Tower of Victory Needs Restoration

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Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh is one of the most scenic Hudson Valley sites related to the Revolutionary War. Here, at the stone house owned by Jonathan and Tryntje Hasbrouck, General George Washington and his wife,  together with officers and servants, lived between April 1782 and August 1783 while he reached decisions that were crucial to the shaping of the new republic after the war ended. Among other things, he rejected the notion that he should be made king, and he created the Badge of Military Merit — the forerunner of the Purple Heart.

Today this State Historic Site is open to the public, furnished as it would have been in Washington’s time, and holds reenactments and other events on historic dates such as Washington’s birthday. Located in Newburgh’s Historic District, it commands a magnificent view of the Beacon Hills on the Dutchess County side of the Hudson River.

DSC0034 ed sAlso on the site is the imposing Tower of Victory, a monument commissioned by Robert Todd Lincoln 125 years ago specifically to commemorate the peace that followed the end of the American Revolution. Designed by the renowned architect John Hemingway Duncan, the Tower of Victory houses a bronze statue of General Washington sculpted by William Rudolf O’Donovan that shows the General looking across the Hudson River toward the Beacon Hills.

Time and weather have taken their toll on the Tower of Victory, and the Palisades Park Conservancy must raise $1.5 million in order to restore the stone structure, replace the roof, and eliminate water penetration. Fundraising projects are in place and have already had good results, but more is needed. To learn more and/or to donate, visit the PPC’s website.

If you would like to own a fine art photographic print of the Tower of Victory, I am donating 10% of the profits from the sale of the photograph at the top of this post  to the Restoration Fund. Click on the photo, or here, to view the photo in a larger size and to get to my website.  I hope you’ll consider supporting the efforts to keep this important American monument alive and well for the next 125 years. Thanks so much!

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Colorful Poughkeepsie

Poughkeepsie's historic Main Street district. The building on the right houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, where I'll be doing a talk and book signing on Thursday October 24.

Poughkeepsie’s historic Main Street district. The building on the right houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, where I’ll be doing a talk and book signing on Thursday October 24.

Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County has been an underexplored territory in my photographic repertoire, and yesterday I set out to put that right, especially since I’ve been invited to give a talk there at the Mid Hudson Heritage Center later this week, in conjunction with a book signing for our Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour.

The “Queen City of the Hudson,” as Poughkeepsie is known, is home to many sites of historical significance, including the Bardavon Theater. It also contains the eastern terminus of the 1.28-mile-long Walkway over the Hudson State Historic Park, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. The result of a determined community effort to transform an abandoned railroad bridge into something that people can enjoy, the Walkway stands 212 feet above the Hudson River and offers superb views.

Poughkeepsie boasts a number of historic districts. Here are some photos I’ve taken of the Main Street district. One of the buildings houses the Mid Hudson Heritage Center, one of the city’s leading cultural institutions.  My lecture and book signing (I’ll be talking about the Hudson River Artists and showing slides of some of their work and mine) is Thursday October 24 at 7.30 pm.  Join us if you can!

This amazing sculpture stands along Main Street. Can you find me in the picture?

This amazing sculpture stands along Main Street. Can you find me in the picture?

A mural about the Hudson's own "Loch Ness Monster." I once encountered him and dubbed him "Hudson Henry."

A mural about the Hudson’s own “Loch Ness Monster.” I once encountered him and dubbed him “Hudson Henry.”

Another view of Main Street

Another view of Main Street

 

 

The Resurgence of Catskill Village

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You don’t have to live in New York State to have heard of the Catskill Mountains—such classic American authors as Washington Irving have made sure of that—but the village of Catskill? Well, its reputation doesn’t spread quite so far—at least, not now and not yet.

Ed IMG_1691 sIt wasn’t always the case.

Despite its name, Catskill isn’t a mountain town—it’s a river town, a very old river town, and therein lie its history and its claim to fame. Native Americans were on hand to greet Henry Hudson when he reached what is now Catskill on his voyage up the river that bears his name. The first Dutch settler, one Killiaen van Rensselaer, likely came to Catskill in 1630. Catskill was incorporated as a village in 1806. Even before this, it had established its importance as a crossroads for commercial and leisure travel. The Susquehanna Turnpike, completed in 1801, had Catskill as its terminus. Thus Catskill became a major point for travel to the American West. Travelers coming up the river from New York—before decent roads were built, steamboats were the method of transportation—would change at Catskill for Albany or Montreal to the north, or the Berkshires or Boston to the east.

One of Catskill’s most renowned residents, as is well known, was Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School ofEd IMG_1684 s painting. But did you know that Samuel Wilson, the original prototype of the popular “Uncle Sam” figure, was also based in Catskill? Wilson was a government meat inspector who was responsible for stamping “U.S.” onto shipments of meat bound for West Points and other destinations to the south during the war of 1812—hence “Uncle Sam.”

The 19th and early 20th centuries were prosperous times for Catskill. In addition to tourism—in Main Street alone several nice hotels welcomed longer-term vacationers as well as tourists wanting to spend a night here either before or after a sojourn in the Catskill Mountains to the west—the shipbuilding, tanning, and other industries flourished here. By the mid-20th century Catskill entered a period of decline, but its bicentennial, celebrated in 2006, provided impetus for a revitalization, as residents and owners of buildings were encouraged to breathe new life into the classic architecture.  Local historian Ed IMG_2864 sRichard Philp, author of Catskill Village in Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series, credits the restoration of Thomas Cole’s house Cedar Grove, now a National Historic Site, as a major factor in Catskill’s rebirth.

Here are some photos I took last Sunday on a walk through Catskill, along with one I took earlier of the Catskill Country Store. I stopped in for an enjoyable chat with proprietor Carol Wilkinson and can highly recommend her coffee and other tasty products. The Thomas Cole House was having its annual Open House, so some of the photos are from that unfailingly enjoyable event.

Drinks, snacks and lots of fun abounded at the Thomas Cole site’s Open House! This was also a great opportunity to see the current art exhibition on 19th-century painter Albert Bierstadt for free.Ed IMG_1703 s

 

 

 

 

Ed IMG_1706 sThomas Cole himself was on hand to greet visitors.

 

 

Last but not least: Our book Historic Hudson Valley was for sale at the Visitor Center!Ed IMG_1702 s