Newburgh Challenges the Hudson Valley to a Game of Croquet

NEWBURGH, NY – The Hudson Valley tradition of croquet continues on August 16th between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. with the annual tournament at Newburgh’s beautiful Downing Park. Registration opens at 12:00 p.m. and players are encouraged to come in pairs or be paired upon arrival.

HSNBH_CT2014The game of croquet migrated from Europe to America in the late 19th century and rose in popularity. Associations soon formed that encouraged playing and the rules were rewritten into an American variation of the game. The tradition of backyard croquet took hold and is well documented through print and photography.

One 1940s image of Franciscan Friars shows their enjoyment through smiles as they played on the grounds of Graymoor Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in Garrison, New York. Hearing about the Newburgh tournament, Father John Keane continued in this tradition and joined players last year.

Playing croquet at Denning Mansion, 1865.

Playing croquet at Denning Mansion, 1865.

Another surviving image was captured across the Hudson River on Denning’s Point about 1865 and shows a croquet match between women. It also gives us a view of the pristine Denning Mansion, which deteriorated into a ruined shell by the 1920s.

Print advertisements by the Newburgh lawnmower manufacturing company, Chadborn and Coldwell, featured in their backgrounds familiar scenes of citizens enjoying rounds of croquet.

19th century Chadborn and Coldwell print ad.

19th century Chadborn and Coldwell print ad.

The tournament is sponsored by the Newburgh Historical Society, the Newburgh Preservation Association and the Downing Park Planning Committee, who’ve found the event to be a successful way of promoting outdoor recreation, history and preservation.

The tournament also falls in line with how the influential landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing, Newburgh’s famous son, felt about public spaces. Downing’s influence led to the 35 acre urban park becoming a memorial to him in 1889.

In an October 1848 issue of the horticultural magazine Downing edited, he wrote, “these great public grounds are the pleasant drawing-rooms of the whole population; where they gain health, good spirits, social enjoyment, and a frank and cordial bearing towards their neighbors.”

Admission is $5 per player and spectators are welcome. Refreshments will be available to purchase. Money raised will benefit future tournaments.

Please call (845) 561-2585 or visit the Historical Society’s website,, for more information, including directions and parking.

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. View the “Growing Up In Newburgh” exhibit, a community exhibit featuring the photographs and memories of Newburgh from the 19th century through the 20th century. For more information about admission, tours, or programming please call (845) 561-2585.


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Caption: Croquet Tournament 2014.

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Caption: Father John Keane with a NPA member.

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Caption: Playing croquet at Denning Mansion, 1865.

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