Tag Archives: Ulster County

Senate House Independence Day Celebration Saturday


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Senate House is one if New York’s outstanding historic sites. The former home of Abraham Van Gaasbeek was the first meeting place of the New York State Senate in 1777. It was burned by the British, along with the rest of Kingston, in October 1777. In addition to the Senate House, the site consists of a Colonial Revival art museum with the world’s largest collection of art by Kingston native John Vanderlyn, and other objects donated to the site over many years.

Senate House State Historic Site is celebrating Independence Day on Saturday June 30 from 11am-3pm. The day begins with a Patriotic Service at 11am which will include patriotic readings and music, followed by an afternoon of music provided by the Headless Horsemen Fife and Drum Corps, 18th century magic performed by “Mr. Bayly” and 18th century games for kids to play.

Additionally, the Third Ulster Militia will be encamped on the grounds demonstrating 18th century camp life, including hearthside cooking, washing laundry and demonstrating the practice of medicine in the colonial era.

Guided tours of Senate House will be provided by costumed interpreters. Outdoor events are free of charge. Tours of Senate House are $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors, children 12 and under are free. The site is located on Fair St. in historic uptown Kingston. For more information please call the site at (845) 338-2786.

Historic Farm Tour Focusing on New Paltz Area


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CIRCA, a tour of historic farmhouses this Sunday, June 10th, aims to highlight the rich and varied architecture that remains from the late 18th and 19th centuries, when the New Paltz area was part of the Nation’s breadbasket.  

CIRCA will feature six local homes, all of which have strong ties to this pivotal period in America’s history. Also included on the tour is an 18th century Dutch-style barn, today home to Adair Vineyards, and an artist’s studio created from a unique early 19th century stone barn.


It was the bounty of the Hudson Valley and the industrious nature of our 18th and 19th century farmers that helped feed our young country – especially burgeoning cities such as New York.

Farming in this era involved individuals of all social strata, from the wealthiest of gentleman farmers, to the hardworking tenant farmers who made it possible for the prosperous to extract wealth from the huge tracts of land they controlled.

Among the homes included on the tour is early 19th century home of Thaddeus Hait. Hait, from a well-to-do Westchester County family of the time, moved to the then newly-formed town of Plattekill. By 1828, he had accrued 153 acres, some of which is still farmed today. His home is an interesting example of how the refined Neoclassical style was interpreted in a decidedly rural setting. The result is an otherwise modest home that endures as an example of the optimism and aspiration of its builder. Outside, the home features an unusual second floor “Juliet” balcony. Inside, high style mixes with exposed stone walls and brick floors. The current owners have lovingly preserved the home and the surrounding outbuildings.

Two short miles away, as Hait staked his claim, Josiah Hasbrouck and his wife Hylah Bevier lived in a striking Federal-style showpiece they completed in 1814. This home, known today as Locust Lawn, was at the heart of a massive 1,000 acre gentleman’s farm. Josiah and Hylah, who each were descended from the earliest Huguenot settlers of the area, presided over a home truly remarkable for its time. Lived in by three generations of their family, the home was shuttered in the 1880′s – in effect turning it into a time capsule of one family’s unique history. A preserved museum home today, the home has been closed to the public for the past two years and is normally open only by appointment.

On the other end of the spectrum is a humble home owned by DuBois Hasbrouck and dating to the late 18th century. This home, built for tenant farmers, represents the lives of the families who toiled to get a toehold on the American dream. This simple one-and-a-half story home, expanded over time, still sits along a gentle stream with views of the fields all around.

Capping off the tour will be a reception at the Maplestone Inn, a substantial stone house built by John L. Jenkins and Mary Catherine Broadhead in late 18th century. Innkeepers Sean and Patty Roche have generously agreed to open their renovated streamside barn for the reception.

CIRCA will be held on Sunday, June 10th, from 11am to 5:30pm. Advance tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.casaulster.org or by calling (845) 339-7543. Day of tickets are $30 each. The event is presented by Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), which works to ensure that foster care is temporary and that all children can grow up in safe, loving and permanent homes. CASA was founded in Ulster County in 1987 and is one of over 950 CASA programs across the country. More information about CASA can be found at www.casaulster.org.

AJ Schenkman: Ulster County Jail Breaks


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The court house in Kingston is one of the many historic buildings in an area commonly referred to as the Stockade District or Uptown Kingston. This court house has stood at the present location in some form for centuries. It is not only linked to the founding of New York State in 1777, but also to Sojourner Truth. It was in this court house that she successfully sued for the return of her son Peter. Continue reading

Ulster County: The Many Lives of Selah Tuthill’s Gristmill


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In 1788, the same year as France was moving closer towards revolution and the United States Constitution was being ratified, a young man made his way to the area that would one day bear his name. His name was Selah Tuthill. He founded what would become known as the Tuthilltown Gristmill in Gardiner, New York. Once the mill started churning out stone ground flour, it would do so continuously for over two hundred years until its second life as a restaurant and distillery. Continue reading

Ulster County Architecture Focus of May 14th Event


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Monday, May 14th the Gardiner Historical Society will host their annual meeting with the Historical Society of Shawangunk and Gardiner at 7 pm at the Gardiner Town Hall. The event is open to the public and is free of charge, refreshments will be served.

Author William B. Rhoads will share his book Ulster County, New York, The Architectural History & Guide, A Historical guide to 325 sites in all 20 Ulster County townships and the city of Kingston. The sites explored in the book show the variety and changing architectural styles that have appeared over nearly 300 years in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains, from 17th century Dutch limestone houses of the colonial era, through the Federal and Victorian periods, up to the Modernist architecture of the mid-1950’s.


The architecture reflects the history, tracing the evolution of one of the first regions in today’s New York State to be settled by Europeans. Dutch and French Huguenot villages and homesteads of the 1600s form the core of today’s Kingston, New Paltz, and Hurley, surrounded by the structures built by their descendants and later immigrants – the English, Irish, Italians and scores of other ethnic and national groups – as Ulster county rose from the American Revolution and became an important commercial center, with bustling ports on the Hudson River, the booming 19th century “Empire State’s” first superhighway. Everywhere one looks in Ulster County there are vestiges of the past – abandoned cement mines, locks of the old D&H Canal, idle railroad depots, the ghostly shell of a grand old hotel that never opened to the public. And there is the “living history” as well, the structures built by previous generations that are still vital today, like the Mohonk Mountain House and the hundreds of other historic buildings representing nearly every American architectural style from 1660 to 1950 that remain private homes, libraries, schools, houses of worship or have been converted into museums.

William B. Rhoads is a professor emeritus of art history at SUNY New Paltz, where he taught from 1970 to 2005. His publications include studies of Colonial Revival architecture and Franklin Roosevelt’s sponsorship of architecture and art. Rhoads’s Kingston, New York: The Architectural History & Guide was published by Black Dome Press in 2003.

Ulster County: Lake Minnewaska State Park


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Minnewaska State Park Preserve has become a popular destination for hikers, bikers, and nature lovers. It is crisscrossed with acres of pristine views, carriage trails, and hiking trails. Many people visiting there do not realize that it once was the site of two spectacular mountain houses that sat perched on the cliffs overlooking Lake Minnewaska. They were named Wildmere and Cliff House. Continue reading

Saunderskill: One of the Oldest Farms in America


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Those readers who follow my writing realize quickly that I have a special affinity for the Hasbrouck House in Newburgh more commonly known as Washington’s Headquarters, State Historic Site. Many of those visiting the site do not realize that a part of that site’s history can be traced back to Western Ulster County, New York where Jonathan Hasbrouck’s mother Elsie Schoonmaker was born and raised. Continue reading

Preserving Civil War Graves in NYS, Revisited


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The Old Ellenville Cemetery, also known as the Leurenkill Cemetery, sits near the American Legion Post 111. It is the oldest public burial ground in the town of Wawarsing (Ulster County), with graves dating back to 1807. The earliest known veterans’ graves are from the War of 1812. This cemetery unfortunately suffers from many of the same problems that other old or abandoned cemeteries encounter. Recently, however, the Old Ellenville Cemetery received a needed financial boost with a combined effort involving the American Legion Post, The Veterans Grave Preservation Project, and Shop Rite in Ellenville. Continue reading

Lecture: Hudson Valley African American Experience


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On Sunday, February 26 at 4:00 pm, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) is presenting a special talk, The Missing Chapter, about the lives and working conditions of African-Americans in the Hudson Valley region during the colonial and antebellum periods.

The award-winning presenter, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Director of Education at HHS, will discuss her current research on slavery including the personal stories of several local African-American families over the course of 200 years. The presentation will include information gathered from HHS’s archives as well as the Ulster County Hall of Records, the Senate House, and 18th & 19th century local and national newspapers. Susan will also discuss her virtual “Missing Chapter” exhibit which can be found at www.hrvh.org.

Susan Stessin-Cohn is currently the Director of Education at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz. She was formerly an instructor at SUNY New Paltz and Vasser College and is a past trustee of the Elting Library and a member of the New Paltz Preservation Committee. She now serves on the board of the Ulster County Historical Society, the Southeastern New York Library Resource Council and the Hudson River Valley Heritage Digital Advisory Committee.

For more information, call 845-255-1660, x108 or email Jan Melchior at jan@huguenotstreet.org.

Preserving Civil War Graves in New York State


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Last year, the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. This momentous occasion, in which over 600,000 individuals lost their lives, profoundly affected New York State as well as the still young nation. New York State not only contributed the most of the northern states, but also paid dearly with the loss of over 50,000 soldiers according to the New York State Military Museum. Continue reading

Women’s Writes: A Reading and Writing Workshop


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The weekend of March 3rd and 4th, Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) is presenting Women’s Writes, a reading and writing workshop featuring two popular authors, Nava Atlas and Kate Hymes. The weekend kicks-off on Saturday, March 3, at 3pm with a guided tour of HHS’s Deyo House, which is set and interpreted in the Edwardian period, a popular time for many celebrated women authors.

At 4pm, Nava Atlas will read from her latest book, The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life, which explores the writing life of twelve celebrated women writers, including such renowned authors as Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Madeleine L’Engle, Anais Nin, George Sand, Edith Wharton, and Virginia Woolf through their journals, letters, and diaries. On Saturday evening at 7, the Wallkill Valley Writers will read from their anthology which includes personal essays, poems, and stories.

Sunday, March 4 will feature two three-hour Wallkill Valley Writers Workshops led by Kate Hymes. Session 1 is from 9– 12pm and Session 2 is from 1-4 pm. Anyone with a desire to write, whether a beginner or experienced, is invited to attend these workshops which will be held in a safe environment. Sources culled from the HHS archives and other local history will serve as an inspiration for writing throughout the weekend.

Saturday includes a book signing and refreshments. Fees are as follows: Saturday Deyo House Edwardian tour and reading with Nava Atlas: $15. Saturday evening reading with Wallkill Valley Writers: $5. Sunday per session: $40. Full weekend including one workshop on Sunday: $50.

To register or for more information, call 845-255-1660, x103 or email Jan Melchior at jan@huguenotstreet.org.

About the Presenters

Nava Atlas is the author and illustrator of visual books on family themes, humor, and women’s issues, including The Literary Ladies’ Guide to the Writing Life (2011), exploring first-person narratives on the writing lives of twelve classic women authors, and commenting on the universal relevance of their experiences to all women who love to write. Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife (2009) is a satiric look at contemporary marriage and motherhood through the lens of a faux 1950s cookbook. Nava Atlas is also the author and illustrator of many books on vegetarian cooking, a book on leafy greens will be on the shelves in the spring of 2012. An active fine artist specializing in limited edition artist’s books and text-driven objects, her work is shown and collected by museums and universities across the U.S.

Kate Hymes, a poet and educator living in the Hudson Valley, leads weekly writing workshops and writing retreats. She has over twenty years experience as an educator with experience teaching writing on college level, and over ten years leading workshops for people who make writing an artistic practice. Kate is certified to lead workshops using the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She has co-led trainings with Pat Schneider and other AWA instructors to teach others how to lead workshops. Kate and Pat also lead the workshop: If We Are Sisters: Black and White Women Writing Across Race. Kate serves as Executive Director of the Hudson Valley/Catskill Partnership: Regional Adult Education Network providing technical assistance and staff development to adult educators in a ten-county region of New York State. Kate currently serves as a member of the Dutchess County Arts Council and as panelist for Special Project, New York State Council on the Arts. She has a Master of Arts in American Literature from SUNY Stony Brook.

Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck’s Tory Son Cornelius?


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Governor George Clinton of New York sat down at his desk, in January 1781, to read a painful letter from Judge Robert Yates. The letter concerned the son of a now deceased acquaintance, Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck. It involved his oldest son, Cornelius Hasbrouck, who as Clinton read the letter, sat in a Kingston jail tried, convicted, and branded for stealing “sundry oxen and goods and chattels of the United States of America”. Continue reading

Our Newest Contributor A.J. Schenkman


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Please join all of us here at New York History in welcoming our newest contributor A.J. Schenkman. Schenkman teaches in the Lower Hudson Valley and has a particular fondness for teaching history to hard to reach or at-risk adolescents.

He writes about the history of Ulster and Orange counties (which he’ll be covering here on this site) and is the author of two books and numerous articles on Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh. He writes a monthly column for the Shawangunk Journal focusing on places such as Kerhonkson, Stone Ridge, Shawangunk, Rosendale, Ellenville, and Cragsmore.

18th Century Militia Muster at Senate House


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In conjunction with The Burning of Kingston Reenactment (sponsored by the First Ulster County Militia, the Queen’s 16th Light Dragoons and the City of Kingston) the 3rd Ulster County Militia will recreate military camp life on the grounds of Senate House State Historic Site on Sunday, October 16, from 10am – 4pm.

18th century activities featured throughout the day include blacksmithing, coopering, cooking, medicine, fur trade and musket firing. Also featured is a Native American camp along with other activities suck as candle dipping, corn husk doll making and 18th century currency. Guests can also enjoy colonial music performed by Rural Felicity and participate in the many hands-on activities.

On October 16, 1777, during the British campaign to control split the colonies, a fleet of 23 ships and 2,000 troops sent North toward Saratoga under General Vaughn stopped at Kingston, then capitol of New York, and burned every building but one.

There is no admission fee to attend this event and as usual Senate House will be open for tours. Admission to Senate House is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors & students and children 12 & under are free.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events please call the site at (845) 338-2786.

Photo: Member of the 1st Ulster Militia, courtesy Dean Barnes – 1st Ulster Militia.

September on Huguenot Street


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What is known today as Historic Huguenot Street began in 1678 when twelve French-speaking Huguenots settled on the banks of the Wallkill. Today, steps from downtown New Paltz, HHS features seven stone houses dating to 1705 and a reconstructed 1717 stone church on park-like grounds and offers unique programming to the local community and visitors alike. For more information, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call 845.255.1660 or 1889. Historic Huguenot Street is a National Historic Landmark District and is incorporated as Huguenot Historical Society, New Paltz, N.Y.

Saturday, September 17, 4pm. Art of the Street: Walking Tour with artist Kevin Cook. Join local landscape painter and Huguenot Street resident Kevin Cook for a unique tour of the site highlighting the fine art found in the museum houses, including works by Asher Durand, DuBois Fenelon Hasbrouck, Julia Dillon and others. Who better to present these fine period works than an artist who is himself especially inspired by the romantic work and ideals of the nineteenth century? Tour begins at the DuBois Fort | 81 Huguenot Street.

Wednesday, September 21, 10am to 3pm: Home School Day. With the general rising trend in home-schooling, HHS has set aside a day especially for home-schooled students to come to The Street and experience our history through tours and document-based lessons. We are offering a special new program called A Walk Through Time: One Street, Many Stories for this day. Travel back through time with six individuals whose lives were part of the fabric of the Hudson Valley. Working in small groups, students will use physical artifacts and primary documents to piece together the lives of a Lenape woman, a Revolutionary War soldier, a colonial school girl, a run-away slave, a Civil War soldier and a 19th century student at the Poughkeepsie Academy. Please call ahead with reservations to Susan Stessin-Cohn Director of Exhibits, Educational, and Public Programs @ 255-6738 or contact susan@huguenotstreet.org.

Friday, September 23, 7pm. Local Color: An intimate look at Landscapes with photographer Robert Goldwitz. A Fine Art Photography Opening. At HHS, the preservation of the past is our concentration, while the preservation of the moment is where Robert Goldwitz turns his eye. Robert Goldwitz captures images at opportune instants that speak to the heart of his subject. With a keen eye for composition, light and detail, Rob’s subjects range from the purely realistic to the evocatively abstract. An award-winning photographer, Goldwitz has been featured in one-man and group shows in New York City, Key West and elsewhere. In the DuBois Fort | 81 Huguenot Street. Light refreshments will be served. This event is also an opportunity to meet the new Executive Director of Historic Huguenot Street, Tracy Doolittle McNally.

Sunday, September 25, 11am and 2pm. Ulster Resident’s Day. This day caps off Ulster County Heritage Week, which is designed to highlight the rich culture and tradition that our county has to offer. Historic Huguenot Street is marking the occasion with a special “pay what you wish” day on the Street. Ulster County residents, with proof of residence, can enjoy either our 11am or 2pm guided museum house tour for whatever they wish to contribute. No reservations necessary. Tours begin at the DuBois Fort Visitor Center | 81 Huguenot Street.

Sunday, September 25, 3pm. Certainly Not Silent: Women of the Huguenot Street Archive with Laura Rose. This enlightening presentation breathes life into several women whose paths crossed Huguenot Street whether during their lives or after. The stories are touching, sad, funny — even shocking. Join historical detective Laura Rose as she shares some of the most delectable tales she’s found. In Deyo Hall | 6 Broadhead Avenue.

New Leadership at Huguenot Street


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Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) has announced the appointment of Tracy Doolittle McNally as the new Executive Director, effective August 29, 2011. Tracy is an 11th generation descendant of the Huguenot founders of New Paltz. “Ms. McNally has a proven track record professionally in both corporate and non-profit organizations with strong expertise in marketing, development, special events, public relations, and financial management” HHS Board Chair Mary Etta Schneider said in a prepared statement.

McNally has a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and an MBA from SUNY New Paltz School of Business. Most recently McNally was head of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce and was widely recognized as one of Greene County’s top businesswomen. When asked what she thought might be the greatest opportunity in her new position, Tracy said, “Many people think Historic Huguenot Street is about stone houses and a quiet street, but it is so much more than that. We need to continue to make the exciting stories, extensive archives and valuable collections come alive in unique ways. I look forward to working with the Board in accomplishing this.”

Historic Huguenot Street has also announced that Susan Stessin-Cohn has joined the organization to fill the newly created position of Director of Exhibits, Educational and Public Programs. Susan has been involved with HHS for several years in a variety of curatorial, research and education-related roles. Ms. Stessin-Cohn has a Masters of Science in Elementary Education and a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education and Anthropology from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Susan has an extensive background as a professor, exhibit curator, archives specialist, curriculum developer and historical consultant as well as being an active volunteer in the community.

Rejoining HHS is Rebecca Mackey, Manager of Programs, Tours, Volunteer Care and the Museum Shop. Rebecca, who has both a B.A. in Women’s Studies and in History, will be responsible for the implementation of educational and public programs.

Jan Melchior will be stepping up from her role as Communications, Design and Development Coordinator to an expanded role as Manager of Promotion and Marketing. Jan brings over twenty five years of experience in marketing, advertising, development and promotion of non-profits.

Mary Etta Schneider, who has been acting as Interim Executive Director, will be resigning that position and will continue in her role as President and Board Chair of HHS.

Senate House Hosting Apple Heritage Day


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Join Senate House State Historic Site in Kingston, NY for Apple Heritage Day on Sunday, September 25, 2011 from 12pm – 5pm in conjunction with Ulster County Cultural Heritage Week. Enjoy a variety of 18 century apple related activities to celebrate Ulster County’s long history of apple growing. Afternoon activities include pressing apples for apple cider, making apple butter over an open fire, baking apple sauce cake in a Dutch oven and making dried apple wreaths and dolls. At 1pm and 3pm enjoy the 18th century magic of Bob Olson A.K.A. Mr. Bayly and featured at 2pm and 4pm are children’s puppet shows.

Also throughout the afternoon enjoy 18th century music performed by Rural Felicity and help Senate House wish Johnny Appleseed a happy birthday, born September 26, 1774. Admission to this event is free and as usual Senate House will be open for tours. Fees to tour Senate House are $4.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors and children 12 and under are free.

Senate House State Historic Site is part of a system of parks, recreation areas and historic sites operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the site is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information about this and other upcoming events call the site at (845) 338-2786 or visit the State Parks website at www.nysparks.com.