In 1974, an Italianate building that Thomas Cole had designed and used as his painting studio in the mid-19th century was demolished. It had fallen into disrepair and the art movement that Thomas Cole had founded, the Hudson River School, had fallen out of favor. Over the years, the site was overcome with trees and shrubs, and the exact location of the former building was lost. The site is now part of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and the building is in the process of being revived. This Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm, the art history professor from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, Julie Levin Caro, will be at the Thomas Cole site to speak about this piece of history – the building that Cole designed as his “dream studio”.
The talk is the last event in the series of Sunday Salon lectures, which take place once per month from January through April at the home of Thomas Cole, where the Hudson River School began. Tickets are $8 per person, or $6 for members, and admission is first-come-first-served.
This is the third in a series of posts on the New York State History infrastructure. The previous ones were on County Historians and Municipal Historians. These posts draw on my experiences in initiating a series of county history conferences in the Hudson Valley this year and on Teacherhostels/Historyhostels I have conducted such as the one to the Mohawk Valley this past summer prior to Irene. Read more →
It has been ten years since the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opened its doors, and they have a great many milestones to celebrate, so they are opening their doors on Sunday, September 25, from 1-4 pm for a Community Day, featuring a new exhibition focusing on the past decade. Admission is free.
In the ten years since the 2001 opening, over 60,000 people have visited the historic site and attendance is now 400% higher than it was in the first year. Once near ruin, the house and grounds now provide an evocative environment where visitors can learn about the founder of the Hudson River School of art.
The Irish American Heritage Museum has announced that it is moving into a new home at 370 Broadway in downtown Albany, NY. The Museum is completely modernizing the ground floor of the historic 19th century Meginniss Building in what has been a gutted century-old space to transform it into a state-of-the art, year-round exhibit and educational facility that also will house its O’Dwyer Research Library.
“In celebration of our 25th year of meeting our educational goals and the vision of our late founding Chair of the Board of Trustees Joseph J. Dolan, Jr., the Museum is moving into a new year-round, multi-faceted and expansive exhibit facility that will allow us to host large numbers of visitors as well as school and public groups for exhibit viewing, lectures, and other presentations throughout the year,” stated Edward Collins, Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Further, our new Museum facility will be more accessible to the general public and provide downtown Albany with new vitality.” Collins said of the Museum’s decision to move into downtown Albany from its part-time, summer seasonal exhibit facility in East Durham, Greene County: “The Irish have played such a central role in the history of this great city and region, from literally building Albany – and surrounding cities, villages and towns – from the earth up to protecting these areas and their people, to leading the people in every aspect of life in Albany and the surrounding region. Name a profession, occupation, leadership position or community service, and the Irish have had a central role in Albany’s life and the lives of those throughout the great northeast. The Museum’s Trustees, especially the late Joe Dolan, value greatly this rich legacy and seek to pass it forward to new generations of New Yorkers and Americans.”
The Museum expects to formally open its new, renovated facility at 370 Broadway, Albany, in September. It will move from The Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre in East Durham, Greene County, which owns the summer seasonal exhibit facility previously leased by the Museum on Rt. 145 in that hamlet- the Quill Center will assume residency in that facility. The Museum will continue to partner with the Quill Center through loans of its exhibits to the Quill Center.
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings joined in lauding the Irish American Heritage Museum’s move to the city. In a statement, Mayor Jennings said, “This museum is an important part of our community, inspiring countless residents and visitors to discover the story and may contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America, and even learn a bit about their own heritage along the way.”
Museum to Launch New Fundraising Campaign
The Museum will be launching a new fundraising campaign to help it sustain its mission and to provide future Capital Region generations a sense of the importance of their own heritage compass – whatever their heritage legacy might be – to help guide them in their lives. “In an age when we are all connected to each other through the internet, cell phones and so many other electronic devices, we would serve younger generations well by helping them stay connected to their heritage,” Collins explained. “The Museum is committed to the basic tenet that preserving one’s heritage is vital to providing a cultural and historical foundation to future generations of Americans. To paraphrase the Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough, ‘Our heritage is who we are, and why we are who we are.’“
The Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education (IHARE) has announced the third of five county history conferences in the Hudson Valley to be held this spring, this one focused on Greene County. The first conference was held at the Mahopac Library in Putnam to a capacity crowd on March 19. The second one at the Albert Wisner Public Library in Warwick, Orange County on April 16 is fully registered. Each Saturday conference brings together scholars, municipal historians, historic organizations, teachers, and lovers of history to share in the experience of the history of a region in the Hudson Valley, address the challenges in preserving that legacy, and to hear about teaching local history in our schools.
Greene County History Conference
Date: April 30 Time: 9:00-5:00 Location: Catskill Middle School Auditorium 343 West Main Street, Catskill Cost: Free (optional $10 lunch) Registration: check payable to IHARE and mail to POB 41, Purchase, NY 10577
Immerse yourself in the history of Greene County. Hear its music. View its art. Sing its songs. Tell its stories. See its historic sites. Learn about the Greene people who over the centuries have made the county what it is today. Meet the people who are preserving that legacy and help us to continue to do so in the 21st century.
9:00 Welcome – Wayne Speenburgh, Chairman of the Legislature (invited)
9:15 Why Greene Is Great: Local History Matters Dave Dorpfeld, Greene County Historian
Greene County has experienced many changes since the end of the Ice Age and first human settlements in the land. Thousands of years later these first settlers would be joined by the Dutch, Palatines Africans, and the English. The area was part of the struggle for Independence and witnessed a boom with the arrival of the turnpike, steamboats and railroads, and emergence of industry in the valley towns. The county became a cultural center as well with the stories of Rip Van Winkle, the paintings of the Hudson River Artists and the growth of tourism in the mountain towns. By remembering our past we help to build the future our county in the 21st century.
David Dorpfeld is a native of Greene County with a 36 year career in state and federal government agencies as an investigator, management analyst and auditor. He has been a member of the Greene County Historical Society for over 30 years and serves as Treasurer. For the past two years, he has been the Greene County Historian. In addition he writes a weekly history column for several Register Star Newspapers including the Catskill Daily Mail.
10:15 Hudson River School Ted Hilscher, Columbia Greene Community College
Welcome to the Hudson River School of Art. This presentation will showcase its art, discuss the messages of the artists, investigate the changes in society to which they were responding, and emphasize the role of the Hudson River School in the origins of the environmental movement.
Ted Hilscher is Associate Professor of History and Government at Columbia Greene Community College in his academic life. As one devoted to local history, he is the Town of New Baltimore Historian and Trustee Emeritus of the Greene County Historical Society. In the past he was the chairman of the board of the Greene County Historical Society when that organization purchased the Thomas Cole House and the preservation efforts began in 1998. He also serves as a docent there.
11:15 The Civil War from a Local Perspective: The William H. Spencer Letters Robert Uzzillia
Everyone knows that the Civil War occurred in the South – that’s where all the National Park Services sites are located excepted for Gettysburg! But it was the people from the North who fought in those battles and marched in those campaigns and no state contributed more than New York State. New York in particular contributed more soldiers to the Union than did any other state. The soldiers who fought the war shared their experiences with the homefront through letters to their families. These letters provide a graphic description of war and insights that only a soldier could have. The letters of Greene County resident William H. Spencer were transcribed by Eileen Cords, a descendant, during the town’s Bicentennial. Re-reading them reminds one of just how powerful they were and of their impact on the loved ones who were reading them.
Robert Uzzillia is a lifetime resident of Greene County. He graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 1980 with a BS in Geography and was appointed Cairo Town Historian in 1988. He has written articles for the Town of Cairo Bicentennial (Catskill Daily Mail), as well as a photo history and has given presentations on topics ranging from a general history of Cairo to collecting salt-glazed pottery from Athens, NY.
12:15 Lunch: Musical entertainment John Quinn & Bill Lonecke and others
1:15 Preserving a Legacy: Warren Hart, AICP, Director, Economic Development, Tourism & Planning, moderator
The Civil War in Ballads, Stories, Poems & Camp Fire Songs John Quinn & Bill Lonecke
The War Between the States was prolific in war poems and songs. In the North and South, poets and songwriters vied with each other in invoking the muse. The program will recreate the music of the period that reached the hearts of the people with fiery metrical appeals to patriotism. The influence of music and the power of song —– the plaintive ballad, the lofty, patriotic, and heroic lyric, the parody, the spiritual anthem and even the crude and comical camp fire songs will be presented. These are the songs that would have been heard in ‘-the hundred circling camps’ and family parlor by our ancestors.
John Quinn is the co-chair of the Greene County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, member of the Civil War Heritage Foundation, former teacher, school administrator and college faculty member, board of trustee member at the Pratt Museum and Vice Chairman of the Community of Windham Foundation. He’s a member of the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers a Civil War parlor band.
Bill Lonecke – is a Social Studies teacher at Margaretville CSD. He is a member of the Civil War Heritage Foundation, Greene County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, Banjo player for the balladeers band and has over 30 years experience as a reenactor and historian.
Using Film to Preserve Local and County History Jonathan Donald, Jonathan Donald Productions, Inc.
An anecdotal account of history’s role in film, especially in the arts and entertainment which give an audience a touchstone to the past that political history rarely offers.
Jonathan Donald or his company has produced over 200 documentary and dramatic programs for network, cable, and Public Television including major series like the dramatized documentaries of Rediscovering America (Discovery), Faces of Japan (PBS), The Africans (Time-Life Television and PBS), Conserving America (PBS), Wild, Wild World of Animals (Time-Life Television). He has written directed and produced these programs and won various awards such as an Emmy and Golden Eagles. He began his career in television at an ABC documentary unit. His first jobs in broadcasting were at a radio station in Berkeley before moving to Public Affairs Director at WBAI in New York.
A Most Important Historical Legacy – Writing It Down!: Getting the local words out Deborah Allen, Publisher, Black Dome Press
Greene County’s only regional publisher shares the rem
arkable triumphs of documenting local history. Find out how books are really made, how they get into the stores and finally, onto your night stand. How can these books on local history be used in the classroom? Can local students in high school and college partner with municipal historians and historical societies to write books about the history of Greene County and their community? Let’s talk.
Debbie Allen is the publisher of Black Dome Press, an independent publisher of New York State histories and guidebooks with a special focus on the Adirondacks, Catskills, Capital District and Hudson River Valley. Founded in 1990, Black Dome Press honors include the first-ever Barnes & Noble 2009 “Focus on New York Award for Outstanding Regional Literature,” the Columbia County Historical Society “Preservation Heritage Award,” the Community of Windham Foundation “Leadership in Cultural Heritage Award” and the “Distinguished Service Award” by the Greene County Council on the Arts. Their offices are in the Catskill High Peaks below Black Dome Mountain.
Getting Our Local and County History Together Barbara Mattson, Executive Director Mountain Top Historical Society
Hear what goes into selecting, collecting and organizing a collection and why organizations must constantly re-examine and re-define their roles.
Barbara Mattson lives in Maplecrest, NY and has been Executive Director of the Mountain Top Historical Society since 2008. She has written grants for non-profits and municipalities and has worked in the communications and media industries.
3:00 The County and the Classroom – Hudson Talbott, Moderator
The River and the County Hudson Talbott, author River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River
Hudson Talbott has written and illustrated nearly twenty books for young readers. Born in Louisville, KY, he attended Tyler school of Art in Rome, lived in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and traveled extensively throughout the world before starting his career in New York. His first children?s book was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art, called How to Show Grown-ups the Museum. His second book, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, was made into a feature-length animated film by Steven Spielberg. Hudson then collaborated with composer Stephen Sondheim on a book version of the composer’s musical “INTO THE WOODS”. His books have won a variety of awards and been transformed into other media. He was honored recently by Scenic Hudson Environmental Organization for his River of Dreams – The Story of the Hudson River. That book and O’Sullivan Stew have both been produced as musicals for young people. He is currently working on a book titled It’s All about Meow! A Young Cats’s Guide to the Good Life, which will soon be published by PenguinPutnam.
The Colonial World and the Classroom Wanda Dorpfeld, Greene County Historical Society
Wanda Dorpfeld was born and raised in Freedom, New York. She holds Bachelor of Science and Master of the Science of Education degrees from The College of St. Rose, Albany, New York. After living in Indiana and Washington, D.C., she moved to Greene County in 1977. She was a teacher for 25 years in the Catskill Central School District. She currently is on the Board of the Greene County Historical Society and is co-chair of the Museum Committee and Chair of Board Development and Resources. She also is on the Board of The Heermance Public Library and is Chair of Policy and Planning, Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.
Jean Cardany and Michelle Whiting Coxsackie-Athens School District
Each year the second grade classes from Coxsackie Elementary School and Edward J. Arthur Elementary School participate in a special program called “Beacons of Learning.” Through this program the students have the opportunity to visit and learn about the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse.
The boys and girls learn about the past, present, and future of this special community treasure. They meet Emily Brunner who lived on the lighthouse as a child and they discover ways to help with the preservation of the lighthouse. Another important feature is the opportunity to experience the river firsthand. Despite living so near it, many of our students have never been on the Hudson River in a boat. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to share our program and experiences with the participants of the Greene County History Conference. We hope that by listening to the children recount their experiences, it will encourage more schools to learn about their local history.
A Greene Family History as American History Carolyn Bennett, Director, Pratt Museum Board
4:30 Teaching County History Roundtable Peter Feinman, Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education
The Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the knowledge and appreciation of human cultures from ancient times to the present through an array of student, teacher, and public programs and activities. The goals and objectives of the organization are:
1. To increase the public awareness of the benefits of history and archaeology through public programs.
2. To promote the inclusion and development of history and archaeology in the k-12 curriculum.
3. To provide history and archaeology enrichment programs at the k-12 level.
4. To develop, implement, and teach history and archaeology programs for teachers by working with the schools and teacher centers.
5. To work with educational institutions of higher learning, government organizations, cultural institutions, and professional archaeological and historical organizations to develop, promote, and implement archaeological and historical programs.
The Olana Partnership will celebrate the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary natural and designed landscapes in a symposium on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Framing the Viewshed: The Transformative Power of Art and Landscape in the Hudson Valley will take place at Columbia-Greene Community College, just outside of Hudson, New York. The panel discussion will feature three leading experts in the fields of art history, conservation, and landscape design who will discuss the Hudson Valley’s unparalleled viewsheds and their cultural context. Olana, now the Olana State Historic Site, was the home and creation of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the most significant artists of his day, and a leader of the Hudson River School, America’s first native school of painting. As a young artist, Church studied under Thomas Cole who lived just across the Hudson River. Church fell in love with the area and, when he became successful he bought a farm, which eventually became one of America’s most important designed landscapes.
Frederic Church designed Olana, planting trees, building a lake, and orchestrating the paths and carriage drives that lead up to the iconic Persian-inspired castle at the top of the hill. From this vantage point, with Church’s 250-acre Picturesque style landscape in the foreground, and the larger, borrowed landscape stretching to the horizon, today’s visitor can enjoy a vista largely unchanged in the 110 years since Frederic Church died.
This vast area comprises the Olana viewshed. (Fittingly, Columbia-Greene College, site of the symposium, is itself part of this viewshed.) “Olana represents a rare American convergence of art, conservation and landscape themes,” said Mark Prezorski, trustee of The Olana Partnership. “It makes perfect sense for the Olana Viewshed to serve as a backdrop for a broader Hudson Valley discussion.”
The panel discussion will be moderated by David Schuyler, the biographer of Calvert Vaux, who assisted Church with the design of the house. Art historian Linda S Ferber will speak on the four Hudsons of Wallace Bruce, the author of a 1901 travel guide: the Hudsons of Beauty, History, Literature and Commerce. Vassar Professor Emeritus Harvey K. Flad will discuss the “Art of Protecting Scenic Views: Nineteenth-century Artists and the Preservation of Modern-day Landscapes.” Landscape architect Laurie Olin, whose designs for public and private landscapes have won him international acclaim, will speak on the use of contemporary design in historic settings.
The concept of viewsheds is one in which many organizations are involved, several of which are participating in this symposium by either helping sponsor the conference or having representatives on hand to talk about their work. Sara Griffen, President of The Olana Partnership, said, “Partnerships are key to understanding and preserving views. The Olana Partnership is pleased that the Hudson Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area are sponsors of the symposium, and that representatives of Scenic Hudson, the Open Space Institute, and the Columbia Land Conservancy will be available to describe their respective roles in the preservation of views. The Olana Partnership also acknowledges the critical work of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as well as the Estuary program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of State, and the support of our partners at the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.” WDST is the media sponsor of the symposium.
Citing some reasons why his organization with its partners have preserved more than 2,000 acres in the Olana viewshed, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “These vistas are good for the soul and the economy. The land that inspired Frederic Church’s art today lifts the spirits of all who see it. Keeping this treasured landscape intact helps Olana bring $8 million to the local economy each year and contributes strongly to Columbia County’s tourism industry, which generates $105 million in spending annually and is responsible for 1,500 jobs. I applaud Olana for holding this symposium to have more people appreciate and support preserving the valley’s natural beauty.”
The symposium will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Columbia-Greene Community College, 4400 Route 23, Hudson, NY. Registration starts at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each for members of The Olana Partnership, $50 for non-members. Continuing Education Credits, LACES 3.5 Non-HSW (NYS) will be available for registered landscape architects. From 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, Olana is offering tours of the Bell Tower (which is not usually open to the public) to symposium participants. The tour is free to members, $40 for non-members- space is limited so guests must pre-register. For additional information or to reserve tickets, go to the Olana website, www.olana.org or call (518) 828-1872, extension 103.
Another feature of this symposium is a collection of statements on the subject of viewsheds that will be provided to attendees. In addition, these statements are posted on Olana’s website, along with an opportunity for the public, through Facebook, to create their own statements about views.
Following the symposium, participants can enjoy the sunset by attending a Viewshed Benefit Party with wine and hors d’oeuvres, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Oak Hill in Hudson, NY (town of Livingston). Oak Hill was built around 1793 by John Livingston (1750-1822), son of Robert Livingston, the third Lord of Livingston Manor. Grandly sited on a Hudson River bluff, it commands intimate river and mountain views, as well as a singular view up toward Frederic Church’s house and painting studio. Oak Hill is one of more than a dozen family homes built along the Hudson River and has remained in the Livingston family since it was built. Sponsor tickets for the benefit are $250, members $90 and non-members $100 and are available by calling (518) 828-1872, extension 103 as well as via Brown Paper Tickets.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig has announced that author and Catskill, NY resident John Thorn has been named the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball.
Thorn is the author and editor of numerous baseball books, including the forthcoming Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game, which will be published on March 15th by Simon & Schuster. His other books include Treasures of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Total Baseball encyclopedia series. Thorn, a member of the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR), was the senior creative consultant for Ken Burns’ Baseball series. As Official Historian, Thorn will lead various research endeavors and special projects on behalf of Major League Baseball.
Thorn succeeds the late Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times baseball writer Jerome Holtzman, who served as Official Baseball Historian from 1999 until his passing in 2008.
The Woodstock Times has a profile of Thorn online.
As one who hobnobbed in elite cultural circles but also worked with his hands and roughed it in the woods and mountains, was the antebellum American landscape painter to be a gentleman or an undomesticated wild man, a James Fenimore Cooper or a Davy Crockett? Join Dr. Sarah Burns, Ruth N. Halls Professor of Fine Arts at Indiana University, as she examines the ways in which Hudson River School painters attempted to reckon with the problematic aura of femininity that clung to the image of the artist at that time. The lecture, “Outdoor Men: Manliness, Masculinity, and the Antebellum Landscape Painter,” will be held on Sunday October 10 is at 2pm at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill. Admission is $7 per person, or $5 for members, and is first-come-first-served. Illustration: Asher Durand, Kindred Spirits (detail), 1849. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
There will be a party at Thomas Cole’s home in Catskill with cocktails on the lawn followed by dinner at one of several magnificent river-front homes nearby on Saturday September 11, 6pm. The event is a fundraiser, and the newly completed architectural drawings for Thomas Cole’s “New Studio” will be unveiled. The building was designed by Cole and built in 1846, but was demolished in 1973. The original stone foundation has been unearthed, and the fascinating archaeological site will be on view. The evening includes a viewing of the current exhibition in the Main House, “Remember the Ladies: Women of the Hudson River School.” Tickets are $225 for the cocktail and dinner, or $70 for the cocktail party only.
Folks at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY are busy preparing for the 2010 season and are looking for volunteers. They’re currently seeking volunteer docents to conduct tours of the site from May through October. They are also recruiting guides for their hiking program on the Hudson River School Art Trail. Everyone is invited to an Open House on March 14th, 12 noon, with behind-the-scenes tours and an opportunity to meet other volunteers and ask questions about becoming a docent. The Open House will be followed by a lecture about American landscape painting by Dr. Linda S. Ferber, offered as part of the Cole House’s ongoing Sunday Salon series. Participants in the 12pm Open House will also receive refreshments and complimentary admission to the 2pm lecture.
Reservations are required for participation in the Open House. Admission is free. For more information, please contact Joanna Frang, Education Coordinator, at 518-943-7465 ext. 2, or firstname.lastname@example.org.