by Bill Batson
The Nyack Sketch Log is now a walking tour. What started as a digital diary of village life is now an ambulatory adventure through the streets that inspired over 300 short essays and sketches. Meet visitors and neighbors who share your fascination with the racial, cultural, and socio economic history of Nyack. Learn more about local people and places of interest, viewed through the prism of my family’s 130 years of village residency. Twenty five percent of the proceeds from the inaugural tours on October 6, 2018 will go to the Historical Society of the Nyacks.
Here are some highlights of the first ever sketch log tour. I hope my mixture of personal history and facts unearthed during 8 years of researching, writing and illustrating a local history column will be edifying. You will encounter compelling narratives, hiding in plain sight.
The tours starts at the John Green house, the oldest standing structure in Nyack and ends at the Historical Society Museum, where you can purchase books by local authors and historic maps of the village, and listen to oral histories from the current exhibit, the Nyack Record Shop Project.
The premise behind the Nyack Sketch Log has always been that the unexamined place is not worth inhabiting. As we learn from each other’s lived experiences and avail ourselves to the local historic record, we become more aware of the needs of our communities.
This knowledge, collectively gathered, maintained and shared, will make us better and more zealous defenders of our democratic institutions and our built and natural environment.
Nyack Sketch Log Tour: A few Selected Stops
Since his death in 1842, John Green’s house has lived on, standing at the foot of Main Street, occupied by a litany of various owners and tenants. Neglect from an absentee landlord almost caused her collapse. But the John Green Preservation Coalition came to her rescue. Marshaling legal resources and skilled labor, they saved Nyack’s oldest building for future generations to contemplate and enjoy.
This house was saved from destruction in the early 1970s by an ad-hoc coalition that included neighbors, Rotarians, labor unions, students and artists. Not many causes can assemble such a vast cross section of humanity, fewer can inspire the kind of contributions that were necessary to restore a structure that was literally a few signatures away from condemnation. The family that once lived in this home at the intersection of North Broadway and Second Avenue provided the motivation. This is the childhood home of one of America’s greatest visual artists, Edward Hopper.
Couch Court originally published January 24, 2012
Corner of South Broadway and Depew
Not every beautiful old house in Nyack merits its own historic marker. For other properties, the traditional historic marker is not a loud enough shout out. Clearly, there are many addresses that could compete for the title of most interesting building in the village. In lieu of the debate over criteria, and before a jury can be impaneled, I suggest the former offices of feminist pioneer Natalie Couch for future consideration.
Bench by the Road originally published November 18, 2014
On May 18, 2015 several hundred citizens, students, historians and fans of Beloved author Toni Morrison came to Memorial Park to dedicate a Bench By The Road monument to the 19th century entrepreneur and Underground Railroad conductor Cynthia Hesdra.
Enjoy the beauty and history of Nyack in my first ever Nyack Sketch Log walking tour. This tour will take place on October 6th from 11am-1pm & 2pm-4pm. All tours start at the John Green House and end at the Historical Society of the Nyacks Museum. Tour price includes admission to the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center and the Historical Society of the Nyacks Museum (a suggested donation is encouraged at both venues). Cost is $20 per person. Visit https://nyacksketchlogtour.brownpapertickets.com/ or stop by the my booth at the Nyack Farmer’s Market to purchase tickets.
Special thanks to Bonnie Timm for her skill and artistry and to Dave Zornow, who urged me to turn my text into a tour.