Uptown Kingston is like hundreds of other reviving urban neighborhoods around the nation, with its chic restaurants, cafés, boutiques, bars and hip hole-in-the-wall retail outfits housed in historic storefronts. But it has something more: a bona fide ruin, a reminder that the city is positively ancient by US standards. Frog Alley, as it’s fancifully called – the official name is the Louw-Bogardus House – consists of the stone remains of a 17th-century house, which is located off North Front Street, adjacent to the Wiltwyck Fire Station.
Originally owned by miller and laborer Pieter Cornelissen Louw, who married Kingston native Elizabeth Blanshan in 1668, Frog Alley passed to the Bogardus family in the late 18th century. The house burned in a fire in the 1960s and was abandoned, gradually deteriorating to the point where it was just a collection of standing walls. This isn’t an accidental ruin – the Rust Belt abounds in those – but one that is carefully preserved and “maintained” by the Friends of Historic Kingston (FOHK).
Steeped in history, ravaged by time, Frog Alley is the cathartic setting for one of FOHK’s newest annual events: its pre-Halloween Scarecrows exhibition. Open to anyone who feels inspired to create his or her own version of these straw figures on a stick designed to scare the living daylights out of the birds, the second annual Scarecrows at Frog Alley exhibition will be held on October 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be some seriously good-looking and outrageously frightful scarecrows, with such professionals as Robert Tonner, owner of a specialty doll company headquartered a few blocks away, Hyde Park-based curator Frank Futral and businessman Gary Swenson contributing their stylish pumpkin-headed concoctions for the second year in a row. The Hillside, Stockade and Ulster Garden Clubs will also be submitting entries. Prizes will be awarded for the Best Design, Most Original Concept and Most Frightening Creation. Prizes are sponsored by Theresa & Co.
Lessons in scarecrow-making will be held for children, along with a pumpkin-carving demonstration with pumpkins donated by Gill Farm Market. Other event sponsors are Boitson’s, Deising’s Bakery and the Dietz Stadium Diner, all of which are in close proximity, should you want to chow down after picking out your favorite scarecrow, learning finally how to carve a fabulous Jack O’Lantern, and snacking on refreshments. The event is hosted by FHK and partner the Junior League of Kingston.