and even earlier.

10:30am – A Dutch Founding Father: Abraham Staats
Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars, Senior Scholar in Residence, NNRC

In 1642, surgeon Abraham Staats and his wife emigrated from Amsterdam to Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s estate, Rensselaerswijck. Staats’s not only treated ailing residents but he also advised the Patroon and served as a magistrate of the court, resolving disputes both inside and outside of court. Well respected, Staats was also something of a diplomat. Entitled to trade in beavers, he learned the Algonquian Indian language and acted as an intermediary between colonists and Native Americans. His commercial interests placed him in contact with New Amsterdam’s leaders, such as Peter Stuyvesant.

11:30am – Going Dutch: The Influence of Dutch Culture in the Upper Hudson Valley
John Scherer, Historian Emeritus, New York State Museum

New York’s unique Dutch heritage was reflected in its material culture long after the colony was taken by the English in 1664. By that time New York, formerly known as New Netherland had been heavily settled by the Dutch and new settlers continued to arrive from the Netherlands. These early settlers and their descendants attempted to replicate their native land in the new world. This Dutch influence continued to exist in the Upper Hudson Valley well in to the nineteenth century.

1:00pm – Tour Hoogebergh
Join us for a special tour of Hoogebergh, a private, family owned property that has remained in the Staats family for eleven generations. The stone house was begun in the 1690s or before and lengthened in 1722. Other additions have been made, but the older parts are little changed. Space is limited, book early.

Illustration: The Hudson River Valley c 1635.

Rensselaer County Historical Appoints Board Members


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced the appointment of Pegeen Jensen and Frank Sarratori to the Board of Trustees. “The addition of these two new board members strengthens the board in two ways. First, as an elementary school teacher, Mrs. Jensen improves our connection to the classroom. Second, Mr. Sarratori with his legal and financial knowledge brings fiscal expertise to the board. RCHS will benefit from their experiences and opinions” Ilene Frank, Executive Director, said in a prepared statement.

Pegeen Jensen is a first grade teacher at Saddlewood Elementary in the South Colonie District, where she is also involved in organizing the school’s Math Olympiad. Mrs. Jensen is a lifelong resident of Melrose, NY and currently lives there with her husband and two daughters. Mrs. Jensen is a graduate of Hoosic Valley High School and SUNY Potsdam.

Frank Sarratori is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for Pioneer Bank, where he has worked since 2004. Mr. Sarratori is from Tonawanda, NY and currently lives in Troy. He holds degrees from State University of New York at Albany and the Albany Law School of Union University.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum is a not-for-profit educational organization established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. RCHS owns two 19th century townhouse buildings, the National Register listed Hart-Cluett House and its Carriage House, servicing as a historic house museum and the adjacent Carr Building housing a research library, galleries, and meeting spaces. RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180.

Upcoming Events at Rensselaer County Historical Society


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has announced their August schedule of events. RCHS was established in 1927 to connect local history and heritage with contemporary life. RCHS is the largest collecting institution in Rensselaer County. The organization owns two 19th century townhouse buildings, the National Register listed Hart-Cluett House and its Carriage House, servicing as a historic house museum and the adjacent Carr Building housing a research library, galleries, and meeting spaces.

RCHS is located at 57 Second Street, Troy NY 12180. Reservations can be made by calling 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org

2nd Saturday House Tour – Highlighting Galusha’s Furniture
Saturday, August 13, 2011
2:00pm
$10 per person
Elijah Galusha’s high-style furniture distinguishes him as the preeminent cabinetmaker of Troy, N.Y., from the late 1820′s through 1870. His furniture can be found in museum collections across the country. RCHS has several examples of his work including a suite of furniture for the Hart-Cluett House’s parlor. This tour will focus on his construction and decoration techniques and highlight the many pieces that exist in the collection.

Mornings at the Museum – Let’s Make Butter
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
10:00am
$5 per child, adults free
Bring your pre-schooler to our monthly program where we introduce children to the museum through storytime, exploring an item from the collection and participating in a hands-on activity. August’s theme is butter and children will be have a chance to make their own fresh butter.

Hidden History – Knickerbocker Mansion
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
4:30pm
$15 per person, $12 for RCHS members
The Knickerbocker Mansion located in Schaghticoke was built by Johannes Knickerbaccker III around 1780. The house was lived in by generations of the Knickerbocker family but fell into disrepair in the 20th century. A dedicated group of volunteers began restoration and after decades of work the building has been almost completely restored. Join RCHS staff and Knickerbocker Historical Society members as we get a special tour of one of Rensselaer County’s oldest buildings.

The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) offers walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings this September. Tours depart from and return to the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by RCHS staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries.

September’s History Walks are part of the Hudson River Ramble. The Hudson River Valley Ramble celebrates the trails, the river and the historic and cultural resources of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area. For more information about the Ramble visit www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com

Cost: $5 per person/ RCHS members free. Reservations can be made by calling 518-244-6853 or email ilenefrank@rchsonline.org . For more information, visit www.rchsonline.org

Saturday, September 10 – Uncle Sam’s Life in Troy
10:30am – Noon
50 years ago Troy was designated by Congress as the Home of Uncle Sam. Join us on this 1.5 hour walking tour of sites in downtown Troy associated with Samuel Wilson, the “real” Uncle Sam. Included is a visit to the exhibit at the RCHS museum, which includes artifacts from Samuel Wilson’s life and images of our national symbol. Tour is not recommended for children under 10. Total distance covered is about 1.5 miles

Saturday, September 17 – Amazing Architecture
10:30am – 11:30am
Stroll downtown Troy and you’ll find a rich built environment. This 1 hour walking tour showcases Troy’s architectural gems and range of styles. Tour is not recommended for children under 10. Total distance covered is about 1 mile.

Saturday, September 24 – History Under Foot and Overhead
10:30am – 11:30am
Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. Tour encourages children to look at tops of buildings and bottom of stairs to find architectural details often overlooked. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!”

Past at Play at Rensselaer County Historical Society


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Kids are invited to bring their favorite adults to Troy’s historic Hart-Cluett House tomorrow Saturday, August 7th from 10 – 11:30am for a kid-friendly tour of the House, followed by lemonade, cookies, and historic games in the courtyard. Learn about the lives of many children who grew up in this house and get to know some of the games they played. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

The cost for RCHS Members is $10 for kid + adult, $5 each additional person; Not-yet-members $12/kid + adult & $7 for additional guests. Pre-registration required – call 518-272-7232, x12 to register or register online at http://www.rchsonline.org/registration.html.

Troy: Chances to Tour ‘Limited Access’ Sites


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Hidden history will be revealed as the Rensselaer County Historical Society offers unique opportunities to tour limited-access sites around Troy. From a riverfront warehouse painstakingly renovated into an elegant loft apartment to the attic of the 1786 Melville House, the Rensselaer County Historical Society’s Hidden History programs offer the public opportunities to tour historic buildings and sites not normally open to the general public.

Participants may register for individual programs ($12 members/$15 not-yet-members) or for the whole 4-program series ($45 members/$50 not-yet-members). All tours last an hour and meet at the location specified. Call 518-272-7232, x12 to register or register online at http://www.rchsonline.org/registration.html.

HIDDEN HISTORY: 169 River Street Renovation
Date: Tuesday, July 27, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: 169 River Street, Troy

169 River Street was once home to the Wustefeld Candy Company. Now, this renovated warehouse building on Troy’s riverfront is a great example of the adaptive re-use of historic structures. Explore this former warehouse building and learn about how it was transformed into a modern loft apartment – with some wonderful traces of its industrial past remaining.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Herman Melville House
Date: Tuesday, August 24, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: Corner 1st Ave and 114th Street, Lansingburgh
The 1786 Melville House was home to Herman Melville while he wrote his first two novels and is now home to the Lansingburgh Historical Society. Join us for a tour of this historic building, including its “Attic Museum” which highlights Lansingburgh’s unique contributions to the area economy.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Lighting Research Center/Gurley Building
Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: 21 Union Street, Troy
This National Historic Landmark building was built in 1862 and opened just 8 months after the original building on the site burned to the ground in the Great Fire of Troy. Rensselaer’s innovative Lighting Research Center occupies floors of the building that were once home to production lines for Gurley’s world famous surveying equipment.

HIDDEN HISTORY: Rensselaer Model Railroad Society
Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2010; 4:30-5:30 pm

Place: Davison Hall, RPI.

Hidden deep within the RPI campus and not normally open to the public, the Rensselaer Model Railroad Society has created a 33 feet wide by 123 feet long historically accurate railroad layout of 1950s Troy. RMRS has generously opened their doors for us to see this unique re-creation. For more information, please visit http://railroad.union.rpi.edu. Please note – the layout is not handicapped accessible and for safety reasons, is only open to ages 12 and up.

Rensselaer County Historical to Offer Walking Tours of Troy


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The Rensselaer County Historical Society will offer walking tours of historic downtown Troy on Saturday mornings, leaving from the Market Table at the Troy Farmer’s Market at 10:30 am. “Our walking tours are a fun way to stretch your legs, and learn about the history that surrounds us,” explains Mari Shopsis, Director of Education for the Rensselaer County Historical Society. Each week brings a different theme for the tours, which are led by Historical Society staff and frequently incorporate historic photographs and readings from letters and diaries. The tours last approximately an hour. Cost: $5 for not-yet-members of the Historical Society/members free.

HISTORY WALK: Troy’s Great Fire of 1862
Saturday, May 8, 2010, 10:30 – 11:30 am

One of the most formative events in Troy’s history happened on May 10th, 1862 when within just a few hours a major bridge over the Hudson and more than 500 buildings in the city were destroyed by a huge conflagration known even today as “The Great Fire.” Using excerpts from newspapers and the letters and recollections of people who lived through this event, you will walk back into history as you retrace the progress of this fire and see what impacts this disaster had – not only locally, but nationally.

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, May 15, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

This introduction to Troy history and architecture looks at how the city evolved from its initial founding in 1789 as a village to its 19th century heyday and on into the 20th century. The sites of many important events will be discussed along with some of the people who made the name Troy known around the world.

HISTORY WALK: Underground Railroad Walking Tour
Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10:30 – 11:30 am

Troy was a hotbed of abolitionist activity in the 19th century. This walking tour will highlight the sights associated with the African American community in the first half of the 19th century. Included will be sites associated with the famous rescue of escaped slave Charles Nalle by thousands of Trojans and the now famous Harriet Tubman.

FAMILY HISTORY WALK: History Underfoot and Overhead
Saturday, June 5, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

History is everywhere in Troy. Families with kids ages 5 and up will enjoy this interactive walk through Troy’s past. We’ll look at the buildings around us for clues that tell us about the past and get hands-on with history. You’ll come away saying “I never knew that about Troy!”

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, June 12, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

This introduction to Troy history and architecture looks at how the city evolved from its initial founding in 1789 as a village to its 19th century heyday and on into the 20th century. The sites of many important events will be discussed along with some of the people who made the name Troy known around the world.

HISTORY WALK: Spiritual Troy
Saturday, June 19, 2010; 10:30am – 12:00 pm

This special 1.5 hour walking tour looks at the history of Troy through the history of its houses of worship. Early settlers, increasing diversity, changing populations – all these stories are illustrated by the development of Troy’s religious institutions.

HISTORY WALK: Who Worked Where
Saturday, June 26, 2010; 10:30 – 11:30 am

From night soil removers to buttonholers, night watchmen to steamboat captains – the occupations of 19th century Trojans will surprise and intrigue you. For this walking tour we explore the streets of downtown Troy to see who worked where – and why.

The Art of History High School Art Competition


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The public is invited to the opening of the 2010 “Art of History” exhibition and competition awards ceremony at the Rensselaer County Historical Society on Saturday, April 24, 2010 from 3-5pm. Light refreshments will be served.

For the “Art of History” competition, students from Rensselaer County high schools were invited to create original artwork inspired by documents from the Rensselaer County Historical Society collection. The documents focused on early African-American history in Rensselaer County and included an 1824 estate inventory listing enslaved persons as property, a newspaper account of the rescue of fugitive slave Charles Nalle in 1860, and a powerful letter from an African-American man threatened in Troy’s 1863 draft riots.

The exhibition of student work will be on display through June 19, 2010.

The Art of History competition is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and generous support from Alane and Paul Hohenberg and the United Group.

A Fugitive Slave Rescued: Paintings of Charles Nalle


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150 years ago, on April 26, 1860, escaped slave Charles Nalle was kidnapped from a Troy bakery and taken to the District Circuit Court at State and First Streets, in Troy where he was to be sent back to Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Act. Hundreds of people, including Harriet Tubman, rushed to the site where a riot ensued, allowing Nalle to escape across the Hudson to West Troy and ultimately to freedom.

On February 27, 2010 from 5-8 pm, the Rensselaer County Historical Society opens a major new exhibit, A Fugitive Slave Rescued: Paintings of Charles Nalle by Mark Priest, which will kick off an examination of this nationally important event. Artist and University of Louisville professor Mark Priest worked with RCHS staff to research the history of the Nalle rescue. His dramatic narrative paintings and drawings depict the events of April 26, 1860, immersing viewers in the emotions and issues of the day. This exhibit is presented in partnership with the Sage Colleges, which also host part of the exhibit through April 26, 2010.

Mark Priest is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Louisville. He received his MFA in painting from Yale University and has exhibited his work at museums and galleries throughout the United States and internationally. His Underground Railroad series developed from an interest in Harriet Tubman:

“I began my research in 2003 and in May of 2004 I followed the routes on which Tubman took passengers to freedom. Forever etched in my memory are an infinite number of untold stories of individuals who toiled tirelessly to attain freedom. Many events were recounted to me by noted historians, genealogists and descendants while I traveled through, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and Canada; retracing the steps of many who went before me on this route to freedom. The wealth of personal experiences and detailed information I obtained is the foundation of this series or artworks. I strive to create dramatic compositions to portray the intensity of each moment. The life Tubman chose was one of uncertainty. Every moment could have been her last. She carried on undaunted and these are the ideas that I strive to portray in this series. Figures are tugging and heaving, hoisting and dragging. Figures depict the mental, emotional, and physical prowess needed to succeed on the UGRR. Every muscle is strained to the limit. Vibrant color and light are used to lead your eye through the composition.”

Exhibition-Related Events:

Russell Sage College Reception with Mark Priest
Thursday, February 25, 2010, 4-6pm
Schacht Fine Arts Center Gallery
Division & Front Streets, Troy
Free & Open to the Public
(518) 244-2248

High School Student Artist Gallery Talk with Mark Priest

How does Mark Priest get inspired to create his art? What is the life of a professional artist like? High School artists are invited to attend a free workshop and gallery talk with artist Mark Priest and get answers to these questions and more. This workshop is offered as part of the 2010 Art of History Competition, however students need not be preparing work for the competition to participate in the student workshop. Pre-registration is required – call or email Mari Shopsis at 272-7232, x17 / mshopsis@rchsonline.org or register online at http://artofhistory.eventbrite.com/ .

Thursday, February 25, 2010, 5-7 pm
Rensselaer County Historical Society
57 Second Street, Troy
(518) 272-7232, x17

Exhibition Opening & Book Signing
Saturday February 27, 2010; 5-8 pm, remarks at 6 pm
Rensselaer County Historical Society

Join RCHS and the Underground Railroad History Conference attendees for a reception at RCHS celebrating the exhibit of artist Mark Priest’s Charles Nalle paintings and the release of author Scott Christianson’s new book, Freeing Charles, The Struggle to Free a Slave on the Eve of the Civil War. Freeing Charles is the culmination of 18 years of research into Nalle’s life, escape from slavery, and the operation of the Underground Railroad. In this book, Christianson follows Nalle from his enslavement in Virginia through his escape via the Underground Railroad to his experiences in the North on the eve of the Civil War. Christianson also presents a richly detailed look at slavery culture in antebellum Virginia, and probes the deepest political and psychological aspects of this epic tale. His account underscores fundamental questions about racial inequality, the rule of law, civil disobedience, and violent resistance to slavery in the antebellum North and South. Both Scott Christianson and Mark Priest will speak briefly at 6pm and will be available for discussion and book signing afterwards. Light refreshments served.

Photo: “The Altruist,” Mark Priest, 2008, Acrylic on canvas, 7.5’ x 7.5’ – shows Charles Nalle struggling to break free from a mob at the corner of Second and Congress Streets, Troy. Portions of what is today the Russell Sage campus are visible in the background.