Springside is a nineteenth-century park and estate built by Matthew Vassar in Poughkeepsie, New York that is now maintained by a non-profit organization and is open to the public.
Vassar, who made his fortune in brewing beer before founding the women’s college that bears his name, bought 43 acres of land on the south side of Poughkeepsie in 1850 and hired famed landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing and his architect partner, Calvert Vaux, to design a summer estate for him.
Although Downing died in 1852 in a fire on a Hudson River steamship, Vaux and Vassar continued to work on Springside. Vassar moved into the cottage built on the site; a larger villa was planned, but never constructed, as Vassar preferred the smaller cottage. Vassar lived at Springside fulltime beginning in 1867.
After his death, the property passed on to a series of owners, and was subdivided and merged with other properties, but most of the buildings and the constructed landscape survived mostly intact. In the twentieth century, Springside faced a series of threats from development. In 1969, Springside was listed as a National Historic Landmark, but within weeks, the barn and carriage house were burned down by arsonists. In 1970, the property was sold to a developer. In 1976, the cottage was in danger of destruction. The façade of the cottage was removed to the New York State Museum, and the rest of the cottage was destroyed. In the 1980s, under threat of a lawsuit from preservationists, an agreement was reached to preserve about half of the estate and allow the construction of condominiums on the other half.
Springside is now maintained by a nonprofit organization, Springside Landscape Restoration. Now, most of the pathways have been cleared and they curve among the rocky knolls. The original Beautiful and Picturesque landscape now tends more towards the picturesque, with tangled, unkempt plants held partially in check along the pathways.
Note that the deadline for applying is coming soon!
Historic Eastfield Foundation is pleased to announce that it will offer two scholarships for emerging ceramics scholars to attend the Historic Ceramics Symposium, better known as “Dish Camp”, June 23-24, 2017 at Historic Eastfield Village in East Nassau, New York. Scholarship recipients will receive a tuition waiver for the two day program, lunch both days, and a period dinner on Saturday night. Recipients will be responsible for their own transportation and lodging. Primitive lodging at Brigg’s Tavern is available on site for no cost.
Those interested in applying should provide a one page written essay that discusses their personal interest in historic ceramics and why they believe that attending Dish Camp would benefit their education. Please send your essay and contact information via email to Debbie Miller, Program Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>. Continue reading ““Dish Camp” for Historic Ceramics Aficionados-Scholarship Available”
Upcoming Great Places and Spaces history event in Albany this Saturday. From the press release:
Representatives from state historic sites and cultural institutions will provide educational hands-on activities, unique artifacts to explore, and information about upcoming events during the annual “New York State’s Great Places and Spaces” program on Saturday, January 14 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the New York State Museum.
Visitors can learn about New York State history through activities and information provided by over 20 state historic sites, museums, and libraries. In addition, The Iron Jacks, a singing group that specializes in songs about U.S. sailors of the Civil War era, will perform at noon and 2:00 p.m. There will also be a guided tour of the Hudson Valley Ruins exhibition at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. and a “hands-on” cart of Native Peoples reproduction objects where visitors can get first-hand experience with materials used by the Iroquois in the past and present.
Participating institutions include the Adirondack Museum, Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany Pine Bush, Burden Iron Works, Civil War Round Table, Crailo State Historic Site, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum, Historic Cherry Hill, Guilderland Historical Society, Johnson Hall State Historic Site, Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites, New Windsor Cantonment, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, Olana State Historic Site, Saratoga National Historical Park, Saratoga Racing & Hall of Fame, Schenectady Historical Society, Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, U.S. Grant Cottage Historic Site, and U.S. Naval Landing Party.
Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York City is looking to hire a part-time archaeologist to assist with the review of cultural resource surveys, maintain a website, and assist in other duties.
Standard archaeology job qualifications apply, and New York City residency is required within 90 days. For more details, including pay rate, see the NYC Careers site.
Bone effigy deer’s head found on Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 33.
The Frontenac Island site in Cayuga Lake, New York, was excavated by William Ritchie in 1939-1940, and then again several years later. The first professional excavations on the island, however, were conducted by Donald Cadzow for the Museum of the American Indian around the same time Ritchie was beginning to excavate the Lamoka Lake site.
“For many years Cayuga county, New York, has been a happy hunting-ground for commercial pothunters and local diggers,” Cadzow wrote, but Frontenac Island had “been protected for many years by public-spirited citizens living nearby.” (p. 56, 58) Cadzow received permission from the island’s owners (the village of Union Springs) to dig on the island, beginning in late July 1924. Excavations were limited, but finds included pottery and human burials. Included with one of the burials were four stone plummets, one winged bannerstone, a bone animal effigy interpreted as a deer’s head, three beaver incisors, one notched point, three antler flakers, two bone “arrowpoints” (one looks harpoon-like) and the left humerus of a swan, which had been cut and polished and perforated.
Bone “arrowpoints’ from Frontenac Island, NY. Source: Cadzow 1925, Figure 35.
Frontenac Island. Source: Cadzow 1925.
1925 Prehistoric Algonkian Burial Site in Cayuga County, New York. Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation Indian Notes 2(1):56-63.
Human effigy on ceramic sherd found in Montgomery County, New York. The horizontal grooves across the torso are found on similar effigies on other Iroquoian pots. Illustrated and described by William Beauchamp, who thought that the long grooves behind the body are suggestive of feathered wings. Undated by Beauchamp, but may postdate European contact.
Beauchamp, William M.
1898 Earthenware of the New York Aborigines. Bulletin of the New York State Museum Volume 5, No. 22. Albany. Figure 41.
Almost a half century of the The Bulletin, the Journal of the New York State Archaeological Association, is now available online. Volume 1, published in 1954, to 1999’s Volume 115 can be downloaded for free at NYSAA’s site. While visiting their site, see if you can spot the photo of Harrison Follett’s camp at Lamoka Lake.
A recent study of bones from an early historic Iroquois site includes a comparison with the much earlier animal bones from the Lamoka Lake site as well as some interesting passenger pigeon finds.
Adam Watson and Stephen Cox Thomas studied animal bones from the early 18th century Townley-Read site in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Seneca who lived at the site may have hunted deer year-round. Deer hides, as well as furs from other animals, would have been traded with European colonists. The detailed taphonomic analysis also indicates that deer bones were likely processed to extract the fat-rich grease from the spongy portions of the bones. This is usually considered to be evidence of nutritional stress, but they make the case that processing for bone grease was “a planned accumulation of resources rather than an ad hoc response to seasonal food shortfalls.” (p. 115)
Also of interest is the identification of passenger pigeon bones from one feature at the site. Passenger pigeon, of course, tends to be present at prehistoric archaeological sites in the region with good bone preservation, but in this case, four of the bones are from immature pigeons, providing good evidence specifically for the procurement of squabs in the springtime.
A small number of American eel bones, in contrast, are more likely to indicate fishing in the fall, when eels are heading downstream to spawn.
As a whole, the assemblage has some interesting differences from both earlier and later archaeological sites in New York. The authors provide a detailed and well-researched analysis of the animal bones from this Iroquois site to make the point that “the evidence for economic resilience and stability at Townley-Read contradicts a narrative of pervasive and unimpeded decline, and reinforces the importance of continuing to build and test empirical models grounded in both local and regional archaeological and historical data.” (p. 115)