Tag Archives: Rensselaer County Historical Society

RCHS to Host Monthly Travel and Tourism Book Series


By on

0 Comments

In a unique collaboration, the New York Council for the Humanities has joined forces with the Rensselaer County Historical Society to offer Reading Between the Lines: Travel and Tourism Narratives of the Empire State, a monthly reading and discussion series that runs from March through June, 2010.

“Reading Between the Lines offers an unusual twist on the standard book group format with focused thematic discussions led by humanities scholars,” says Council Executive Director Sara Ogger. At the Rensselaer County Historical Society, the discussion leader will be Shealeen Meaney, Assistant Professor of English at Russell Sage College.

Meaney will lead four discussion sessions each focused on a book related to the series theme: Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Other Tales, by Washington Irving; The Artificial River: The Erie Canal and the Paradox of Progress, 1817-1862, by Carol Sherrif; The Second Greatest Disappointment: Honeymooning and Tourism at Niagara Falls, by Karen Dubinsky and Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver, by Graham Russell Gao Hodges.

Mari Shopsis, Director of Education at the Rensselaer County Historical Society adds: “The Rensselaer County Historical Society is very pleased to host this Reading Between the Lines program. Groups like this provide an important venue for civic engagement and social interaction, and Professor Meaney’s work on women’s travel writing and the Historical Society’s collection of travel diaries, postcards and letters are an interesting counterpart to the books being discussed.”

Participants in the series read works of non-fiction and works of literature that are discussed within an historical context. The program is free and open to the public, although pre-registration is required. The group will meet on the third Thursday of the month – March 18, April 15, May 20, and June 17 from 7-8:30pm at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, 57 Second Street, Troy, NY. For more information on the program, visit http://www.rchsonline.org/programs.htm#RBTL or contact Mari Shopsis at 518-272-7232, x 17 or at mshopsis@rchsonline.org.

Reading Between the Lines is designed to promote lively, informed conversation about humanities themes and strengthen the relationship between humanities institutions and the public. Reading Between the Lines series are currently being held in communities across New York State. The project is supported by the We The People initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information about Reading Between the Lines: Travel and Tourism Narratives of the Empire State, visit www.nyhumanities.org/discussion_groups.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Host Valentine Programs


By on

0 Comments

Celebrate Valentine’s Day at the Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) for a series of valentines programs.

Tokens of Love; from lockets and hair jewelry to ornate cards people have always found ways to express their love for one another. View some of the unique expressions of love from the collection of RCHS and enjoy a three course lunch at Daisy Baker’s Restaurant.

Love in the Marble House; join us for a romantic candlelight tour of the Hart-Cluett House and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Guided tours will include the second floor rooms. All Valentines programs include a sweet treat from Uncle Sam’s Chocolates.

RCHS Valentine’s Day Program details:

Tokens of Love, Lunch & Learn. Thursday, February 11. Program 11am-12pm at RCHS, Lunch 12-1pm at Daisy Bakers.

View some of the unique expressions of love from the RCHS collection then enjoy a three course lunch at Daisy Baker’s Restaurant just a block down the street. RCHS Members $27/person; not-yet-members $30/person, includes program and lunch. Registration required by Feb. 9th.

Candlelight House Tour – Love in the Marble House. Friday, February 12, 6-8pm.

Join us for a romantic candlelight tour of the Hart-Cluett House. See the house in a different light and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Staff-led tours will include the second floor rooms. Special Valentine’s Day treat included. $15/person, $25/couple. Registration required by February 11th.

Second Saturday House Tour: Love in the Marble House. Saturday, February 13, 2-3pm. See the house in a different light and learn about the stories behind the numerous weddings held here over the years. Staff-led tours will include the second floor rooms. Special Valentine’s Day treat included. $10/person, $15/couple. Registration required by February 11th.

Pre-registration for RCHS programs is easy, Click on our website, www.rchsonline.org; call 518-272-78232 ext 12; or come in to RCHS at 57 Second Street, Troy, Thursday-Saturday 12-5pm.

Ten Biggest Stories in New York History For 2009


By on

0 Comments

In no particular order, the Ten Biggest Stories in New York State History in 2009.

150th Anniversary of John Brown’s Death
2009 marked the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba, Essex County. To commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, activities included lectures, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba including an overnight stay in Elizabethtown.


Archeological Discoveries
It was a big year for archeological discoveries in Essex County where work on the pre-civil African American community progressed, in Lake Ontario where an 1850s Schooner was discovered, in Albany where an early 19th century cemetery was uncovered, and in Fishkill where a number of Revolutionary War era graves were found. Also, a Civil War soldier was finally returned to Saratoga National Cemetery to be reburied.

Rogers Island, Fort Edward
While dredging PCBs from the Hudson River in Fort Edward a dredge struck the remains of Old Fort Edward damaging one of the most important and historic military sites in New York State. Archaeologist scrambled to asses and mitigate the damage. Another tragic event happened in November when Jeffrey Harbison, part of a 5-person archaeological crew hired by General Electric to begin research for Phase 2 of the Hudson River dredging project next summer, was drowned after going over a dam. The bad news at Rogers Island was capped with later that month when a development plan for the southern end of the island was presented.

400th Anniversary of Henry Hudson
New Year’s Day 2009 marked the start of New York’s Quadricentennial celebration commemorating 400 years of history on the Hudson River, New York Harbor and Lake Champlain. Throughout the year, New York honored the 400th anniversaries of the voyage of Captain Henry Hudson, who led (for the Dutch) the first European expedition to sail up the river that now bears his name, as well as the voyage of Samuel de Champlain, the first to discover the namesake lake. Communities from the Big Apple to the Canadian border held events to highlight New York’s rich history of exploration and discovery.

Lake Champlain Bridge Demolition
The Lake Champlain Bridge, built in 1929 to span between Crown Point, New York and Chimney Point, Vermont, was undergoing study to deal with it’s historic preservation when on October 16, 2009 it was closed indefinitely. In November an engineering report suggested the bridge be demolished and in late December it was unceremoniously destroyed by demolished with explosives. A several hour detour now replaces the old bridge.

Historic Preservation Tax Credit
In July Governor David Paterson signed legislation that greatly improves the New York State Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. The new law provides incentives and program features for developers and municipalities seeking to rehabilitate historic buildings, and is hoped to advance redevelopment and economic stimulus goals throughout New York State. An economic impact study predicts that the enhanced rehabilitation tax credit will spur over $500 million dollars of economic activity in New York State and create some 2,000 jobs over its initial five-year lifespan.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Threatened
The Rensselaer County Historical Society announced in March that they may be forced to close due to economic hardship. “RCHS is currently experiencing severe financial difficulty,” officials at the Society told their supporters, “The organization been running annual deficits for several years, and despite special efforts, the situation has now become critical. In a matter of weeks RCHS will no longer have funds available to meet its basic operating needs.” RCHS is still holding on, but the economic crisis appears far from over.

Coney Island’s Demise Hastened
A major debate raged this year about the future of Coney Island. Thor Equities (a development company) has purchased large tracts of land in the reknown seaside resort of yore, and the City Planning Commission passed a radical rezoning to encourage economic redevelopment – a plan vehemently opposed by preservation interests. This year Coney lost landmarks like Astroland and Major Meats on Mermaid Avenue. Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park may be next as the park has sold it’s popular Thunderbolt ride late last year. In December the grassroots activist group Save Coney Island, along with several Coney Island residents and amusement district workers and performers filed a lawsuit challenging the Bloomberg administration’s rezoning of Coney Island’s amusement area. It may be the only hope of saving an American landmark.

New York Writers Institute’s 25th Anniversary
2009 marked the 25th Anniversary of one of New York State’s most important literary institutions. Since 1984, more than 1,000 novelists, poets, biographers, filmmakers, historians, essayists and creative artists have presented a wide ranging variety of performance, readings, workshops, seminars, and other public events. Since the Institute was started by writer and historian William Kennedy (using some of his MacArthur award prize money) more then a quarter million people have attended its events.

War of 1812 Bill Vetoed

Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have created a commission to organize and promote bi-national events related to the War of 1812′s 200th anniversary. Paterson said the expense, which he put at about $2.25 million by 2016, was “not absolutely necessary” in light of a then-looming state. Supporters however, pointed out that the bill did not require a budget appropriation, but would provide a structure of volunteers to coordinate commemorative events.

Rensselaer County HS’s Uncle Sam Exhibition


By on

0 Comments

The Rensselaer County Historical Society and Museum (RCHS) will become the new home for Uncle Sam and his story with the opening of its new permanent exhibition Uncle Sam: The Man in Life and Legend on Wednesday, November 11, 5-7 p.m., at 57 Second Street in Troy.

Samuel ‘Uncle Sam’ Wilson (1766-1854) is undoubtedly Troy¹s most famous son. Arriving in Troy in the late 18th century and participating in the community¹s early growth and success, he was also a witness to the expansion of our nation and the development of our national identity.

The Historical Society’s exhibit examines both the real man and the national symbol using objects from the museum¹s collections, including archeological artifacts from the site of one of Sam Wilson¹s houses and historical prints and images of our national symbol. Visitors will be able to see how the story of Uncle Sam evolved and learn how this real person and national icon continue to impact us today.

Fittingly, Uncle Sam opens on Veterans Day, November 11, 2009. The opening is free and open to all. A modern Uncle Sam will make an appearance at the event and RCHS encourages attendees to wear their Uncle Sam inspired attire. The event will also be the official launch of the Rensselaer County Historical Society¹s online Uncle Sam Resource Center.

Photo: WWI Recruiting Poster: ³Uncle Sam Wants You² by Montgomery Flagg. Provided by the RCHS.

Presentation On The Poesten Kill Thursday


By on

0 Comments

John Warren (yours truly) has written the first history of the Poestenkill ­which flows through the center of Rensselaer County and enters the Hudson River at Troy, will offer a book talk and signing this Thursday (October 22nd, 6:30 to­ 8 pm) at the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy (57 Second Street, Troy). The event is free and open to the public. Copies of The Poesten Kill will be available for purchase at the event. The Poestenkill has been home to American Indians who hunted, gathered, fished and farmed along its shores, frontier Dutch farmers and traders, colonial tradesmen, merchants, millers, and lumbermen, and nineteenth century iron, steel, textile, and paper workers.

Rensselaer County Historical Society Hosts Walking Tours


By on

0 Comments

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. The topics will vary each week ­and include the Underground Railroad, the history of Troy’s fire and police departments, and more.

The tours are being 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; free for Society members.

HISTORY WALK: People, Place & Progress
Saturday, September 19, 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: Jacob Vanderheyden and the Village of Troy
Saturday, September 26, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Before Troy was Troy, it was known as Vanderheyden, after Jacob Vanderheyden, the Dutch farmer who laid out the streets and alleys of what is now the city of Troy. Explore the one square mile area in the city’s downtown historic district where the early settlement of Troy took place.

HISTORY WALK: “To Protect and Serve”
Saturday, October 3, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Firehouses, church bells, and night constables – and a dash of murder and mayhem. This walking tour focuses on the colorful history of Troy’s municipal police and fire departments, from their volunteer origins to today’s public servants.

FAMILY HISTORY WALK: History Underfoot and Overhead
Saturday, October 10, 2009, 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: Troy’s Amazing Architecture
Saturday, October 17, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
This walking tour uses Troy’s rich 19th and 20th century built environment to explore and learn about a range of styles and types of buildings. You’ll never see it the same way again!

HISTORY WALK: Underground Railroad Walking Tour
Saturday, October 24, 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.

HISTORY WALK: Murder and Mayhem
Saturday, October 31, 2009, 10:30 – 11:30 am
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.

Another Setback for Rensselaer Co. Historical Society


By on

0 Comments

The Albany Times Union is reporting today that the beleaguered Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is losing the interim executive director, Rachel Tooker, less then six months after she took the post. Members of the organization, including Renssealer County Historian Kathy Sheehan, (who also serves as the society’s Registrar) touted her as the leadership necessary to steer the non-profit back to solvency. She will be moving to California where her partner has taken a museum job.

In March, RCHS sent an e-mail warning of dire consequences for the society: “What may have seemed – even ten years ago – a reasonable endowment with sustainable cash reserves has now dwindled to the point where we are no longer able to pay our bills. Without an immediate and substantial infusion of funds (upwards of $150,000), it appears that we will be required to close our doors while we work to implement a prudent fiscal strategy.” No communication with members, supporters, or the press suggested Tooker would be leaving before the Times Union’s report today.

According to the Times Union, “Tooker said the historical society has charted a new course that will help it correct its financial difficulties. The New York Council of Nonprofits will provide managerial leadership for the historical society.”

This is the rest of the post

Hudson River Dinner Cruise with Len Tantillo


By on

1 Comment

The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will host the Times Union’s 2009 Best Local Artist and Historian Len Tantillo for a dinner cruise on board the Captain JP II, leaving from Troy and sailing south to the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. The event will take place on Sunday, July 19th, 2009 from 3 to 9PM; the cost is $85.00 per person for RCHS Members, $95.00 per person for non-menbers.

Tantillo, a noted Hudson River artist and historian, will narrate the often complex relationship that Henry Hudson had with his crew and the various Indian tribes that they encountered on their trips ashore. Scenic highlights and historic landmarks will be pointed out on the west and east side of the river including Papskanee Island in the Town of Schodack, the reputed place that Hudson dropped anchor and traded with the Mahican Indians. Guests will also be treated to a dinner buffet of salmon, roast turkey and prime rib along with a array of vegetables and desserts.

Guests will board at 3PM at the foot of State Street in Troy. Free parking is available dockside. The boat will leave promptly at 3:30 and return to the Troy dock at approximately 9PM.

To purchase tickets for the trip, please visit www.rchsonline.org/tickets.htmlor call (518) 272-7232, extension 12.

Photo: “A View of Troy, New York, 1847″ by Len Tantillo – “This painting of Troy, New York, depicts the Hudson River city as it might have appeared in the mid 19th century. The image was based on a number of period drawings, photographs and maps from the collection of the Rensselaer County Historical Society”