A walking tour of The Rondout-West Strand National Historic District in Kingston, sponsored monthly by Friends of Historic Kingston, contrasts the results of a heartbreaking 1960’s urban renewal project with the gentrification that followed in an area that escaped the wrecking ball.
After the entire east side of Lower Broadway was demolished in 1967 vintage 19th century buildings on the opposite side stood empty, awaiting what seemed their inevitable fate. Luckily, federal funding ran out and what is today the Rondout – West Strand National Historic District was spared. New structures were built part-way up the east side of the hill. The restored neighborhood brings to my mind the painful image of a one-winged bird. Continue reading
The Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner has officially opened the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center on Route 28 in the Hamlet of Mt. Tremper, Town of Shandaken, Ulster County, which is expected to serve as a gateway for visitors to Catskills Forest Preserve to learn about the area’s outdoor recreation opportunities, its ecology, and according to a press release, its history. Continue reading
Headwaters History Days, two full weekends of events, exhibits, open houses and activities celebrating the history, culture, folklife and landscape of the Central Catskills, will be held May 30 and 31, and again June 6 and 7.
Visitors are invited to explore 16 historic sites across two counties, through the East Branch Delaware River and Esopus Creek Watersheds from Andes in Delaware County to Olive in Ulster County. Continue reading
AT&T has given a $20,000 contribution to support the conservation and digitization of documents burned in the 1911 New York Capitol Fire.
The documents are expected to be conserved and digitized are badly fire damaged and contain information about life in the Hudson Valley in the 1700s, primarily in Dutchess, Ulster, and Orange counties. They have been unavailable to the public since 1911; no timetable for online public access has been announced. Continue reading
Historic Huguenot Street has announced its first events of the new year: a three-part lecture series with Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon. The lecture series will kick off on Saturday, February 7, at 4 pm.
In honor of Black History Month, this first lecture – entitled “From Isabella to Sojourner: A Slave in Ulster County” – will focus on the life of local abolitionist hero Sojourner Truth, from a childhood in slavery to her bold step into freedom. Continue reading
Time was that the Sullivan County Catskills were as popular as any summer tourist destination in the country. And as far back as the 19th century, some enterprising hotel owners attempted to translate that popularity into year around success.
Boosted by the patronage of those seeking a cure from tuberculosis, in the 1880s the Ontario and Western Railway began advertising the area as a winter health resort, publishing its annual “Winter Homes” brochure in addition to the popular “Summer Homes” booklet. Continue reading
Even those who are not particularly astute observers of the current battle for casino licenses have recognized that the struggle has devolved into one in which some of those in the running have resorted to pointing out how desperate they are.
Sullivan and Ulster Counties seem to be in the lead in this dubious category, and although it will likely be worth it if it lands a casino for one or both, it remains to be seen what the long term impact of such reverse promotion will be, especially if no casinos are forthcoming. Continue reading
I have worked across from the old Borden Estate for over 10 years. Only recently have I started to gain a real appreciation of the role of the Borden Family not only in the history of Wallkill, NY, but also the education of its children.
The Borden Family used their fortune to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. Nowhere is this made more evident than with Penelope Borden. Her many accomplishments are often overshadowed by her sister Marion as well as her father John G. Borden. Continue reading
Tucked away in the Mid-Hudson Valley’s Ulster County is one of New York’s oldest communities – Uptown Kingston. Also known as the Stockade District, a nod to the protective fence that the early Dutch and Walloon settlers built around their settlement, uptown Kingston is a charming, walkable neighborhood of stunning houses dating from the early 1700s to the turn of the 20th century.
A special house tour on Sunday, June 22nd, highlights this “best kept secret” and features some of the neighborhood’s most stunning homes. Continue reading
John Augustus Roebling celebrated two milestones in June of 1849, his 43rd birthday and the beginning of construction of the Neversink Aqueduct on the Delaware & Hudson Canal. It was the third of the four aqueducts he would design and build for the canal company, and followed the completion of the Delaware and Lackawaxen Aqueducts the previous year.
Roebling (his given name was actually Johann August) was born in Muhlhausen, in Prussia, on June 12, 1806, the youngest son of Christoph Polycarpa Roebling and Fredericke Dorothea Mueller Roebling. He grew up in a world of private tutors, learned the music of Bach and the poetry of Goethe, and according to some sources, built a model of a suspension bridge when he was nine years old that bore a striking resemblance to what would be his most famous work, the Brooklyn Bridge. He gained admission to the prestigious engineering program at the Royal Polytechnic Institute in Berlin, where he studied languages and philosophy as well as architecture, bridge construction and hydraulics. He graduated in 1826, and went to work for the state, as was the requirement at that time, serving three years building roads in Westphalia. Continue reading
What happens when a giant high-tech corporation opens a massive new plant on the outskirts of a small, rural, historic city? And what happens when it just as suddenly leaves?
In Kingston: The IBM Years (Friends of Historic Kingston, 2014), three prominent college professors, an award-winning novelist, a longtime Ulster County journalist, and two former IBM Kingston employees examine the history of the IBM complex and the work that was conducted there, the impact the facility had on Kingston and its surroundings, what life was like as an “IBMer,” how it influenced regional architecture and thrust a colonial city into the modern age, and the effect of a “boom and bust” cycle on a rural, traditional community. Continue reading
Teaching the Hudson Valley (THV) is has announced the results of its third annual K-12 “Writing about Place” contest. In the coming weeks many of the poems and essays submitted will be published on THV’s blog.
In addition, the following top-scoring authors will host their classmates as they visit the places they wrote about. Continue reading
Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz has appointed Dr. Taylor Stoermer, formerly of Colonial Williamsburg and Brown University, as Director of Strategy, Development, and Interpretation. According to a recent press release: “He is responsible for managing an ambitious strategic planning process over the next nine months to establish a new, sustainable foundation for Huguenot Street that strengthens its ties with the past, with modern guests, and with the broader regional community.”
Dr. Stoermer will also oversee historic interpretation, programming, marketing, fundraising, public communication, and political affairs. Rebecca Mackey remains at Huguenot Street in her recently announced role as Director of Operations, responsible for all administrative, site improvement and restoration, financial, and day-to-day operations of the site. Continue reading
In early spring 1782, General George Washington arrived at the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh, New York for his longest stay – 16-1/2 months. Washington’s time at the Hasbrouck House was one of watchful waiting, followed by a cessation of hostilities, and finally an end to the war.
From the Hasbrouck House Washington made a short trip through the scenic Roundout Valley, stopping at Stone Ridge (or Stoney Ridge), on his way to Kingston, which the British had burned in 1777. En route to his destination, Washington stopped to dine and sleep at the home of Major Cornelius Evert Wynkoop. Continue reading
If Sarah (Hasbrouck) Osterhoudt was transported from the 18th century to her home today, she would recognize her actual stone dwelling and little else. Once the nucleus of a large and prosperous farm which remained in the Osterhoudt family for centuries, today the home sits on less than an acre and is crowded later development.
The Osterhoudt house, located on a dead-end street in Lake Katrine, NY, is one of the oldest in Ulster County. It’s about five miles from the Stockade District of Kingston where Sarah’s eldest brother Abraham Hasbrouck lived. A considerable amount of information is known about the home Osterhoudt, but little is known about the lives of the occupants themselves, most notably Sarah. Continue reading
Munsee Indian Trade in Ulster County, New York 1712-1732 (Syracuse Univ Press, 2013), edited by Kees-Jan Waterman and J. Michael Smith offers the full, annotated translation of a recently discovered Dutch account book recording trade with Native Americans in Ulster County, New York, from 1712 to 1732.
The ledger contains just over two-thousand transactions with about two-hundred native individuals. Slightly more than one-hundred Indians appear with their names listed. The volume and granularity of the entries allow for detailed indexing and comparative analysis of the people and processes involved in these commercial dealings in the mid-Hudson River Valley. Continue reading
I’ve been researching the Hasbrouck Family for close to twenty years. During that time, I’ve spent most of my time exploring and writing about Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. His home, located in Newburgh, is famous for being the headquarters of General George Washington from 1782-1783 and today it’s a state historic site.
An often overlooked member of this family is Jonathan’s oldest brother, Abraham. During his long life, Abraham kept a diary and because of this journal, we know a lot about Jonathan and his family, as well as the events (and even notable weather) of his time. Continue reading
In 1870, the New York Herald proclaimed that Ulster County was New York’s “Ulcer County” due to its lawlessness and crime. The columnist supported his claim by citing that in only six months, “it has been the scene of no less than four cold blooded and brutal murders, six suicides and four elopements.”
Hannah Markle—the bane of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union—ran a Kingston saloon where murder and violence were served alongside the whiskey. John Babbitt confessed on his deathbed to murdering Emma Brooks, and Wille Brown—reputed member of the Eastman Gang—accidentally shot his best friend. The infamous Big Bad Bill, the “Gardiner Desperado,” lashed out more than once and killed in a drunken rage. Continue reading
This year marks the 350th anniversary of the Second Esopus War, which was fought primarily between the Munsee Esopus and the New Netherland colonists in 1663. The image of an “Indian” war most often conjures up scenes of the American West, yet this conflict took place right in the proverbial backyard of the Hudson Valley.
The Esopus Wars were centered around the settlement of Wiltwijck, a place we know today as Kingston. The conflict completely changed the power dynamic of the region, from one dominated by American Indians to European colonists. While from another angle, a look at the war’s participants offers a view of the diverse population that composed Dutch New York. Continue reading
When the Borden family arrived in the nineteenth century, educational opportunities in Ulster County were limited; classes rarely extended beyond the eighth grade. This changed when the philanthropic Bordens established their Borden Condensed Milk Company and gave Wallkill the means to construct one of the area’s first high schools.
That history is presented in detail in A History of the Wallkill Central Schools (2013, History Press) by A.J Schenkman and Elizabeth Werlau. Continue reading