All events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, the events take place in
the Ottinger Room at the Croton Free Library, 171 Cleveland Drive, Croton-on-Hudson, NY. Please join us!
The Fabulous Fleischmanns
Yeast, Gin, Margarine, Bakeries, and Baseball
Most people know the Fleischmann products—yeast, gin, margarine, etc.—but few know the breadth of the family’s accomplishments, scope of their personal activities, size of their philanthropic gifts and their involvement in the early days of baseball.
Baseball historian, educator, writer and collector Robert Mayer will give us a small glimpse into the lives of this extraordinary family. They built the largest yeast factory in the world in Peekskill (which also produced Fleischmann’s Gin) and were involved with publishing The New Yorker magazine; developing Naples, Florida; starting several hospitals, zoos, museums and art foundations; and entertaining presidents and Hollywood legends. In the 1890s the Fleischmann brothers developed an interest in baseball and they erected a state-of-the-art baseball field in the Catskills, complete with lockers and showers, and funded a highly talented semi-pro team that at one time included Honus Wagner and Miller Huggins. There’s even a family connection to the television show Gilligan’s Island!
Robert Mayer is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and their 19th Century Baseball, Negro Leagues, and Minor League Committees. His primary interest is early baseball in the Hudson Valley.
Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m.
Westchester County Airports
Former Croton resident Kent Patterson will tell the story of aviation in Westchester County. From the early days of biplanes—when Clifford Harmon became the first person to fly across the Long Island Sound—to the construction of the Westchester County Airport—originally built as a military airfield until it was handed back to the county for commercial aviation use. He will also highlight the never-built county airport proposed for Croton Point, the seaplane base, and Croton’s post-WWII airport off Route 129.
Kent Patterson worked for MTA/Metro-North for 37 years—at times at the Croton-Harmon facility. His presentation is based on his book, Westchester County Airport, an Images of America book published by Arcadia Publishing and available from Amazon.
Thursday, June 7 at 7:00 p.m.
On the Ossining Waterfront
A Tangled Tale of Epic Change, Human Tragedy and Real Estate
The Ossining waterfront has a history unique in the annals of the Hudson River—from the first inhabitants to the American Revolution to the arrival of the state prison, and its stunning transformation from gritty industrial landscape to lifestyle destination.
Dana White is the Ossining Village Historian and a practicing journalist. She sits on the Historic Preservation Commission as well as the boards of the Sing Sing Prison Museum and the Ossining Historical Society Museum.
Thursday, September 6 at 7:00 p.m.
The History of Croton Point
If you explore Croton Point today you’ll see the “oyster middens” on the northern tip, refuse from the Native Americans who once had a stockaded settlement where the model airplane field is today. You’ll see thousands of discarded bricks along the shoreline and on the south side the boarded-up entrances to vaulted wine cellars. It’s hard to imagine that a major brickmaking operation transformed the landscape of Croton Point or that it was once the location of the first commercial vineyard in New York State.
Marc Cheshire and Carl Oechsner will tell the fascinating story of Croton Point—from the time of the first Native American settlements (dating back 7,000 years) to capping the Westchester County garbage dump. We’ll learn the whispered tales of witches who once guarded Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, how the cannons fired at the British ship Vulture led to the capture of Major John André and the extensive plans by the county to transform Croton Point into Playland West.
Thursday, October 4 at 7:00 p.m.
From Cottages to Castles
Historic Houses on the Hudson
Marc Shenfield is a painter, student of Hudson River history and former advertising creative. He moved to a historic home in Croton-on-Hudson from a brownstone in Brooklyn in 1974. His presentation will focus on lesser-known examples of houses in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties, a few homes on the river’s western shore, plus unusual views of better-known sites. Emphasis will be on the history and architecture as well as the longer historic and cultural context.
Thursday, November 1 at 7:00 p.m.
The Chain That Saved the Colonies
To stop the British invasion of the New England colonies during the American Revolution, Peter Townsend manufactured a Great Chain for the Continental Army at Sterling Forest. It was placed across the Hudson River at West Point because the river narrowed there and—combined with other factors such as winds, tides and current—forced ships to slowly navigate the passage and therefore make them better targets for the colonial shore batteries.
Donald “Doc” Bayne will share the history of the iron industry that started in 1736 at Sterling Forest and how the Sterling Forge was used to create the Great Chain. Doc is the assistant park and recreation supervisor and acting environmental education director at Sterling Forest State Park. He is also the president of the Friends of Sterling Forest.
Thursday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m.