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

Pioneers of Preservation
On the Fourth of July of 1850, America's first publicly owned historic site was dedicated by a crowd of 10,000 people on the banks of the Hudson River in Newburgh, N.Y.
The quaint fieldstone farmhouse that sits on the hill was the headquarters of George Washington during the final stage of the Revolutionary War. It was from this place that he toiled over many problems such as how to fairly compensate troops who were threatening mutiny, negotiating a peaceful end to the Joshua Huddy Affair, and navigating a path to a republic form of government as the British retreated. After the General issued the cease-fire and then departed in 1783, the house was returned to t he widow Trintje Hasbrouck who quietly revived her grist mill and farm. She lived there until her death on the cusp of the 19th century.
Her grandson, Jonathan Hasbrouck, inherited the home. He was proud of the role that his family's house played in the war effort and he made every attempt to maintain the
condition of the building. It is said that he would give spontaneous tours if someone in the neighborhood showed interest. Hasbrouck even invited General Lafayette to visit when he was in Newburgh during his grand tour of 1825. But by the 1830s, Hasbrouck was bankrupt and not residing in the now outdated house. Thus, he was forc ed to take a mortgage from the US Deposit Fund. In 1848 he defaulted on the loan and the property Washington once called headqua rters was expected to go to auction. Buyers would surely tear it down to make wa y for new homes like the ones going up at that time along Grand Street.
Due to the  uniqu e actions of the loan officers, Andrew Caldwell and Alexander Campbell, the Hasbrouck House was saved from this fate. They wrote to the New York State Governor, Hamilton Fish, wh o contacted the New York State Legislators. They voted in 1849 to purchase the property on behalf of the people of New York.

Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site is America's first publicly owned historic site and the world's first historic house museum. It is open for tours April through October and hosts special program ming year-round. In the 167 years since it's opening, nearly 15,000 historic houses have been preserved as museums or public spaces.
More than a century later, individuals from this same region of the Hudson Valley pioneered another for m of preservation when they saved St orm King Mountain from development.
In 1962 Con Ed announced that they would be building a hydro power energy plant on the banks of the Hudson River. This plant would operate by pumping 8 billion gallons of water up through two miles of piping into a dam on top of the mountain in the middle of the night and then releasing it through turbines in the daytime. Even though it took much energy to pump the water up, they would make more money sending it down when demand was at its highest. With electric appliances and electric heat being added to so many modern homes, demand for energy was a serious infrastru ctural concern in the areas surrounding New  York City.
The plan would have been met with enthusiasm were it not for something that Con Ed didn't plan on: They chose the wrong mountai n. When the illustration of the new hydro power plant was published, people were outraged. The image showed Storm King Mountain, a landscape famously cherished by the Hudson River School Painters and a site with historical relevance to
the heroes of the Revolutionary War who traversed back and forth between Newburgh and West Point regularly. 
Against all odds, a group of citizens joined together and created an adv ocacy group called Scenic Hudson. They petitioned to the Federal Power Commission to revoke the permit that would allow this development, but they were told that with no property or business ownership associated with the project, they lacked what was known in legal terms as "standing." Internal experts claimed that th
e power plant would not disrupt wildlife populations nor harm the beauty of the river. They also claimed  that this project was necessary to provide for the growing energy demands of the region. In November 1965 there was a widespread power outage in New York City, demonstrating that these energy needs were legitimate. But when the court convened in December 1965, they set a precedent by determining that Scenic Hudson did have "standing" due to a public desire to protect environmental landmarks based on natural, aesthetic, and historical importance. 
The Federal Power Com mission revoked the permit for the Storm King hydro power plant and forced Con Ed to redesig n the project until it satisfied the energy needs of the community without causing harm to wild
life populations or defacing the historical landscape. It was the first time in the agency's hi story that they revoked a permit for development. A compromise was never made and in 1980 Con Ed donated the land. It became public parkland.
The landmark decision that occurred in 1965 marked the birth Environmental Law. For 52 years, it has been the basis for citizen groups throughout the nation to stop harmful development projects in their communities.

Johanna Yaun, Orange County Historian
Learn more about the preservation of Washington's Headquarters:

The Mansion on the Hill - The Story of Washington's Headquarters, Newburgh, NY
The Mansion on the Hill - The Story of Washington's Headquarters, Newburgh, NY

Learn more about the preservation of Storm King Mountain:
Community Updates
NYSCA/ GHHN Collections Needs Assessment Program

Applicants who have consulted with an appropriate professional may request funds to purchase collections management supplies. Supplies may include, but are not limited to: storage boxes, acid-free tissue paper, artifact trays, dividers, UV filtering film, Tyvek sheeting, tape, tags, labels, and environmental monitors. Supply requests for archival or library collections will not be supported. Maximum award: $750.

Application Deadlines : May 1 (Portal open April 1) and October 1 (Portal open September 1).  The program will offer awards of up to $750 per museum for relevant supplies requests on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Applicant Eligibility: Applications will be accepted from chartered nonprofit museums, historical organizations or other cultural institutions either incorporated in or registered to do business in NYS, that own, care for and exhibit collections to the public. GHHN membership is not required. Sites and collections owned by state agencies, religious institutions and libraries are ineligible.  Organizations with budgets under $250,000 are strongly encouraged to apply. Organizations may apply once a year. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who have not received prior funding from this Supplies Program.

More info on Greater Hudson Heritage Network website
Reenactors on the lawn at Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh during George Washington's Annual Birthday celebration which was held from Feb. 18th - 20th.
County Historian, Johanna Yaun, with the 2nd graders from Little Britain Elementary School, discussing the history of the Orange County Seal on Feb 22nd.
On Feb. 23rd, museum directors and professionals from Orange and Dutchess Counties gathered at Knox HQ in New Windsor with the Mid-Hudson Historic Destinations group to hear updates on grant programs offered thru the Greater Hudson Heritage Network and collaborate on programming for Path Thru History Weekends (Father's Day and Columbus Day) and A Taste of History Weekend (Columbus Day).
Scholar Susan Goodier spoke at the Warwick Historical Society on Sunday Feb. 26th about the experience of black women in during the Suffrage movement. 
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences

Risk Assessment in Historic Houses

Thursday, March 2nd

Historic houses present unique issues in their preservation needs, especially in terms of disaster preparedness. This webinar will explore those needs through a discussion of hazards, risk assessments and evaluations, and mitigation methods - all with a focus on historic houses.

Format: Webinar
Cost: FREE for AASLH members/$40 nonmembers

Learn More & Register:

Orange County Dairies and Milk Bottles

Sunday, March 5th 2PM - 4PM

Alex Prizgintas, will discuss this history through the milk bottles of these various dairies. Over 150 bottles from the collection of Alex Prizgintas and other fellow collectors will be on display covering all areas of Orange County. 

Sponsored by the Chester Historical Society.

Chester Historical Society
47 Main St, Chester, New York 10918
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Spring Street Reading Series

Saturday, March 11th 7PM - 10PM

Join us on Saturday, March 11th, to hear four New York poets read at  Atlas Studios  in Newburgh, New York (just over the river from Beacon)!

This event is FREE! But we will be accepting cash or check donations to benefit the  ACLU Nationwide .
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National Park Service FEE-FREE days for 2017
  April 15-16:            National Park Week (Weekend (#1)
April 22-23:           National Park Week (Weekend (#2)
August 25:            National Park Service
September 30:      National Public Lands Day
November 11-12:  Veterans Day Weekend
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun