If the phrase “New Paltz Historical Society” gets you thinking that it’s the former name for Historic Huguenot Street, before that entity rebranded itself, you wouldn’t be alone. Even a Google search tends to turn up mostly references to the Huguenot Historical Society. But thanks to the efforts of town historian Susan Stessin-Cohn and her co-chair Jack Murphy, New Paltz now has its own municipal historical society, covering all the other interesting things that have happened in the town and its environs besides the arrival of those stone-house-building refugees from religious persecution in France.
“There’s more to New Paltz history than just Huguenot history,” says Stessin-Cohn. “We started this about six months ago, but I’ve been thinking about it for 15 years.”
The fledgling New Paltz Historical Society (NPHS) doesn’t have a permanent home yet, but it holds meetings at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at the New Paltz Community Center. “We have speakers coming every month,” Stessin-Cohn says. Upcoming lectures will include the likes of Ulster County’s commissioner of jurors, Paul O’Neill, speaking about the history of Kingston’s courthouse in May; and Robi Josephson, author of An Unforgiving Land: Hardscrabble Life in the Trapps, discussing local connections to the Civil War in June.
Operating on a shoestring budget, NPHS needs to do a bit of fundraising in order to pay for programs and provide refreshments at its free lecture/meetings. So the April meeting will be devoted to “What Is It? What’s It Worth?” an Antiques Roadshow-style visit from a panel of appraisers and antique dealers, including Lionel Heyman, Mark Stolfe, Sanford Levy and Walter Marquez. The public is invited to bring their treasures to this event to have these local experts identify and value their items, for a suggested donation of $5 each.
“What Is It? What’s It Worth?” runs from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 at the New Paltz Community Center, located at 3 Veterans’ Drive, just off Route 32 North in New Paltz. For more info, visit www.facebook.com/new-paltz-historical-society-935398576531879.