The Historical Society’s mission is to protect and promote Newburgh’s history. Mostly this means opening the Crawford house to visitors from April to October, plus a series of lectures, exhibits, and other programs. But in April and May of 2016, several board members and volunteers took the mission on the road. Here are a few instances of how this played out:
- Roads were literally the topic of discussion at the North Plank Road Tavern on April 29 during an event to kick off the Tavern Trail of the Hudson Valley, organized by the Office of the Orange County Historian. Our Director, Matthew Colon, was invited to answer the question, “What IS a ‘plank road’ anyway?” briefly speaking about the history of plank roads in New York State. The event was greatly attended with 100 in all. Matthew had to deliver his talk in the threshold between two rooms filled with history customers (these trail events are a cross-promotion between history, tourism and economic development). This, however, did not cause curiosity to waver as the crowd found enjoyment exploring how and why pre-Civil War New York State constructed over 3,000 miles of plank wood surfaced roads.
Matthew was also joined by board members Alan Axelrod, Lynn Eberle, Jim Hoekema and Richie Rosencrans in representing the Society. Lynn Eberle was called upon to put together a raffle basket that included a free dinner at the Tavern (donated by the tavern owner), complimentary tickets to the 2016 Candlelight Tour of Homes, among other items she bundled together. That evening the Society earned $154 in donations.
- Over 30 Community organizations were in attendance at the Sixth Annual Newburgh Volunteer Fair, April 30, at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. These organizations assist the greater Newburgh area and its community residents and show their pride in Newburgh. Over 300 people were seen visiting tables and speaking with representatives. The Historical Society was proud to have five representing the organization, engaging with interested parties, speaking to their own experiences volunteering and passing out information about upcoming opportunities. They recruited sixteen new supporters!
Roy Spells, a board member that has regularly participated in these fairs over the years commented the 2016 fair “was the most beneficial to date.” Roy was also joined by board member Jim Hoekema and volunteers Flo Aruza, Patty Caserto and Marion Teehan.
Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site, Safe Harbors of the Hudson, and the Newburgh Free Library coordinated the event. Keep an eye out for the fair next year in the Spring of 2017!
- A delegation representing Newburgh organizations involved in preservation attended the 2016 New York Statewide Preservation Conference, which took place in Albany and Troy from May 5 to 7. This delegation included Newburgh Historical Society board members Lynn Eberle, Brigidanne Flynn and Jim Hoekema; Isaac Diggs of the City of Newburgh’s Architectural Review Commission; and Madeline Fletcher (panel speaker) and Diana Mangaser of the Newburgh Community Land Bank. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). This year’s Conference refleted a nationwide effort to celebrate, learn from, and leverage the NHPA’s first five decades to assure historic preservation’s vibrant future in America.
In a photograph included below by board member Brigidanne Flynn, Jim Hoekema and Lynn Eberle stand outside The City Beer Hall, a re-purposed building formerly the Albany Home Telephone office. Jim was invited to speak as a panelist on Newburgh’s historic assets, how negative views influence the public’s interactions, and the transition Newburgh may be currently undergoing. His presentation was designed to provoke discussion and advice from a panel of experts on how to “get the word out” about Newburgh’s appeal.