Remember the Burning of Kingston


(Photo by Will Dendis)

The Burning of Kingston will be back on Friday and Saturday, October 18 and 19. While a reenactment of the Redcoats’ landing and skirmish with the local militia at Kingston Point won’t be happening this year, some new features have been added to the more-or-less-semiannual commemoration of the disastrous sequence of events in 1777, when British forces took over the city, setting buildings afire as they moved from east to west.

For the first time, the role of black people in the city’s Revolutionary War history will be incorporated into the event. New additions to the Burning of Kingston include Harambee Kingston’s special exhibit on display at the Persen House, and a lecture there at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday that will discuss enslaved persons during the Revolution and in Kingston during the burning. The lecture will be preceded and followed by singing of African hymns, and there will be a march to the recently rescued Pine Street African Burial Ground, where a ceremony will be held.

Activities commence at the Old Dutch Church in the Stockade District on Friday evening. At 6:30 p.m., Paul O’Neill, the Ulster County Commissioner of Jurors, will give a talk introducing the weekend’s events. A documentary on the Burning of Kingston will be screened at the church at 7 p.m., followed at 7:30 by a reenactment of the “Great Debate” at the Committee of Safety Meeting.


Special exhibits will be on view Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Friends of Historic Kingston gallery at the Fred J. Johnston House and beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Matthewis Persen House. The Senate House will host its Autumn Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., which will include reenactments of 18th-century camp life, such as demonstrations of apple cider pressing, meat smoking, hearthside cooking, dipping candles, making dried apple wreaths and cornhusk dolls.

While no buildings will actually be burned, the Volunteer Firemen’s Museum Bucket Brigade will get underway in the streets at 2 p.m. At 3 p.m. at the Old Dutch Church, Robb K. Haberman will give a lecture titled “Burning Memories: John Jay, Kingston and the Legacies of the American Revolution.” At 7 p.m., Theatre on the Road will conduct a Living History Cemetery Tour of the churchyard. And at 8 p.m., it’s time to break out your full Revolutionary War-era costume for the Colonial Grand Ball at the church’s Bethany Hall.

Burning of Kingston, Friday-Saturday, Oct. 18-19, or