Around the neighborhood – Nelson Park – A Mysterious Object

As I was leaving the park I noticed what looked like a brick largely covered by grass. I moved the grass out of the way to get a better look and this is what I found: A time capsule. It reads “Village of Ossining 1813-1988”. This would reflect the 175th Anniversary of the incorporation of the village, then known as Sing Sing.

Unless it was forgotten completely the capsule should have been opened in 1988. I wonder what was in it?

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6

Around the neighborhood – Nelson Park – Memorials

There are actually four memorials in the park. The first and most visually striking is the civil war memorial (seen above and in the next two pictures).


To borrow from an earlier (26 January 2016) post of mine:

The monument remembers soldiers of Ossining, New York, who died fighting in the Civil War. Those killed were men, both privates and officers, most from the 17th U.S. Volunteer Regiment and the 6th U.S. Heavy Artillery. At the memorial’s highest point, an angel in full-length gown displaying wings is down on one knee with head bowed and hands folded, mourning and honoring those who perished in the fighting. Kneeling Angel is one of two Civil War remembrances in Ossining. The angel, surmounted on a pedestal of granite and marble, is cast in “white bronze.” This description partly obscures the detail that this material is not actually bronze (an alloy of copper and brass); but rather, it is comprised of copper, tin and zinc. The pedestal design presents in three sections. Its lowest is its base; in an older picture from the Westchester County Historical Society, the stone base seems a well polished, variegated marble. The pedestal’s second and third sections, following Scharf, are comprised of “two massive blocks of granite….” The lower contains inscriptions and plaques with the names of the war dead; two bronze, profile bust-view relief plaques, evidently painted brown, on the north-facing panel that of Lincoln and on the south-facing, a uniformed Civil War soldier. The upper pedestal section displays bunting, flags, cannon and drums. These three sections are capped by the kneeling angel. Neither artist nor maker(s) appear to be known. While the monument’s design and sculptural program are multi-dimensional and far-reaching, the work’s general deteriorated condition seems to suppress further impression-making.

After the close of the Civil War – Scharf states “shortly after,” Hernandez puts it at “1870,” a Ladies’ Monument Association emerged in the town of Sing Sing (now Ossining), formed by women seeking to erect a monument to remember and honor the men who had died in the conflict. (The year 1870, then, is the assumed Start of the monument’s creation process.) By 1872 the group had raised enough money to put the monument’s cornerstone in place, which it did on July 4, 1872. In order to continue to the next development stage, the Ladies Association and local Civil War veterans combined forces and created the Monumental Dramatic Association. This group put on entertainments, plays, which allowed them to raise further funds so they could complete the monument; they did so, in spite of difficulties, and on May 30, 1879, the monument was dedicated. The dedicatory ceremony was witnessed by a large group of townsfolk and others – veterans under the Grand Army of the Republic banner as well as local militia units, state and local officials and many civic, fraternal and religious organizations.

The monument is situated in Nelson Park, near the cross of Washington Avenue with U.S. 9 (also known as the Albany Post Road or, locally, South Highland Avenue). Originally, the Kneeling Angel was placed at the junction of Church and Main Streets, in the downtown area of Ossining. The monument was relocated in April, 1884 to the old Park School grounds, and later, when a new Park School required building, in 1939, the monument was situated across Edward Street to Nelson Park. In Nelson, it was placed initially in its “lower” part. Today, the memorial, along with other monument works, graces its eastern sloping edge.

Next there’s a memorial to those who died in “the war”. I assume that this means the First World War. I think we all know that at the time this was referred to as “the war to end all wars”. Little did the know what was coming a mere 21 years later.

Then there’s a memorial to the dead of World War II.

Finally there’s an rather interesting memorial to a person rather than a war: The Reverend Henry E. Duers.

The young Henry Duers escaped from enslavement at a plantation in the Town of Windsor in Bertie County, NC in February of 1865 and at great risk to his life, passed through Confederate lines to enlist in the Union Army. Following the war he settled in Richmond VA and studied for the ministry at the “Richmond Seminary For the Education of Teachers and Preachers among the Colored Freedmen of the South.” Ironically, the Institute was housed in a building that was once a jail for runaway slaves.

Sometime after he completed his studies he came north and began the work for which he had trained and been called to perform. In 1884, he was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Newburgh, NY. Subsequently in 1890, he came to Yonkers, NY where he was the Superintendent of the Sunday School at the Messiah Baptist Colored Church in Yonkers, NY. In that year he also came to Ossining, NY (then called Sing Sing) and started a mission with a Sunday Bible class and a Wednesday evening prayer service.

On November 23, 1890, Reverend Duers along with the members of his little congregation participated in the 100th year celebration of the First Baptist Church of Sing Sing, incorporated in 1790. Noting this anniversary and the approaching Christmas holidays, Reverend Duers was inspired to call his growing congregation, the “Centennial Star of Bethlehem Colored Baptist Church.” In 1892, he oversaw the construction of his congregation’s first building at 148 Spring Street. In 1932, it was torn down and a new and larger building was put on this same site and in 1997 a new Star of Bethlehem Missionary Church was built at 304 Spring Street on the grounds of the old Ossining Hospital.

Over the years of his of his active pastorate, Reverend Duers increased his flock and assured that the mortgage on the church building and other church debts were paid off. He was well known for his insistence on equal rights and was not hesitant to speak out when members of his church and others were not treated fairly. He retired in 1924 but remained active in the church and his community until his death in 1940 at age 94. At that time, he was the last Westchester veteran who served in the Civil War. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery in Yonkers. (Patch)

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6

Around the neighborhood – Nelson Park – Cannons

I’ve passed this park many times in the car, and each time spotted the cannon that was close to the road. I kept meaning to go back one and to take some pictures. This time I was on foot and had a camera with me.

There are actually two cannons: one up by the road and a second one down it the park. Rob Yasinsac describes one of them as follows:

A genuine Hudson River artifact, it was cast at the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, served in the Civil War, was partly buried at the Newburgh waterfront, relocated to Fort Ontario at Oswego, and brought to Ossining in the 1980s by Peter Carpenter (a high school boy scout at the time) to replace a World War I cannon that was melted down for scrap during World War II.

I’m not entirely sure which of the cannons he is describing, but I suspect it’s the one up by the road (first and second pictures in this post).

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6

Around the neighborhood – Old Croton Aqueduct Trail

I mentioned in the preceding post that the old building featured there was directly opposite the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail. So at this point on my walk I decided to turn onto the trail.

The Aqueduct was built in response to the fires and epidemics that repeatedly devastated New York City, owing in part to its inadequate water supply and contaminated wells.

Major David B. Douglass, the project’s first chief engineer, planned the route and structures and established the project’s hydraulic principles. He was succeeded in 1836 by John B. Jervis, who achieved the final design of the Aqueduct and its major structures and led the complex construction effort. Work began in 1837, carried out largely by Irish immigrant labor.
For most of its length, the Aqueduct is a horseshoe-shaped brick tunnel 8.5 feet high by 7.5 feet wide, set on a stone foundation and protected with an earthen cover and stone facing at embankment walls. Designed on principles dating from Roman times, the gravity-fed tube, dropping gently 13 inches per mile, challenged its builders to maintain this steady gradient through a varied terrain.
To do so the Aqueduct was cut into hillsides, set level on the ground, tunneled through rock, and carried over valleys and streams on massive stone and earth embankments and – at Sing Sing Kill, the Nepperhan (Saw Mill) River, and the Harlem River – across arched bridges. Typically it is partly buried, with a telltale mound encasing it. As one learns to read the “clues.” an understanding of how the tunnel engages the landscape deepens the trail experience.

Croton water first entered the Aqueduct at 5 am on June 22, 1842 (followed by a dauntless crew in a small boat, the Croton Maid) and emerged at the Harlem River 22 hours later. The water eventually filled two above-ground reservoirs – on the present sites of the Great Lawn in Central Park and the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue – to great civic rejoicing.

The trail is virtually as old as the Aqueduct. It was created for reasons of security – to prevent local opponents of this massive, intrusive construction from attempting to sabotage the water supply – and to facilitate workers’ access to the water conduit. It was not for intended for recreational purposes, though it quickly started being used that way.

During the active days of the Aqueduct, overseers in charge of patrolling and maintaining specific sections of this infrastructure vital to New York City were provided with houses on or near the section of the tunnel for which they were responsible.

The only one of these houses that survives in its original location is the classic, brick Italianate-designed structure on the trail at Walnut Street in Dobbs Ferry. The Keeper’s House was built in 1857, and was the home of James Bremner, the principal superintendent of the Aqueduct, north of New York City. The house is a contributing feature of the aqueduct trail, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

Until 1955 the Old Croton Aqueduct brought water to New York City. (The northernmost portion reopened in 1987 and continues to supply water to the town of Ossining.) Though the Aqueduct was built to meet the city’s needs for 100 years, the supply was soon insufficient due to the spiraling population growth to which it contributed. The New Croton Aqueduct, triple the size and much deeper underground, lies a few miles to the east. Built under Chief Engineer B. S. Church, it began service in 1890 and remains in service today. It has no walking trail.
In 1968, New York State purchased from the city the land and structures that constituted the Weschester County section of the Old Croton Aqueduct, between Croton Gorge Park and the Yonkers-New York City line. This 26.2-mile portion of the total 41-mile Aqueduct route became the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, a recreational and cultural resource that appeals to a wide range of visitors. Tree-lined and grassy, traversing local villages and varied landscapes, the trail offers the pleasures of nature and glimpses of historic and architectural treasures along the way. Twenty-two miles are a designated part of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Trail, and sections are being incorporated into Westchester County’s RiverWalk.

While the state park designation ends at the New York City line, the Aqueduct continues for four or five miles through the Bronx. There its green corridor, managed by New York Parks & Recreation, follows a southward route through Van Cortlandt Park, past the east edge of Jerome Park Reservoir and along Aqueduct and University avenues to the famed High Bridge, which carried water in iron pipes cross the Harlem River to Manhattan to serve a growing population (Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct)

The picture above shows the trail and one of the ventilators. Unfortunately, as with most of old buildings in the area its covered in graffiti.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6

Around the neighborhood – Old building on Scarborough Road

This building stands on Scarborough Road right where it intersects with the Old Croton Aqueduct. It’s seems to be used for storage by the town Department of Public Works. I don’t know if this was its original purpose. As you can see it’s not in the best of shape.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f4-5.6