PUBLIC HEARING TONIGHT:
AUGUST 9, 2021 at 7PM
Newburgh, NY 12550
A few years ago, Thomas Dodd acquired 326 Liberty Street via the Land Bank. The contract indicated that the building must be back on the tax rolls in a set time frame. Although modest in appearance the c. 1830 building has a deep history and mythology in Newburgh and therefore Thomas opted to involve the State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) in the restoration of the building. The extra time and preparation needed to follow the preservation guidelines, plus time and resources needed to untangle a complicated history, led to delays and he was granted an extension. Then the Covid-19 pandemic occurred causing more delays in manpower and supplies. Thomas was denied his most recent request for an extension. And now with the building due to be completed in the Fall of 2021, the city leaders are planning to force him to give up ownership of the property tonight.
As a preservationist, my concern is with the historic building. I see that owner Thomas Dodd is putting his resources towards saving this structure when most owners would have thrown up their hands at the condition and requested a demolition permit. I'm a afraid that if the building is taken from him, or if the city's restrictions cause further delays while the structure is in a dismantled state, that it will not survive.
Unfortunately it's too late to ask for letters, but please come out to the public hearing tonight to advocate for the preservation of this historic building.
Click here to READ MORE about the structure in a past e-newsletter.
Click here to WATCH SPECTRUM NEWS story about the recent archaeological findings on site.
Click here to WATCH SPECTRUM NEWS story about the restoration of the structure.
We're still looking for the missing historic marker from the Old Goshen Hospital on Greenwich Avenue.
And now unfortunately there's one missing from the Edison Power Plant on Montgomery Street in Newburgh.
More information about the site here LINK
The Smith House or Sidman’s Tavern along Route 17 in the Ramapo Pass is an important New York and Sloatsburg historical asset that also has a plot of pre-Revolutionary War Cemetery and last vestiges of the Clove Road, or Revolutionary War Highway.
1. With the removal of the thick tree coverage, the old white Smith House has been left standing like some lonely sentinel left over from a bygone era. It is known more recently as the former home of the Pierson Mapes family. But it’s history goes way back to the very beginnings of what would become Sloatsburg. Read an article about efforts to save the historic building here.
2. The route from Morristown to Pompton, and through the Clove, was fairly direct. From the northern end of the passage one could continue on toward Albany or hook east to the Highlands. For most purposes, the Hudson River was a better transportation artery, but the lower part of the river was now controlled by the enemy. Though newly important, the Clove Road was still a rough way to go. Over the years it had been progressively described as an “Indian path,” a “horse path,” and “very stony and narrow” road. As late as 1779, an American officer dramatically described the valley as “most villainous country, Rough, Rocky and a bad climate. Rattle snakes & Robbers are plenty. It was an infringement on the rights of the wild Beasts for man ever to enter this Clove, it ought to have remained as Nature certainly intended for it for the sole use of snakes, adders, & Beasts of prey.” Among those beasts of prey was a group of Loyalist outlaws known as Claudius Smith and the Cowboys, whose tactics approximated modern definitions of terrorism. Read an article about the history of the Clove Road on Journal of the American Revolution
Corey Allen and Johanna Yaun grew up on the same street in Newburgh and have lots of respect for one another.
They usually agree on most local issues, but today they find themselves on opposite sides of the AME Zion Church debate.
The Rev. Milton Stubbs and AME Zion leaders have begun the process of getting permission to demolish most of the existing 113-year-old church at 109 Washington Street in the East End historic district.
In its place would rise a new complex on four combined lots that would include a new street-level church, apartments and space for community events and meetings, according to the plan.
In addition to replacing the church, the project would bring revenue to AME Zion. It includes retaining the distinctive tripartite façade and its arched stained-glass windows, and the stained-wood ceilings over the sanctuary and basement fellowship hall.
The plans are currently under review by Newburgh’s Architectural Review Commission.
Corey Allen: Let them build
Corey Allen, 41, is a lifelong Newburgh resident, a 1995 graduate of Newburgh Free Academy and a Neighborhood Revitalization Coordinator for Habitat for Humanity in the city.
“I have very strong ties with this church,” Allen says. “When I was a child, I went there as a Cub Scout and my godparents were parishioners.”
“But a church is not a building, it’s a congregation,” he says. “And like most congregations, this one is suffering because it is aging out and maintenance costs are soaring.”
Allen is a former member of the First United Methodist Church on Liberty Street, and sees parallels.
“My church was forced to close down in 2018 for the same reasons,” he says.
“The congregation was dwindling and they couldn’t afford the upkeep, and the exact same thing is happening here.”
“The First United Methodist Church congregation was closed and forced to scatter. But the AME Zion congregation is looking for a way to maintain their presence here in Newburgh, and I say, let’s let them do it.”
“The building dates to 1905 and it’s not the original building,” he says. “The first was a smaller wooden structure built in 1833, so it’s not the same church that Frederick Douglass spoke in.”
“The AME Zion Church was founded on the principals of anti-racist worship of Christ,” Allen says.
“Let’s face it, there are black churches and white churches right here in Newburgh,” he says. “This church was attacked twice in the 1860s by people who did not want the AME Zion parishioners worshipping here.”
“Fast forward to today, and it’s the same thing,” he says. “A group of white folks who have never stepped foot in this church telling the black congregation what to do with it.”
“In my opinion, the only way to save this congregation and the church from becoming another museum is to let them build,” Allen says.
“Same congregation, same pastor, same organization,” he says. “The only thing that would change is the building.”
Johanna Yaun: Save the structure
Johanna Yaun, 35, is a lifelong Newburgh resident, a 2002 graduate of Burke Catholic High School and is the Orange County Historian.
“My feeling is that this is the exact reason the Newburgh Architectural Review Commission exists,” Yaun says. “To prevent decisions being made that sound right at the moment but aren’t the best option long-term.”
“The AME Zion building is a testament to the strength of the early free black community of Newburgh,” she says. “They built this church at a time when it would have been difficult to do so in most communities.”
“I’m afraid that if we lose the structure, the next generation will ask why we saved George Washington’s house and not the AME Zion church,” she says. “And what message does that convey about what legacies our community values?”
“I think there are other solutions that save the structure and maintain the congregation in that structure,” she says. “Such as building the housing on those two vacant lots or selling those lots and using the funds to update the church building.”
“Because what is happening to this congregation is happening to all congregations,” she says. “And if this was happening to the Calvary Presbyterian Church on South Street I’d be making the same argument.”
“It’s hard enough to get people to understand the history of a city like Newburgh,” she says. “And by losing the physical structure, we are losing a gateway into the past.”
“Although it’s sad to see the congregation of First Methodist displaced from their church, it’s now being restored,” Yaun says.
“That building will have a new life and community purpose while preserving the architecture.”
“So even if the AME Zion church leaders were to demolish the church in favor of a housing complex with a chapel for the dwindling and elderly members, what will happen when those congregates are gone?” she asks.
“If the historic church remains, it will have new life and purpose as the next generation sees fit,” she says.
“But if it is torn down, we’ll just have more apartments that could have been built anywhere.”
John DeSanto is a freelance photojournalist. Find more of his 845LIFE stories, photos and videos at recordonline.com. Reach John at firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 14, 2019 the Town of Fishkill Planning Board read the draft of their report on potential environmental and cultural impacts of development on the property known as the Fishkill Supply Depot. The last ten minutes of their report can be viewed on YouTube below. Letters pertaining to this property will only be considered by the board if they are received before April 1st.
The final decision regarding the fate of the "Fishkill Supply Depot" will be announced on April 11th at Town Hall 807 Rt. 52 in Fishkill at 7PM.
This week the office received inquiries from several concerned citizens who wanted to know what happened to the historic butter factory commemorative plaque that has been in place since 1956. The stone is located at 6 Gouge Street, Campbell Hall, NY 10916.
I went to ask the neighbors and to take a look and it is indeed missing. If you have any tips about what may have happened to this monument please let us know.
The small metal plaque read:
with an abundance of cool water,
determined the site of
the first butter factory
in the United States
R.W. Woodhull, Owner
George Gouge, Buttermaker
This monument was placed here
through the courtesy of the:
Town of Hamptonburg, Orange County
Hamptonburg Grange No. 950
Cornell Dairy Science Association
The following is in response to 'Historic AME Zion Church in Newburgh may be demolished' which appeared in the Times Herald Record on May 28, 2018.
In 2020 Newburgh will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Frederick Douglass's jubilee march along Washington Street. The leaders of the AME Zion Church used his appearance to mark the passing of the 15th Amendment, which granted voting rights to African American men. By 1870 the church had already become a symbol of liberty, nicknamed "the freedom church" thanks to its associations with the Underground Railroad.
Although the 1905 structure that stands now is not the modest house of worship built by the congregation's founders, and not the same walls that reverberated the booming voice of Frederick Douglass from the pulpit that's still used today, this building is a symbol of the grand strides of the African-American community in Newburgh as they passed on the flame of civil advocacy for centuries.
In an age when the American public is making an effort to remove monuments of oppression and contextualize historical symbols in our society, why are we not looking to preserve and elevate the symbols of the struggle for equality? This church would have been an incredible source of pride and progress at a time when "separate but equal" was the law of the land. As a monument, this building combats offensive cultural symbols from the past. It doesn't put any one person on a pedestal, recognizing that true progress comes from the strength of the right to assembly. Also, it gets away from isolating one date or accomplishment, acknowledging that the struggle for equality has been sustained through generations.
The City of Newburgh is requesting RFP's for the renovation of the Dutch Reformed Church and the City Club. These two iconic core historic district properties have been in disrepair for decades. Please help pass the word along. We need to find developers who have a commitment maintaining and improving the historical integrity of these structures. Click here for details.
Everyone around Newburgh please watch this crew. They pried a railing off of the house yesterday. Today they gave conflicting stories one guy saying that they were "clearing all debris inside and out" another guy promised that they would put the railing back on when they were done. All too often these salvage crews are known for destroying or stealing architectural features in the historic district. It's unclear to me who owns the property.