Historical Society of the Nyacks Share

Welcome to the Historical Society of the Nyacks where local history is alive with House Tours, John Scott ArmChair Tours, interesting excursions, and exhibits at the Nyack Library and other venues. New members are welcome.

  Local History Calendar

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B. W. Church—Boat Builder:
An Exhibit of His Life & Work in the Early 20th Century
Open on Saturdays and Sundays Beginning June 6

Beginning June 6, we present a new exhibit titled B. W. Church—Boat Builder curated by T. Robins Brown, an architectural historian who lives in Nyack in the house where Church resided from 1919 to 1947.

Inspired by a chance meeting with Church’s great-granddaughter who shared her family’s fascinating collection, Ms. Brown developed the exhibit to reveal the previously little-known life of Byron W. Church. In 1901, Church, an experienced boat builder in Mystic, Connecticut, moved to Nyack with his wife and two young daughters.

He was the president of the newly-formed Church Motor and Launch Company. During the following decades he constructed boats at four Hudson River locations in the Nyacks under this company’s name, his own name, and the ambitious Hudson Yacht & Boat Company, located at the current Petersen Boatyard. His career reveals the rapidly evolving boat-building industry in the early 20th century. Local recreational boat builders continued the tradition of making wooden boats while responding to rapid innovations in engines and boat design, and to sometimes ill-fated corporate investment.

A rare 1902 boat catalogue, a half-hull model, and tools drawn from the collection of Church’s descendants are among the fascinating items and images in the exhibit. Photographs and graphics illustrate the variety of his creations: 98-foot-long luxury yachts, functional launches, and diminutive stock cruisers. Charming photographs of the Church family, a handmade toy boat and toy hutch, and items related to the Nyack Boat Club and Knights of Pythias show his life as a family man and club member. Even tragedies, including the fatal explosion of the yacht Luvina are revealed. Read more ...

The exhibit will be open from 1pm to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday from June 6 through July 26 (except July 4 & 5), or by appointment by calling (845) 418-4430. The Historical Society of the Nyacks museum is accessed under the front porch of the Depew House, 50 Piermont Avenue, adjacent to the Nyack Library parking lot. There is no charge for admission. Donations are encouraged.

We thank our co-sponsors Nyack Boat Club, Petersen Boatyard, and West Shore Towers. We are grateful to Ellen Zak Danforth, Carole M. Zak, and Bradford T. Zak for making this exhibit possible by sharing photographs and items from the B. W. Church Family Collection.

And, be sure to visit our new exhibit in the Nyack Library and explore Nyack's "Shipbuilding & Boatyards in the Nyacks." . The library exhibit, mounted by curators Karen Kennell, Pat Condello and Betty Perry is in the library display cases located in the Nyack Library's Carnegie Farian room (Broadway entrance) and can be viewed during the library's regular hours.

An Underground Railroad Monument Comes to Nyack
Historical Society of the Nyacks Museum

Saturdays through May, 1 - 4 p.m.
50 Piermont Ave., lower level, behind Nyack Library parking lot

This exciting new exhibit explored the story of two extraordinary women, Cynthia Hesdra and Toni Morrison, and the project that unites them.

Cynthia Hesdra was a Nyack woman who rose from slavery to become an entrepreneur and abolitionist. After her freedom was secured, she went on to own and operate a laundry business in New York City and Nyack, and to acquire real estate in Greenwich Village and Nyack. When Hesdra died on February 9, 1879, her net worth was around $100,000, the equivalent of $2.3 million. Read more ....

Interested in being a volunteer docent for this marvelous exhibit? Please call Leontine Temsky at 845.358.4234 or email her at leetemsky@gmail.com.   

And, we hope you visited our exhibit in the Nyack Library and explore Nyack's "Bench by the Road" Project. The library exhibit, mounted by curators Karen Kennell, Pat Condello and Betty Perry is in the library display cases located in the Nyack Library's Carnegie Farian room (Broadway entrance) and can be viewed during the library's regular hours.

Don't Miss Our Annual Yard Sale - May 30

The annual yard sale benefitting the Historical Society of the Nyacks will be held this year from 10 A.M. to 3 P.M. on Saturday, May 30, at 192 South Broadway, South Nyack, on the corner of Clinton Avenue. Rain date Sunday, May 31. We will sell household goods, furniture, antiques, tools, sports equipment, games and books. Items for sale can be brought to the site of the sale between 8 A.M. and 9 A.M. on the day of the sale, or may be left in the driveway at 319 North Broadway ( enter from Van Houten Street) at any time any day in advance. Call 845-358-0552 for pickup of larger items. Think of us when you clean your attic or if a neighbor is moving. Get a tax deduction while supporting the work of the Historical Society.

Helen Hayes, First Lady of Nyack

Helen Hayes, First Lady of Nyack, was the subject of the Historical Society of the Nyacks' display at the Nyack Library. Beloved actress of stage and screen Helen Hayes, and her husband playwright Charles MacArthur made their home in Nyack from the early 1930s until her death in 1993. They lived on North Broadway in a house they named Pretty Penny, the subject of a painting they commissioned Edward Hopper to make. Come by the display cases in the Carnegie Room, the original stone part of the library, to revisit this charming and gracious lady who once walked with us and shared life in our community.

The exhibit will be on display through March, 2015.

TOYS OF THE PAST– Our Childhood Memories

This holiday-inspired display ran on from Febrary through March in our museum at the DePew House, 50 Piermont Avenue in Nyack. Read more ....

The 2015 John Scott ArmChair Walking Tours

Our next John Scott Armchair Walking Tour will take place in April, 2015. We will provide details here.

The Great Nyack House Tour 2014 - Houses with a Secret

As featured in the media. Click here for the Journal-News and click here for the New York Times.

The Historical Society of the Nyacks hosted its sixth biennial house tour on Saturday, May 3, 2014.

Titled "Houses with a Secret," this special tour invited visitors to explore 10 houses that have mysteries hiding behind the doors. Our volunteer docents were there to demystify the local history surrounding each property.

We thank Event Sponsor Alan Englander of A L Sustainability LLC, and all of sponsors,
for their support of local history.




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