This is Cornelia Cotton. She opened an art gallery in Croton-on-Hudson in 1979. One of the earliest gallery shows was called “Croton Water” – the first time that prints, maps, and ephemera of the Old Croton Aqueduct were shown as an art exhibit. Cornelia was active on behalf of the Aqueduct early on, and after the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct was founded, served on its board for many years.

She has worked as a portrait photographer, is a life-long singer, and has won recognition as a historian and writer. She is the mother of three daughters and the grandmother of three grandsons.

Curiously I discovered that I had already taken pictures of her gallery/bookstore – back in 2017. My wife had something to do in Croton-on-Hudson and I was hanging around waiting for her to finish. Since I had my trusty camera I walked around taking some pictures. Her shop caught my attention, hence the two pictures below.

While I was at her store I picked up a copy of her book: Stepping Stones.

Amazon describes it as follows:

Thirty-two vividly observed, beautifully crafted stories from a woman who lived through extraordinary times. Cornelia Cotton was born in the last years of Weimar Germany. Her father was a violinist, her mother, a dancer with a Jewish family legacy. She saw the first signs of the Nazi movement. As a child, in the city of Jena she watched an early Nazi torchlight parade from her bedroom window. She witnessed the self-inflicted destruction of a once-civilized society, the multiple losses of family and friends who died or fled Germany, and the retreat into the inner emigration. Unable to contemplate living her adult life among former Nazis and the many Germans who either applauded or accepted Hitler’s policies, Cotton came to America as a college student in 1948, stayed on, married an artist/teacher, raised a family, and has lived a life rich in music, art, and people. Over the years Cotton has been a member of many singing groups. She writes, “…joining with others to bring to life the magnificent creations of mankind at its best that otherwise lie silently on the page is not only deeply satisfying but lifts one into the realm of the divine. For me, it is as close to paradise as I can ever hope to get.”

I haven’t quite finished it yet, but what I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed.

The Briarcliff Manor-Scarborough Historical Society is organizing a presentation on the Croton Aqueduct to be given by Cornelia on April 16 at the Vescio Community Center in the library building (1 Library Road) in Briarcliff Manor.

Taken with a Fuji X-E3 and Fuji XF 10-24mm f4 R OIS

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