News and Event Updates from the Office of the Orange County Historian

Wood Paneling from the Historic Colden Mansion Ruins moved for safekeeping
Montgomery Town Historian John Pennings explains the history and importance of the paneling to volunteer Eric Hernandez

Montgomery Town Historian John Pennings carefully labeled each artifact

Sometime in the 1930's curators of the American in the Metropolitan Museum of Art sent buyers to Montgomery to strip the carved paneling from the deteriorating former home of Cadwallader Colden, Jr. Some of that wood was used to create a period room in the Manhattan museum and the rest was maintained in storage. Decades later the museum decided to de-accession the unused items, they ended up in the hands of antiques dealer for a time but ultimately were returned to the Town of Montgomery. 
With the storage room at Town Hall now needed in a planned expansion, Montgomery Town Historian John Pennings created an inventory list and corresponding labels to keep track of the individual pieces of wood as they were moved to storage in the Office of the Orange County Historian.  

Thank you for the hard work of Town and County officials who arranged this exchange and to Orange County DPW workers who carefully transported the historic materials. 

Photo showing the paneling in place in the Colden Mansion around the time it was removed by MET curators
Historic Ritz Theater in Newburgh used as a backdrop for announcemnt of  $88.91 million in federal preservation funds
Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun welcomed U.S. Senator Kirsten during her visit to Newburgh for the announcement 
"Federal funding for rebuilding historic structures helped reopen and revitalize several historic sites in the Hudson Valley, and because of projects like the Ritz Theater restoration, I was proud to lead the Senate's bipartisan eff
ort to support the federal Historic Preservation Fund," said Senator Gillibrand.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Ritz Theater in Newburgh to announce her successful push to inclu de $88.91 million in the Fiscal Year 2019 Senate Interior Appropriations bill for the Department of Interior's Historic Preservation Fund. This funding amount is $56.2 million more than President Trump's budget request for the program.

The Historic Preservation Fund supports historic preservation and economic development projects around the state, including in Newburgh. Newburgh is in the process of working with the State of New York on a federal historic tax credit investment for the Safe Harbors of the Hudson rehabilitation of the Ritz Theater, along with an expansion of the Boys and Girls Club of Newburgh at th e former Key Bank building, among other local economic development projects. Newburgh also recently received $25,000 from the Historic Preservation Fund to update its historic inventory for the National Register of Historic Places, which positions historic properties in the community for historic tax credit investment.
Current condition of the stage of the Ritz Theater, Safeharbors plans to removed the cinder blocks and restore the stage in coming years with help from the Federal and State Historic Preservation Fund 
Pony Express coming to the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick

The frontier's most audacious enterprise

Master storyteller, New York Times best-selling author and Warwick resident Jim Defelice is coming to the Albert Wisner Public Library on Sunday. Sept. 16, at 2 p.m., to discuss his newest history, "West Like Lightning: The Brief Legendary Ride of the Pony Express." 

A discussion with the author will be followed by a book signing with copies available for purchase. 

To attend this program, please register online at or call 986-1047 ext. 3.

DeFelice is known for his vivid, raw and powerful portrayals of modern American military heroes: from Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's iconic memoir "American Sniper" to a ground-breaking biography on WW II-era Five Star general, "Omar Bradley: General at War."

The frontier's most audacious enterprise In "West Like Lightning: The Brief Legendary Ride of the Pony Express," DeFelice resurrects the heroes of the Old West to recreate the sweeping drama of the American frontier's most audacious enterprise: the legendary Pony Express. 

A meticulous researcher, DeFelice drove the entire, nearly 2,000-mile stretch of the original Pony Express trail from Sacramento, California, to St. Joseph, Missouri, in 2016. 

Along the way, he talked with museum curators, local historians and historical reenactors of the Pony Express Association, and tracked down original documents to convey the full scope of the historic enterprise against the wider background of the U.S. Postal Service, American finance, the Gold Rush and the impending Civil War. 

There is also a surprising connection to the Hudson Valley inventor Samuel Morse's telegraph system, to New York City's financial district, which financed some of the enterprise and to political scandals in Washington, D.C.

'Rendered in fine, thrilling detail' Critically reviewed, Publisher's Weekly said: "DeFelice frames his story with the six-day November 1860 trip that brought news of Abraham Lincoln's presidential victory from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., the Pony's main route. The ride, including employees' encounters with feuding settlers in Kansas, bison stampedes, and hostile Native Americans, is rendered in fine, thrilling detail." 

And Tombstone Epitaph's reviewer Erik J. Wright said it "offers a fresh and engaging look into an often-ignored piece of America's frontier heritage. . . it reads like a wild ride through our western imaginations." 

Delving deeply into the human experience of war, history, geopolitics, and cutting edge technology, DeFelice has written on a wide range of subject matter. His spy novels run the historical gamut, from the American Revolution (The Silver Bullet), to futuristic techno-thrillers (Dreamland and Puppetmaster series co-written with Dale Brown). His military histories capture the WW II-era in Rangers At Dieppe, and the current Iraqi and Afghanistan wars in two memoirs, "Code Name: Johnny Walker" and "Fighting Blind," along with the critically acclaimed novel, Leopards Kill. He also helped create and wrote the storylines for several video games, most notably "Ace Combat: Assault Horizon" and "Afro Samurai." 

Learn more at his websites  and .

Orange County Historian | 101 Main Street Goshen, N.Y. 10924 |  845-360-6978 |  jyaun