Tivoli hosts Eleanor Roosevelt celebration, bronze bust dedication

“Where, after all, do human rights begin?” Eleanor Roosevelt asked rhetorically in a 1958 address to the United Nations. Her answer: “In small places, close to home.” By her own account, the happiest times of Eleanor Roosevelt’s childhood were spent in a “small place” called Tivoli: the village closest to Oak Lawn, country home of her maternal grandmother, Mary Livingston Ludlow Hall, with whom ER lived after the death of her parents. Her ethos of empathy, compassion and unflinching respect for all – leading to her work with the United Nations, chairing the commission that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – was shaped in large part by her early experiences in this small, close-knit community.

The Village of Tivoli will dedicate this weekend to honoring Eleanor Roosevelt’s contributions with a series of special events, centering on the permanent outdoor installation of a bronze bust of the First Lady. All events are free and open to the public.

The bust, designed by Czech sculptor Marie Seborova, was commissioned and donated by Art for Amnesty founder Bill Shipsey in recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights’s 70th anniversary. Identical busts have been placed in sites of significance around the world: France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia and at Columbia Law School. In Tivoli, the statue will be sited at 39 Woods Road, adjacent to St. Paul’s Church, where Eleanor Roosevelt’s parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and brothers are interred.


The Eleanor Roosevelt “Small Places” Commemoration begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 11 on the third floor of the Watts-De Peyster Hall at 86 Broadway, with an opening reception for an exhibit on ER, celebrating her 135th birthday and featuring a talk by Jeffrey Urbin, director for education at the FDR Presidential Library.

The actual unveiling of the bust happens on Saturday morning at 10, with a ribbon-cutting and remarks by Tivoli mayor Joel Griffith, ER’s granddaughter Laura Roosevelt and other dignitaries. An informal lunch will follow at the Watts-De Peyster Hall. The afternoon will include presentations, beginning at 1 p.m., by Franceska Macsali-Urbin, supervising ranger at the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (Val-Kill); Sally-Dwyer McNulty, professor of History at Marist College; Larry Cox, former executive director of Amnesty International USA; and a panel discussion led by Jen Drake and Jodi Miller of the Dutchess County Commission on Human Rights, including deputy commissioner for Special Needs Toni Ciarfella, Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center director Jeff Rindler and the Worker Justice Center of New York’s Human Trafficking specialist Cecilia Cortina among others.

On Sunday morning at 10 a.m., the Rev. Masud ibn Syedullah will lead “A Festive Service Commemorating the Life and Legacy of Eleanor Roosevelt” at 10 a.m. at St. Paul’s.

Eleanor Roosevelt “Small Places” Commemoration, Oct. 11-13, Free, Watts-De Peyster Hall, 86 Broadway, St. Paul’s Church, 39 Woods Road, Tivoli, www.tivoliny.org