Each fall, for the past 15 years, members and their guests have enjoyed a resoundingly popular daylong boat cruise. Among the historic sites visited on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound are Edgewater, Olana, Montgomery Place, West Point, Old Lyme, the Mills Mansion, Historic Huguenot Street and most recently the Vanderbilt mansion in Centerport, NY.
Thomas Cole, founder of The Hudson River School, the first major art movement in America that inspired Bronxville’s great landscape artists, proclaimed, “The Hudson, for natural magnificence, is unsurpassed.” On September 23, members and friends of the Bronxville Historical Conservancy enjoyed that very magnificence — and a good deal of camaraderie — on a day trip on the Hudson River to tour the artist’s studio and home, now a national historic site in Catskill, New York.
For more than two hours, passengers on board the Seastreak fast ferry enjoyed the Hudson’s beauty, taking in historic landmarks on both sides of the river. The ship’s three levels of seating included an open upper deck and two enclosed lower levels with expansive windows for optimum viewing. In addition to the breathtaking views, passengers enjoyed con- versation, cards, and a hot lunch before disembarking in Catskill for buses to Cole’s house and studio.
The tour included the artist’s 1815 federal-style home, and two artist studios. The larger studio, originally designed by Cole in 1846, was demolished in 1973 and rebuilt in 2015. Today it includes a museum-quality gallery where participants viewed paintings by Cole and other invaluable artwork from the 19th-century Hudson River School. The smaller studio, built in 1839, remains on the site. Restored in 2004, this smaller barn-like structure is furnished with Cole’s original easels and other tools and appears as though the artist has just stepped out. Cole’s writings are also prominently displayed throughout the exhibit and include personal letters and published poetry.
At the conclusion of the tour, the group boarded buses back to the ferry for the return ride home. Cruising home on the Hudson, passengers en- joyed wine, cheese, and a light supper while continuing conversations inspired by the tour. Commenting on Cole’s work, Judy Unis, tour chairman, said, “The struggle between preservation and progress is a recurring theme throughout Cole’s artwork and writings. He wanted desperately not only to capture, but also to preserve the natural beauty of his Cedar Grove home in Catskill and the Hudson Valley he so dearly loved.”
Members and guests of the Conservancy circumnavigated New York City in September in historic style in the beautifully crafted Manhattan II. Inspired by 1920’s private yacht designs, the 100-foot boat with 22-foot beam, teak decks, spectacular cabin with mahogany finishes and all-glass observatory was the perfect setting to take in the city from a unique water perspective.
Arthur Platt, an expert guide selected by the NY chapter of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and the BHC provided a special program on the historical development of New York City, its harbor and its buildings. Joe McCarthy provided captivating detail on the Battle of Brooklyn.
Departing from the pier at the World’s Fair Marina in Queens on a lovely Sunday September morning, members and guests cruised Long Island Sound and up the Connecticut River to the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, CT.
The museum, an 1878 Steamboat Warehouse, was established in 1974 and is dedicated to preserving the history of the Connecticut River and its people. Now the only one of its type remaining on the river, the Warehouse has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places and plays an important role in collecting and protecting manuscripts, books, art and artifacts of regional significance and focuses on the marine environment and maritime heritage of the Connecticut River Valley.
The area that is now Historic Richmond Town’s main site served for nearly two centuries as the government center of Staten Island (Richmond County). After Staten Island became one of the five boroughs of New York City in 1898, the county offices were gradually moved to the northern part of Staten Island, closer to Manhattan. Richmond Town became a quiet community as government offices, and the many businesses that served them, left the neighborhood.
On Sunday, October 6, the Bronxville Historical Conservancy’s annual boat cruise headed down the Hudson River around lower Manhattan, up the East River and into Long Island Sound. This year’s destination was Eagle’s Nest, the estate of William K. Vanderbilt II in Centerport, NY, on Long Island’s Gold Coast.
2012 | New Paltz
By all accounts, this year’s Bronxville Historical Conservancy Boat Cruise up the Hudson River to Historic Huguenot Street near Poughkeepsie was a huge success. The weather was perfect for the 66-mile trip north on the river — as the boat traveled under countless bridges, around majestic twists and turns, past West Point and many historic sites along the way.
2011 | By Boat to Boscobel
On September 25th, the Conservancy’s fall cruise again took us north on the Hudson River for a private tour of Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, NY, located on 68 acres on the east bank of the Hudson overlooking West Point.
2011 | Bryn Athyn Historic Tour
Bronxville Historical Conservancy members traveled – by comfy coach this time – to beautiful, historic Bryn Athyn on the outskirts of Philadelphia, boyhood home of longtime Bronxville resident Brent Pendleton, and recently designated a National Historic Landmark. Guided tours were provided by the extraordinary Bryn Athyn education staff on a lovely spring day. Brent traveled with the group and provided interesting insights into and anecdotes of his life there.
Members and guests cruised to Governor’s Island and Battery Park. Special commentary by Bronxville resident Jay Urstadt, who sketched out the original plans for the former landfill, made this trip especially delightful.
A second breathtaking visit back in history to the 1825 estate known as Edgewater, lovingly restored by Richard Jenrette.
2008 | Hyde and Go Seek!
A cruise up the Hudson River this year took us in search of history at Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s beloved Hyde Park.
One hundred and sixty Conservancy members and guests boarded the fast ferry Seastreak and headed north on the Hudson to explore the Mills Mansion in Staatsburgh, New York.
2006 | A Twist of Old Lyme
This year, Conservancy members and guests cruised along the Long Island Sound to Old Saybrook, then boarded buses to Old Lyme, Connecticut, where they had the opportunity to view works of art by the Lyme Art Colony in a grand old home overlooking the meandering Lieutenant River, a tidal waterway that is hugged by graceful old trees and tickled by tall marsh grasses.
2005 | Getting Right to the Point
The cemetery where former Bronxville resident Elizabeth Custer is buried in West Point was just one of the sensational sites seen on this year’s boat trip. After a salute to our nation’s oldest military institution, the crew sailed south down the Hudson River to the mouth of New York Harbor where Lady Liberty dwells. Spectacular sights of the city skyline as the sun slowly sank into glittering waters brought the fun day to an end.
2004 | Up a Lazy River
A visit to historic Montgomery Place in Annandale-on-Hudson was the perfect way to spend a glorious Sunday fall afternoon, touring the estate’s 434 acres of rolling lawns, woodlands along the Sawkill cataracts, a 1920s garden and the centerpiece of the estate – a mansion built by the great 19th century architect A.J. Davis.
2003 | Oh, Olana!
The historical sky top home of Frederic Church, the eminent 19th century landscape artist, was the destination. All who headed up the Hudson on that day were inspired by a bold vision, thoughtfully preserved.
2002 | Rolling on the River!
Magnificence was the word of the day as Conservancy members accepted an invitation from Brendan Gill speaker Richard Jenrette to visit one of his historic mansions on the Hudson River, Edgewater. With sensational views across sloping lawns graced by 200-year old locust, basswood and willow trees, this impressively restored estate was simply spectacular.