Mountain Top Historical Society Exhibit Highlights Twilight Park

Ed IMG_1414 sThe Mountain Top Historical Society (MTHS), based in Haines Falls, is simply amazing for the amount of work they do to preserve, chronicle, and educate people about the history and culture of this area of the Catskills called “the mountain top” — think Route 23A in Greene County, Hunter, Tannersville, Haines Falls, and you get the idea of the location of this fascinating region. Yesterday I journeyed to the MTHS’  beautiful 20-acre campus to view their current exhibition celebrating the 125th anniversary of Twilight Park.

Ed IMG_1419 sHow to describe Twilight Park? Discreet. Low key. If you’re driving west on 23A, keep your eyes peeled for the left-hand turn once you exit Kaaterskill Clove or you’ll miss the entrance.  Twilight Park is a summer community founded by Charles T. Wingate in 1888, at a time when such communities were growing in popularity. It didn’t take long for the new community to experience considerable growth: by July 1888 there were already six log cabins, five cottages, a clubhouse, a pharmacy, and tennis courts. Sports of all kinds have been a mainstay of Twilight Park, as have the arts. The first exhibit of the Twilight Park Artists was held in August 1947. Originally begun as an experiment exclusively for Twilight Park residents, the show is now open to all artists and is held the second weekend of August.

Ed IMG_1420 sThe MTHS exhibit celebrating the 125 years of Twilight Park is a comprehensive and varied collection of memorabilia that brings to life this Northern Catskills summer community. Sports trophies abound, as do visuals documenting the community’s ongoing interest in and involvement with the arts. There is even a tea set from the days when the Ladies Auxiliary held tea lunches to benefit the local church.

The exhibit is in the restored Ulster & Delaware Railroad Train Station on the MTHS campus. Enhancing the exhibit will be two upcoming lectures. On Friday July 12 at 8 pm, historian Bob Gildersleeve and Joanne Ainsworth, author  of We Are Creating a Community, will present “Creating a Community: Early Images of Twilight Park” in which they will introduce glass plate negatives that have been donated to the Society by Dr. Stanley Leavy. On Friday July 19 at 8 pm Nicholas Lemann will present “The Prehistory of Twilight Park,” focusing on Charles Wingate, the Twilight Club in New York City, and the historical and intellectual thinking that gave rise to Twilight Park and similar communities.

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If you’re interested in the history of an amazing community in the Northern Catskills and want a great introduction to the tireless work of the Mountain Top Historical Society and its picturesque surroundings, I can highly recommending attending one of these events. Visit the MTHS website for further information.

Book coverIN OTHER NEWS: Our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour is published this month! Click the image for details.

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Mountaintop Historical Society Holds Archives Day

One of the older buildings on the MTHS campus in Haines Falls

The Balladeers were delightful to hear.

The weather for this year’s Mountaintop Historical Society’s Open House–called Archives Day this year–could hardly have been more different from 2011, when the lashing rains of Hurricane Irene arrived right in the middle of the events. Now, Saturday August 25 was bright and sunny, perfect weather for this annual outdoor event. The 77th New York Regimental Balladeers gave stirring and thoroughly enjoyable renditions of Civil War-era songs, the MTHS archives were on display in the Visitors Center for all to see, and well-known local geologist Dr.

Local historian and author John M. Ham poses with his latest book. The quality of the B&W photos in this one is amazing.

Robert Titus presented a highly informative (and illustrated) lecture on the geological aspects of Hurricane Irene. Far from being information for information’s sake, what Dr. Titus had to say was vital knowledge for town planners if similar disasters are to be avoided in future.

I encourage you to check out the MTHS by visiting their website. Located in Haines Falls along Route 23A, the MTHS campus is easy to find and a delight to visit. They frequently offer interesting programs, including hikes. If you live near the area or enjoy driving

Cheerful, dedicated volunteers serve food!

through Kaaterskill Clove (or up the scenic Route 214 to the west), I think you’ll enjoy the MTHS. Why not become a member?

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