| Tappantown Historical Society 54th Annual Meeting
November 1, 2019
President's Annual Report — 2019
Good evening and welcome to the 54th annual meeting of the Tappantown
Historical Society. I am Carol LaValle, president. Thank you for coming
tonight and for all your support in helping to fulfill our mission of education
and preservation. 2019 has been another successful year with your support,
collaboration with other community organizations and historic societies, and
a committed board of directors. They are Tom LaValle, John Morton, Joe
Napoli, Marilyn Schauder, and Larry Vail. Officers are vice president Chris
Gremski, Treasurer Michael Fiorentino, recording secretary Allan Ryff, and
corresponding secretary Betsy Walker.
Special thanks goes to the Jones Family and the Masons for the use of this
beautiful historic site where we meet every month and have held Colonial
Day for over 30 years.
Colonial Day on September 28 was our main event of the year. It was a
great day with fine autumn weather, strong attendance through the day, new
demonstrators, and volunteers. Our stalwart old hands were helped by over
twenty young volunteers — history students from Dominican College and
scouts from the Nyack/Valley Cottage Girl Scout troop #40141.
More young faces appeared with us in the Memorial Day Parade. The
members of the fife and drum corps are students of Erik Lichack of Early
American Music and Arts. They marched with THS and the American Legion
and performed at the memorial ceremony.
The Annual Preservation Awards in February are a way for THS to
recognize the contributions to preservation and education by others in the
community. This year, awards went to the Tappan Reformed Church for the
interior restoration of the sanctuary, to Simon Basner for the renovation and
restoration of the 1914 Sparkill Firehouse, which is now the Union Arts
Center, and to Tappan Zee High School senior David Dunlop for his creation
of the signs urging the preservation of the name and history of the Tappan
Zee Bridge. (David is now a freshman at the University of Minnesota.)
Another way we recognize others’ accomplishments is through our THS
Scholarship for Excellence in U.S. History. The 2019 recipient was Tappan
Zee High School senior Nicole Gontaryk.
Developing and maintaining the local history room in the Tappan Library is
another major commitment. Local historian Ken Kral has organized our
archives and Larry Vail is gradually digitizing our records, which are
available to the public on request. This year, THS was one of the Rockland
County Times. Bob was a world-class collector of historical documents and
local history material — the more arcane the better. To sort through his
material was a daunting task for all the beneficiaries. Larry and Ken did this
on behalf of THS. Once the material relevant to Tappan is sorted through, it,
too, will be available in the local history room. Also soon to be on the shelves
is a 1908 volume of the Heads of Families: First Census of the United States:
1709, State of New York, which is a recent donation by Charlotte Hoffman.
We also participated in the Library’s Community Service Program, which
introduced people to the various local community organizations, and we are
following the Library Expansion Proposal. A feasibility study funded by the
Town Council by Patterns for Progress was begun in the summer and is not
yet completed, but we are interested in what that might mean for the local
history room. Also, the library sponsored a walking tour of historic sites in
Tappan for which we provided the guide, Thano Schoppel, and walking tour
THS walking tours are also a major part of our program. This year
Thano, Keith Walker, and Marilyn Schauder gave tours to over 300 people,
both school groups and a growing number of adult organizations, among
them the West Point Tour Guides, an AARP group, and the William Floris
Krum Chapter of the Colonial Dames. Keith was the guide for the annual
Andre Walk on October 2 for Cottage Lane fourth graders.
Walking tours are enhanced by recent improvements in the heart of the
historic district: last fall’s plantings in the small triangle have grown in and
have been maintained, sidewalks and handicap access ramps have been
repaired, and the historic markers for the Andre trial and the First
Courthouse have been returned to the Memorial Triangle. Once again, later
in the month, we will be decorating the lamp posts around the triangle and
along Main Street for the holidays.
We also try to stay abreast of applications that go before HABOR. Most
recently, two important applications were for an addition to the Bul Kwang
property (the Bogert-Haring House) and for a subdivision on Van Wardt
Place, both of which were approved after extensive review and changes. We
also would like to have a role in HABOR’s proposal to change part of
Chapter 12, The Historic Areas ordinance.
For 54 years, our membership in the Tappan Zee Thrift Shop has been
another important collaboration. Thanks to donations on behalf of THS and
the hours of volunteer service by Larry Vail, Betsy Walker, and Jackie Shatz,
we have been able to benefit from our share of disbursements from the Thrift
Shop. However, we need more volunteers donating just a few hours a month
in order to sustain our standing. For the coming year, attracting new
members and active volunteers is a priority. We will continue our usual
activities and events, and develop new programs — perhaps a fund raiser to
offset Colonial Day expense, especially. We would also like to work with the
town council, the planning dept., and real estate people to inform residents
of the benefits and responsibilities that come with living in an historic area.
Finally, we remember tonight Raul Cardenas, who died last week, and
Barbara Porta Hutchinson, who died in August. Both were in their 90s and
had long lives enriching their communities. Raul was a longtime member of
THS and husband of Mary Cardenas, former THS president, Orangetown
Historian, and Director of the Orangetown Museum and Archives. In addition
to years of support for THS, as an environmental engineer, Raul made
significant contributions to the preservation of the environment of
Orangetown and the Hudson Valley area with his work in environmental
engineering, in studying, maintaining, the preservation of Clausland
Mountain, and the maintenance and preservation of watersheds in the
Hudson Valley. As a professor at NYU Polytechnic, he has influenced
generations in environmental preservation. Barbara, also a Tappan resident,
was the first chairwoman of the Sparkill Watershed Protection Agency, the
first woman to be a member of the Orangetown Town Council, the first
Executive Director of the Environmental Management Council, and the
catalyst in saving Clausland Mountain from development.
Next Michael Fiorentino will give the Treasurer’s Report.
The final order of business is the election of new officers and directors: the
nominees are Chris Gremski, vice president; Joe Napoli and Larry Vail as
That concludes the business part of the meeting. After a brief pause for
refreshments, we will turn the program over to Katie Raia, superintendent of
Tappan Cemetery, who will speak about the restoration of the old
headstones in the historic section of the cemetery.