Category Archives: Historic Preservation

‘The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming’ Exhibit at New-York Historical Society Takes on New Relevance

Spectral evidence doomed those accused of witchcraft at the Salem Witch Trials, as shown in the exhibit ‘The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming’ at the New-York Historical Society.

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

In an episode that has resonated through American culture from colonial times until today, more than 200 residents of Salem, Massachusetts, were accused of witchcraft in 1692-93. The trials led to the executions of 19 people, most of them women, and the deaths of at least six more. The last of the accused, Elizabeth Johnson Jr., was only officially exonerated this past summer.

In a new exhibit, “The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming,” the New-York Historical Society reexamines this defining moment in American history and considers from a contemporary viewpoint how mass panic can lead to fatal injustice. On view through January 22, 2023 in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, this is the final stop of this traveling exhibition, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts, and coordinated at New-York Historical by its Center for Women’s History, which unearths the lives and legacies of women who have shaped and continue to shape the American experience.

“Countless scholars and authors from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Arthur Miller have kept alive the memory and meanings of the Salem witch trials—but this critical turning point in American history has never before been seen as it is in “’The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming’,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical Society © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“Countless scholars and authors from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Arthur Miller have kept alive the memory and meanings of the Salem witch trials—but this critical turning point in American history has never before been seen as it is in “’The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming’,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical Society. “We are proud to present this extraordinary exhibition through our Center for Women’s History, exemplifying the Center’s mission to rethink familiar chapters of the past and deepen our understanding of them. We hope our visitors will come away with a new perspective on these terrible events from more than 300 years ago and what they still mean for us now.”

Most spectacularly, the exhibit features actual artifacts and personal items from people involved in the Salem Witch Trials – the accused and the accusers – putting into context how personal, more than political, these accusations were, but how easy it was to prey upon the superstition and stereotypes of women.

The exhibit also features two contemporary artists – the acclaimed fashion designer Alexander McQueen and portrait photographer Frances F. Denny, both of whom are descendents of women who were put to death; Denny even has discovered an ancestor on the other branch of her family who was a central judge in the Salem Witch Trials. Both were drawn to their projects as a tribute to their ancestors and to redress the injustice.

The exhibition opens with historical artifacts, rare documents, and contemporaneous accounts, which include testimony about dreams, ghosts, and visions. Handwritten letters and petitions of innocence from the accused convey the human toll. Contextual materials such as furniture and other everyday items help to situate the Salem witch trials within the European tradition of witch hunts, which date back to the 14th century, while suggesting the crucial ways this episode diverged. Rare documents from New-York Historical’s collection, including one of the first written accounts of the trial from 1693, are also on view.

The artifacts and documents that are exhibited that were owned by people involved in the trials are windows into life at that time.

“What we hope people take away, what happened and why, that real people were involved, ensnared in the tragedy, and spark personal reflections of what you might do when confronted with such injustice,” Dan Lipcan, Peabody Essex Museum’s Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library, said at a press preview of the exhibit. “We want people to think about what we can do to create a more tolerant, compassionate society so that this doesn’t happen again.”

The exhibit feels so much more relevant and urgent in light of what is happening in Texas with SB8 which incentivizes vigilantes to hunt down women and girls for seeking reproductive health care, and anyone who might aid them; and when you see how Florida is requiring girl athletes to provide menstrual data. Quite literal persecution and terrorism.

“Witches were thought to make a pact with Satan, gaining the ability to unleash maleficia – harmful magic – causing sickness, misery and death. Accusations were overwhelmingly hurled at women, particularly those who were poor or older. Trials engaged the entire community as a form of popular entertainment and social control over women’s behavior, fertility, or knowledge.”

The exhibit begins by putting the Salem witch trials in context of the European witch hunts.

“Saducismus Triumphatus” a book dating from 1700 with intricate woodcuts, in which Joseph Glanvill provides point-by-point rebuttal if anyone doubted the existence of witchcraft © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 

On view is a “best-selling treatise’ from the 1480s Europe on “how to find, identify, prosecute, torture and condemn women for witchcraft.”

Also on view is “Saducismus Triumphatus,” a book from 1700 with intricate woodcuts, in which Joseph Glanvill provides point-by-point rebuttal to any potential skepticism about the existence of witchcraft.

From 1450-1750, in Europe, witch hunts were rampant, some 110,000 trials held and an estimated 50,000 people – 80 percent of them women, were executed (https://www.gendercide.org/case_witchhunts.html). Imagine the daily terror that would have kept women very much in their place, unwilling to speak out with a remedy for sickness or to prevent a woman from dying in childbirth, for fear of being accused of witchcraft or making a pact with the devil.

A 1600s painting from Flanders, when witchhunts and executions were rampant in Europe, perpetuates the stereotype of witches as women, regularly accompanied by demons, dwarfs, skeletons and boiling pots.

Witch trials made their way into fiction and art, like a mid-1600s painting we see from Flanders, creating the stereotype of witches as women, regularly accompanied by demons, dwarfs, skeletons and boiling pots.

There were other witch hunts in colonial America, but Salem’s witch trials were more lethal and extreme. They also differed in how they featured spectral evidence- testimony from dreams, ghosts and visions – as legal proof. The afflicted were almost all female and initially were children, rather than men. Accusations started with ostracized women but quickly spread to include elite and powerful community members.

Salem’s witch hunts began with Tatuba, an enslaved woman in the Parris household. Tatuba came from Barbados where enslaved women would work over cauldrons to feed their family and heat their home. Girls accused her of making them unwell. Tatuba (likely beaten) confessed to survive.

“She testified that she had practiced magic under the direction of the other two women initially accused, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn, who, like Tituba, were disempowered in the community and easily scapegoated. Tituba also claimed that there were more witches at work in Salem. Her confession, combining puritanical, African and Caribbean lore, included signing the devil’s book, using animal familiars to hurt the girls, and riding a pole through the air. It ignited and legitimized the ever-growing hunt for those responsible for the girls’ and the community’s unexplainable hardships.”

By confessing, Tituba outlived the trials which ended 1693, after the court would no longer use spectral (“invisible”) evidence. Her trial was declared “ignoramus” (“We do not know”-that is, there was not enough evidence of her guilt).

Window from the Towne family home, 1692. A window was considered a spectral portal © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

One of the objects on view is an actual portion of a window from the Towne family home from 1692: three sisters who were of grandmother-age at the time, were accused; two were hanged, one survived.

“Such surviving objects are very rare – they are precious, fragile,” Paula Richter, the Peabody curator, said at the press preview. “This 17th century window came from a Towne descendent. A window was a luminal space – the space between outside/inside, look in/out, hear in/outside – site of fear. This type of ‘spectral’ evidence was admitted into court and accepted as fact. A window was considered a portal where spectral (bad, unreal) could enter the home and bewitch inhabitants.”

Salem’s witch trials were particularly more lethal and extreme and allowed spectral evidence – testimony from dreams, ghosts and visions – as legal proof.
 

There is also a tape loom belonging to Rebecca Putnam, decorated with both Christian and folk symbols. The Putnams were an influential and prominent landowning family that actively accused and testified against neighbors during the trials, including the three Towne Sisters (we see the window of the Towne home). Her cousin Ann Putnam Jr. was a principal accuser and one of the first girls to experience afflictions, and other relatives accused dozens of victims. Her uncle, Thomas Putnam Jr., served as a secretary for the trials while her father, John Putnam Jr., was a constable.

Personal objects from people ensnared in the Salem Witch Trials: sundial owned by John Proctor Sr., 1644. A sundial represented a rare luxury. It was a means to organize and regulate time and required an understanding of astronomy and mathematics. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is a cane owned by Philip English, a wealthy man of high social status, who was nonetheless (or because of that) accused of witchcraft; along with an item belonging to a farmer.

And then there are the original documents. The transcript for Elizabeth How – Alexander McQueen’s ancestor – is most complete, from the accusation to the trial to the order of payment of restitution in 1712 to Elizabeth’s How’s daughters, Mary and Abigail, after her exoneration 20 years after her execution.

One of the first histories of Salem Witch Trials was produced by none other than father and son clergymen, Increase and Cotton Mather, expressing discomfort at using spectral evidence, but defending the court’s verdicts and executions because witches were “the embodiment of evil.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We see a copy of one of the first histories of Salem Witch Trials, produced by none other than father and son clergymen, Increase and Cotton Mather. “Salem’s legal proceedings came to an abrupt halt in October 1692 as the mounting death toll alongside widespread chaos provoked a prevailing sense that the trials had gone too far,” the notes say. “The colony was in crisis – threatening the political authority of the Puritans. Father and son clergymen, Increase and Cotton Mather, were allies of the Massachusetts Bay colony’s new governor, Sir William Phips. A year after the trial, they provided contemporary justifications of the controversial trials, instructing their religious flocks on how to interpret the story and providing political cover, while acknowledging faults in the legal system. They attacked witches as the embodiment of evil, and defended the court’s verdicts and executions, but expressed discomfort with the court’s admission of spectral evidence. Only verifiable evidence or witnesses, Cotton Mather argued, should ‘turn the scale’ of justice in court going forward.”

(Notably, the Puritans who established Plymouth and dominated Massachusetts Colony, are extinct.)

In 1693, the Reverend Francis Dane Sr. wrote an apology, disturbed by how easily the community turned against one another. “One of the few courageous voices of resistance, the long-time Andover resident had been named as a possible witch, along with 28 of his family members-including Alexander McQueen’s ancestor, Elizabeth How, and Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Johnson  Jr.” In a statement, Dane expresses regret that the community was not more tolerant, more charitable and more forgiving “hence we so easily parted with our neighbors of honest & good report, and members in full Communion, hence we so easily parted with our Children…hence such strange breaches in families.”

Considering that the population of Salem and Salem Village was about 2000 in 1692, that would mean that 10 percent of the community was ensnared and prosecuted for witch craft, with 19 put to death.

Beginning in 1696, trial victims and family members petitioned the General Court to clear the records of those falsely accused – in order to get their property back, since descendents of a witch could not inherit the property. Many of the relatives fled to other communities to start life over.

In 1711, the Province issued a reversal nullifying all convictions, judgments and attainders against those on the list, but six of those executed were not on the list, presumably because no petitioners applied. Elizabeth Johnson Jr.’s name was only cleared in July 2022.

The irony is that there were no witches in Salem in 1692, but today, you can visit Salem and find a wicca community.

And as I go through the exhibit, it appears to me that the impetus for the Salem witch hunts was different than that of Europe’s.  In Europe, the motivation seemed to have been more clearly a desire for male religious leaders to retain their absolute control against “uppity” women who were healers and midwives and might challenge their divine authority. In Salem, it seems to have been spurred on more because of personal vendettas and outright opportunistic property theft. This may be a distinction without a difference.

“The Salem witch trials have become rhetorical shorthand in contemporary discourse, but the actual historical events are frequently overlooked,” said Dan Lipcan, Peabody Essex Museum’s Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

“The Salem witch trials have become rhetorical shorthand in contemporary discourse, but the actual historical events are frequently overlooked,” said Dan Lipcan, PEM’s Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library, along with Curator Paula Richter and Associate Curator Lydia Gordon. “When we conceived of this exhibition, we set out to provide a framework for a modern-day audience to reckon with what this chapter of history meant for the development of this country, and what it says about the potential within each of us. We want visitors to feel the continuing impact of the Salem witch trials, to consider what it says about race and gender, and to think about how they themselves might react to similar moments of widespread injustice.”

Coming into the exhibit, I had the idea that the Salem Witch Trials factored into Thomas Jefferson’s call for Separation of Church and State, as well as the judicial due process that was embedded into the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

But what was remarkable to me is to realize that the Salem Witch Trials apparently were not widely known through the rest of the colonies. This is before there would have been newspapers that were linked together by Ben Franklin (I believe the first actual syndicated columnist). The trials only lasted a year and were followed by community-wide shame over what occurred – both for the relatives of those accused, many of whom left Salem and by the accusers who realized they had gone too far.

Other places that had witch trials (Long Island and in Virginia) but these were more likely triggered by events in Europe than by what went on in Salem.

The Founders were more likely inspired to institute Separation of Church and State and judicial due process – 80 years later – by the Enlightenment which looked to science, reason and humanism, in place of the supernatural, Lipcan suggested to me.

So how did the Salem Witch Trials become so prominent in the American psyche?

I suspect it had a lot to do with American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne and the publication of “The House of Seven Gables” in 1851, a follow-up to his hit, anti-Puritan “The Scarlet Letter” novel in 1850. (Hawthorne was so ashamed of his great-great-grandfather John Hathorne, one of the judges who oversaw the Salem witch trials that added the “w” to his surname when he was in his early twenties.) I suggest Hawthorne resurrected the Salem Witch Trials and brought widespread awareness, igniting imagination and intrigue.

Hawthorne’s friend, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, did his part to create the myths surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, depicting Tituba as an African (“Obi”) practitioner of magic, though there is no evidence she was either Black or a witch, aside from the confession she gave under duress and later retracted.

An illustration for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem enshrined an image of Tituba.

The exhibit has a copy of a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) written in her own hand, “Witchcraft was/ hung, in History, / but History / and I /Find all the / Witchcraft that /we need /Around us,/every Day—“

Also in the mid-1800s, a new train from Boston brought visitors to Salem who were taken around to sights by street car. Then around the bicentennial, 1892, the witch trials became commercialized – an industry of witch and related ephemera like buttons, even a souvenir witch spoon, developed, Paula Richter of the Peabody Essex Museum tells me.

The Salem Witch Trials became the center of a massive tourism economy that emerged in the 1950s, growing steadily until today. An annual event, Salem’s Haunted Happenings, has become so popular, it has expanded from Halloween weekend, to October weekends, to all October, with a score of perennial attractions that include the House of Seven Gables; Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop, recreating a trial based on actual transcripts; The Witch House, home of Judge Jonathan Corwin ( the only structure still standing in Salem with direct ties to the Witchcraft Trials of 1692; and Witch Dungeon Museum. It was not until 1992, the tercentenary of the Salem Witch Trials, that the Salem Witch Trials Memorial was dedicated – by Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

“Many people are introduced to the Salem Witch Trials through popular film and television. Fictionalized versions of the story and its legacy continue to captivate audiences to this day. Yet these depictions often rely on stereotypes that ignore the complex social and gendered circumstances that led to the events of 1692.”

A life-size painting that dates from 1869 of “The Salem Martyr” – the woman who posed as a condemned witch was a descendent of one of the hanged victims.
 

We see one of these in a life-size painting that dates from 1869 of “The Salem Martyr” – the woman who posed as a condemned witch was a descendent of one of the hanged victims.

Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials as his metaphor for McCarthy’s “House on Unamerican Committee’s” witch hunts for Communists in Hollywood and government. (See “Why I Wrote “The Crucible”, New Yorker Magazine)

The exhibition also features two reclamation projects by contemporary artists who are descendants of the accused, including a dress and accompanying photographs from fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s fall/winter 2007 collection, “In Memory of Elizabeth How, 1692.” In creating this collection, which was based on research into the designer’s ancestor—one of the first women to be condemned and hanged as a witch—McQueen mined historical symbols of witchcraft, paganism, religious persecution, and magic. Documents show how Elizabeth How was accused and ultimately condemned in July 1692, adding to the gravity of the designer’s show.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s fall/winter 2007 collection, “In Memory of Elizabeth How, 1692” was dedicated to his ancestor who was among the first women to be executed in Salem as a witch © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The exhibit features one of the dresses – a stunning and dramatic black velvet that shimmers with light –along with photos from the runway show and a painted red pentagram just as in the Paris show – juxtaposed with copies of the original transcripts from the trial.

Photographer Frances F. Denny went on a three-year odyssey to document people who today identify as witches. Thirteen from her series, “Major Arcana: Portraits of Witches in America” challenge the traditional notion of witchery by celebrating the spectrum of identities and spiritual practices of people who identify as witches today. Complementing the photographers are audio recordings so you can listen to their voices.

Photographer Frances F. Denny went on a three-year odyssey to document people who today identify as witches. Thirteen from her series, “Major Arcana: Portraits of Witches in America” challenge the traditional notion of witchery by celebrating the spectrum of identities and spiritual practices of people who identify as witches today © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There is also an immersive experience based on New-York Historical’s collection of tarot cards that prompts viewers to imagine what reclaiming witchcraft might mean.

The exhibition concludes with a display that connects the Salem witch trials to modern life and a warning and a challenge of sorts: what would you do when such profound injustice arises?

“The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming” is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, Massachusetts. It was co-curated by Dan Lipcan, the Ann c. Pingree Director of the Phillips library; Paula Richter, Curator; and Lydia Gordon, Associate Curator. At New-York Historical, it was coordinated by Anna Danziger Halperin, Mellon Foundation postdoctoral fellow in women’s history and public history, Center for women’s History.

There is also various programming related to the exhibit, and a special exhibition guide for families.

The Salem Witch Trials exhibit is enhanced with tarot cards from the New-York Historical Society’s own collection© Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There’s so much to see and enjoy at the New-York Historical Society, a destination for history since 1804 and New York’s first museum. There is a world-class permanent exhibit of Tiffany; a relatively new (and fascinating exhibit) about journalist and historian Robert Caro’s process (looking at his notebooks and manuscripts is amazing); two sensational films, “We Rise” about the women’s movement, and “New York City”, plus changing exhibits. (There is also a lovely café.)

The Museum and the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library convey the stories of the city and nation’s diverse populations, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we came to be. Ever-rising to the challenge of bringing little or unknown histories to light, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help forge the future by documenting the past join New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Center for Women’s History. Digital exhibitions, apps, and its For the Ages podcast make it possible for visitors everywhere to dive more deeply into history.

The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org. Connect at @nyhistory on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube, and Tumblr.

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From Mountains to Canyons, Valleys to BrooklynFour Great American Trains to Discover

America’s Highest Railroad
The “Grandest” Railway
A 150-Year Old Narrow Gauge Railroad
And One RR that runs in “A Hole in The Ground”


A Pikes Peak Cog Railway train approaching the summit at 14,115 feet in Colorado (photo provided by Xanterra)

There is just something about historic railroads. Unfortunately, many of the engines and trains that have been saved are static. Lifeless. But there are places in America where you can see a steam engine come alive and run at speed (go fast), where you can climb America’s only accessible 14,000-foot mountain, ride on a 150-year old railroad lost in time and coming back to life in the beautiful valleys of central Pennsylvania and ride on the original subway cars from 1916 and 1930’s to places such Coney Island in Brooklyn. This is where open windows, strap hangers and swaying cars are as fun as the rides found at Coney Island. Yes, there are great train rides this summer, and here’s a ticket to four of the most interesting.

THE BROADMOOR, MANITOU & PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY

 (Manitou, CO to the summit at Pikes Peak – 14,115 feet)

Climb every mountain. Well, there is only one 14-thousand-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to climb. You can take the train. A unique train – a cog. At The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, America’s highest railway reaches a height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to the song “America the Beautiful” were composed. Completely rebuilt it’s back and better than ever climbing up America’s Mountain. This iconic railway is one of only two cog railways in the U.S.

Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor since 1925, this historic railway is the highest railroad in America, the highest cog railway in the world, one of Colorado’s top attractions, and one of the nation’s most unique experiences. A Ride & Stay package is also available via The Broadmoor, a luxury Forbes Five Star/AAA Five Diamond property, that includes accommodations and train tickets.

The Railway runs every day. For information and reservations hop onboard at www.cograilway.com

THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY

(Williams, AZ on Rt. 66 to steps from South Rim, Grand Canyon)

Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901 when it was built by the legendary Atkinson, Topeka and Santé Fee (ATSF). Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from Williams, AZ on historic Rt. 66 to within steps of the Grand Canyon South Rim and El Tovar. The pristine train, comprised of railcars from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including luxury dome cars and an open platform observation car, as well as vintage coaches with opening windows, departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:45 p.m. with a 2.5-hour layover at South Rim of Grand Canyon. The train rolls directly into Grand Canyon National Park, taking an estimated 70,000 cars off the road.

During most of the summer and into early fall, the Railway pulls the daily train once a month with a steam engine built in 1923 and that runs on waste vegetable oil.There is no extra charge for the steam engine pulled trains. It be believed Grand Canyon Railway is the last standard gauge passenger railroad in the US where steam engines are still scheduled to pull revenue trains.

You can save 30% on train tickets when you book in conjunction with any 1 or 2-night stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. Visit thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE.-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) for updated and current information on both the hotel and the train.

It is now also possible to charter an entire luxury private railroad car or even an entire private train complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and staff. These are ideal for “milestone” moments, such as graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays, etc. For charters call 928-635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters.

The East Broad Top Railroad (Orbisonia, Central Pennsylvania)
A 150-year-old narrow-gauge railroad coming out of hibernation and to life in a big way.

It’s one of the true treasures in American railroading. The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA and nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state-started train rides and historic railroad shop tours this spring. The 150-year-old railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than “standard” railroads) and industrial complexes in the country.

It was already an antique when it was shut down in 1956; today is it a true treasure that far exceed the trains and tracks. The EBT still has six narrow-gauge steam locomotives, each awaiting their turn for restoration, one of which is expected soon. Initially, the railroad will offer one hour train rides in a vintage caboose, passenger car or even an open-air car on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic roundhouse and shops in Orbisonia to Colgate Grove and back. Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children. 

Reservations are strongly suggested. For information and reservations visit www.eastbroadtop.com or call 814-447-3285.

The New York Transit Museum & Nostalgia Rides (New York City)

Yes, the New York subway is a railroad and a rather large one at that with 665 miles of mainline track and 472 stations that caters to more than a billion rides a year. It even has a museum in Brooklyn. Founded in 1976, the New York Transit Museum is dedicated to telling and preserving the stories of mass transportation – extraordinary engineering feats, workers who labored in the tunnels over 100 years ago, communities that were drastically transformed, and the ever-evolving technology, design, and ridership of a system that runs 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, the Transit Museum’s working platform level spans a full city block, and is home to a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907.

However, what most people don’t know is that this is not just a static museum. It maintains and operates a wide variety of vintage train cars dating back to 1907. These historic subway trains are occasionally run on what’s called “Nostalgia Rides.” Some go to Yankee Stadium, other to Coney Island or the Rockaway Beach & Boardwalk, and some venture to historic cemeteries or decommissioned subway stations. We’re talking open windows, flickering light bulbs, hanging on to strap hangers and swaying cars. It’s a trip, and a trip back in time on the real things, right down to the rattan seats and car card (ads) that try to sell everything from bras and cookies, the ZIP code and baseball games at the Polo Grounds, Ebbets Field and of course, Yankee Stadium. For information on the museum and Nostalgia Rides visit www.nytransitmuseum.org.

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Eleven Projects Receive 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards

Historic Hudson Masked Tour: Statewide Historic Preservation Advocacy Organizations were recognized with an Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement award. “2020 was unprecedented in its impacts to communities across New York State. The state’s preservation organizations rose to the challenge of programming during a global pandemic and tumultuous political year. Their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity proved that preservation is imperative to quality of life and will be essential in navigating the path to economic recovery.” (Photo by NYS Parks)

Eleven projects preserving New York State’s history, ranging from an eighteenth-century Dutch barn rehabilitation to an artist installation memorializing black lives at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, have received 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards. 

Created in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are awarded by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation each year to honor excellence in the protection and revitalization of historic and cultural resources. The Governor also signed legislation in 2013 to bolster state use of rehabilitation tax credits, which have spurred billions of dollars in completed investments of historic commercial properties and tens of millions in owner-occupied historic homes.

“The 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Awards help bolster efforts to keep New York’s storied history protected and accessible to all,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.”These historic projects demonstrate the diversity of lived New York experiences since our state’s founding. New York is thankful to the dedicated stewards of each site, who provide invaluable support by devoting countless hours to the protection of historic sites for all to learn from and enjoy.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said“The diversity of the projects being recognized demonstrates that preservation begins with passionate local individuals expanding their advocacy into productive partnerships. We are proud to be one of those partners and congratulate all of the individuals and groups for their extraordinary efforts to preserve these historic places.”  

This year’s 2020 State Historic Preservation Awards recipients are:

Binghamton Carnegie Library, Broome County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation 

The former Carnegie Library in downtown Binghamton was transformed into SUNY Broome’s Culinary and Events Center serving the school’s hospitality programs. The $21.5 million dollar rehabilitation project successfully made use to commercial tax credits to revitalize the historic building into a state-of-the art education and event facility. 

Cropsey Barn, New City, Rockland County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation & Conservation 

The Cropsey family has made an extraordinary commitment in the rehabilitation and long-term use of a New York State and National Register listed property. In fear of losing an agricultural site to sprawl, the family transferred ownership of their eighteenth-century barn and land to the county with a restrictive covenant ensuring its agricultural future. Working with a group of traditional trades craftspeople and building conservators, the barn had been fully restored and is now used by the local County Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) association for planting and harvesting organically grown products. 

Holley Gardens, Village of Holley, Orleans County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation

Constructed between 1930 and 1931, the former Holley High had been vacant since 1975.  In 2020, Home Leasing and Edgemere Development completed a dramatic rehabilitation of the building that has created 41 affordable housing units for seniors and new office and meeting space for the village government. The developers utilized both the state Historic Tax Credit and Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs to assist with the adaptive reuse.  

Dr. Ferguson’s House, Glens Falls, Warren County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation 

When Dr. Ferguson’s House became threatened with demolition, local preservationists Darren & Lisa Tracy stepped in to rescue it. With careful planning and cooperation, the Tracys rehabilitated the 1870 National Register-listed building using Federal & State Historic Tax Credits for use as an apartment building, thereby saving an important community treasure.

Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House, Clarkstown, Rockland County

Excellence in Historic Building Rehabilitation

Constructed between the 1790s and 1870s, and last occupied in the 1930s, the Onderdonck-Tallman-Budke House had fallen into disrepair. With the help of town funds, the historic sandstone Dutch house was painstakingly restored and serves as an educational resource in Clarkstown’s Germonds Park.  

Fire Watchtower at Marcus Garvey Park, Harlem, New York City

Excellence in Historic Structure Rehabilitation 

Known to many as the Harlem Fire Watchtower, the 1856 cast iron structure at Marcus Garvey Park is a community landmark owned by the City of New York. Spurred by citizen advocacy, a public-private partnership was established to restore Watchtower, which resulted in sizable contributions from the New York City Council, Mayor, and Borough President’s offices. The resulting rehabilitation preserves an enduring symbol of Harlem’s identity and historic legacy.  

Carnegie Libraries of New York City

Excellence in Historic Documentation  

What began in 2009 as a project by the Historic Districts Council to survey Carnegie Libraries in New York City, culminated in the creation of a Multiple Property Documentation Form that was approved by the National Park Service in September 2020. Establishing the significance of these resources facilitates future listings for these beloved community buildings.

Mary E. Bell House, Center Moriches, Long Island

Excellence in Organizational Achievement  

The restoration and historic registers listing of the Mary E. Bell House preserves a history of black landownership on Long Island during the nineteenth century and documents the central role of women within the Moriches African American community. Constructed in 1872, the home was occupied by the Smith and Bell families for more than 100 years. Owner Mary Bell rose to prominence in the community for her association with the Moriches AME Zion Church. By 2011, the house had fallen into disrepair. The town of Brookhaven acquired the property and a formal agreement with the Ketcham Inn Foundation was entered to restore the building, which now operates as historic site.

Village of Heuvelton, St. Lawrence County 

Excellence in Archeology Stewardship

The Village of Heuvelton unexpectedly discovered several historic burials of the former village “old cemetery” during a water tank and sewer rehabilitation project. Through careful research and coordination with agencies involved, the village successfully and sensitively navigated the challenges of excavating the human remains for further study and re-interment.

Memorial Field for Black Lives, John Brown Farm State Historic Site, Essex County

Excellence in Historic Site Interpretation and Public Engagement

Working with the not-for-profit group John Brown Lives!, Artist Karen Davidson Seward created the Memorial Field for Black Lives as a space to acknowledge the struggle for equality in America in response to the brutal murders of unarmed Black Americans and widespread protests this summer. The exhibit debuted at John Brown Farm State Historic Site, the home and final resting place of an abolitionist who gave his life to end slavery.

Statewide Historic Preservation Advocacy Organizations

Excellence in Historic Preservation Organizational Achievement 

2020 was unprecedented in its impacts to communities across New York State. The state’s preservation organizations rose to the challenge of programming during a global pandemic and tumultuous political year. Their ingenuity, resilience, and creativity proved that preservation is imperative to quality of life and will be essential in navigating the path to economic recovery.  

New York’s Division for Historic Preservation helps communities identify, evaluate, preserve and revitalize their historic, archeological, and cultural resources. The Division works with governments, the public, and educational and not-for-profit organizations to raise historic preservation awareness, to instill in New Yorkers a sense of pride in the state’s unique history and to encourage heritage tourism and community revitalization.

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Newport’s Preservation Society Hosts Online Holiday Auction of Exclusive Experiences

The famous Gold Room at Marble House, one of the Preservation Society of Newport County’s legendary Gilded Age mansions. The Preservation Society is hosting an online Exclusive Experiences Holiday Auction from Nov. 22 through Dec. 6 with proceeds supporting the society’s preservation efforts © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEWPORT, R.I. – The season of giving is fast approaching and, just in time, the Preservation Society of Newport County will be conducting an online Exclusive Experiences Holiday Auction from November 22 through December 6.

Offering unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that allow people to explore the Newport Mansions in new ways, the Preservation Society is making 19 remarkable packages available for bid. All proceeds from this auction will support the preservation work of the Preservation Society of Newport County.

“If you’re searching for the perfect holiday gift, we are auctioning off some unbelievable experiences that have never been available to the general public,” Preservation Society CEO and Executive Director Trudy Coxe said. “This is a rare opportunity to create memories for your family, your best friends, and other special people in your lives. And you’ll enjoy the satisfaction of supporting Rhode Island’s largest cultural organization as it continues to preserve and protect 11 historic properties and landscapes, including seven National Historic Landmarks.”

Winning bids will take participants to some extraordinary heights, literally and figuratively. Here are a few examples:

         Enjoy beautiful views of land and sea during a helicopter sightseeing tour for two over Newport before landing on the grounds of The Breakers to receive a personalized and special tour. Top it off with light refreshments.

         Bid on the unequaled opportunity to have a wedding at The Breakers, the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages.” Imagine entertaining family and friends in one of the most opulent settings in the country. The awe-inspiring Great Hall, the palatial Dining Room, the stunning views of the ocean and its breaking waves will leave you and your guests with memories to treasure forever.

         Enjoy a night of “glamping” – glamorous camping – for up to four people on the awning-covered terrace at Rosecliff or Marble House with a catered picnic supper on the back lawn, night-time snacks and a catered breakfast in bed the next morning.

Some of our other auction packages include: a sleepover for eight children, ages 8-17, and up to four adult chaperones in The Great Hall of The Breakers; a New England clambake for up to 20 at Green Animals Topiary Garden; an in-depth tour of The Elms highlighted by the very rare opportunity to enjoy a French-inspired dinner for 10 guests at the Dining Room table; and a catered reception and three-course dinner for up to 10 people in The Gold Room at Marble House.

For the complete list and description of all of the amazing packages the Preservation Society will make available during this Exclusive Experiences Holiday Auction, check www.newportmansions.org beginning Friday, November 20. Note: there is no time restriction on any of the auction items, so now is the time to plan for post-COVID-19 days.

Send questions about the auction to events@newportmansions.org.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

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On Centennial of 19th amendment, NYS Announces Preservation Project of Historic Susan B. Anthony Childhood Home

“Wave” Sculpture puts you in the march toward the first Women’s Rights Convention, at Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. New York State is marking the centennial of the 19th amendment by allocating money to preserve and restore Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home in Battenville © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced an effort to stabilize and preserve the childhood home of prominent 19th century women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony, in Washington County. The work at the 1832 two-story brick home on Route 29 in Battenville where Anthony lived from ages 13 to 19, which includes repairs to the roof, masonry and drainage, as well as mold remediation and water damage, is expected to be complete by September.

“New York has been the birthplace to many of the progressive movements that have left an indelible mark on our society while pushing the nation forward and particularly for women’s suffrage, which began at Seneca Falls and included legendary New Yorkers such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many more,”Governor Cuomo said. “As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, we must also recognize there is more work to be done. New York will continue to lead the nation in creating greater equality for all and we are proud to preserve and enhance this important part of American history for future generations.”

“On the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, this development will stabilize Susan B. Anthony’s childhood home in Washington County, allowing for the reuse of the property,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “While the Susan B. Anthony House and Museum in Rochester showcases the history of one of the world’s greatest revolutionaries, this project will further preserve Anthony’s legacy in New York State. As the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, New York was the first major state to grant the right to vote in the country, leading the way for the 19th Amendment. As we celebrate the centennial of women’s suffrage, we still have more work to do to achieve true equality and justice. Now more than ever, we must embrace this time to continue to fight for real change.”

This year is also the 200th anniversary of Susan B. Anthony’s birth, in 1820. The child of a Quaker family that promoted abolition and temperance, she lived in Washington County, in Battenville and later in Center Falls, from 1826 to 1845 between the ages of 6 and 25 before her family moved to Rochester.

Governor Cuomo also announced that the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which is managing the $695,000 stabilization project, has reached a purchase agreement on an adjoining four-acre site that contains a former historic tavern dating to the period when the Anthony family lived next door. Supported by the state Environmental Protection Fund, the $130,500 purchase will allow for future creation of adequate parking for the Anthony home and serve as a staging area for continued phased redevelopment of the building for an as-yet undetermined future use.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Part of our mission is the preservation of our state’s historic legacy. The home where Susan B. Anthony spent her formative years has a story to tell and we want to get the home in the proper condition, so it one day is able to tell it.”

The stabilization project is supported by a $250,000 grant obtained by state Assembly Member Carrie Woerner and the remainder from New York Works; support was also obtained by State Senator Betty Little.

The Battenville home was built in 1832-33 by Anthony’s father who had moved the family from Adams, Mass., to manage a cotton mill on the nearby Battenkill River. At the age of 13, Susan joined the Easton Society of Friends. The Anthonys lost their home in 1839 due to financial setbacks caused by a national financial recession in 1837. The former family residence was in a state of disrepair by the time State Parks purchased it at foreclosure for $1 in 2006.

Anthony, who died in 1906 at age 86, worked for decades to advance women’s rights, but did not live to see the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. She is buried in Rochester.

“To have played a small role in preserving this unique part of the history of Susan B. Anthony’s life truly is a privilege,” Greenwich Supervisor Donald Ward said. “The Town of Greenwich is supportive of NYS efforts to revitalize the Anthony home. The home is a symbol of those Suffragettes that battled for the Womens Right to Vote. In the future we are hoping the SBA house will become a historical site bringing visitors to Greenwich and honoring our hometown heroine. It is my hope that in doing so we are helping assure that the magnitude of her accomplishments, her courage and her unwillingness to yield in the face of enormous obstacles will never be forgotten.   As we commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage this year, we celebrate the life of this remarkable woman who recognized that the ideals enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are, in fact, a call to action to be better individuals and to be a better nation.” 

Assembly Member Carrie Woerner said, “Susan B. Anthony’s contributions to our nation through the Women’s Suffrage movement are crucial pieces of history, and on the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment I am pleased to see her homestead in Washington County brought back to life for countless generations to visit and learn from. The dedication and relentless passion of local community leaders have been essential in the restoration of this historic property and I am glad to continue to lend my support to this project.”

Salem Supervisor Evera Sue Clary said, “We are honored to support the woman whose formative years were spent here on the banks of the Battenkill. Susan B. Anthony reminds us of the power of women, the power of the vote, and the importance of taking risks in order to force necessary change in our society. May she continue to inspire our local youth and beyond to create good trouble she is remembered for. ” 

“I have passed that schoolhouse thousands of times. It at one time way back bordered my family property,” Jackson Supervisor Jay Skellie said. “Some of my relatives attended it and my grandmother taught there for a short time. To think that events that happened there to Susan B Anthony set her course in life which would change history for women in the U.S. is mind blowing.”

Ann Kril, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, said, “It is fitting that NYS announces the work to preserve the childhood home of suffragist Susan B. Anthony on this 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which is also the 100th anniversary of the transformation of the National Woman Suffrage Association into the League of Women Voters.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 individual parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 77 million people in 2019. A recent university study found that spending by State Parks and its visitors supports $5 billion in output and sales, 54,000 private-sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion in additional state GDP. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. The free New York State Parks Explorer mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. To download, visit: Google Play Store, NY State Parks Explorer App or Apple Store, NY State Parks Explorer App.

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Long Island’s American Airpower Museum Reopens August 1 with Flyovers of WWII Bombers, Fighters

A fly-by of World War II era planes from the American Air Power Museum, Long Island’s only flying military aviation museum, at the popular Jones Beach Air Show. The museum reopens August 1 with a special event featuring flyovers of WWII era bombers and fighters © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Farmingdale, NY– The American Airpower Museum, Long Island’s only flying military aviation museum, is mounting a Grand Reopening special event on Saturday, August 1, 2020.  Like all other New York State museums, the American Airpower Museum (AAM) was forced to close due to the Coronavirus outbreak, resulting in the cancellation of half of the Museum’s 2020 flight season.  AAM’s iconic WWII bombers and fighters return to action with an exciting family-friendly flight demonstration.

Join AAM on August 1, at 11:00 a.m., when World War II and other vintage aircraft depart from AAM’s ramp to take to the skies over Long Island’s north and south shores. Aircraft will create camera-ready opportunities as they perform low-level passes over Republic Airport where AAM is based.  These flights will feature AAM’s Grumman TBM Avenger, two North American T6 Texans, the AT28D5 Vietnam era combat fighter, the WACO Biplane and as an added attraction, L-39 cold war era Russian jets.

2020 was slated to be a banner year for AAM.  Museum aircraft were scheduled to participate in historic events marking the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and honoring U.S. Veterans who made the Allied victory possible.  As they have done for the last 17 years, AAM’s WWII airplanes were going to appear in the Annual Jones Beach Airshow.  And it must be noted that on May 24th 2020, the American Airpower Museum celebrated its 20th anniversary in isolation.

At the end of the 2019 season, AAM took their aircraft “off line” for the winter to begin scheduled maintenance and inspections, making sure the Warbirds would be ready for a full 2020 flight season.  Sometime in early January, the coronavirus outbreak hit our shores.  Public health and safety concerns led AAM’s Board of Directors to preemptively close the Museum on March 16th for two weeks.  “The health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the public was foremost,” said Jeff Clyman, AAM president.  “That’s why we acted early and sent everyone home, causing a total cessation of work on our aircraft,” he added.  Then on March 22nd, New York State ordered all non-essential businesses statewide to close.  Two weeks became three months.

Clyman said it has always been AAM’s mission to honor the legacy of those who gave all to preserve our freedoms.  “We’re pleased to announce we recently resumed maintenance and inspection of our aircraft so that much anticipated flight operations can begin with our grand reopening event.  We also promise a flying salute to our Veterans and front line workers very soon,” he said.  

Admission for adults is $13, seniors and veterans $10 and children $8.  Due to the need for social distancing, admission will be limited to first come/first served.  A maximum attendance of 150 persons will be allowed on the outdoor ramp area, with limited access to the Museum.  All visitors will be required to wear face masks and will have their temperatures digitally taken at the entrance.  As a special promotion, the first 20 people admitted will be included in a raffle for WACO Biplane flights later in the summer (limit one per family).  So bring lunch, hang out and enjoy the AAM experience.

If you are unable to come to the event on Saturday, August 1st,  your can still help AAM offset major financial losses incurred during the Covid-19 shutdown, by using a secure PayPal link at: www.americanairpowermuseum.com/donate/ to make a tax-deductible contribution – any amount is appreciated — or for more information on corporate donations, call Jacky Clyman, AAM executive vice president, at (917) 690-1965 or jacky@cockpitusa.com.

The American Airpower Museum is an aviation museum located on the landmarked former site of Republic Aviationat Republic Airport, Farmingdale, NY.  The Museum maintains a collection of aviation artifacts and an array of aircraft spanning the many years of the aircraft factory’s history.  The Museum is a 501 (c) (3) Nonprofit Educational Foundation.

The American Airpower Museum, Hangar 3, 1230 New Highway, Farmingdale, NY 11735, 631-293-6398, info@americanairpowermuseum.org, www.americanairpowermuseum.com.

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Two Historic Maine Windjammers Begin Sailing this Season

Maine Windjammer cruise aboard the historic Stephen Tabor (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.

Rockland, ME – Two of the eight members of the historic Maine Windjammers fleet have opted to meet the stringent standards in wake of the COVID-19 health emergency and sail in 2020: the Stephen Tabor and the Ladona.

Usually the “fit out” season to get boats ready for sailing goes from March through late May with a Memorial Day start to the season for the Maine Windjammer Association, the largest fleet of working windjammers in America. This year, it’s taken until mid-July for boats to start sailing, but the hurdles to start the season have gone well beyond fit-out.  The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt until July 1st when Governor Janet Mills allowed overnight windjammer cruises in Maine to re-open.  Throughout that time, members of the Maine Windjammer Association were busy working with the Dept of Marine Resources to create guidance for a safe sailing environment. 

To sail in 2020, the overnight windjammer trips need to meet guidelines for lodging, restaurants and windjammers on top of the rigorous Coast Guard licensing requirements. To date, two of the eight members of the fleet have opted to sail in 2020.

No sector of the tourism industry is required to meet such stringent guidelines, yet for Captain Noah Barnes of the Schooner Stephen Taber, the guidelines ensure that passengers will be safe. “We’ve taken it one step further than the already stringent protocols, and are asking every guest who comes sailing with us to attest to a negative COVID-19 test,” said Captain Noah.  “This is one way we can safeguard the guests and crew on board this summer,” he added. In addition, stringent sanitization and cleaning, social distancing and safety protocols will be in place for those sailing this summer.  For complete information on COVID-19 safety procedures and protocols aboard Schooners Ladona and Stephen Taber, click here.

The Schooner Ladona was the first to set sail on Saturday, July 18.  Schooner Stephen Taber’s first trip departed on July 23 with live entertainment provided by the Charlie Nobles Band.

“We’re doing everything we can do to help people get out and enjoy a sailing vacation on board a beautiful windjammer this summer,” said Captain Noah. “We’ve put safety measures and cleaning protocols in place and changed itineraries to visit more remote uninhabited islands to give plenty of room for social distancing while ashore,” he added. “Will it be the same kind of windjammer cruise everyone knows and loves? Hey, you can’t take the beauty of the Maine coast or the freedom of sailing by wind power away. The rush of jumping off the bowsprit into refreshing Maine harbors and knuckling down on a lobster baked on the beach will still be ingredients of your windjammer trips this summer,” he added.

Six of the Maine Windjammer Association fleet captains have opted to cancel trips this season and are looking toward 2021.  Many issues played into their decisions.  All members of the Maine Windjammer Association have already created 2021 schedules, available on SailMaineCoast.com for those who like to plan trips in advance.

“We’ve had some huge hurdles to overcome in order to leave the dock this week,” said J.R. Braugh, Captain of the Schooner Ladona. “We’re glad that we’re going to be able to offer guests the ideal summer vacation in Maine – sailing aboard a beautifully restored wind-driven schooner taking in Maine scenery and allowing Mother Nature to soothe stressed bodies, minds and souls in the perfect unplugged vacation,” he added.

For more information on the schedules for 2020 and 2021 sailing seasons, and to learn more about the Maine Windjammer Association fleet, visit https://SailMaineCoast.com.

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Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, Attractions Reopen for Visitors With Health Protocols

Discover personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution and their contributions toward establishing an independent nation in “Forgotten Soldier,” a special exhibition at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (photo courtesy of Greater Williamsburg)

Greater Williamsburg, Virginia, arguably America’s first outdoor destination established in 1609, is easily accessible by car from many East Coast cities and is now back in business welcoming vacationers from near and far. Area attractions, lodging, dining, and other industry partners have started to reopen or begun to announce reopening plans and timelines along with some exciting improvements and updates.

While there are new restrictions and guidelines being followed in this post-quarantine world, the major attractions that make this iconic destination so famous are open or will open soon, including Colonial Williamsburg, American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestowne, Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, most restaurants, hotels, resorts, wineries, breweries and more. 

To encourage visitation to the region, the Williamsburg Tourism Council has launched a new “Life. At Your Pace” marketing campaign to remind guests that the region’s varied and diverse attractions and experiences – from kayaking to Segway tours of battlefields, from brew pubs to amusement parks and golf – offer everyone from all walks of life multiple experiences that allow them to explore at their own pace and comfort level.

Travelers should come to Williamsburg prepared and follow all CDC and local health guidance including practicing good hygiene and social distancing, wearing facial coverings in public spaces both indoors and outdoors, and staying home and not visiting while sick. For a full and most up-to-date list of what is open as well as health and wellness guidelines, visit www.visitwilliamsburg.com.

As of June 23, 2020, here is an overview of what’s open in Greater Williamsburg.  As information continues to change, please visit respective websites for updates and the latest policies.

Williamsburg

  • Restaurants in Merchants Square have expanded outdoor seating areas, which has also been enhanced with the addition of new outdoor dining furniture on Duke of Gloucester Street from North Henry to Boundary Street. New restaurants include David Everett’s La Piazza, offering handmade pastas and light Mediterranean fare and Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop, and there are also new stores catering to fashion, home furnishings, interior design, and gardening. Additional information can be found at merchantssquare.org.
  • Colonial Williamsburg reopened several of its historic interpretation sites on a limited basis on June 14. The art museums, Governor’s Palace, Capitol, Courthouse, Weaver trade shop, Carpenter’s Yard, Peyton Randolph Yard, Colonial Garden, Magazine yard, Armoury Yard, Brickyard, George Wythe Yard and Curtis Square will operate at reduced capacity and follow site-specific guidelines developed as part of the foundation’s COVID-19 business resumption plan, consistent with the state’s Phase 2 requirements. The Williamsburg Lodge and the Market House, Colonial Williamsburg’s open-air market on Duke of Gloucester Street, is open. Several changes have been made to the guest experience for the initial reopening, including moving interpretive programming outdoors. Ticketed guests can also expect limited interaction with interpretive staff. The foundation will open additional sites and expand programming in coming weeks. 
    • JULY 4th: Colonial Williamsburg also has special programming to celebrate the Fourth of July, including readings of the Declaration of Independence, a dramatic program titled “Created Equal,” a pig roast at Chowning’s Tavern Garden, and more. Due to social-distancing requirements and state gathering restrictions intended to limit health risks associated with COVID-19, this year’s fireworks as well as performances by Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes & Drums are cancelled. A community-wide grand reopening event is planned for after the state enters Phase 3 of its “Forward Virginia” reopening plan. The latest information about July 4th programming in Colonial Williamsburg can be found at colonialwilliamsburg.org/july4.
  • Williamsburg Premium Outlets has reopened with most store hours from noon to 7 p.m. 
  • Go Ape Treetop Adventure and Journey reopened its Freedom Park location in James City County on June 5. New regulations and procedures include reduced session capacities to adhere to social distancing requirements, advanced reservations, completing waivers online prior to arrival, and credit cards only.
  • On June 10, the Colonial National Historical Park reopened access to the Colonial Parkway for vehicle traffic from Highway 199 (west of Colonial Williamsburg) to Jamestown Island. More details will be provided soon when full operations are resumed.
  • Busch Gardens, Water Country USA and Great Wolf Lodge are slated to open soon…

Yorktown

  • Yorktown Market Days returned to its regular time and waterfront location at Riverwalk Landing on June 13 and will run on Saturdays through the end of October, rain or shine, with the exceptions of July 4 and Oct. 3
  • American Revolution Museum at Yorktown was scheduled to reopen on June 24. Adjustments to museum operations include limited capacity in the outdoor living-history areas including buildings and structures as well as the indoor museum theater, gallery films and galleries. Additional details on summer programming and special events will be announced soon.
    • Special exhibition The Forgotten Soldier: African Americans in the Revolutionary War”will also reopen on June 24 for an extended two-week showing through July 8. Forgotten Soldier explores the personal stories of enslaved and free African Americans on both sides of the American Revolution and illuminates the difficult choices and risks faced by African Americans during a revolutionary time in history and the varied and indispensable roles they played during the war and beyond.
    • JULY 4th: Visitors can salute the 244th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence during Liberty Celebration at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, including interpretive programs, artillery demonstrations, a rare July 1776 broadside of the Declaration of Independence, patriotic programming in outdoor recreations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm, and more. 
  • Yorktown’s Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival has been rescheduled for Aug. 9 from noon to 6 pm. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Attendees can sample more than 30 different craft beers, dig into some of the region’s finest BBQ, and listen to some of the best Blues musicians in Hampton Roads. 

Jamestown

  • Jamestown Settlement was scheduled to reopen on June 24. Adjustments to museum operations include limited capacity in the outdoor living-history areas including buildings, structures and ships as well as the indoor museum theater, gallery films and galleries. Additional details on summer programming and special events will be announced soon.
  • Historic Jamestowne reopened on June 29. All public programs will take place outside and follow social distancing protocols. Tickets will be available for purchase starting June 22, and visitors are encouraged to purchase online at https://historicjamestowne.org/visit/tickets-2/. Contact-less payment will be available on-site (no cash accepted).

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Newport Mansions Open their Doors Virtually During Closure

The famous Gold Room at Alva Vanderbilt’s Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island, epitomizes the Gilded Age. While the Preservation Society of Newport mansions are closed, you can visit virtually. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

NEWPORT, R.I. – The Preservation Society of Newport County is offering new virtual tours of its historic houses and recent exhibitions as a free activity for people to enjoy while the house museums are closed.

Visitors to the Preservation Society’s website, NewportMansions.org, now can take self-guided 3-D tours through The Elms, Marble House, Isaac Bell House and Hunter House. They can also virtually experience two previous exhibitions at Rosecliff: “John James Audubon: Obsession Untamed” and “Tiffany Glass: Painting With Color and Light.”

Here is the link: www.newportmansions.org/exhibitions/virtual-exhibition-tours

“We have had a phenomenal reaction to this,” Preservation Society CEO and Executive Director Trudy Coxe said. “Everybody has been through a Newport  Mansion, but it gives you the opportunity, on a room-by-room basis, to zoom in on an object you might not have noticed.”

Preservation Society Research Fellow Sébastien Dutton is working to complete more of these virtual tours, and they will be posted as they are finished. This work is being supervised by Leslie Jones, Director of Museum Affairs and Chief Curator.

“This technology allows us to digitize the interiors of all our historic properties, in an effort not only to bring these spaces and their content to the public, but also as a matter of our core preservation principles,” Jones said. “It allows for us to not only visually account for the interiors and their aesthetics and the placement of objects, but it also allows us to have accurate measurements of every floor space, every ceiling height, down to the millimeter.”

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2020, is a nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. It is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties – seven of them National Historic Landmarks – span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development. For more information, visit NewportMansions.org.

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NYS to Invest $300 Million to “Reimagine” Erie Canal, Expand Recreational Activities, Finish 750-Mile Empire State Trail

As part of the $300 million plan to “Reimagine” the Erie Canal, a 750-mile Empire State Trail will be completed, including closing gaps of Erie Canalway that makes possible the annual  eight-day, 400-mile, Cycle the Erie bike tour (registration now open) © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

This is huge for New York State’s tourism and recreational opportunities: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s is proposing a $300 million plan to reimagine the Erie Canal by creating recreational activities on the Canal to boost tourism and recreational fishing, mitigate flooding, enhance irrigation and restore wetlands. 

“When the Erie Canal was created in the 19th century it set the state and the nation on a path to prosperity, and this year we will repurpose the canal to fit our state’s 21st century needs,” Governor Cuomo said. “This bold and visionary plan to transform this historic waterway will build on the success of the Empire State Trail (750 miles of connected bikeways), grow tourism across Upstate New York, improve resilience of today’s Canal communities and ensure the economic sustainability of the waterway into the future.”

“The canals have played a crucial role in New York’s history and growth, and with the implementation of these new exciting projects, the canals will remain a vital force and make a positive contribution to the economic well-being and quality of life in the 225 communities they travel through,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.

A first phase of funding starting this year – through the New York Power Authority Board which oversees the Canal Corporation as a subsidiary –  includes a $100 million economic development fund to invest in communities along the Canal and a separate $65 million investment in solutions that will help prevent ice jams and related flooding in the Schenectady area.

The remaining $135 million of the plan’s funding will subsequently be allocated to research recommended by the Reimagine Task Force, as well as to solutionsrelated to flood mitigation, invasive species prevention and ecosystem restoration.

New Economic Development Fund for Canal Communities

In the first phase of the program, a $100 million economic development fund will support projects that adaptively reuse canal infrastructure to enhance water recreation, tie the Canal’s new recreational improvements to the Governor’s Empire State Trail, celebrate historic canal structures, and develop unique canalside attractions and activities. Roughly $25 million of that will be allocated immediately to a set of initial projects:

Connecting Communities: The “Brockport Loop” project in Monroe County will connect SUNY College at Brockport to the Empire State Trailand the village of Brockport through the transformation of a canal guard-gate into a pedestrian bridge and overlook, with a supporting grant of $2 million from the Ralph Wilson Foundation. 

Celebrating “Iconic Infrastructure”: Interactive, hydro-powered illumination of Canal “movable dams” – initially in Amsterdam and Canajoharie in the Mohawk River valley – will celebrate the Canal’s heritage and its history as an engineering marvel.

Expanding Water Recreation: A new whitewater destination, at the north end of Cayuga Lake near Seneca Falls, will rely on existing water control infrastructure to construct an active water sports course adjacent to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, to increase eco-tourism and sport visitors to the region.

Adapting Industrial Property for New Uses: Winner of the Reimagine the Canals competition, a canalside pocket neighborhood, will be developed by Madison County in Central New York at a former industrial property in Canastota along the Old Erie Canal – demonstrating a new model for 21st century canalside living.

Developing Destination Accommodations: The historic Guy Park Manor, on the Mohawk River in Amsterdam, will be reborn as a hospitality destination and a pedestrian bridge constructed across the already-existing Canal lock will provide access to additional overnight accommodation along the Empire State Trail on the opposite side of the river.

World-Class Fishing and Restored Wetlands 

To create world-class fishing in Western New York, the new plan recommends managing water releases from the Canal to enhance fish habitat, improve angling opportunities, and extend the fall fishing season in Lake Ontario tributaries. It also includes funding to expand public fishing access along key streams in Orleans, Monroe and Niagara Counties. In addition, it identifies a program to divert Canal water to restore and re-nourish wetlands in Central New York that were compromised a century ago by the Canal’s construction. This will allow areas in close proximity to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a migratory stopover for more than 1 million birds each year, to be significantly enhanced to further attract naturalists, locals, and visitors from throughout the region and beyond. 

Ideas in this plan originated from the Reimagine the Canals Task Force recommendations,  launched by Governor Cuomo in May of 2019 to pursue a comprehensive investigation of how the 195-year-old Erie Canal could be reimagined for the 21st century. The Reimagine the Canals Task Force Report  was just released.

The Task Force engaged with municipal leaders, stakeholders, local business owners, scientists and other experts, along with community members, to identify opportunities and solutions that support a new vision for future investments in the waterway. Many of the ideas that the Task Force explored came from the completed Reimagine the Canals competition, held last year by the New York Power Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. SUNY’s Rockefeller Institute of Government, on behalf of the Task Force, conducted a series of outreach sessions during the summer in five canal communities – Lockport, Brockport, Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse – to solicit new ideas from the public at large. Ideas were also solicited on a Reimagine the Canals website, offering more distant canal users an opportunity to provide their views to the Task Force.

The “Reimagine” initiative builds on successful efforts by Governor Cuomo to invest in the canal corridor, including the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and successful Taste NY program, which have stoked new industries, businesses and housing in canal communities. Harnessing the Canal’s full potential to attract more tourism and recreation is a key focus of the Initiative. Governor Cuomo and state agency and authority staff will collaborate with Empire Line communities and continue to consult with Task Force members and other stakeholders to ensure the success of projects as they move forward. 

There are 1.6 million trips taken annually on the Erie Canal Trailway, the former towpath used by mules and horses to pull barges in the canals’ early days. The Trailway is part of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Trail, which at 750 miles will be the largest state multi-use trail network when completed in late 2020. Governor DeWitt Clinton began work on the original Erie Canal on July 4, 1817. 

In addition to investing $300 million in the Canal System, there are also plans to create two new state parks in the Hudson Valley, add 4,000 acres of land to parks and introduce a $3 billion “Restore Mother Nature” bond act.

Meanwhile, registration has opened for the 22nd Annual Cycle the Erie, eight-day 400-mile, fully supported biking/camping trip, from Buffalo to Albany, operated by Parks & Trails NY, taking place July 12-19, 2020. For information on Cycle the Erie Canal, call Parks & Trails New York, 518-434-1583, email eriecanaltour@ptny.org or visit www.ptny.org/cycle-the-erie-canal.

(See our series on Cycle the Erie, at goingplacesfarandnear.com)

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