The Wolfert’s Roost Country Club in Albany maintains a small dam, pond, and pump house to provide water for their golf course. In the 1980s workers excavating the pond, which is fed by the Maezlandtkill, discovered several sections of ancient wooden and very early cast iron pipe along with iron bands. The pipe and other artifacts were placed in the woods near the club’s tennis courts and forgotten.
Benjamin Prescott, engineer of Albany’s first municipal water system and the man responsible for those pipes, is all but equally forgotten, despite an illustrious career in engineering. Prescott served as an Engineer in the American Revolution, Superintendent of the Springfield Armory, and was the designer of several notable projects, including one of this nation’s first inclined planes (on the Connecticut River). He also conducted a 1790s survey of Niagara Falls, consulted on the Erie Canal, designed the Troy Sloop Lock (the Federal Dam) and more. Continue reading
“Collections Care 101” will be held at the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) on Friday, June 12, 2015 from 9 am to 4 pm.
The day-long workshop covers the basics of collections care and is presented by Stacy Pomeroy Draper, RCHS Curator; and Kathryn Sheehan, RCHS Registrar and Rensselaer County and City of Troy Historian. Continue reading
“Albany’s Only Negro Civil War Veteran” was the title of an article in The New York Age in May, 1933. The paper reported an interview with the city’s last surviving black veteran from the War Between the States, Sergeant James N. Lucas.
After serving with Company E of the 38th U.S. Colored Volunteers from early 1865 until 1867, he lived in Troy before moving to Albany in 1869. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has opened a new exhibit titled “John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy.” The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy” features over a dozen 19th century photographs of the Henry family who lived in Whitehall, New York. The photographs were re-discovered a few years ago at the Whitehall Library when Clifford Oliver, a photographer who lives in Greenwich, NY, was alerted to their existence. The photos tell the story of the Henry family who were related by marriage to the prominent abolitionist Baltimore family of Troy, NY. Some of the individuals are identified and others are awaiting further research to connect names to their faces. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) in Troy debuts a new exhibit, Scenic Overlook: Perspectives on Rensselaer County’s Changing Landscape, on Friday, February 27th as part of Troy Night Out, from 5 pm to 8 pm.
The exhibit runs through December 19, 2015 and is free to the public. Continue reading
A Montreal-based circus group will perform in a unique historic space in Troy on Friday and Saturday, February 20th and 21st. F.A.Q. Circus will perform three 55-minute shows in the Troy Gas Light Gasholder Building.
The events are an opportunity to see a remarkable new approach to a traditional circus, inside of one of Troy’s most remarkable historic buildings. Built in 1873, the Gasholder Building is one of only a handful of such structures remaining in the U.S. Continue reading
k In December, the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) unveiled a new addition to the museum. The Poestenkill Lion returned to the museum after some conservation work and for the first time was displayed on the museum’s walls.
The lion first came to RCHS in 2011, when long-time RCHS supporters Hughes and Eva Gemmill donated the painting, which dates to about 1840 and is by an unknown artist. The lion was thinly painted with milk paint on four wide unfinished wood boards. Continue reading
A jury trial in a real courtroom in Troy on Sunday, December 7th at 2 pm aims to solve a centuries-old controversy over who really wrote one of the most beloved holiday poems in the world: “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Last year “The Trial Before Christmas” was a surprise holiday spectacle that gained national media attention and attracted more than 500 spectators to the Rensselaer County Courthouse – a standing-room-only crowd. But the jury was unable to reach a verdict, so the case will be heard again. Continue reading
On the evening of Saturday, December 6th, during the 58th Annual Holiday Greens Show at the Rensselaer County Historical Society, a special one-night-only performance will take place in the parlors of the historic Hart-Cluett House in downtown Troy.
Inspired by the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale The Little Match Girl, Troy–based musicians Katherine and Calvin Young, who perform as Simple Souls, have written a new musical adaptation of the fairy tale, titled The Other Side of Visible. . Performed in the Hart-Cluett House’s front parlor, The Other Side of Visible weaves the historic interior into the fabric of the story creating a unique blend of house concert and theatrical storytelling. Katherine Young’s voice takes the audience on a journey that explores the themes of love, invisibility, and imagination. Continue reading
The Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is continuing its winter lecture series with a presentation by Sloane Bullough about the origins of the famed Christmas story, “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, and the well known carol, “Jingle Bells”.
The poem was first published anonymously as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in the Troy Sentinel on December 23, 1823, having been sent there by a friend of Clement Clarke Moore, and was reprinted frequently thereafter with no name attached. It was first attributed in print to Moore in 1837 and Moore himself acknowledged authorship when he included it in his own book of poems in 1844. By then, the original publisher and at least seven others had already acknowledged his authorship. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will honor The Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation at its 2014 Annual Gala Benefit at the Franklin Plaza Ballroom, on Thursday, October 30, 2014.
The Annual Gala is Rensselaer County Historical Society’s main fundraiser to support the public programs offered by RCHS. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will debut a new exhibit, At the Corner of Second & State: Where Troy’s History Intersects, on Monday, September 8th at 7 pm along with the companion exhibit, “Conserving the Welfare and Best Interests of our Depositors”: The Troy Savings Bank.
The main exhibit runs through December 20, 2014, and the companion exhibit runs through November 15, 2014. The exhibits are sponsored in part by the Troy Savings Bank Charitable Foundation and the Lucille A. Herold Charitable Trust. The exhibits are open and free to the public. Continue reading
As the 1830’s drew to a close and the 1840’s began, committees were formed in some cities in the north to protect freedom seekers from re-enslavement, and to assist them in their flight to freedom in the north or in Canada. As slave catchers sought freedom seekers, these “vigilance” committees provided legal assistance, food, clothing, money, employment, and temporary shelter.
Such a committee formed in Albany in the early 1840’s, and one continued to exist up to the time of the Civil War. Albany’s anti-slavery newspaper, Tocsin of Liberty, identifies ten people, Blacks and whites, as members of the executive body of the local Vigilance Committee in 1842. Some are familiar names from the city’s history, such as Thomas Paul and Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Lattimore. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) will debut a new, rotating exhibit, Prospect of America: Selections from the Edgar Holloway Art Collection, on Monday, September 8th at 7pm at the 87th Annual Meeting. The exhibit series runs through December 20, 2014. The exhibit is sponsored in part by the McCarthy Charities.
In the early 1970s, Rev. Thomas Phelan was inspired to raise awareness of Troy and the surrounding area’s amazing architectural and industrial heritage. Valuing the power art has to move people to action, Rev. Phelan commissioned English artist Edgar Holloway to spend three summers, from 1973 to 1975, in Troy to document the historic buildings and street scenes. His three years in New York resulted in over 80 watercolors and 15 etchings that have become a historical record themselves of the way Troy, Cohoes, and other outlying areas looked in the mid-1970s. Through Holloway’s art, people began to see the inherent beauty in these often neglected buildings. Advocacy groups formed and several buildings were preserved through the actions of individuals inspired by art. Continue reading
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) is hosting a Downton Troy Courtyard Party on Tuesday, August 12th from 5pm to 8pm.
Inspired by the popular television series, Downton Abbey, RCHS will be hosting a summer evening party in the courtyard of the Historical Society in Troy, NY. Attendees are invited to adopt 1920s attire and/or accessories for the evening to complement the theme of the party. Continue reading
The nation’s first bona-fide all-female union was formed in Troy 150 years ago under the leadership of a young Irish immigrant, Kate Mullany, and her colleague, Esther Keegan, in reaction to low wages, 12- to 14-hour workdays and unsafe conditions in the collar factories.
Local writer and director Ruth Henry dramatizes the story in a new musical, “Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot.” Continue reading
The 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
The 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
The 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
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