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

Cemetery Care training on
Memorial Day Weekend
This Memorial Day weekend I enjoyed one of the most pleasant afternoons that I can remember. The rain cleared up for a few hours and a group of volunteers from around the region gathered at the Circleville Presbyterian Church to learn from cemetery care expert and Town of Delhi Historian Marianne Greenfield.
Pastor Brian Hill greeted the group and shared the history of the cemetery pointing out the oldest sections and noting the veteran's graves. We took "before" pictures and then formed a circle to hear a brief introduction to headstone care. Marianne taught us how to use a non-toxic product D/2 to soak the stones, then we able to loosen the lichen with gentle scrub brushes and wooden chopsticks.  Everyone went to work and within a few hours each of us had brightened our adopted stones.
The workshop was well attended by church members as well as outside participants who hope to bring the lessons learned back to the cemeteries in their own communities. Several local historians were in attendance including the Village of Monroe Historian Linda Burroughs, the Town of Chester Historian Clif Patrick, the Town of Wallkill Assistant Historian Gwen Deserto and the Town of Wallkill Historical Society Treasurer June Vander Schaaf.  

Our work with Marianne is not yet completed, the Orange County Historian's Office has contracted her to teach a series of these workshops throughout the County during the 2017 season. There are 16 slots available for each session so please email us if you would like to be added to the list. The dates and locations are listed in the event section below.
Marianne also passed this information along about a webinar that was advertised in the recent edition of the  A ssociation for Gravestone Studies  newsletter:

Who is Taking Care of Grandma's Grave? The Basics of Cemetery Care

Does your institution, or your community, have charge of a cemetery, graveyard, or even a single grave? This webinar will cover the basic steps of caring for historic cemeteries. Topics covered will include an introduction to documentation surveys and forms, an overview of general definitions required for documentation, photography tips, and an introduction to cemetery preservation planning and prioritization. There will also be basic tips for how to clean stone monuments.

Memorial Day: A Tour of West Point Cemetery

West Point Cemetery has none of the pomp and scale of Arlington National Cemetery. Yes, there are unknown soldiers interred here, but no ceremonial guard keeps round-the-clock watch.

It holds no presidents.

This is a soldiers cemetery for former cadets, graduates of the United States Military Academy, the ultimate resting place for members of The Long Gray Line.

Here, high above the Hudson, soldiers - who knew the deafening noise, smoke, fire and fear of battle - spend eternity in as serene a spot as you'll find....."

The fate of Newburgh's Dutch Reformed Church still in the balance

NEWBURGH - The City of Newburgh is hoping to select a developer for the restoration of two historic properties on Grand Street as well as a 1.8 acre nearby parcel of Urban Renewal property.

City Comptroller Katie Mack said they have narrowed down their search via a request for proposals to a pair of projects from two developers.

"The City Club, the Dutch Reformed Church, as well as one of the Urban Renewal parcels that we have packaged together to see if we can do a major development of a parcel on the hillside, which would fund the restoration of the DRC as well as the City Club," she said.

".....In 1968 the city slated the church for demolition by the Urban Renewal Agency, which paid $96,000 to purchase it. However, preservationists acted quickly to have it designated on the National Register of Historic Places, which blocked Federal funds from being used in the demolition. The church languished until 1974 when the Federal HUD agency ordered that it either be razed or sold, so the city bought it for a mere $7,000. Soon after, the Hudson Valley Freedom Theater purchased the building but defaulted after repairing the roof with an NPS grant. The property reverted back to the city in 1984, falling into disrepair once again over the remainder of the decade.

In the 1990s, the City Historian Kevin Barrett renewed the fight to save the structure and the current City Historian Mary McTamaney has sustained that effort. Under their tenures, small but necessary projects have been completed, such as the column restoration, repair of drainage systems, and stabilization of the foundation. In 2005 the World Monument Fund put the Dutch Reformed Church on their list of the world's most important endangered cultural sites.......

.......A few weeks ago, the city planning department released a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the Dutch Reformed Church, the City Club, and vacant river view property. With 50 years of highs and lows to draw upon, many in the preservation community are holding their breath again. Will a sustainable plan finally be forged? Will a visionary step forward to steward the building now that the city is in a period of revitalization? Will this Grand Street corridor see new life, or will this be another footnote in the slow death that the Dutch Reformed Church has been suffering since the first blow of Urban Renewal?

As I listened to Clinton's speech nearly two decades ago, I felt like the Dutch Reformed Church had finally closed a difficult chapter in its history. What I didn't realize on that warm summer day is that the church - and in fact, all of Newburgh's historic district - is not only vulnerable in times of economic decline but it is equally at risk in times of rebirth. As those who witnessed the abject devastation of the Urban Renewal program are beginning to fade away, the role of the historical community, cultural institutions and the old buildings has to transform from one of a rigid protection of the past to one of infusing the place with historical depth and meaning for new populations to shape as their own.

An RFP on the table means that developers are envisioning a new life for the Dutch Reformed Church. And I am once again full of hope that this will be the moment that validates passing the torch for so long......" LINK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE ON NEW YORK STATE HISTORY BLOG

The latest edition of the Hudson River Valley Review features a collection of articles related to the history of Newburgh's architecture and prominent architects. I recommend ordering a copy if you are interested in learning more about the importance of the Dutch Reformed Church and neighboring structures. LINK TO HUDSON RIVER VALLEY REVIEW FOR MORE INFO

Community Updates
(From l to r) Ashley Trainor, Curator at Historic Huguenot Street; Richie Rosencrans, Visitor Services at Gomez Mill House Museum; Johanna Yaun, Orange County Historian; Gregory Bailey, Technology Resource Specialist for the Hudson Valley Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (HV RBE-RN) and Shannon Butler, National Park Service Ranger at FDR Museum participate on a career panel for the History Club at SUNY New Paltz. 
"Honor our Nation's Fallen Soldiers at the New Windsor Cantonment"
In honor of America's soldiers and their families on the Monday of Memorial Day weekend, May 29, site staff, in 18th century dress, perform a ceremony to honor our nation's veterans at the site cemetery. There was a vigil at the coffin of Colonel Francis Barber followed by a ceremony where soldiers fired their muskets and a cannon on the "Grand Parade", the very field where George Washington's announcement of impending peace was first read to the Army over 200 years ago.
Upcoming Events, Training & Conferences

Join us this summer for an exciting new summer program with the Calvert Vaux Preservation Alliance, our partner organization, at  Hoyt House, located in Mills Memorial State Park in Staatsburg, NY on the banks of the Hudson River, with two new preservation courses at The Boston Architectural College. Hoyt House ("The Point") was designed by Calvert Vaux in 1855 as a summer retreat for the Hoyt family. This Gilded Age era estate was continuously occupied until 1963 when the State of New York acquired it for demolition, which fortunately never occurred. Although it sits empty today, the house, outbuildings and 92 acre landscape  that comprise Hoyt House are the ideal learning tool in historic preservation for students of all backgrounds. The courses will be offered partially online with an onsite component at Hoyt House from June 16-25.

The courses are:

HSP 2013: Heritage Documentation Students will immerse themselves in the  National Park Service's HABS (Historic American Building Survey) program, as well as HALS (Historic American Landscape Survey) and HAER (Historic American Engineering Record).  In addition to this, students will also learn modern digital documentation techniques through a three day photogrammetry workshop that will take place during the residency period.

HSP 2016: New York State History-Architecture and Society The structure of this course will address three primary regions of New York State: The Hudson Valley, New York City and Western New York, with an emphasis on the first two. This course covers architectural and societal developments of New York State from the Dutch Colonial period through the post-war era.

Both courses are available for three (3) units of graduate or undergraduate credit hours. While in Staatsburg, students will use Hoyt House as a field school for their courses through lectures, workshops and field trips. Proposed excursions in the Hudson River Valley region include potential trips to other historic architectural treasures like  Mills Mansion and  Olana, and visits to other towns in the region. There will also be a day trip to New York City with a tour of Central Park with a Vaux landscape historian. Housing will be provided at the  Culinary Institute of America in their Hyde Park campus, which is famous for its on campus restaurants and cafes. In addition to course tuition, there will be an additional fee of $700-$900 to cover housing and other course related travel. Travel scholarships are available!  

#SuffrageSelfies: Marketing the Centennial with HNY

Thursday, June 1 at Noon

Join this Facebook chat to learn about three ways you can get involved in Humanities New York marketing this summer. The conversation will be lead by Lauren Kushnick, Director of Grants & Partnerships, and will feature commentary by Nicholas MacDonald, Communications Associate and Scarlett Rebman, Grants Associate. 

Want to participate? 
1. Tune into the NY Women's Suffrage Centennial group at 12pm 
2. Introduce yourself
3. From the HNY Centennial Marketing poll, which is your favorite?

Looking forward to seeing you then!

Facebook Invite
Noah Webster Weekend returns to Goshen

Friday & Saturday, June 2 & 3 1PM - 4PM

On Friday June 2, the weekend kicks off at 6 pm with the Goshen Art League's popular Art Walk on West Main Street, which will be closed to traffic. Last year the pedestrian-friendly Art Walks drew large crowds who came out for the live music, artists displaying and selling their works, and the many locally-owned restaurants in downtown Goshen. For Noah Webster Weekend there will also be about 20 local authors setting up tables in the street to sign and sell copies of their works during the event. 

On Saturday June 3 from 1 to 4 pm on the village green the celebration continues with an appearance by Noah Webster himself. Award-winning Hudson Valley storyteller Jonathan Kruk will be there in costume as Noah Webster to entertain kids of all ages. Musician Thaddeus MacGregor will be playing early-American music, and a few other figures from the early history of Goshen may also be making appearances.

Car Tour: D&H Canal

Saturday, June 3 at 10:00 AM

Join the Hudson River Maritime Museum and the D&H Canal Museum for a joint tour of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, from High Falls to Kingston.

The tour begins at 10 am in High Falls at the D&H Canal Museum with a guided tour of the museum and the Five Lock Walk, led by D&H Canal Museum Historian & Curator Bill Merchant.

At noon, the group will leave the museum and drive along Creek Locks Road with a guide to the locks that can be seen from the road and end at the Anchorage Restaurant in Eddyville. A buffet lunch at the Anchorage is included in the ticket price.

After lunch, learn about Lock #1 in Eddyville (right outside the Anchorage!), then hop back in the ca r and head down Route 213 to the Rondout, where HRMM Curator Allynne Lange will lead a walking tour of the Rondout Waterfront, including a discussion of Island Dock and Company Hill Path.

The tour ends at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, where participants can choose to take a self-guided tour through the museum. Museum admission is included in the ticket price.

Tickets are $40 for HRMM and/or D&H Canal Museum members, $45 for non-members. Lunch and museum admissions are included in the ticket price. HRMM and/or D&H Canal Museum members must be current members. If registering with a name different than the primary member, please list their name in the notes field. 

Tour meets at:
The D&H Canal Historical Society and Museum
23 Mohonk Road
High Falls, NY 12440

Parking is somewhat limited, so if you are attending this tour with a group, please carpool!

Your name and the number of tickets you purchased will be on the list at the D&H Canal Museum or you can print out your confirmation email. If you are purchasing for multiple people and arriving separately, please list their names in the notes field. This tour is limited to 30 people.

Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Lndg, Kingston, New York 12401
Ready! Aim! Fire! At Washington's Headquarters

Saturday, June 3 from 1PM - 4PM

Come visit Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site to see re-enactors from the 4th Connecticut Regiment perform musket drills, military demonstrations, and answer questions about the life of a soldier in the Continental Army. 

The site itself will be open from 11am - 5pm with admission entitling you to a tour of the historic Hasbrouck House, which served as Headquarters for General Washington during the last 16 ½ months of the Revolutionary War. Also included is access to the museum building, which contains the award winning exhibit, Unpacked & Rediscovered: Selections from Washington's Headquarters' Collection. 

For further details or directions please call the site at 845-562-1195. Facebook Invite
Silvo's Villa Ghost Hunt

Thursday, June 8 at 8:30PM - 3AM

This event includes a 3 course dinner, with one glass of wine or beer.  Dinner Starts at 9:00pm and Ghost Hunt from around 10:30pm.

You will be dining with the psychic, and Ghost Hunts USA staff.

Psychic led Ghost Hunting Vigils, Tarot Cards (1st come, 1st served basis), and lone Vigils.

Silvio's Villa serves an authentic Italian Cuisine in the quaint setting of sprawling estate that is rooted in the 1700's. But guests rarely dine alone! The history of the location alone can send chills up your spine but the experiences of guests and investigators will leave you speechless.

Footsteps, doors opening and closing, shapes entering in and out of dimly lit spaces late at night, visible orbs and faint shouting - the paranormal activity that has been captured, witnessed and experienced are formidable. A young girl with long brown hair and big beautiful brown eyes has been seen smiling at guests from the safety of the Vail Room. A large bottle of whiskey flew off the shelf and tossed itself into the back of the bartender as patrons looked on in surprise-perhaps a disgruntled spirit was interested in a different type of spirit...

Silvio's Villa is now a part of the Haunted History Trail of New York State.

25th Annual Chester Historical Society Yard Sale

Saturday, June 10 at 8:30AM - 1PM

The Chester Historical Society
1915 Erie Station
Winkler Place
Chester, NY 10918

Carriage Day at Museum Village

Sunday, June 11 at 11AM - 4PM

Check out the fastest growing segment in the horse world!

In cooperation with Mid-Hudson Driving Association, we will have antique and replica carriages on the Green. There will be many demonstrations of driving, hitching, and more. A great chance to learn about a growing hobby or just to observe an elegant tradition.

You're welcome to bring a blanket and enjoy the green. (The guinea hens keep the tick population down!) 

Displays and activities throughout the Village, including a Harness Racing display and thaumatrope making.

Museum buildings will also be open with costumed interpreters.

Museum Village 
1010 State Route 17M
Monroe, New York 10950
The Gomez Mill House, as seen from the paper-making studio.
Sephardic Jewish Tales & An Ethical Cultural Education: The Making of Martha Gruening

Sunday, June 11, at 1PM

Muriel Horowitz, Storyteller, will perform two storytelling presentations: Sephardic Jewish Tales and An Ethical Cultural Education: The Making of Martha Gruening .

Muriel Horowitz enchants and engages listeners as she shares personal and historical tale and stories from her Jewish heritage and world cultures. She believes in the "magic" of storytelling to enrich the imagination, empower people of all ages, transmit values and most of all to build bridges toward a more peaceful world. She is co-founder of the Dutchess Interfaith Council's story circle, and is a member of regional and national storytelling organizations and a Hudson Valley Writing Project fellow. She especially enjoys helping others share stories and was a 2016 recipient of an Arts Mid-Hudson grant to help 3rd graders collect and retell their parents' stories.

Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. As they spread throughout the world, they brought with them a rich treasure trove of stories from their Sephardic tradition. Come to hear "Challahs in the Ark" and other stories from Gomez's cultural heritage. Martha Gruening , a woman way ahead of her time lived a life of service, commitment and courage.

Join Muriel as she tells the incredible escapades from her storied life. Martha owned the home from 1918-1925 and hoped to found a progressive libertarian school on its grounds.

This program is made possible through the support of the Newburgh Jewish Community Center. Sunday at Mill House programs are free to the public. A complimentary tour of the House follows the presentation. Light refreshments will be served.

The Gomez Mill House Museum and Historic Site
11 Mill House Road, directly off 9W, in Marlboro, NY
Engaging Latinos with the History of the USA: The Big Picture

Saturday, June 24, 10 to 11:30 AM

A workshop geared to engage the Latino population in the history of the United States will be presented by the Office of the Orange County Historian.
The workshop will be conducted by Sergio Villavicencio, an expert on presenting historical lectures to the Latino community. As Board Member of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society, he has reached out to various Lationo groups to lecture on United States History.  Since Orange County is so culturally diversified, and holds an honored place in the History of the Unites States, instructing staff members on reaching all their guests - no matter their background -- is crucial for keeping local history alive.  
The workshop, "Engaging Latinos with the History of the USA: The Big Picture," will be split up into three parts:
  • Understanding the cultural differences of how history is perceived in the USA versus Latin America;
  • Connecting the narrative; and
  • Keeping Latinos engaged.
A self-described "Peruvian polyglot," Villavicenzio's deep interest in history has taken him to over 50 countries, identifying and researching cultural differences and similarities on their ways of approaching history. Having visited several history sites in the Hudson Valley in the past years, he is particularly excited about bringing his teachings to the Orange County area: the place of the place of Washington's Headquarters, Fort Montgomery, and dozens of top tier museums and historical sites in the area.  "This is my first time speaking to the Orange County historical community, and I'm thrilled to be able to share my experiences to staff members who will be able to incorporate what I've learned into their programs so that their audiences can have a greater understanding of America's past. "

Orange County EMS Center
22 Wells Farm Road, Goshen

Reservations suggested. Call 845-360-6978, or email
2017 Cemetery Care Workshops 
July 16 - Temple Beth Jacob Big Rock Cemetery in Newburgh
August 12 - Washingtonville Presbyterian Church Cemetery
October 14 - Gumaer Family Cemetery in Deerpark

(*raindates are as follows: July 23, August 13, and October 15.  In the same order as above.)
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. 

Moderated by cemetery preservation expert, Marianne Greenfield.
Please RSVP, each session has only 16 slots available. Contact the Historian office at 845-360-6978 or email
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun