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Almanac Weekly | History
The Great Chain could be dismantled and pulled ashore in winter, when the Hudson wasn’t navigable anyway, to protect it from being smashed apart by tide-tossed icebergs. Its placement in the river could also be adjusted using a pulley system. Just downriver, a second barrier of wooden booms was floated, making it nearly impossible for a ship to get up enough momentum to break through the chain – although the notorious traitor Benedict Arnold had advised the British that they could, when he handed over the plans to the fortification at West Point. They never tried.
The abandoned mansion is off the beaten path, seemingly stuck in a time when the Hudson Valley was a sleepy backwater. The Point, as it is known, is sequestered at the end of a winding road in a forested section of Mills-Norrie State Park, located in Staatsburg. It’s set at an angle on a high promontory of the Hudson River, which glimmers through the thick growth of trees. The windows are boarded up, the roof of the large stone portico at the entrance has half collapsed, the porch is gone and the bare lawn is surrounded by a utilitarian chain-link fence; yet the Gothic-style building, with its tall gables graced by carved verge boards, bay windows and squared-off, compact mass, exudes an echo of fairytale magic. Constructed of bluestone, whose soft, faded gray tones blend in with the site, the house has a cottagelike intimacy.
Reclusive millionaire Oliver Hazard Payne was as wealthy as he was enigmatic. The eight years this bachelor lived in West Park left a legacy that lingers today.
Amongst a month of other events, there will be a bilingual flash-mob performance of “Un Violador en Tu Camino” (“A Rapist on Your Path”) in front of the Ulster County Courthouse. This choreographed protest chant originated in Chile and has gone viral.
Saturday, Feb. 29: Big Black: Stand at Attica by Frank “Big Black” Smith, Jared Reinmuth and art by Améziane, is the memoir of Frank Smith, a prisoner-negotiator during the Attica prison revolt.
Saturday, Feb. 22: This year’s Sojourner Truth Life Walk goes from Port Ewen to Kingston, and you can catch the bus from Dietz Stadium. The Hudson Valley heroine’s image is being added to a 15-foot-tall bronze statue planned for Central Park that includes Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. A statue of Truth by herself is soon to be erected near the Highland entrance to Walkway over the Hudson. The sculptors creating both – Meredith Bergmann and Vinnie Bagwell, respectively – will give a joint slide presentation and talk.
For the first 20 years, she remained the only black female judge in the country – a fact that she said “embarrassed” her.
Opening Saturday, Feb. 8: She accompanied a convoy of ships carrying nearly a thousand Holocaust refugees from Naples to New York, where they would live until the end of the war at an Army camp in Oswego.
When it opened in 1932, inmates at Wallkill Correctional Facility lived in four housing wings, each containing 42 cells, with bathrooms and recreation rooms on each wing, much like a college dormitory. They were allowed to keep the keys to their own rooms.