Jonathan Hasbrouck III will forever be known as the Hasbrouck who lost the “Old-Headquarters” home (Washington’s Headquarters in 1782-1783) in Newburgh by foreclosure. The State of New York took control of the home and in 1850 made it the first publicly owned historic site in the nation.
Jonathan Hasbrouck III hoped to save it the home from foreclosure, and even proposed a monument on the grounds over four decades before the current Tower of Victory was erected. Today, that tower is in desperate need of restoration.
In the summer of 1842, Hasbrouck met with William Wells and his friends. There was, according to late Newburgh City Historian A. Elwood Corning, a renewed interest in the home and Hasbrouck hoped to capitalize on it. He explained to Wells, who was visiting from Philadelphia, that he wanted to build a monument on the property that would be between 80 and 100 feet tall, made of either white marble or granite, at a cost of about $50,000. Wells agreed to help Hasbrouck raise funds for construction of the monument that would commemorate both Washington and the Hasbrouck Family.
Wells published “The Newburgh Letter” in the Philadelphia Saturday Currier hoping to illicit interest, as well as money. It was in this article that he described not only the home that Hasbrouck showed Wells, but also the proposed monument for the property. In the end the plan neer materialized, but more than 40 years later a new monument – the Tower of Victory – would be proposed for the site.
There were two centennials in the nineteenth century at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh. The first was the 1876 Centennial of the nation’s independence. In 1883 there was a second centennial marking the 100th anniversary of the “disbandment [of troops] under proclamation of the Continental Congress of Oct. 18, 1783.”
The latter centennial celebration was planned for October 18 1883 and it was decided that a memorial structure was needed. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of late President Abraham Lincoln, was placed in charge of the project. According to The Centennial Celebration and Washington Monument at Newburgh, NY Report of the Joint Select Committee, Maurice J. Power, “who has had a wide experience and great success in monumental structures” was named to prepare the design, with the help of New York City artist and architect John H. Duncan. Work on the Tower of Victory commenced in 1886 with financial help from bother the state and federal governments and was completed in the winter of 1887.
Once constructed, A. Elwood Corning wrote, that the tower had “four large archways opening in to an atrium, one on each side, and in the center of the atrium, upon a polished pedestal of red granite, would stand a life size bronze statue of Washington.” Washington was in the act of sheathing his sword – symbolically ending the hostilities. The statue was sculpted by William Rudolph O’Donnell.
In addition to the atrium, in parapets near the top of the structure on each side each branch of the military that had served during the American Revolution was recognized: dragoons, artillerymen, riflemen, and line officers. These statues are all made of bronze and according to a report by Col. John M. Wilson cost $5,000 each. An ornate bronze gate – built in part to defend against vandalism – cost over $10,000.
The foundation of the tower was made in part from Rosendale Cement and the stone was quarried near Newburgh, as well as from a quarry in Albany. Finally, white Indiana sandstone, was incorporated into the tower, and the floor flagged in blue stone.
According to a descendant of the Hasbrouck Family, Walter Case Anthony, who wrote a history of the property, believed that many in Newburgh were unimpressed by the Tower of Victory. “Like many other citizens of Newburgh he does not admire the Tower of Victory and deems it a disfigurement of the place,” Anthony wrote, reffering ot himself in the third person. One of his criticisms was that the tower was too ornate.
Once completed, visitors were able to ascend a staircase to the top of the tower where there was an observation deck with views of the propertyand the Hudson River. During a hurricane in the 1950s however, the roof was badly damaged, and eventually removed. After the roof was removed the tower was locked and citizens, for the most part, were not allowed to tour the monument.
Today, after a century of exposure to the elements, The Tower of Victory is badly in need of repairs and restoration – including the replacement of the roof.
A campaign was launched to raise money for a full restoration. It’s hoped, that when the restoration is complete, visitors will again enjoy the Tower of Victory for another century.
To donate to the campaign to restore The Tower of Victory visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org/donate. Include”Tower of Victory” to be sure your contribution is added to the Tower campaign. Checks can be sent by mail to the Palisades Parks Conservancy, PO Box 427, 3006 Seven Lakes Drive, Bear Mountain, NY 10911.
Photos: Above, the Tower of Victory as it appeared in 1906; and below, the tower today.