Orange County Historian Johanna Yaun shared her expertise with Historic Preservation students from Westchester Community College last month, during a walking tour of the Newburgh Historic District.
Yaun highlighted some of the city’s most important historical landmarks and gave the SUNY Westchester students the opportunity to meet some of the people dedicated to protecting and promoting Newburgh’s historic treasures.
“Newburgh has the largest contiguous historic district in New York State and boasts a variety of buildings by renowned architects,” Yaun explained. “These include A.J. Downing, A.J. Davis, Calvert Vaux, Frederick Clarke Withers, George E. Harney, Frank Estabrook, and J. Percy Hanford, to name a few.”
First the group toured Washington Headquarters State Historic Site with Paul Banks, Interpretive Programs Assistant. They discussed Gen. George Washington’s wartime service, as well as how the headquarters, open since 1850, came to be the first publicly owned and operated historic site in the nation.
“As America’s first historic site, Washington’s Headquarters has remained open to visitors through many changes in the museum profession, they have had to reinterpret the history time-and-time again to meet the shifting expectations of the public,” Yaun noted.
The scholars then visited an art installation organized by STRONGROOM, located in the shell of what was once the William A.M. Culbert House. Built by A.J. Downing and Calvert Vaux in 1852, this is one of the first times that the ruin has been open to the public since it was severely damaged in a fire about 40 years ago.
Other stops on the tour included:
- The Crawford House museum with Historical Society of the Hudson Highlands Trustee Steven Baltsas. This museum preserves the story of David and Fannie Belknap Crawford and their daughters, a successful mercantile family in the early 19th century.
- The Dutch Reformed Church, which was constructed by A.J. Davis in 1835.
- Calvary Presbyterian Church with longtime member Jim Ferguson. The church survived a fire in 2019 and is undergoing extensive restoration.
- St. George’s Church with the chair of the St. George Cemetery committee, and lifetime member of the church, Catherine Costello.
In addition to serving as the Orange County Historian, Yaun is also an instructor in the Historic Preservation Certificate program at SUNY Westchester, where she teaches Intro to Historic Preservation at the Peekskill campus. She, her husband Douglas, and her son Calvert are restoring the 1917 Tudor Revival style home of architect J. Percy Hanford, located in the City of Newburgh.
For more information, contact Johanna Yaun at JYaun@orangecountygov.com.