2013 | The Ghosts of Bronxville
On Saturday evening, October 26th, The Bronxville Historical Conservancy inaugurated The Ghosts of Bronxville, an historic house tour for kids that has become an on-going village event. More than 200 children, ages 6-12, and approximately 150 adult chaperones attended the sold-out event. The Ghosts of Bronxville was originated by the BHC Young Families Committee in 2013 to introduce the children of the village to the incredible history that surrounds them everyday.
2014 | Guest of the Gramatan
On Saturday, October 4th, 2014, an evening at Bronxville’s illustrious Hotel Gramatan was reimagined at The Jane Hotel, NYC. Towering atop Sunset Hill from 1905 until it was demolished in 1972, the Hotel Gramatan enjoyed its spectacular heyday in the 1920’s – the Age of Wonderful Nonsense. Whether seeking a season of revelry, a marriage prospect or even a hiding place, guests flocked to the glamorous Gramatan from across the globe to rub elbows with celebrities including Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, and Ethel and John Barrymore. On October 4th, for three fleeting hours, the Young Families committee hosted a supremely festive evening that celebrated the glittering past of the storied Hotel Gramatan.
On an eerie autumn eve, children from 1st through 7th grade and their chaperones encountered spirits from Bronxville’s history, many of them in their original dwelling on and around the Hilltop neighborhood. Children and their adult chaperones strolled along a pre-determined route, guided by a map and the light of a (battery-powered) candle. At each home, an actor dressed in period garb shared the story of his or her life in Bronxville during the late 19th century, against a background of sets laden with authentic antique props and unique backdrops — all contributing to a chillingly realistic night.
For the first time, on the eve of The Ghosts of Bronxville event for young children, Bronxville Historical Conservancy adult members were invited to a preview party at the 1891 historic home and studio of artist Mary Fairchild MacMonnies Low. Shadowy sets, exhibiting intricately displayed historic artifacts and ephemera related to Mary and her artist husband, Will Hicok Low were the backdrop to several historic ghosts who shared their life stories and connection to the village of the 1890’s.
The following night, more than a dozen eerie apparitions visited the village for the spooky spectacular that introduced 225 kids and their chaperones to the town’s rich history. The thrill-seekers navigated moonlit Hilltop roads to homes where they met five of Bronxville’s famous 19th century residents played by Sarah Lawrence College students sharing their ghostly tales on historically-detailed sets. Along the route, children played old-fashioned Halloween games and encountered several silent, scary spirits portrayed by local high school students.
Mix 70,000 LEGO bricks with 50 Bronxville families, and a quiet Sunday afternoon becomes an engaging lesson in local architecture. In an event on January 21 sponsored by The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, the groups used LEGO bricks to construct replicas of Bronxville buildings.
The young builders chose what they wanted to create from photos of 57 private homes and public structures. Many of the buildings were historic, and some no longer standing. Selections included Old Village Hall, The Reformed Church, “Crownlands,” Concordia College, 26 Prescott Avenue, and 11 Sturgis Road, “the Chateau.”
After the finished LEGO models were sufficiently admired and photographed, they were disassembled and the bricks returned to bins. But participants did not leave empty-handed. They received a “guide,” which included a map of Bronxville and the history of the 57 selected structures. Everyone was encouraged to take a walking tour of Bronxville and visit the real buildings in their natural habitat.
Charles Knight, former Bronxville resident and American wildlife and paleo artist, known only as “Toppy” to his granddaughter, Rhoda, is best known for his paintings of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. In the early 20th century, the American Museum of Natural History turned to Knight to bring their fossil collection to life for museum visitors. He spent his lifetime creating spectacular murals, paintings, and sculptures of dinosaurs, mam- moths, and cavemen that were scientifically accurate.
In the fall, young villagers gathered at the Bronxville library to meet Rhoda Knight Kalt, hear about life with grandfather, and read from her book, Tigers and Tea with Toppy. As Ms. Kalt recounted, every weekend as a small child she accompanied “Toppy” to the museum while he worked. As her grandfather painted, little Rhoda watched in awe as the massive fossils unpacked by the museum’s paleontologists were transformed into living, breathing creatures on Toppy’s canvases and sculptures. With a nostalgic smile, Rhoda told the children that every outing with Toppy — those visits to the American Museum of Natural History, to the Central Park Zoo, to tea parties at The Plaza Hotel — was filled with fun and adventure.
Art historian Jayne Warman introduced Ms. Kalt and thanked her for three of Knight’s paintings she gifted to the Con- servancy Art Collection. She also mentioned “Congo,” a small-scale pygmy elephant sculpture given to the library by Charles Knight, and currently displayed in the Burt Gallery. Two tiger heads still greet all those who enter the Park Avenue home and studio where Charles Knight and his wife, Annie, used to live.
Children left with an autographed copy of the book, along with a “make-your-own-mural” kit to create their own museum piece of history!
Dozens of budding architects crowded into the Bronxville School gym on Sunday, January 13 for the second annual workshop, “Building Bronxville Brick By Brick.” Designed to spark interest in Bronxville’s rich architectural heritage, third through sixth graders and their families created models of village buildings out of LEGO blocks. The structures were then placed on a massive map of Bronxville on the gym floor, where they were admired and photographed.
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