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

Is Historic Trades Training a New Trend for NYS's Community Colleges?

Since the establishment of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 1923, historic trades training has been the work of living history museums. Before that time, artisan techniques were passed down in workshop settings from master to apprentice. Just as the artisan workshops faded from prevalence over the course of the early 20th century, the living history museums have also seen their heyday pass. Museums with living history missions have undergone major transformations to retain audiences. By the time I apprenticed in the jointer shop at Colonial Williamsburg in 2011, the historic trades had diminished to a background role. They were overshadowed by the theatrical endeavors of recreating street scenes from the Revolutionary War and the focus on interdisciplinary means for connecting to visitors and students through technology.


In my attempts at gaining hands-on experience that would benefit the management of preservation projects, I had to cobble together programs such as the historic carpentry internship, training in modern technique offered by the unions, and classes at colleges that focused on material culture. Others in the field have attended non-accredited classes like the ones offered by East Field Village in upstate New York or the North Bennett Street School in Boston.


Living in the City of Newburgh has exposed me to another side of this story. In all of the historic downtowns throughout the Hudson Valley, there are carpenters, plumbers, and masons who try their best to adapt what they learned through modern training to repair and mimic the historic architecture that surrounds us. Local sites have been approached many times by contractors who are wondering if a historian would be willing to identify building elements, or to direct them to artisans who have the skills to replicate them. But without a culture of historic trades training built into modern education, an ill equipped, under informed contractor can do irreparable damage to historic structures.



Combine these problems with positive trends in artisan culture, the reclamation of Main Streets for small businesses, and the unfortunate state of important architectural landmarks, and we have a perfect storm in New York State. Our network of SUNY colleges is in the position to invest in our local communities through an alignment of training professionals and through area projects. Imagine being able to take a class about history of architecture while snapping HABS photos of the Calvert Vaux, designed Hoyt House, in Staatsburg. Or imagine being trained to build coffered ceiling tiles for the restoration of a designated World Monument like the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh?


The academic community is discussing these opportunities for the SUNY system. This spring both SUNY Orange and SUNY Dutchess are holding meetings with the historians and architects and they are forming partnerships with historical societies in the region to hash out program possibilities.


Show your support and cross your fingers, a historic trades renaissance may be taking root here in the Hudson Valley.


                                                                                             Johanna Yaun
                                                                                             Orange County Historian
Summer Opportunity

We're currently seeking adventurous, enthusiastic volunteers to assist us with gardening and light maintenance, out on  Bannerman Island, this season. Gardener trips typically go out to the Island on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for a few hours, during the season, departing from Cornwall.

Volunteers are welcome to come out for a single day, join us the whole season, or anything in between. The most important part of volunteering is being passionate about helping us to continue to keep the Island beautiful, and following through with what you commit to.

Our volunteer list tends to fill up quickly, so, if you do have interest, and can make time for dedicating at least a few hours this year, please join the  Bannerman Castle Trust page and text or call Donna at 845-542-1192.

Know someone who may be interested? Share this post with them!
History in the News

Progress Being Made on the Sands-Ring Homestead in Cornwall

Groups Fight To Save Historic House in Kingston

How Preservationists Hope To A 114-Year Old Steamship Running Up The Hudson River

Museum Village beckons friends to a cleaning visit

Middletown Community Health Center's plan to move to former railway station site is 'on life support'

Hudson Valley history advocate wins Washington award
Upcoming Events

Monday, March 21st at 2pm

The History Relevance Campaign is a diverse group of history professionals posing questions about what makes the past relevant today. The Campaign serves as a catalyst for discovering, demonstrating, and promulgating the value of history for individuals, communities, and the nation. AASLH is proud to be a partner in this important effort. 

[You must preregister to attend this free live webinar

We believe that history can have more impact when it connects the people, events, places, stories, and ideas of the past with people, events, places, stories, and ideas that are important and meaningful to communities, people, and audiences today. 

Join Tim Grove of the National Air and Space Museum and Max van Balgooy of Engaging Places, LLC, as they discuss this important movement, how it impacts historic house museums, and how you can get involved.

Tuesday, March 22nd at 7pm

Dutchess County Historian William Tatum will speak on Dutchess County's Ancient Documents Collection, comprising the earliest surviving records from the Court of Common Pleas - records that offer a rare glimpse into the window of the eighteenth-century lives of Dutchess County residents.

Howland Cultural Center
477 Main St, Beacon, New York 12508

Tuesday, March 22nd at 1pm

Museums, including historical societies and other memory institutions, create and use intellectual property every day. A basic understanding of copyright law is essential to protect your organization's rights and those of other creators, further your organization's mission, and avoid disputes that could harm its reputation. 

Learn more & register:

$25 StEPs members
$40 AASLH members
$115 nonmembers 

In this lab, museum attorney Walter G. Lehmann will provide a practical, museum-focused overview of copyright law including the important exception for fair use. Topics he will address include copyright duration, copyright orphans, fair use and the four-factor test, best practices and applying fair use, and clearing rights. Join us on March 23rd to learn more about the important topic of copyright law.
Celebrate Women's HIstory Month at the Newburgh Free Library

Wednesday, March 23rd at 7pm

Learn about the women behind the scenes in the Civil War, serving as nurses, spies, soldiers, abolitionists and heroes. 
O&W Railway Lecture

Tuesday, March 29th at 6pm

Ray Kelly, local railroad and trolley historian, will present a program on the The New York Ontario & Western Railway, more commonly known as the O&W or NYO&W, a regional railroad that ran throughout New York, including Middletown, Cornwall and Kingston. For more information please contact Gail Myker at 845-341-5483 or

Middletown Thrall Library
11-19 Depot St # 19, Middletown, Orange County, New York 10940
Conference: Preserving Folk and Vernacular Architecture in NYS

Saturday, April 2nd

Folklorists, architects, historic preservationists, museum professionals, community members, and students will come together to address questions concerning the significant crisis in our understanding of everyday landscapes and the built environment:
♦  What is the folk and vernacular architecture of New York State? What makes it "folk" or "vernacular?"

♦  How are the conditions of urban and rural life in 2016 challenging traditional architectural practices among various ethnic and regional communities?

♦  Who is sustaining vernacular design and construction in the face of globalization and gentrification, and why?
The Cooper Union, Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets), New York City 10003 QUESTIONS? or 518-346-7008 LINK HERE
A Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the C.J. Hooker Middle School 

Saturday, April 2nd from 10am to 3pm in the C. J. Hooker Middle School Old Gym

Celebrate 75 years of history by taking a trip down memory lane. Enjoy a tour of the beautiful building and listen to lectures about its interesting history.

An exhibit of historical artifacts such as photos, yearbooks, sports memorabilia, furniture, and more will be on display.

Please RSVP to the C. J. Hooker Middle School at 845-615-6300
Dairies and Milk Bottles of Orange County

Saturday, April 2nd at 2pm

Orange County, NY once held much of the dairy industry of New York State. With over 2,000 dairies at one time, it has a rich history in this field. On April 2nd at 2:00 pm, historian 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 as well as stories that will be told by the relatives of former dairy farmers of the area. We hope that you can make it out to experience this interesting lecture!

Woodbury Senior Center
16 CR-105, Woodbury, New York 10930
3rd Annual Great War Commemoration at Museum Village

Saturday, April 2nd from 11am to 4 pm

We'll have many displays of artifacts, demonstrations, and lectures throughout the day. Representatives from several countries in the conflict will be portrayed by reenactors.

Museum Village
1010 Route 17M, Monroe, New York 10950
Annual Woman of History Award
On Sunday March 13th, Denise Van Buren accepted the 2016 Woman of History Award at Washington's HQ in Newburgh.
Spokesperson for the "Wet the Canal" project Jane Sorensen Lord, Town of Deerpark Supervisor Gary Spears and Orange County Parks Commissioner Richard Rose explain the changes in the river flow since this section of the D & H Canal was drained. 
Orange County Historian | Goshen, N.Y. |  845-545-7908 |  jyaun