Bridges And New York History

New York State has approximately 17,000 highway bridges. They are essential for traveling around our state and connecting our communities. About 37% are “functionally obsolete” or “structurally deficient,” according to DOT, a reminder of the need for continuing investment to maintain valuable resources.

Bridges – old and new – are part of community and state history. The story of three historically significant bridges shows various connections to history. Read more

Peter Feinman: Bowling Alone in 2012

&#8220Harlem Loses Its Bowling Alley&#8221 was part of the headline for an article in the New York Times on August 6, 2012. The article told the story, not of some hallowed bowling alley from the time when life was simpler, but from 2006 when with great fanfare and former President Clinton in attendance, Harlem once again had a bowling alley decades after its last one closed in the 1980s. Read more

Poughkeepsies Soldiers and Sailors Monument

One of our contentions at the Hudson River Valley Institute has always been that you can go anywhere by starting exactly where you are. The closest I ever came to losing this argument was at a Teaching American History conference with a gentleman from New Mexico. &#8220It’s easy for you &#8211 the Hudson Valley has nearly 400 years of colonial history and documented prehistory before that,&#8221 he said &#8220all we have are aliens (Roswell) and those German POW scientists from WWII.&#8221 (He had just finished a presentation about the latter). But he went on to explain that even in that state’s most isolated towns, there was at least one war memorial with the names of local soldiers who served their country, and when they shipped out, they charted a course around the nation and the world leaving a path for students today to trace through history.

?In Poughkeepsie, the most elaborate memorial may be the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Little Market St. Across from that monument is Adriance Memorial Library, where two original cannon from the USS Monitor are on display. Most of us learned about the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack in grade school. Some of us have learned since that the USS Merrimack was converted by the Confederate navy into the ironclad CSS Virginia. Larger than the Monitor and with more guns, it decimated the wooden fleet at Hampton Roads on the first day of the battle, March 8, 1862. But the Monitor arrived overnight and was able to use its shallow draft, low freeboard, and revolving turret to devastating effect the when the battle was rejoined the next day. It was a decisive victory for the Union and a turning point in naval technology.?

But how did we get from Poughkeepsie Library to Hampton Roads, Virginia, and why is Archeologist and conservator David Krop, of the USS Monitor Center, coming from the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News, Virginia to Marist College to lecture about that battle on Thursday April 19 at 7:00 in our Nelly Goletti Theatre? [pdf]

?One of the four champions and financiers of the Union’s first ironclad was John Flack Winslow. At the time, he was co-owner of the Albany Iron Works, living near Troy, NY. Once he successfully obtained the approval of the President himself and a contract with the Navy, he and his partners oversaw an accelerated construction project and the launch of their unique ship on January 30, 1862. Years later, Winslow would retire to a sylvan estate on the banks of the Hudson, on the north end of present-day Marist College Campus. Once here, he got involved in local railroads and presided over the bridge company that would eventually construct the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge: today’s Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.?

So here, amongst our region’s embarrassment of historic riches, is the nearly-lost tale of a local entrepreneur and patriot who was once heralded as a “benefactor of the nation.” All of it took to place Poughkeepsie at the heart of one of the most important naval battles in history was to read the plaque accompanying a cannon outside the local library.

Poughkeepsie: Historic Family Homes Reunited

Historic Huguenot Street has announced that it has reached an agreement with Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie to transfer to it the properties and collections of Locust Lawn located in the town of Gardiner, New York. The agreement is result of months of planning to reunite the family homes of Annette Innis Young, who was responsible for establishing both estates as protected historic sites.

Transferring ownership and “reuniting” these two estates fulfills the original vision of Annette Young. It was Miss Young’s desire to jointly preserve the Locust Lawn and Locust Grove estates under one organizational umbrella hoping “the foundation will maintain these houses as an example of the lives of three generations of a wealthy and cultured Hudson Valley family.” Unfortunately, she was unable to achieve this during her lifetime.

As an alternative, she donated Locust Lawn to Historic Huguenot Street (which was then known as the Huguenot Historical Society), an organization in which she was already involved. Upon her death in 1975, Annette Young’s will established a not-for-profit educational corporation to preserve Locust Grove and its contents in perpetuity for the &#8220enjoyment, visitation, and enlightenment of the public.&#8221

The Locust Grove Estate was purchased by Annette Young’s father, William Young in 1901. The Young family cherished Locust Grove’s extensive grounds and historic buildings and added their own important collections of furniture, paintings and ceramics.

Locust Lawn is located on Route 32 South in Gardiner. It features an historic federal-style home was built in 1814 by Josiah Hasbrouck, a businessman and gentleman farmer whose ancestors were among those that founded New Paltz. Josiah Hasbrouck was Annette Young’s great-great grandfather and a U.S. congressman. The Hasbrouck family left Locust Lawn in 1885, leaving behind 70 years of finery and furnishings. The house was a repository of family history for another 70 years until it was donated to Historic Huguenot Street by Annette Young in 1958.

In addition to transferring the property and collections of Locust Lawn, Historic Huguenot Street will donate its adjoining properties, which include the historic Terwilliger stone house as well as the Little Wings Bird Sanctuary and Meadow. The Terwilliger House will continue to be protected as a historic building, open to the public. The existing protections on the Little Wings Bird Sanctuary and the Conservation Agreement on the Meadow also will remain in place with the transfer of the properties. Together, all of these properties preserve the core of the estate created by Josiah Hasbrouck.

The executive directors of the respective organizations have cooperated over the years to ensure that the collections and history have stayed linked to each other. These connections led to the formal transfer that is now taking place.

It is anticipated that Locust Grove will assume ownership and management of Locust Lawn by the end of August. Under the terms of the transfer, which has already been approved by the boards of both organizations, all restrictions placed on the property by Annette Young at the time she gifted the site will remain in effect. In the short term, the site will continue to be open to the public by appointment. Locust Grove plans an expanded program of public events in the future.

Photo: Locust Lawn Front Facade Courtesy of Historic Huguenot Street.