Step into the Hudson Valley’s Past and Present in a Whole New WayMay 8th, 2012 | By HV Insider | Category: In Your Town
The Hudson Valley time machine is waiting for you to enter. Meet George Washington, relive the Titanic disaster at one of the Great Estates, and dine in New York’s oldest tavern. History repeats itself countless times a day through our costumed interpreters, fascinating re-enactments, and festive events. It’s Heritage Weekend throughout New York State on May 19th and 20th with very special activities planned in the Valley.
Before the colonists came to the New World, the Lenapes were the first residents of our region. The Bevier House museum near Kingston explores those early days with an exhibit of Native American artifacts and a fascinating lecture from a leading authority. Dating from the 1600’s, the handsome stone mansion reflects the lifestyle of the early settlers who would have been familiar with the Lenape tribe. Peace with the Native Americans was easier to achieve than with the British. Visit the Bronck House in Coxsackie on May 20th and you’ll be asked to take quill in hand to sign a declaration against the Crown, one of the first formalized complaints sent to the British Government. A fife and drum corps provides rousing Revolutionary War music as costumed hosts welcome you inside, urging you to join with them and put your signature on the “Coxsackie Declaration”.
When war did arrive, meet the man who led the charge. General George Washington will be at his headquarters in Newburgh to purchase items for his troops on Saturday, May 19th. There’s intrigue the next day when Jacqueline, a French pastry shop owner, shares her secrets in how she spies for the Continental Army. Conspiracies continue further south in Tappan where the ’76 House had a profound effect on the outcome of The Revolutionary War as the site of the trial and imprisonment of British spy Major John Andre. Beautifully restored, the 344-year-old National Landmark is New York’s oldest tavern and continues to be one of the area’s top dining destinations.
Daily life in the Hudson Valley during those times revolved around farming which still can be seen today at Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. An 18th century milling, farming, and trading complex, it was once part of the Philipse Estate. Walk across the millpond bridge to meet costumed interpreters leading tours of the manor house, grist mill, 18th century barn, gardens, and tenant farmhouse. Originally built by Frederick Philips in the late 1600’s, the land was tenanted by European farmers and operated by enslaved Africans. By the 19th century, trades and occupations had expanded beyond working the land, establishing the country’s first art movement, the Hudson River School. Frederic Church, a major artist in the school, built Olana in 1870, a Persian-style mansion overlooking the Hudson River. This season there’s a new exhibit, Life after Life: Preserving and Restoring Olana, with events related to the 40+ years of restoration that have occurred at this State Historic Site. Experts in the field of historic house preservation describe behind-the-scenes experiences of the property, and a tour the house shows the exotic surroundings of one of America’s most famous painters.
The 20th century brought prosperity to the region with Gilded Age mansions lining the Hudson River like ladies dressed for a cotillion. America’s first families who built these elaborate homes were not immune to tragedy, and Staatsburgh State Historic Site has a special tour highlighting the parallels between a visit to the Hudson River estate and a voyage on the RMS Titanic. Visitors hear tales of the ill-fated Titanic in the midst of the same luxury as those first-class passengers. From formal dinners to the late-night gambling, the parallels of what passengers experienced on the Titanic are evident in every room. Further north, the immigrant population of the city of Troy would undoubtedly have lost family members in that tragedy, but Heritage Weekend will be spent strolling the downtown streets to take in the rich architectural heritage they built. The Rensselaer County Historical Society is offering exhibits, tours and educational programs for all ages. A tour of a private residence is a chance to see the interior of one of these architectural gems.
The Hudson Valley’s rich art culture can be found beyond architecture this May weekend at the Shaker Heritage Site in Albany. Pottery Fest is a clay artisan show that highlights the talent and artwork of over 40 Collar City Clay Guild members. America’s first Shaker settlement is a perfect setting to showcase local ceramic art. The two day festival includes throwing and firing demonstrations, a children’s event tent, food vendors, and live music. The clay’s the thing in Albany, but the play’s the thing in Garrison at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. Welcome to the theater. From June 12th through September 2nd, two of the Bard’s productions will grace the lawn of the Boscobel mansion: LOVE’S LABOUR LOST, and ROMEO AND JULIET. Mix a Hitchcock masterpiece with a juicy spy novel, add a dash of Monty Python and you have the Festival’s third production, THE 39 STEPS. It’s a great way to enjoy the Hudson Valley’s heritage all summer long.
Heritage Weekend lasts for only two days, but there are countless cultural experiences throughout the Hudson Valley all year long. Find more on the Hudson Valley Tourism web site at www.travelhudsonvally.com.