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

Newburgh's historic AME Zion Church
should not be demolished
The church built in 1905.
The following is in response to 'Historic AME Zion Church in Newburgh may be demolished' which appeared in the Times Herald Record on May 28, 2018.

In 2020 Newburgh will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Frederick Douglass's jubilee march along Washington Street. The leaders of the AME Zion Church used his appearance to mark the passing of the 15th Amendment, which granted voting rights to African American men. By 1870 the church had already become a symbol of liberty, nicknamed "the freedom church" thanks to its associations with the Underground Railroad.
Although the 1905 structure that stands now is not the modest house of worship built by the congregation's founders, and not the same walls that reverberated the booming voice of Frederick Douglass from the pulpit that's still used today, this building is a symbol of the grand strides of the African-American community in Newburgh as they passed on the flame of civil advocacy for centuries. 
In an age when the American public is making an effort to remove monuments of oppression and contextualize historical symbols in our society, why are we not looking to preserve and elevate the symbols of the struggle for equality? This church would have been an incredible source of pride and progress at a time when "separate but equal" was the law of the land. As a monument, this building combats offensive cultural symbols from the past. It doesn't put any one person on a pedestal, recognizing that true progress comes from the strength of the right to assembly. Also, it gets away from isolating one date or accomplishment, acknowledging that the struggle for equality has been sustained through generations.
Johanna Yaun
Orange County Historian
History In the News
County to preserve Algonquin ruins

Newburgh's Algonquin Park is home to several historic industrial ruins, the most recognizable being the iconic round stone structure visible from Powder Mill road. However, around the park there is little to no signage indicating or explaining the rich history of one of the few remaining DuPont powder mills left in the country. But that could soon change.

What is now Algonquin Park was originally a saw mill in 1790 that was later converted to a black powder mill for rifles in 1815. It remained a gun powder mill for the entirety of the 19th century, providing gun powder for the Civil War, but mostly for recreational hunting. It was owned by numerous different companies, generally known as 'Orange Mills' until it was eventually bought by the DuPont family monopoly. However, upon the U.S. government ordering the DuPont family to split up and divest their monopoly on gun powder, the family sold the property, which eventually became a City of Newburgh public park in 1934. In 1978, upon increasing disrepair and erosion of the site's historic landmarks, the park was transferred to the county's care.

In the fall of 2017, after years of collaboration between the County Historian's office, Parks Department and Legislators Leigh Benton and James Kulisek, the county was granted money to hire consulting firm Lacey Thaler Riley Wilson LLC, which would produce a report on the masonry conditions of the park's gunpowder ruins. The study will continue over the next several months, culminating in a report on the estimated cost and suggested methods for repairing the historic industrial ruins.

WWI Centennial Year

Centennial Trip to the Trenches of Belgium and France

September 24 - October 2, 2018

A $450 deposit is needed to reserve a spot. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit the battlefields of WWI Belgium and France, with historians and descendants of soldiers who died there, at the exact time and place a hundred years later, where hundreds of New Yorkers broke the Hindenburg Line. We'll be traveling from Sept 24- Oct 2, 2018, Approx $3,600 includes flights, hotels, transportations, museum admissions, local guides, historians on-board and several meals. It'll be covered in the press too. Join us!

Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences
Orange County Collections Committee Meeting

Thursday, May 31st 11AM
The quarterly meeting of the collections committee will be held at the Orange County Historian's Office, 101 Main Street, Goshen, NY 10924.

Cemetery Care Workshop

Friday, June 29, 5PM to 7PM (Note that this event has been rescheduled due to weather)

The Office of the Orange County Historian is sponsoring this training program for 16 individuals. Email us at to let us know if you'll be there.

Event includes short lecture on the practice of cleaning and repairing stones, and then a hands-on cleaning workshop. Attendees are asked to come prepared to get down and dirty and educate others on proper cleaning methods. 
St. James Cemetery is l ocated on South Street, around the corner from St. James Church 118 S. Church Street in Goshen

Moderated by cemetery preservation expert, Marianne Greenfield. 
She asks that participants bring a new plastic bucket, a new plastic bristle brush (like a dish brush) and a pair of clean chopsticks, which they can use for other gravestone cleaning projects. As well as your own drinking water and a snack. (raindate May 20th)

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