New Paltz Historical Society bringing back appraisal event modeled after “Antiques Roadshow”

The New Paltz Historical Society’s (NPHS) September 6 meeting event will include a fundraising for their audio/visual equipment, which will be essential for the continuation of its monthly events in 2018. The event: “What is it? What’s it worth?” is an antiques appraisal event, modeled after the popular PBS Antiques Roadshow. The public is invited to bring their treasures to this event to have local experts identify and value their items. Pictured is the NPHS Board (L-R): Marny Janson, Dolly Wodin, Jack Murphy, Susan Stessin-Cohn, Diane Gleichenhaus and Water Street Market antiques expert Walter Marquez. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The New Paltz Historical Society is in need of funds to purchase new equipment for their monthly speaker series. Every month the group presents informative guest speakers on topics of interest to anyone interested in local history, with the discussions open to all, but those talks require the use of audio/visual equipment, and the gear they’re working with at present is on its last legs. In order to continue offering the high quality material they’ve been presenting, says New Paltz town historian Susan Stessin-Cohn, the historical society needs to raise some money, and quickly.

As a fundraiser, the group will bring back an event they first held last year. “What is it? What’s it worth?” will be offered on Wednesday, September 6 at 7 p.m. at the New Paltz Community Center, 3 Veterans Drive. Modeled after the enduringly popular television show, “Antiques Roadshow,” on PBS, the event offers the public the opportunity to bring their treasures in for appraisal by local experts. Even if one doesn’t have any items to bring in, it’s a lot of fun to see what others have had tucked away in their garage or attic.


Walter Marquez of The Antiques Barn at Water Street Market will be on hand along with an assistant to identify and appraise the items, for a suggested donation of $5 per item. Proceeds will go toward purchasing that much-needed equipment. If there is time after everyone present gets a turn to have one item appraised, the experts will look at a second item for an additional $5 donation. Admission is free to those who don’t have an item to appraise but simply wish to watch the proceedings, but donations are, of course, gratefully accepted. Complimentary light refreshments will be available.

Stessin-Cohn says that the first time they held the appraisal event, it went over very well, with all kinds of items brought in, from paintings to lamps and furniture to jewelry.

Marquez, with his many years in the antiques business, has a wide-ranging field of knowledge and is well-equipped to tell people what it is they have. And sometimes, after all, it’s not so much about finding out the monetary value of an item, but simply knowing what one has. In an historical area like the Hudson Valley, the potential for having something great is always there, but attendees need not feel they can only bring in items they think might have great value.

The New Paltz Historical Society has been meeting for almost two years now on the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the New Paltz Community Center. The group was initiated by Stessin-Cohn. Anybody interested in local history is welcome to join at a modest annual fee of $10. Members will receive an e-mail reminder before lectures and have the opportunity to work with other members on various historical projects. The purpose of the historical society is to encourage community participation in an ongoing discussion about New Paltz’s storied history.

Non-members are welcome at meetings, admitted free but with a suggested donation of $5.

Recent guest speakers have included the administrative director of the Ulster County Historical Society, Suzanne Hauspurg, who presented “Ulster County Women of Note,” one in a series of 16 presentations held across the county. Another meeting featured Stessin-Cohn in an author’s talk about her 2016 publication, In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831. In April the group welcomed Dr. Joseph Diamond, professor of archaeology at SUNY New Paltz, to speak about the ongoing excavation project on Huguenot Street. Last March brought a presentation by Marny Janson, vice-president of the Ulster County Genealogical Society, for those who were looking to jump-start a search of their ancestors.

On the horizon for a future presentation, says Stessin-Cohn, is a talk by Ulster County Commissioner of Jurors Paul O’Neill. Check for details on the group’s Facebook page.

In the meantime, check out “What is it? What’s it worth?” at the Community Center on Wednesday. You never know… that old canvas you stored in the garage might just be a masterpiece.