Forum on the history behind Newburgh’s Monuments

On April 3rd, 2016, the Newburgh Historical Society welcomed members and guests for a slide presentation and panel discussion entitled “Monumental Newburgh.” Led by Society member Tom Knieser, the slideshow and panel presentations showcased the many public sculptures and memorials installed in the city.

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

“In the years we traveled with our kids to various cities, the outdoor sculptures became a part of the memory,” Knieser reflected on how he came to appreciate the topic.

There are two dozen examples scattered throughout the City of Newburgh, which have become lasting elements of the city’s landscape offering unique lenses into a local heritage.

One noted 19th century Newburgh sculptor, Henry Kirke Brown, designed monuments for the U.S. Capitol and West Point. His sculpture of George Clinton, Revolutionary War general, first governor of New York and twice Vice-President of the United States, once graced the Newburgh waterfront.

Architect John H. Duncan oversaw the construction of the imposing Tower of Victory at Washington’s Headquarters. Duncan would later become best known for his “Grant’s Tomb” in Manhattan and the soldiers and sailors Memorial Arch at the entrance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

General Anthony Wayne plaster, even with coats of metallic paint, couldn’t stand up to Mother Nature.

General Anthony Wayne plaster, even with coats of metallic paint, couldn’t stand up to Mother Nature.

Other works memorialize war veterans, volunteer firemen, Martin Luther King, and those who fell victim to the terrorist attacks on September 11. Some have not survived the test of time like a World War II memorial that once sat at the foot of Broadway and a plaster model that honored Revolutionary War General Anthony Wayne.

The panelists included Elyse B. Goldberg, Historic Site Manager at Washington’s Headquarters; Mary McTamaney, City of Newburgh Historian; and David McTamaney, veteran support advocate and a founding member of Habitat For Humanity of Greater Newburgh.

The Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands was launched unofficially when the Hasbrouck House (Washington’s Headquarters Newburgh) was in danger of demolition after the Revolutionary War. The current Society, incorporated in 1884, has always been an advocate for Newburgh’s history. The Society’s headquarters, 1830 Captain David Crawford House, was purchased in 1954 to save it from demolition and symbolizes their dedication to preserving and protecting Newburgh’s assets.

The Crawford House, a historic house museum and Society’s headquarters, located at 189 Montgomery Street within the City of Newburgh’s Historic District is open for tours on Sundays between 1:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. or by appointment. For more information about admission, tours, or programming please call (845) 561-2585.

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