In keeping with its mission to foster an awareness of the village’s architectural, artistic and cultural heritage and to further the understanding and appreciation of the history and current life of the village of Bronxville, New York, the Conservancy hosts presentations, lectures and special events throughout the year. Champagne receptions and presentations on Bronxville’s early artists, their studios, the Conservancy’s growing collection of Bronxville artists’ works, and readings from literature written by historic village authors are some of the many events held in the Conservancy’s first decade.
2019 | The 21st Annual Brendan Gill Lecture to feature Award-Winning Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley discussing President John F. Kennedy and the 50th Anniversary of America’s Race to the Moon.
Presidential Historian and Award-winning author Douglas Brinkley presented the Bronxville Historical Conservancy’s 21st annual Brendan Gill Lecture on June 7 at the Bronxville High School auditorium. Brinkley captivated the crowd with stories from his new book, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. Published in April by Harper in time for the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, Brinkley’s book is a NY Times bestseller with critics proclaiming the book an “exciting narrative,” “compelling and comprehensive.” Brinkley’s presentation to a packed house confirmed his talents for scholarship and story telling.
Held at the Bronxville Public Library on May 5, “Bronxville’s World War I—Service at Home and Abroad During the Great War, 1914-1918” told the story of Bronxville’s World War I, including the Lawrence’s quest to travel home to Bronxville, letters home from Penrose Stout, the sacrifice of home town hero Leonard Morange who was killed on a flight training mission, War Bonds sold, Red Cross bandages bundled — all these and more were shared by Village Historian Ray Geselbracht using photographs and documents from the Bronxville History Center. The event was sponsored by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy.
“The biggest surprise I encountered during my research on Bronxville and World War I was the way in which a war, which started with an assassination in Bosnia, reached so powerfully 4,000 miles across the world into the lives of the people of the little village of Bronxville,” said Geselbracht. In the lecture, he detailed the stories of Bronxville men who fought in Europe during the Great War as well as the efforts of Bronxville women on the home front.
On Sunday, May 20, the Bronxville Historical Conservancy partnered with the Bronxville Public Library to share insights and images of the village’s extraordinary artistic heritage. The afternoon event began in the Yeager Room of the Library, where art historian and curator Jayne Warman presented a narrative of Bronxville’s early artists and a selection of their works.
The afternoon was designed to celebrate two truly remarkable public art collections that represent a long-standing legacy of art patronage and dedication to a shared cultural history, dating as far back as the mid-19th century. “The first of these collections can be appreciated right here in the Bronxville Library,” Warman began. “It is a fine assemblage of late 19th/early 20th-century American paintings, prints and sculpture, largely donated by private Bronxville citizens. The second is a growing collection of paintings and works on paper acquired by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy since its founding 20 years ago. Several works were executed as early as the 1830s, although the majority were by Bronxville’s later artist colony painters. A few of the works hang upstairs in the Burt Gallery, but most enhance the walls of Village Hall.”
“These two remarkable collections are the product of a shared love of art and history, fostered and encouraged by our resident artists and effectuated by a long line of civic minded leaders and caring villagers. We are very fortunate indeed,” said Warman as she ended her presentation.
The Bronxville Historical Conservancy’s celebration of the JFK Centennial included a Poetry Reading at the Bronxville Public Library on April 23. In his introductory remarks, Charles O’Neill pointed to Kennedy’s support for the arts as evidenced by his invitation to Robert Frost to read at his inauguration. Members from the Conservancy and Friends of the Library boards read poems from Of Poetry and Power: Poems Occasioned by the Presidency and by the Death of John F. Kennedy, as well as Kennedy family favorites. Selections included poems by Frost, Byron, Tennyson, Brooks, among others. The program was organized by Chris Goff and Ellen de Saint Phalle and readers included Charles O’Neill, Marilynn Hill, Scott McGuirk, Mary Marvin, Nick Stephens, Judy Unis, Justin O’Neill, Alice Campbell-Romano, Viji George, and John Barr.
On Saturday, May 6, Anthony Czarnecki, a member of the Westchester County Historical Society and the JFK Library Foundation, gave a power-point presentation: “A Golden Interval: The Kennedys in Bronxville.” Czarnecki has done extensive research using recently digitized local newspapers, including those published during the Kennedys’ time in Bronxville. The Bronxville Historical Conservancy contributed funds to establish this digital library and Czarnecki’s presentation previewed an article that will be published in the spring issue of Westchester County Historical Society magazine.
Mary Fairchild Low was a painter and wife of Will Hicok Low, both prominent members of the artist colony that flourished in Bronxville in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Before moving to Bronxville in 1910, Mary led a fascinating life in Giverny. Married at the time to the sculptor and painter Frederick MacMonnies, Mary lived just down the road from the Impressionist painter Claude Monet, and she enjoyed the stimulation and camaraderie of the American expatriate group of artists who had settled there in the late-19th century.
On Sunday afternoon, March 25th, the Conservancy hosted an afternoon devoted to the legacy of one of Bronxville’s artist/residents, Charles R. Knight. The event at the Bronxville Library featured artwork by Knight, a fascinating presentation by Richard Milner, author of a newly published biography of the artist, and some personal recollections of her grandfather given by Rhoda Knight Kalt.
The Conservancy and Bronxville Public Library jointly organized a special Veteran’s Day presentation on November 10th, featuring an exhibition of nine newly framed WWI Propaganda Posters belonging to the Library and a lecture by Sarah Lawrence College Professor Fred Smoler and demonstration by Conservancy Board member Jack Bierwirth.
The Bronxville Public Library was the site of a fascinating afternoon sponsored by the Conservancy and devoted to Eliot Vestner’s historical memoir published earlier in the year. In his introductory remarks, Conservancy member Robert Riggs described Vestner’s memoir as one of the most enlightening books he has ever read. “It’s remarkable as to the depth and importance of research he did. It’s a family story in the context of what life was like in the area during the last half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.”
Curated by Sarah Underhill and Barbara Sussman, this exhibition at Concordia College’s OSilas Gallery brought an exceptional representation of the work of Hobart Nichols and Spencer Nichols together for the first time, creating an opportunity to explore the visual dialogue between these artists and brothers. The Conservancy published the exhibit catalogue which contains an image of each painting, with accompanying test sharing an insight into the lives and work of the artists.
2010 | A Salute to Those Who Served
The 3rd Annual Bronxville Veterans Memorial, an initiative co-founded in 2008 by local residents Cindi Callahan and Jane Staunton, was hosted this year once again at the Bronxville Women’s Club to celebrate the true spirit of Memorial Day by saluting those in our community who have served our country. The exhibit featured the Scroll of Honor, a list of more than 1,400 service men and women, along with personal and civic memorabilia from Bronxville veterans and residents. The Bronxville Veterans Memorial is funded by a special grant given by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy.
Architect Peter Gisolfi, whose concern for the relationship of architecture to its setting translates into graceful connections between buildings and landscapes, was the featured speaker for the Conservancy’s 2009 spring event. His lecture, “Finding the Place of Architecture in the Landscape,” included examples from his work in our village, most notably the recent library and Village Hall renovations.
“A resounding success” and “simply marvelous” were just two of the phrases used to describe the official unveiling of the paintings by Bronxville artists which were acquired by the Conservancy and are now on permanent loan to the Village. Over 150 members and their guests attended the reception at Village Hall on May 18th to view the art collection and admire its new home in the recently renovated building.
A capacity crowd gathered on Sunday afternoon, April 30, in the Yeager Room at the Bronxville Public Library. The reason — a rare exhibit of the works of two early-twentieth-century Bronxville artists, brothers Francis and Richard Gates. The exhibition and program were presented by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy and made possible through the generosity of the collection’s owner, Roland Britch, of Newport, Vermont, an heir of Richard Gates’ daughter Frances. The two-day exhibition of 37 pictures, several of which were landscapes painted along the Bronx River in Bronxville, opened on Saturday, and a special introduction to the artists was presented Sunday afternoon by Dale Hanson Walker, a great-granddaughter of Edward Morange who, with Frank Gates, established the scenic design firm of Gates and Morange in 1894.
2004 | Art-to-Art Talk
On May 16th, Art Historian Jayne Warman drew a packed crowd at the Yeager Community Room as she presented works of art the Conservancy has acquired as a part of its effort to bring the creations of early Bronxville artists back to our community. Among the works presented were two winter scenes by Sheldon Parsons (1 and 2) who captured the beauty of the Bronx River and surrounding woods; a spring landscape by Walter Clark that reflects this artist’s enthusiasm for painting the local scenery, particularly the woodlands along the Bronx River; a beautifully painted watercolor by Will Hicok Low that epitomizes his mastery of allegorical subjects; a charming scene of toy sail boats on the Bronxville pond painted by Will Low’s wife, Mary Fairchild Low, and bought in memory Jean Bartlett; a large and splashy still life of peonies by Spencer Baird Nichols; an allegorical scene donated by Charles Hinton, Jr., painted by his father and given to him as a wedding gift; and the most recent acquisition — a striking portrait of William Van Duzer Lawrence given to the Conservancy by Bob and Sarah Underhill. Bob is the great-great grandson of this Bronxville founding father.
Stephen May, historian, preservationist and expert on historic art studios, visited Bronxville on October 27, 2002, a program organized by Conservancy member Eloise Morgan to share insights into Bronxville’s historic art studios, the artists who built them and the art work they created. Bronxville’s extraordinary collection of studios was built between 1894 and 1919. Scattered throughout Lawrence Park, these oversized spaces usually incorporate large northern windows or skylights and serve today as living or play areas or storage space. Bronxville’s surviving art studios include: 24 Prescott (William Henry Howe); 25 Prescott (Mary Fairchild Low and Will Hicok Low); 26 Prescott (William Smedley); 6 Lookout (Lorenzo Hatch); 8 Park (Herman Schladermundt); 28 Park (Milne Ramsey); 32 Park (Anna Winegar); 67 Park (Charles R. Knight); 55 Summit (Spencer Baird Nichols) and 60 Summit (Max Bohm).
On Sunday, April 7th, villagers gathered at the Bronxville Library for a very successful “Literary Afternoon of Prose and Poetry” co-sponsored by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy and the Bronxville Public Library. Jayne Warman conceived of this literary occasion to shed light on the writings of Bronxville’s earliest residents. Mayor Nancy Hand, Marilynn Hill, Patricia Owen, John Barr, Denise DeGiaimo, Guy Longobardo and Robert Riggs joined Jayne in reading from such illustrious poets and authors — and village residents — as Alice Wellington Rollins, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, Tudor Jenks, Louise Beebe Wilder and more.
With a backdrop of 19th and early 20th century paintings gathered by Objects and Images Gallery, combined with works lent from several villagers’ private collections, villager and art historian Jayne Warman painted a magnificent landscape of Bronxville’s early art and its ever-increasing value in the current market in the first gallery event in the spring of 2000. Ms. Warman noted that the earliest known Bronxville artist was William R. Hamilton (1795-1879), a Scotsman by birth who is best know as a portraitist. He painted the individual likenesses of one of Bronxville’s first families, the Mastertons, in formal settings as well as in bucolic scenes such as Masterton’s at Play Along the Bronx River. Other artists featured in the exhibit included George Smillie, Otto Bacher and Will Hicok Low, the latter probably the most famous of the colony’s residents. “They were well-established painters with various aesthetic concerns, all basically conservative and seeking a quiet, relaxed but elegant life within easy reach of Manhattan,” she said.