An interesting frame

This frame, with its numerous black and white historical images stands in the entrance to the Vescio Community Center in Briarcliff Manor. In of itself it’s interesting, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. It’s actually a window tilted on its side. But why a window? Well the Vescio Community Center is now part of a building that was once the Briarcliff Manor Train Station, actually the second at that location.

Walter W. Law, the founder of Briarcliff Manor wanted a train station where wealthy residents and visiting fashionable friends could be comfortable, so he replaced the earlier station (which was tiny and not particularly comfortable) with this one, to cater to the genteel crowd. It sported flowers, oriental rugs and fancy Mission-style furniture. By 1963 the Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad was abandoned north of Elmsford and the train tracks were removed. Three years later, the empty railroad right-of-way was used to create Route 100 and in the early 1990’s, the North County Trailway for hikers and bicyclists was built parallel to the route and is in frequent use today.

The picture below shows the building as it is now. The old station is in the central to right part of the picture. The windows in this part are original.

The last picture shows the station it as it was, shortly after it was built. you can clearly see the distinctive “cris cross” pattern in the windows.

Taken with an iPhone SE II (except for the last one, which clearly wasn’t taken by me. And I have no idea who did take it).

An Exhibition

Above: the cover page to the exhibition brochure. I guess that they do this exhibition annually, because although the brochure reads “2023” it seemed to work with no problems for this exhibition taking place in “2024”. In any case the brochure provides very little text, and only five examples of the over 60 exhibited works. Or possibly I picked up the wrong brochure?

I’ve been to the Newington-Cropsey Foundation a couple of times before. The first time (See: Newington Cropsey Foundation, Hastings on Hudson) I got as far as the garden, but the house was not open for visitors. This post also contains basic information on the Foundation, which is just as well because as of today (6/1/2024) their website merely provides a splash screen informing you that a new website is coming soon and providing some basic contact information. The second time I didn’t even get as far as the garden, and merely took a few pictures through the fence.

Still, I was determined to come back and see the interior of the house. So, when I saw that this exhibition was taking place I decided to go again.

First stop was the gardens again – with a few shots of the exterior of the house.

Above: Saint Michael the Dragonslayer. An inscription on the base reads: “A victorious St. Michael lays down his sword having won the final battle for our God”.

In spring, 2000, on the Newington-Cropsey Foundation property in Hastings-on-Hudson, a bronzed statue of St. Michael was installed. Saint Michael is watching over the Gallery of Art Building with a pensive countenance. He’s kneeling, resting on his sword having just expelled the Dragon from Heaven. The statue is very significant to the Foundation, particularly as we entered the new millennium in a dark period in American art and culture. One of the goals of the Foundation is to bring to light the virtues of classic art training and strong cultural values. The recently discovered Dead Sea Scroll, War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, calls St. Michael the Prince of Light. Traditionally, chapels, (Michael’s Mounts) and statues devoted to Michael are erected in trying times when the Earth Dragon is thought to be strong.

The Foundation seeks to shed light on present times and reveal the goodness that exists in our world be sharing our permanent collection, programs, and events with the public.

The artist that created Saint Michael is Barbara Newington, founder of the Newington-Cropsey Foundation. Mrs. Newington is a great-granddaughter of Jasper F. Cropsey, Hudson River School artist. The Foundation was originally conceived as a venue to display and preserve the works of Cropsey and his home Ever Rest, a National Register Historic Site. (Text from an attractive brochure available in the lobby of the house).

Above a view through the gate to the Foundation towards the Hudson River. In the background you can see the iconic Irvington Water Tower. (See: A Walk Around Hastings-on-Hudson. The Iconic Water Tower).

Then finally on to the house. I’d already passed a security guard on entering the property. When I got to the lobby, I encountered two more who directed me to the elevator to the second floor where the exhibition was. When the elevator doors opened, I was greeted by two more people. This time they seemed to be docents rather than security. They gave me the above brochure and I walked around by myself looking at the paintings. Everyone (guards, docents) was very friendly. The docents didn’t offer to answer questions, but I’m sure that if I’d asked one (which I didn’t) they would have.

I wasn’t allowed to photograph, so to give a feel for the exhibit, I’ve provided a couple of links of two of the pieces on display

Harro Maas. Freedom is Calling, 2023. Mallard. Acrylic on hardboard.

Rick Pas, United States. The Comic Wood Duck, 2022. Acrylic on PVC panel.

How did I feel about the exhibit. To be honest it didn’t really do much for me. Just not to my taste I suppose.

Now Cropsey‘s works are another matter. I’m very fond of the Hudson River School artists, and from the brochures and what little I saw of the house there seems to be a good selection of Cropsey’s work there. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to see the rest of the house – just the room where the exhibition was taking place.

I asked the docents what I needed to do to see the rest of the collection. They informed me that I have to make a reservation for a tour and told me how to do that. So, it looks like I’ll be going back to the Newington Cropsey Foundation. It’s a really pleasant spot right next to the Hudson River and the Hastings-on-Hudson train station. The garden is small, but very attractive. A tranquil spot, it’s perfect for just sitting, reading, and reflecting. The house exterior is beautiful and from what I saw of it the interior seemed spectacular. If I lived in Hastings-on-Hudson I’d probably be there all the time – at least in the garden.

Taken with a Panasonic Lumix GX85 and Lumix G Vario 14-140 f3.5-5.6

The Abbey Inn and Spa

I while ago I went with a friend for a drink at “The Abbey Inn and Spa” in Peekskill, NY.

Its website describes its history as follows:

With its views over the Hudson River Highlands, Fort Hill was a key lookout post for George Washington and his army during the Revolutionary War; in 1902, it became home to a convent and chapel, established by the Episcopal Sisters of Saint Mary. The nuns moved elsewhere in the Hudson Valley in 2003, and developer Martin Ginsburg lovingly restored the abbey and its chapel into The Abbey Inn & Spa – a luxury hotel with 42 rooms and suites, a farm-to-table restaurant, a luxurious spa, and over 65 acres to explore. The chapel offers a unique venue for important occasions, and a peaceful English garden provides space for quiet contemplation. Lovingly restored and meticulously designed, our hotel pays homage to its historic heritage while offering contemporary amenities and world-class service to each and every guest. All of us at The Abbey Inn and Spa are thrilled to be part of this exciting transformation, and we’re eager to share it with you.

  • Constructed in Peekskill, NY from 1872 – 1963, The Abbey Inn is the oldest Episcopal Religious Community in the United States still in existence
  • The first convent was built in 1876. It was three story wooden building conceived by architect Henry Martyn Congdon (1834 – 1922) who designed numerous Episcopal churches during his career, mainly in the Gothic Revival Style
    Congdon returned in 1896 to build the external main chapel (Higlands Ballroom), completed in 1902, with a Cornerstone (cornerstone room) that reads “Magnificat anima mea dominum” or “My soul magnifies the lord”
  • In 1902 a bell weighing 1,000 lbs and manufactured by the Meneely Bell Company of West Troy, NY was installed in the belfry which is still in place today
  • The Chapel’s altar was made of various kinds of marble, and seven statutes of saint surrounding it were put in place in 1893
  • Joseph Sibbel, a noted ecclesiastical sculptor (1850 – 1907) created the central statue representing the Virgin Mary and the Holy Child, St. Michael “Angel of Passion,” and St. Gabriel “The Angel of Passion and Praise” and donated a Roosevelt Organ that was installed in 1894
  • In 1902, St. Mary’s school was beginning to be built made of granite found at the Mount Gabriel site.
  • In 1908 a granite three-story house also designed by Congdon was built for the convent’s resident chaplains (the first of these occupants was Reverend Father Maurice Cowl. (Now private home of local doctor)
  • Site sits adjacent to the City’s Fort Hill Park which includes Revolutionary War era artifacts as Peekskill was a scene of historic 3-day Revolutionary War battle

It’s a nice place and the view is spectacular. I’ll certainly go again.