The Brendan Gill Lecture

The Brendan Gill Lecture, an annual public event presented at no charge to the larger Bronxville community, is one of many programs the Conservancy offers to increase the awareness of the village’s history and appreciation of its culture. The event honors former Bronxville resident, Brendan Gill, who has been called “the greatest public citizen of our time in the realm of architecture, planning, and historic preservation.”

Brendan Gill

More than 200 people gathered to hear David Rubenstein deliver the 23rd Brendan Gill Lecture on April 29, 2022 in the Barbara Walters Campus Center. President Cristle Collins Judd welcomed the Bronxville Historical Conservancy (BHC) membership and friends to the first greater community gathering at the College since 2019.

BHC Co-Chair William Zambelli, in his welcoming remarks, thanked President Judd, his Co-Chair Erin Saluti as well as members of the Conservancy Board for their efforts in making the event possible before turning the podium overt to Conservancy Co-Founder and Gill Committee Chair Marilynn Hill who introduced Rubenstein. Hill highlighted Rubenstein’s many accomplishments as an investor, best-selling author, television host, and most important, his commitment to historic preservation through his patriotic philanthropy. Rubenstein is an original signer of The Giving Pledge, promising to dedicate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes, much of which is related to American History.

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Harvard University Professor and bestselling author Jill Lepore presented the 22nd Annual Gill Lecture at Sarah Lawrence College’s Reisinger Auditorium. Covering American History beginning in 10,000 and moving rapidly to the discovery and founding of America, Lepore used a series of images to show how perspectives on the world evolved as knowledge expanded. Many of the Lepore’s observations confirmed attitudes that seem particular to our current political divide, such as partisanship and immigrant hostility, have been around for a long time. Lepore’s most recent book, IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, will be published in September 2020.

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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.

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It may take historians 30-40 years before they can fully and fairly assess a presidency, but it only took 90 minutes at the 20th Annual Brendan Gill Program for Mo Rocca and Michael Beschloss, with their combined scholarship and expertise, to cover several presidents in an engaging and informed conversation. From Washington to Trump, the two shared fascinating facts and humorous anecdotes about Leadership and the Presidency to the delight of a standing-room-only audience.

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Breaking with the traditional format of one guest speaker, the Nineteenth Annual Brendan Gill Lecture featured Pulitzer Prize-Winning Supreme Court Expert Linda Greenhouse and CBS Correspondent Mo Rocca In Conversation on the Supreme Court, past and present. Rocca’s clever, quick wit found an equally engaging partner in Greenhouse. Their conversation mixed humor with an impressive command of history, the law, and the Supreme Court.

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The Eighteenth Annual Brendan Gill Lecture featured Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian and Best-Selling Author Stacy Schiff discussing The Salem Witch Trials: What Really Happened and Why It Matters in 21st century America.

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“History is a spiritual thing,” began David Eisenhower, in his presentation at the 17th annual Brendan Gill Lecture, sponsored by the Bronxville Historical Conservancy. A near-capacity crowd attended the event held at Sarah Lawrence College on Friday, March 13, featuring the grandson of the 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Marilynn Hill, life co-chair of the organization, introduced Eisenhower, summarizing his life career and achievements and noting he is a much admired historian and educator. Eisenhower spent the next hour affirming why he and his work are held in such high regard.

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A capacity crowd filled the Sommer Center at Concordia College on Friday evening March 7 to hear New York Times bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick give the Bronxville Historical Conservancy’s 16th Annual Brendan Gill Lecture.

In her introduction, Marilynn Hill, lifetime co-chair of the conservancy, said that Philbrick, who calls himself a “writer who happens to write about history, not a historian,” has written a number of books which nonetheless have made America’s past come alive for today’s readers. His book In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex won the National Book Award in 2000, and another, Mayflower: A Story of Community, Courage and War, was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History.

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A near-capacity audience attended our 15th annual Brendan Gill Community Lecture on Friday evening, April 12th to hear Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, Jon Meacham. Marilynn Hill, lifetime co-chair, introduced Meacham to the near capacity crowd in the Reisinger Auditorium at Sarah Lawrence College. Jon Meacham is the author, most recently, of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller that has been named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The Seattle Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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Distinguished historian and noted author Kenneth Jackson shared his insights into the reasons that New York City has avoided the fate of many American cities – their physical, economic and popular decline – by adapting itself to the changes of modern-day life. Professor Jackson began by tracing the growth of New York City from its earliest roots to the 1960s and 70s, when the city went into a tailspin – the crime rate rose, the streets were filthy, the subways unsafe, municipal workers went on strike and the city was on the verge of bankruptcy. During this time, New York lost 700,000 residents, as well as dozens of corporate headquarters and scores of factories.

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Emmy Award-winning journalist Cokie Roberts, author of of We Are Our Mother’s Daughters as well as Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation and Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation, shared the story of early America’s influential women that helped shape the United States during its early stages, and chronicled their various public roles and private responsibilities.


Noted Lincoln and Civil War scholar and author Harold Holzer  presented “Why Lincoln Matters–to history, to our presidents, and us.”  Holzer demonstrated the many ways in which nearly every U.S. leader since Lincoln has tried to “adopt (his) mantle.”



Theodore Sorensen, advisor and speechwriter for President John F. Kennedy, gave an authoritative presentation that began with his childhood in Nebraska and the impact his background had on his decisions to go to college and then on to law school.  He then moved on to his days in the Kennedy Administration and his relationship with the President, modestly claiming to have played “a small role in shaping the views and deeds of the President.”



Robert A. Caro, acclaimed author of The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, spoke to a standing-room-only Gill Lecture audience about how one very powerful man, Robert Moses, shaped – and perhaps misshaped – New York City.


Russell Shorto, author of the best selling book, The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan, the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America, shared insights he learned from researching a vast, newly-translated 12,000-page 17th century Dutch archive.  One of his compelling findings — that modern American culture is more firmly rooted in Dutch New Amsterdam than it is in the Plymouth Colony of New England – was a highlight of his presentation.



David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winner and author of a score or more best-selling titles presented a talk covering American post-World War II social and political developments and the challenges faced by the country’s leaders in this era.


Noted Civil War expert and Pullitzer-prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson shared insights into the lesser-known might of our country’s 14th president, Abraham Lincoln, in his presentation, “Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief.”


“The essence of Franklin is that he was a civic-minded man,” wrote Walter Isaacson in his best-selling biography, Benjamin Franklin, An American Life.  In his remarks the famous author and former resident of our community drew a parallel between Franklin’s belief in the importance of organizations for the common good and the people of Bronxville throughout its history.


Robert Macdonald, former director and CEO of the Museum of the City of New York, spoke about Bronxville’s sense of place, and what it is about our diminutive, largely homogeneous village located less than four miles north of a global city of 8 million, that has made our community the object of analysis, envy, praise and criticism.


The author of Adventures with Old Houses, Richard Jenrette shared his affinity for endangered sites and offered an instructive and entertaining personal account of the acquisition, restoration and furnishing of his many historic homes.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., whose grandparents, Joseph and Rose Kennedy were residents of Bronxville, spoke passionately about his important work in preserving the environment.  Kennedy also shared family memories of his family’s ties to the village in the late 1920s and 1930s.


George Plimpton, author and raconteur, presented the second lecture in the year 2000.


Paul Goldberger, Gill’s successor at The New Yorker, launched the lecture series, and spoke of The Power of Place, and Bronxville as a community that is “endlessly copied, but never matched.”  His remarks are re-printed in Volume I of THE BRONXVILLE JOURNAL.