Photographers Wanted -> Howland Public Library & Spirit of Beacon Day Committee Wants to See Your Spirit!

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PHOTO CONTEST
Submission Deadline: August 1st, 2018
Exhibition Dates: September 8 – October 6th, 2018
Submission Rules & Details >

The Spirit of Beacon Day has been a part of the community since 1977, always held on the last Sunday of September. Over the past year, they have gone through a lot of changes - including a new website! The event is organized and run by a volunteer committee with help and donations by local citizens and businesses, alongside the support of the City of Beacon. The Spirit of Beacon Day is set for Sunday, September 30, with a rain date of Sunday, October 7.

Spirit of Beacon Photography Contest

This year, the Howland Public Library and the Spirit of Beacon Day Committee are looking for photographs that best capture the essence of The Spirit of Beacon. They are looking for images  capturing what makes the community so unique. Is it the mountainous backdrop? Our connection to the Hudson River? The historic architecture? The colorful, vibrant, and diverse community? The backyard gardens and/or chickens? What makes Beacon Beacon, in your eye?

How to Enter the Photo Contest

Photographers of ALL ages and skill levels are invited to submit their original photos by the deadline of Wednesday, August 1. Photos should be submitted with a certain format and naming structure. Read more about the submission requirements here

Selected photos will be displayed in the Community Room Exhibit Space at the Howland Public Library during the month of September as part of the Spirit of Beacon celebration. A reception for the community will be held on (Second) Saturday, September 8. 

You can get more details and information on how to register at the library's website.

Declaration of Independence Reading on Wednesday, July 4, 2018

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Going on its eighth year, a committee of people will be reading the Declaration of Independence at Beacon's City Hall (aka the Municipal Building and police station building off of Wolcott Ave. on your way down to the train station) on Wednesday, July 4, at 11 am.

Dennis Pavlock as Chairperson, will be joined by other committee members including former Beacon Mayor Clara Lou Gould as Vice Chairperson. This is your chance to hear the Declaration of Independence read to you, in the same way that George Washington read it to his troops in July of 1776 while he was out defending New York against the British.

July Fourth was the day that Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, which was signed later by representatives of each state. Have you read the entirety of the Declaration of Independence lately (or ever)? It declares the different reasons that the people who migrated to the United States wanted to dissolve their political relationship with the King of England and his government. You can read it here as a sneak peek to the July Fourth performance.

During his promotion of the event during a Public Comment portion of a City Council meeting, Dennis reiterated that this is not a city-sponsored event: "Not one $0.10," he said. Clara Lou Gould also spoke, encouraging people to attend and know what the Declaration of Independence is, that it is a declaration of government by the people, for the people. She continued to encourage people to call into governments with their suggestions.

There Will Be Cake - And Bagels! - And a Candy Jar

"Get a piece of history, get a piece of cake," encouraged Dennis. Kelly the Cake Lady will be providing cake, and the Beacon Bagel will be providing bagels. Dunkin' Donuts is on board, as is BJs Wholesale Club as a sponsor. There will be two candy jars for kids to guess how much is in each jar. So let them eat cake! And bagels and donuts and candy. It's for a good cause, after all.

The Telephone Building – Unearthing the Past to Create the Future

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This article was written and prepared by Diane Lapis, Trustee of the Beacon Historical Society.

The hand-written signature discovered on a section of window molding in the Telephone Building tells two stories: one of the man who signed it, and the other of the woman who saved it.  

Deborah Bigelow was established in the business of conserving antique furniture and decorative arts when she purchased Beacon’s original Telephone Building in 1992. Historic building restoration calls upon the talents of many artisans. Deborah’s passion for fine craftsmanship, as well as her conservation skills, are on view in the impeccable adaptive reuse of this early 20th-century building.

The First Telephone Service in Beacon Conducted from The Telephone Building, 291 Main Street

 The Telephone Building, 291 Main Street, circa 2017.

The Telephone Building, 291 Main Street, circa 2017.

 An original telephone in the Hudson Valley with the familiar 914-831 digits.  Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

An original telephone in the Hudson Valley with the familiar 914-831 digits.
Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Travel back in time to 1880 when telephone service first arrived in the twin villages of Fishkill Landing and Matteawan (now Beacon). According to the Beacon Historical Society, telephone service started with 37 subscribers who had devices connected to an exchange. As the two villages grew, so did the need for additional access to telephone service. The Hudson River Telephone Company provided the technology, and moved into its new quarters at 291 Main Street in 1907. 

It had taken two years to modernize the lines, with over 15 miles of cable and a million feet of wire strung between Fishkill and Beacon. Newly designed phones replaced the old ones, and huge storage batteries, charged by an electric generator in the basement, powered the system. Telephone operators ran a switchboard, connecting calls when a subscriber lifted the receiver off the hook. The first floor of the building had special booths for transient users of the service – a precursor to the modern-day telephone booth.

 Beacon's Telephone Building, as replicated on a postcard, circa 1910.  Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Beacon's Telephone Building, as replicated on a postcard, circa 1910.
Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

  Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Not one Telephone Building, But three Sister Buildings

Completed at a cost of $18,000, the modified Italianate masonry structure - faced in brick and trimmed with limestone, bluestone, slate and tin - was considered an important civic building of its day. Campbell & Dempsey, and A. E. Dederick, contractors and builders from Kingston, built both the Beacon structure and a similar one on Brown Street in Peekskill, NY, in 1907. They knew what they were doing: Two years prior, the team had built a larger building on Broadway in Kingston, NY. 

All three buildings share common elements, but it was A. E. Dederick’s signature on a section of window molding, found while renovating the bathroom in the Beacon building’s basement, that linked together the construction of the three sister buildings. The Kingston Daily Freeman newspaper reported on the construction of these early communication exchanges by this crew.

Today, only the Beacon building is a thriving concern: The Peekskill office was demolished in 1952, while the Kingston office is used as a storage facility for Verizon.

While the Peekskill and Kingston offices featured the title “TELEPHONE BUILDING” engraved in limestone above the door, the Beacon office’s imposing Roman letters are today made of cast iron, assembled with pins on a 10-foot-long cast iron plaque set in the Main Street cornice. According to Beacon architect Aryeh Siegel, the brick and limestone columns are unique for a Main Street façade, signifying the importance of this civic building.  Siegel’s comment directs a passerby's attention to the limestone capitals atop the brick columns and the keystones above the windows and front door, along with the elaborate tin cornice featured along the roofline - all hallmarks of the building’s classical influences.  

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Ownership History of The Telephone Building

The Telephone Building served the Beacon community for almost 60 years before it was sold to James Letterio, CPA, who operated his accounting business from the location for decades. When Deborah Bigelow purchased it, the building had been in use for roughly 85 years. While the original front doors were gone, the rest of the original work remained intact, though buried under layers of flaking paint, a drop ceiling and linoleum flooring. Prior to renovation, the entire building was featured in a B-rated film called “Super Troopers.” With the building transformed into a police station, the film’s art director judged the old battery room’s flaking paint perfect for some of the scenes. He noted that the “look” of the room was almost impossible to fake.  

Restoration of the Telephone Building Since 2003

Since 2003, Deborah has been on a mission to restore the architectural beauty of the building by recovering and saving original material wherever possible. For example, the original oak windows are preserved with their weights, pulleys, and slate sills intact. The building displays other beautiful features such as intricate iron grillwork, elegant cast-iron radiators and staircase, floating maple floors, and brick-lined arched doorways. When Deborah and her crew sandblasted the interior brick, she discovered that the brick came from Dutchess Junction’s own Budd Brick Company (1888-1910). Today, she replaces missing mortar with a version that has been color-matched by Package Pavement in Stormville, NY.

  Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

The cornice was painted with a sand-filled paint to look like the limestone foundation below and was constructed of galvanized tin fascia and dentils nailed into the brick wall. Paint samples analyzed by the Williamstown Art Conservation Center identified the original materials and colors used in 1907, and this information guided Deborah’s choices during restoration. The icing on the “cornice cake” came when she discovered fragments of original, 24-karat gold leaf on the TELEPHONE BUILDING letters that had eluded sample analysis. A master gilder, Deborah replaced the gold leaf last summer.

Beacon's Telephone Building Today, Circa 2017

Deborah enjoys sharing the beauty of the Telephone Building and its history with her tenants - many of whose 21st-century businesses fittingly involve communication and public service. Among her tenants, Beahive and A Little Beacon Blog occupy the first floor. The second floor includes individual Beahive office spaces, apportioned by shoji screens to provide privacy without loss of light. Deborah’s own business, Gilded Twig, shares the lower-level suite of offices with financial advisor Aaron Verdile.

Now that Beacon is fast-growing and changing, the Telephone Building stands like a stalwart sentinel guarding the past as well as embracing the future. Deborah’s notes and photographic documentation of the building before and after renovation inform its history. Her research will remain part of the building’s, as well as the city’s, historic record.

Live Presentation of the Telephone Building with the Beacon Historical Society

Deborah Bigelow, art conservator, master gilder, and owner of Beacon’s original Telephone Building will talk about her renovation of the building since purchasing it in 1992. Ms. Bigelow will show before and after photographs, artifacts found during its renovation, and offer a glimpse of preservation procedures and the art of gilding. BHS Trustee Diane Lapis will discuss the 1907 building’s architecture and its place in the city’s history. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, November 28, at 7 pm at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main St. in Beacon. 

 Deborah Bigelow up on the boom in 2017, completing her restoration of the cornice of the Telephone Building at 291 Main Street.  Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

Deborah Bigelow up on the boom in 2017, completing her restoration of the cornice of the Telephone Building at 291 Main Street.
Photo Credit: Beacon Historical Society

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Diane Lapis

Diane enjoys soaking up Beacon’s historical vibes and then sharing them with anyone who will listen.  She is a researcher and author of numerous articles and presentations about local and postcard history.  Her most recent publication was about Nitgedaiget, a vanished utopian camp in Beacon NY. When not actively fundraising or presenting programs for the Beacon Historical Society, Diane can be found working on two books: the history of post-Prohibition cocktails, and a biography about a founding member of the White House News Photographer’s Association, who was born in Beacon at the turn of the century. Diane enjoys collecting postcards, visiting presidential libraries and art museums.
Photo Credit: Peter Lapis

Spirit of Beacon Day Organizers Changing Hands After 2017

Current organizers of the Spirit of Beacon Day, one of the city's longest running volunteer-based daylong celebrations, are disbanding after this fall's event. Just who will replace them is undecided. Rose Story, chairperson of the event for almost 20 years, says: "We are a very small committee. We’ve been doing this for a very long time, and it’s time to give someone else a chance." Just who that someone else (or someone elses) will be seems to be a decision owned by no one, since the Spirit of Beacon Day is owned by the people of Beacon. "It’s not our decision to say who can do it," Story says, adding, "I will gladly help out with the transition."

Mayor Randy Casale announced this development at the July 17, 2017 City Council Meeting, and made it clear that responsibility for finding the replacement does not reside with the City, encouraging volunteers to come forward. “It’s not the city’s job to run these events," Mayor Casale stated at the meeting. "If people want events, they need to volunteer; they need to organize. They've got to figure out how they are run, and then come to the City to ask what we’ll allow and not allow, and move forward from there.”

Origins of the Spirit of Beacon Day

The Spirit of Beacon Day began in 1977 as a solution to racially driven problems between students of the Beacon City Schools and the community, according to "Celebrating Our Centennial," published by the Beacon Historical Society (buy the book at Beacon Bath & Bubble, across from the Howland Cultural Center). According to the historians, in the winter and early spring of 1977, "racial problems became severe" for several days and nights. Meeting several times to discuss the issues were city leaders and concerned agencies, including a representative from the FBI's Community Relations, Dutchess County Youth Bureau, then-Mayor Robert Cahill, local legislators, City Council, clergy people, and representatives from youth-focused organizations like Beacon City School District, the Howland Public Library, the Beacon Community Center, and others.

It was decided that there would be a Community Day aimed at bringing the people of the City together in order to "get to know one another better, learn what each other liked, [via] conversation, feelings, entertainment, education and food." These meetings began in May, and the people scrambled together to hold a Community Day on the last Sunday of September that year. This came to be known as the Spirit of Beacon Day. A committee was formed, and booths featuring food, crafts and exhibits from local organizations and agencies were planned and set up. The Mayor and City Council led the march, but it was declared by the committee at that time that "politicking" not be allowed, and politicians seeking election were not allowed to participate. Additionally, at some point during the parade's history, it was decided that only nonprofit groups could set up booths along Main Street.

Today's Spirit of Beacon Day

Today, and many committee members later, the parade still goes on, and does feature Beacon City Schools and other participants. The Mayor stressed that producing a parade is no small feat, and is a lot of work for anyone involved. "[The organizers] don’t have many volunteers helping them," Mayor Casale said. "It takes a lot of work for people that haven’t done it, to organize a parade the size of that parade, and to organize the whole day’s event which is on Main Street. A lot goes into it."

The Mayor continued, mentioning more recent concerns: "[The organizers] get some grief from business owners, ‘Why do these booths have to be in front of my business during my business day?’ " Originally, the Spirit of Beacon Day originated from the minds of many leaders, with a few on a committee to carry it out. Said the Mayor at the City Council meeting: "I had reached out when they came to me - because I didn’t know if [the organizers] had put it public yet - to the Chamber, to BeaconArts, and to the Parks and Recreation director, and I told them: 'We’re going to have to think about what we’re going to do about the Spirit of Beacon Day next year. It gives us a whole year find out what we plan on doing, how we’re going to do it, and start deciding.' ”

Who Will Carry On The Spirit Of Beacon Day?

According to Kelly Ellenwood, president of BeaconArts, the organizing of it will not fall into their court: "BeaconArts will not be 'running it,' although I'm sure that we would continue to participate as a nonprofit organization as we have before." Michele Williams, board member of Beacon's Chamber of Commerce, confirms that the Chamber is considering taking it on as a project: "We know it’s important to the kids and to the community," said Michele. "We will figure out a way to make everybody happy. We know that students look forward to the parade, and that it's an important event to the people of the City of Beacon. We are discussing it at our next board meeting, including ideas to make everyone in Beacon happy, including business owners. Regarding the tables being nonprofits, that is simply how the organizers had set it up, and does not have to be this way moving forward."

Spirit of Beacon Day 2017 Will March On

The parade will happen on the last Sunday in September as it always has, and according to the Mayor at the July 17, 2017, City Council meeting, it will continue next year. For this year, parade participants can continue to contact Roy Ciancanelli at (845) 831-3027 after 6 pm or email royal_ciancanelli@hotmail.com.

See A Little Beacon Blog's past coverage of Spirit of Beacon Days.

To be continued...

National Guard and Bulldozers Are Booked For Beacon's Big #Digout2017

A true snowpocalypse, this blizzard of March 2017 will seal the deal that we can't expect winter's end in the Hudson Valley until April. Remember when we had those Summer Numbers during the nice Presidents Day long weekend? How the shops were wrapping it up with Winter Clearance sales? Reflecting on how they made it through the winter? Hopefully you heeded our advice and stocked up on winter clothes and boots then, because then this storm happened, leaving 2 to 3 feet of snow covering Beacon. With cold temperatures locked in, the barricades of snow corralling people trying to get somewhere via sidewalk might not melt away anytime soon, especially as a new snowfall is forecast for Saturday. This snow state has happened in the past, when barricades of snow lasted for what felt like weeks.

How is the snow affecting life in Beacon? Let's take a look in pictures...

 The National Guard is called to Beacon to help remove snow.

The National Guard is called to Beacon to help remove snow.

The National Guard Removes Snow

The National Guard was called in to remove snow from designated areas. We emailed the Mayor's Office to get a definitive answer on what the National Guard's instructions were, as to what areas they were told to dig out first - which sidewalks, streets or parking lots - but have not received a response as of the publishing of this article. The Mayor's Office did, however, send us the alert about the State of Emergency, and the subsequent Modification. Troops could be seen up 9D on both sides of the street, and on side streets connected to 9D. If you saw them elsewhere in the City, please chime in below in the Comments.

 Beacon runs out of places to put the snow after plowing city streets. Beacon City School buses are running as of Thursday.

Beacon runs out of places to put the snow after plowing city streets. Beacon City School buses are running as of Thursday.

The snow started falling early Monday morning, and continued all day Tuesday, letting up around 6 pm. Shoveling midway through the storm seemed pointless, as so much more was expected to fall. People began digging out their homes on Monday night, before it turned into an all-day affair on Tuesday. Many people took a snow day from work and school to just dig out of their houses - literally, needing to shovel off the porch to even get to the driveway. Snow responders, including people who drive contracted tow trucks and snow plows, or people with snow blowers, had to first get out of their homes in order to get to work - removing snow from elsewhere.

Commuters who normally travel to New York City had nowhere to go, as New York City was also buried and Metro-North and other commuter trains were shut down. Beacon's State of Emergency kept cars and people off the streets in Beacon. In the street was not somewhere you wanted to be, anyway, as snow plow trucks rumbled through trying to get to different neighborhoods. Trash was picked up as usual, but a lot of people couldn't get to their garbage cans (unless they were sharp thinkers like Beacon resident Arie Bram, who pulled his cans out before the storm hit).

Unless you pulled out your trash cans the night before, they weren't going anywhere. Trash pickup did commence the day after the storm.

Paths in the snow proved to be hard to come by, as some sidewalks - residential, business and public-owned - were not cleared completely. Some hadn't been touched at all by Thursday, since such a massive amount of snow needed immediate clearing, making it difficult for first responders to get into a building. Keep in mind, even though several sidewalks had been cleared by snowblower and shovel, one doesn't realize how dependent one is upon so many sidewalks on both sides of the streets - until one suddenly can't use them. Just a single property owner not clearing 100% of a sidewalk impacts basic accessibility on an entire route to the train station, for example.

 The public parking lot on Henry Street needs several trucks to cart away snow.

The public parking lot on Henry Street needs several trucks to cart away snow.

Bulldozers Booked By City And Private Business To Remove Snow

When you run out of room to push snow into corners, you call in the bulldozers and dump trucks to cart it away. Plowing of municipal lots started on Wednesday, with heavy work continuing on Thursday. The lot pictured above on Henry Street is a double lot. One side of it is attached to local businesses like Towne Crier and LocoMotive Crossfit, and the other side primarily serves patients of the Beacon Health Center. According to employees who work in this area, the business parking lot was plowed on Wednesday, and the health facility plowed on Thursday, with work starting overnight. On Wednesday, the Health Center was open to patients, including seniors, children, pregnant women and disabled people.

 The public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company gets the bulldozer treatment.

The public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company gets the bulldozer treatment.

Citizens who do not have driveways or a place to park their cars sought spots in the public parking lots, for which the 24-hour limit remained in effect. But with so much snow, there was nowhere to move the cars. Residents visited the lots at night to shovel their cars out and lot-hop to avoid the ticket for exceeding the 24-hour rule. Pictured above is the public parking lot next to Beacon Bread Company on Thursday, as a bulldozer lifted snow out.

Those who could not get to lots, or already had a car in a lot and needed placement for another car, borrowed friends' driveways, as Jesse Meyer of Pergamena, a tannery based in Montgomery, did. He had one car at the lot next to Beacon Bread Company, and another in a neighbor's driveway. He is pictured here digging out the first of two vehicles on Tuesday night.

A man with no driveway borrows a neighbor's before heading to a public lot to shovel out two cars.

Some private businesses, such as Halvey Funeral Home, plowed early Thursday morning, completely clearing their sidewalks and street parking, a benefit to their clients as well as residents. Other establishments, like St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on South Avenue, had completely cleared sidewalks, which was helpful for their congregation as well as kids walking to the elementary school just one block down the road. But plenty of homes, which might have elderly residents or even be abandoned, had not shoveled yet, making it difficult to walk to school, as kids and parents were forced to walk in the street.

 HaLvey Funeral Home completely cleared its sidewalks and street parking with a bulldozer.

HaLvey Funeral Home completely cleared its sidewalks and street parking with a bulldozer.

 The orange No Parking signs moved throughout the City all week.

The orange No Parking signs moved throughout the City all week.

No Parking on City Streets

The orange signs started going up on Wednesday (according to eyewitnesses; we have not confirmed with the city), reinforcing the parking ban on city streets, but definitely acting to clear the way for any quickie parking jobs from people who were running into a store or apartment to get something. Wednesday was a fully open day, as the post office, all grocery stores, banks, etc. reopened, as people started emerging to run errands like getting food, signing corporate tax documents (a major corporate tax deadline was March 15, sending accountants into a panic when clients couldn't come in to sign paperwork) and conduct other business as usual.

Despite the five-day parking ban on city streets, people did park on Main Street and side streets. Because of that, plowed snow couldn't be removed completely from the street, and thereby spilled into and further narrowed the streets. With cars parallel-parked farther away from the sidewalk, driving down Main Street mainly consisted of driving in the middle of the road.

With Thursday being the new Monday as schools and more businesses reopened, many people were out and about, making driving a very slow and careful experience. However, toward the afternoon when the sky was blue and the sun was shining, some people began to drive a little faster, turning quickly out of side streets and almost ramming oncoming traffic, which was inching slowly among other cars. Driving in Beacon was not fun on Thursday.

 A pathway was cleared for gymgoers to Hudson Valley Fitness and other neighboring shops.

A pathway was cleared for gymgoers to Hudson Valley Fitness and other neighboring shops.

Stores on Main Street and side streets did their best to clear the sidewalk, and make a path to the street itself so that potential customers could get from their cars through the thick wall of snow. Clearly, Hudson Valley Fitness (above) made sure their members had no excuse to miss getting to a fitness class. Parking on the East End of town is actually possible, what with the free parking lot located down the street from the "P for Parking" sign in this picture. Just head down Church Street to the large lot near Hudson Valley Brewing. See A Little Beacon Blog's Free Parking Guide for pictures and cross streets.

School's Out For Summer! Just Kidding - For Pre-Spring Break

Beacon City Schools shut down Tuesday during the storm, and Wednesday during the digout. Thursday was a 2-hour delay, which means families had to get their kids to school at 10:30am instead of 8:30am (earlier for the high school). Not all roads and sidewalks were 100% clear by the opening or the delayed opening, so the 2-hour delay did not make sense to some parents who have questioned other 2-hour delays (sometimes called when no weather is happening at all, except for a chilly temperature of 20 degrees or blowing wind).

 The plowed parking lot of Beacon High School.

The plowed parking lot of Beacon High School.

 The plowed parking lot of Rombout Middle School.

The plowed parking lot of Rombout Middle School.

While Beacon City Schools had plowed parking lots in time for school to start, that act alone didn't guarantee access to the schools. Several sidewalks from residential and private properties were not yet cleared, making parents take convoluted paths while walking kiddos to school. Some plowed snow remained in the street, making two-way traffic during kid drop-offs very congested.

A Proposed Alternative to the 2-Hour School Delay

Quite possibly the most controversial topic that parents discuss amongst themselves and with administrators is the justified or unjustified calling of a snow day or 2-hour delay. In Beacon, the formula for such calls has not been clearly stated by the current superintendent or Board of Education president; instead, the broad "child safety" is cited. Nothing specific has been made available to parents (including this one) who have emailed to ask why, or for more specific details so that we can know when to expect a 2-hour delay on clear, sunny days.

Two years ago during a normal snowfall, all districts around Beacon closed - except Beacon - really throwing a wrench into the logic. During a meeting with the superintendent, I was told that those schools were fulfilling a contractual day off for teachers that had been negotiated by the teachers' union and the schools were looking for a day in the schedule to grant it. Beacon, at that particular time, did not want to go that route. Despite the argument that school is not childcare, school in fact offers parents and kids a solid schedule, and when that schedule is disrupted, adjustments need to be made quickly and at times those changes may jeopardize jobs or important medical appointments.

The trouble with 2-hour delays in the morning is that at times, it is not safer. It did not feel safer during this week as the entire district poured out in the late morning to walk and drive children to school. If walking, pedestrians headed for the middle of the street when a clear sidewalk wasn't available. If driving, cars headed to the middle of the street to detour around walkers and parked cars. Where roads were closed by the National Guard to clear sidewalks or streets, it took much longer to get more than one child to more than one school. A drive that normally takes five minutes took over half an hour. (Beacon doesn't have busing for all kids, so some children walk to school in the morning, either with their friends, alone, or with a parent.)

A safer alternative may be to wave the late penalty, and open schools at the usual time, but allow kids and parents two hours to get there. This could stagger the time people leave (assuming everyone doesn't leave five minutes before the delayed-open time, as they do during 2-hour delays) in order to give everyone more time to dig out, slowly back down driveways, get unstuck from driveways, pick up unplanned carpool pals, and get through alternate routes to school.

 That's not a sidewalk those boots are standing on, it's 2.5 feet of snow on top of the berm of the sidewalk. For some parents, drop-off is on the other side of the sidewalk, so getting the child over the mound was the challenge once getting through traffic to school. But at least there was a clear path in front of the school!

That's not a sidewalk those boots are standing on, it's 2.5 feet of snow on top of the berm of the sidewalk. For some parents, drop-off is on the other side of the sidewalk, so getting the child over the mound was the challenge once getting through traffic to school. But at least there was a clear path in front of the school!

Mostly unintentional blockages of sidewalks happened throughout the city. If you are not a frequent walker, then you might not be used to using sidewalks. First and foremost on most people's minds is getting to their cars in order to get to work or to the store. Some people shoveled a path from their door to the driveway, without shoveling the other side of the door. Or if neighbors didn't want to step on each other's shoveling, they left an unshoveled no man's land of a barrier of snow, like when you're sharing dessert with someone and neither of you wants to take the last bite. Mini-barricades like this were all over the city, which pushed more people into the streets as they tried to take what is normally a straightforward walk. 

Shoveling in front of fences was actually dangerous, as the removal of the snow unbalanced the gate, causing sounds of buckling. So be careful walking past those fences!

 Watch for buckling fences pushed by unbalanced yards full of snow.

Watch for buckling fences pushed by unbalanced yards full of snow.

All in all, Beacon is getting cleared pretty systematically. Especially considering that we don't often receive this much snow at once, there aren't many protocols to follow. At least the weather didn't jump up to 40 degrees after a snowfall, as it has in the past, causing flooding. So we'll take the bright sun and colder temperatures to let the snow gradually melt into the ground and fill the reservoirs for a replenished water supply.

Be Ready for DOT

And listen - don't park your car out on the street at night if your road hasn't been snow-sucked! You never know when those heroes from the Department of Transportation are going to swing by. Signs for the snow removal pictured below went up at possibly 1 am, and the trucks came by at 6 am to clear the snow from this side of the street on this block. I was awake at 1 am (because that's my new pregnancy thing - waking in the middle of the night) so I saw the trucks getting ready.

Once the morning officially started for me at 6 am to make a dent in this article (I don't write at night because I fall asleep while typing), while I was making coffee and stirring cat food (they like it soupy), I heard the trucks again, this time in blower mode. Little did I know my husband had parked the car in front of the house, and it was face to face with a giant DOT truck. I put on my cap and boots and dashed outside to move it, only to not notice when the prized glasses the hubs got for Christmas (from Luxe Optique, such a treat!) fell out of the car and subsequently under my tires as I toggled between Drive and Reverse to get around the mounds of snow, and into our shared driveway, which already had five cars in it.

A casualty of the storm, this glasses case is pretty impressive, in that the glasses didn't completely flatten and the lenses shatter. A man in the DOT truck saw the whole thing happen, and got out of his truck to pick up the crushed glasses case and hand it to me in the wee, dark hours of the morning. Someone has hawk eyes and had his glasses on!

Photo Credit: All photos pictured here were taken by Katie Hellmuth Martin.

Made for TV Film, "Dancing on Broadway" By Katie Fforde Filmed In Beacon, Airs In Germany

See that yarn bomb on the light pole behind the piano? Does it look familiar? It's an extra in "Dancing on Broadway," a movie from writer Katie Fforde that was filmed in Beacon, was made for German TV, and is airing now online for anyone to watch. See local favorites like Dream in Plastic, Notions-n-Potions, Classic Couture Boutique, Hudson Beach Glass, and others.

Set in Poughkeepsie, Beacon and other Hudson Valley locations, this story follows that of a dancer, Skye Rhodan, as she struggles to find her footing in her dancing career while she's torn between two men - her ex, Ryan, and her new dance partner and widower with two children, Michael.

Stream it here >

"Homeland" Episode 8 Season 6 With Quinn Airs, Starring Key Food Beacon

 Photo Credit: Key Food Beacon

Photo Credit: Key Food Beacon

The much-buzzed about episode of "Homeland" filmed in Beacon, Season 6 Episode 8, titled "Alt.Truth" has finally hit TV and streaming computer screens on March 12, 2017. In this episode, Quinn fans get their fill of the actor as he meanders through the meat section of Key Food, past Beacon's own local celebrity and Key Food co-owner/manager, JB, and onto spotting a suspicious man at checkout.

Watch it here on Showtime.

Movie Theater Coming Soon To Beacon In A Historic Building Near You

The construction office of Highview Development Corporation is covered in layers of white pages of blueprints, dusty artifacts collected from the project on the other side of the door, and yellow sawdust blown in from the demolition going on just beyond that door. The room has the feeling of a temporary office setup, one you might see in a portable trailer parked alongside a construction site. But the wall opposite the room's door is lined in windows that overlook Main Street, as this office is on the second floor of the dilapidated Beacon Theatre, at 445 Main Street. 

Rumors have been circulating about the fate of this historic building, which sits in the heart of what was apparently known as "Theatre Square." [3/6/17 Edit: The name "Theatre Square" is referenced to in Wikipedia at the time of the research period for this article, the week of 2/20/17, and still needs to be validated.]

Though it survived bulldozers of urban renewal, the building closed as a full-time theater in 1968. Tenants over the years have included a church group - who painted the walls purple and installed purple seats - as well as a company offering private rentals to store roofing materials, and for a moment, an actual theater company. That company, 4th Wall Theatrical Productions, initially bought the theater from then-holder, The Ehrlich Company, who previously owned several other buildings in Beacon including The Roundhouse and One East Main.

When restoration costs became too high for the theater company, 4th Wall approached one of its board members, Robert McAlpine, who owned the construction company doing the renovation work on the Beacon Theatre, to see if he was interested in buying it. Robert's son Brendan McAlpine, a lawyer turned developer hailing from Long Island, DC, NYC and now Beacon, stepped in to put together a financing deal to purchase the building from the theater company. The revamped vision for the historic site included new apartments. Some Beacon residents were resistant to such a plan. 

After months of Planning Board meetings and expansive revisions to initial plans, the dust has cleared a bit. What has emerged is a mixed-use project made up of a movie theater, a concession stand serving delicious beer and wine (movie ticket not required), and rental apartments. Harry's Hot Sandwiches and By A Thin Thread will remain tenants in the building's street-level storefronts. One could surmise that Brendan was consumed so much by the history of the building while working in the office, that the building dust got into his blood, leading him to change course on his renovation plans and more deeply incorporate a restoration of sorts on the theater, which once showed "photo-plays" in the 1930s.

The Players

There are four partners in this movie theater project: Brendan McAlpine, Mike Burdge, Jason Schuler and Scott Brenner, each bringing different expertise to the table. After I met with them last week to get a hard-hat tour of the building, I had a few follow-up questions for Brendan. His reply: "I’m happy to talk all day about this exciting project."

Mike Burdge,
Story Screen
Photo Credit: Story Screen

Jason Schuler, Drink More Good
Photo Credit:
Drink More Good

Scott Brenner, Drink More Good
Photo Credit: The Molecule Project

Brendan McAlpine, Highview Development Corporation
Photo Credit: HVDC

Brendan's first concepts of the building's renovation included apartments, as well as a space to be used in a variety of ways. "A big part of the building hasn’t been in real use in a long time," says Brendan. "When I looked at the project, it was important to me to keep it an arts or community space. But it was vital that the project didn’t fail." Brendan looked into theater business models, and found that, "Generally speaking, entities that are theaters tend to not have cash flow and support loans. Pretty much, any theater you see has a public component of financing for it. Those that do not, tend to not last very long. The way to make it work was to shrink it down and have the other components to it. That’s why we came to this mixed-use approach with the rental apartments and event space."

At the end of the day, Brendan wanted to bring in movie and food professionals to partner on the project - namely Mike Burdge, Jason Schuler and Scott Brenner - who know the performance and food spaces well. Each currently runs his own business: Mike, from Beacon, started Story Screen; Jason, a native of Hopewell Junction, founded Drink More Good; and Scott, who descended from Plainview, NY, is a partner at Drink More Good

Pop-Up Movie Theater Gets Permanent Home

Over the past few years, you may have caught wind of Story Screen, the pop-up movie experience started by Mike Burdge. It first took place in his apartment, then in other people's homes, then at Jason Schuler and Scott Brenner's Drink More Good storefront on Main Street. Most recently, you may have caught a show at other restaurants, like Stock Up and Oak Vino. Story Screen will now have a permanent home at The Beacon Theatre, supported by a creative concession stand and bar in the main lobby. You can expect to find Drink More Good's Root Beer there, along with other signature cocktails and must-have popcorn.

The Big Tease...Story Screen confirms rumors and unveils concept.
Photo Credit: Story Screen

Says Mike about the pop-up movie model: "I would take over a restaurant's space after business hours, license the films, and turn the space into a make-shift theater for one night." Mike's initial movie night showed "Groundhog Day" and was hosted at The Main Squeeze, a juice bar he managed just off of Main Street. Next he did a Beacon Horror Show, and a few screenings at Drink More Good. "Those went over so well, that we decided to do a Christmas one, and those did so well, that we set up a screen and a better sound system." Jason and Scott felt the movie experience fit with their brand. "We saw the importance of this nomadic pop-up theater, and we incorporated it into our space (Drink More Good) to bring it a permanent home," says Jason. 

To be a part of its renovation now, to bring it back to life, that’s a really cool, cool, cool, cool thing. I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it.
— Mike Burdge, Story Screen

When Brendan reached out to the trio to consider a renovated theater with a big screen and stadium seating, the movie experience makers said yes. "I’m from Beacon," says Mike. "The Beacon Theater has never been open and operational in the way that it could be since I've lived here. I am a huge movie buff. I love stories. To have a gigantic theater that is just sitting there and not doing anything was really sad. My friends used to own the coffee shop that is now the After Eden antique shop, and we would watch movies behind the shop out back in the parking lot. We could see the inside of the theater while we watched movies outside. It was just weird. I thought about using the theater, but then I found out how much money it would take to renovate it. To be a part of its renovation now, to bring it back to life, that’s a really cool, cool, cool, cool thing. I’m getting goosebumps just talking about it."

Blueprints and visions for the marquee of The Beacon Theatre.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Places! Places!

Initially, the theater was set to be on the second floor of the building. However, it kept feeling "not quite right" to the partners. How would there be a movie theater upstairs, and an amazing concession area downstairs? As the partners mulled it over, it became clear that the only way to proceed was to put the theater on the first floor. It was pricey, and involved a 17-foot excavation of the ground beneath the theater. "It meant we had to pour concrete walls, beams, soundproof walls to a crazy degree," says Brendan. "Costs did go up, but in the end, I think we will all be much happier with the results."

The decision left the partners with more than just a better flow of foot traffic, it legitimized the theater. "What became clear was, when the theater is on the first floor, it has legacy. What we have gained is the historical purpose," exclaims Jason. "We worked really hard to keep the community aspect in the model, and this flow of how people will come in will help ensure that."

History of The Beacon Theatre

The site for the theater was originally known as the Dibble House (as explored in A Little Beacon Blog's Beacon Restaurant and Bar article) which included a roller skating rink in 1886. According to Wikipedia and the Beacon Historical Society, the Dibble House "was torn down in 1927 with plans to construct a new and modernized theater that would be large enough to accommodate larger crowds for the rise of films, known then as 'photo-plays.' "

 Brendan Mcalpine holds a poster that had been lifted out of a wall of the Theater during demolition. The Wonder Bar was a well-known jazz bar on the second floor of the theater. Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Brendan Mcalpine holds a poster that had been lifted out of a wall of the Theater during demolition. The Wonder Bar was a well-known jazz bar on the second floor of the theater.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

The Great Depression stuck, and stalled the development for six years. The theater reopened in 1934 and was an immediate hotspot, serving moviegoers, performers, and regulars of the Wonder Bar, a favorite night spot of World War II soldiers stationed at the Army Air Corps Base at Stewart Field.

The soldiers took the ferry across from Newburgh and hopped on a bus up Main Street to listen to jazz bands perform out on the marquee, according to an article from the Beacon Free Press. Dated June 12, 1985, the profile piece captures memories from Ann McCabe Hanlon, whose father co-opened the Wonder Bar. "Many romances started there," recalls Hanlon in the article. The space's interior was a red coral, had a dance floor in the center, and a bar that curled around the room in an L-shape. The chef, named Wong, was even imported from New York City. The restaurant was open until 1950. 

The Scene and Screens 

The next incarnation of The Beacon Theatre includes plans for three screens. Two of those will have stadium seating, with "plush and cushy" chairs. One will have 85 seats, and a small screening room next to it will seat 25. An open floor-plan private screening room that can hold 50 people will not have chairs fixed to the floor, and will be available as a rentable event space to be used for various purposes: birthday parties, yoga classes, a big meeting, anything.

The movies you can expect to see at The Beacon Theatre will be ones you can catch at a Regal Cinema, and indie movies as well. The lobby/bar area will be the upscale concession stand that serves cocktails, beer and wine. In fact, the partners intend for patrons to be able to hang there without ever seeing a movie. This is Jason's area of expertise, being a professional barkeeper and cocktail designer, as well as a creator of after-hours experiences. (Most notably to Beaconites, he produced Ella's After Hours, which boasted delicious flatbread pizzas, other appetizers and creative cocktails at Ella's Bellas.) 

renovation work includes refurbishing these Lights and original sconces from the walls of the Beacon Theatre. Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Says Mike about the availability of movies in Beacon: "There are tons of music and art galleries. Those areas have been created and preserved here, but not films." While the increasing number of moviemakers who live in the Hudson Valley and in Beacon has prompted such business creations as the rental house and production studio CineHub and The Beacon Independent Film Festival, there was no permanent home for a big movie screen. 

Speaking of preservation, some elements of the original theater are being refurbished, while others no longer exist. Among objects being restored are the light sconces, which will be cleaned up and returned to their original elegant state. A sconce hangs on the wall in the picture below, ready to illuminate the ornate details.

Old and older clash: Original sconces from the theater remain on the purple walls, which were painted by tenants running a church. they also installed purple chairs.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

"When businesses open up in Beacon, they are expected to bring something community-based, artisanal-based," says Mike. Scott chimes in: "We are all community-oriented people, which is how this project came together in the first place." Before we head downstairs to tour the raw excavation and leveled dirt that is currently the stadium seating, Jason offers a final reflection on the project: "Anything that opens in Beacon needs to be raising the bar. Our focus is on what [the community can] expect from the theater."

Nailing down an opening date is always tricky with construction projects, so keep your eye on this one, and think spring or summer. The partners won't reveal an exact open date, but Brendan is sure of one thing: "We have a couple of cool surprises that we want people to discover."

When you smell the popcorn as you walk by, you'll know they are ready.

Renovated Beacon Hotel Restaurant Opens and Shines New Light From Main Street’s East End

The wind whistled through the newly installed windows on the third floor of The Beacon Hotel last Wednesday afternoon under clouds threatening snow. Down on the first floor, newly hired staff buzzed busily around The Beacon Hotel Restaurant, hustling to get ready for their first dinner service, set to start Friday evening at 5 pm. It will be the first time the hotel has been renovated and open to the public in decades. 

This massive project is another feather in the cap of Beacon development visionaries like the Sauers, the McAlpines, and so many others. Business owners in this city have a long tradition of renting once-shoddy storefronts and building them out: Beacon Bread Company (remodeled a dilapidated diner), Beacon Dental (outfitted offices in questionable neighborhood), Giannetta Salon & Spa, and so many more. They breathe fresh air into the city by transforming once-forgotten buildings and giving them new life for the people of the Hudson Valley - and a longer life for the history books.

 The Hotel in 1877, when owned by Warren S. Dibble. Photo Credit:  The Beacon Historical Society

The Hotel in 1877, when owned by Warren S. Dibble.
Photo Credit: The Beacon Historical Society

Most people around town know this hotel as the location of SRO (single-room occupancy) apartments on the East End of Main Street, contributing to a kind of "no-man's land" feeling of limited business activity in the area. That has gradually decreased as businesses and real estate pioneers have moved in and renovated buildings throughout Beacon.  

Originally built in the 1870s, this hotel is no stranger to entrepreneurial visionaries. Warren S. Dibble bought the property in 1877, creating 75 rooms; amenities included a horse stable. Across the street he built a roller rink, which he turned into The Dibble Opera House, as illustrated in the book Historic Beacon. "Some of the most famous actors of the nineteenth century entertained Matteawan's elite and Mr. Dibble's hotel guests," according to Celebrating Our Centennial, Beacon at 100, the historical reference book published by the Beacon Historical Society. In fact, rumor has it that there is a secret passageway under Main Street connecting the hotel to the theater, so that actors could quickly get from one place to the other. The Beacon Theatre that stands today is currently being renovated into luxury apartments. The entertainment scene has changed considerably since the heyday of the theater and Mount Beacon's Incline Railway. (The railway carried 3.5 million people to the top of Mount Beacon during its years of operation, according to Celebrating Our Centennial.)

Local Entrepreneurs Bring Back The Beacon Hotel and Restaurant

Enter the new owners: Alla Kormilitsyna, a renovator of townhouses in New York City, and Greg and Evey Trautman, veteran renovators of restaurants around the corner from their previous home in Prospect Heights in Brooklyn (Olmsted and Plan B). They, with another partner, purchased the hotel from the estate of Ritchie Rogers after he passed in 2014. For Greg and Evey, who have since moved to Beacon, having a comfortable restaurant around the corner is important: "We loved having a local restaurant near where we lived and contributing to the community." After moving to Beacon, they got the itch to dive into restaurant renovation again. "We loved the history of Beacon and the fact that the hotel was the oldest running hotel in Beacon, dating back to the Dibble House. With Alla's construction knowledge and get-it-done spirit, we knew we [would be] able to reinvent the space to bring back its glory."

CO-OWNER EVEY TRAUTMAN SITS IN THE NEWLY LIT BOOTH OF THE BEACON HOTEL RESTAURANT, ONE OF MANY PROJECTS HEADED FOR A SWIFT FINISH DAYS BEFORE THE RESTAURANT'S GRAND OPENING.
PHOTO CREDITS: KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN

The Food -  Get To The Food Part!

The kitchen team at The Beacon Hotel Restaurant, preparing for the weekend's opening.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

Right - so, as you know, eating in Beacon is getting more delicious by the month. (We track it here in ALBB's Restaurant Guide). Those who were missing the creative culinary creations of Matt Hutchins, former co-owner and original executive chef of The Hop, can order from his carefully crafted menu once again. His dishes delighted critics from the neighborhood to The New York Times, while his commitment to feeding the cravings of community strengthened his relationship with the people of Beacon: "I love to play with food, but more importantly I love how it can bring people together," he says. 

Executive Chef Matt Hutchins is back in the kitchen in Beacon, creating dishes you'll remember forever.
Photo Credit: Evey Trautman

Matt studied in Berkeley, CA, "where 'California-Mediterranean' is a thing," he says, and attended the Culinary Institute of America. He calls his culinary style partially “Hudson Valley-Mediterranean.” Having grown up in North Florida, Matt says those roots deeply influence him as well. In Florida, he says,  "many cultures come into play, from Mexican to Caribbean, Deep South to Cajun. I have been passionate about locality in food sourcing, and nose-to-tail cooking, for I strive to utilize every part of an animal I can to honor that animal’s life (and death)."

From the menu, you can expect to see dishes that will change with the seasons. This season, look for Pork Belly and Scallops, Beet Tartare, and Cuttlefish and Clams. For your main dish, look for the Grilled Duck Breast, Beef Tenderloin, Chestnut Lasagne, among others. And save room, of course, for the Peanut Butter Pie and New York Apple Beignets. 

The Decor - What Will It Look Like?

Beautiful. Industrial. Like you'll want to settle in and stay all night. The team was inspired by Beacon's history and mandated that the atmosphere reflect it. They tapped local architect Aryeh Siegel, well-known for creating the uplifting look of Main Street Beacon through his work on several buildings including The Roundhouse, the Beacon Lofts, pieces of the galleries in Dia: Beacon, and other residential and business projects. 

As for the interior direction, the team approached Clodagh Design, a design firm based in New York City, yet calls Beacon home. "When owners Alla and Greg selected our studio to capture the spirit of Beacon in their Beacon Hotel Bar and Restaurant, we jumped on the opportunity with huge enthusiasm," Clodagh says. "My love affair with Beacon started over 14 years ago after purchasing property in Beacon in 2003 with my husband Daniel Aubry, Beacon artist and realtor. The wonderfully tight community and necklace of fabulous restaurants and music venues makes it a great place for a quiet night dining or out on the town, with each establishment offering different experiences."

In keeping with the instinct to tie the look to Beacon's past and manufacturing history, Clodagh designed using a reclaimed and industrial theme. The tables were crafted by After the Barn, using joists found in the original hotel, and several decorative objects were sourced from the Beacon Flea and local antiques shops. Effort was made to join the space in the front - the storefront windows are bi-fold and will be open in the spring and summer months - with the garage door in the back of the restaurant, to encourage a breeze all the way through the restaurant. Add to that a double fireplace between the back patio and inside party room, to supply cozy ambiance inside and out.

BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS OF THE RESTAURANT AS EVERYONE PREPARED DAYS BEFORE THE OPENING.
PHOTO CREDITS: ALL BY KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN, EXCEPT THE LOWER RIGHT WITH DINERS (PHOTO CREDIT: KIMBERLY COCCAGNIA)

Behind the Scenes of a Restaurant and Hotel Renovation and Build

This scene could be one from a musical about the makings of a restaurant, but it is co-owner Alla wiping shelves in preparation for a walk-through by people who were getting sneak peeks of the restaurant before it opened.
Photo Credit: Katie Hellmuth Martin

If you're a longtime reader of A Little Beacon Blog, you know that we live for behind-the-scene stories. We want to see the prep work and learn how people got to be doing what they are doing. Co-owner Alla met with me days before the opening to answer a few questions for this article. "Come!" she said. "Let's meet in the bathroom. It's quiet." Every single aspect of this restaurant is brand-new, so it's not like a management office is ready yet, and there were people literally in every corner - bartenders arranging bottles of wine and spirits, electricians in closets I didn't even notice until I saw their flashlights moving, her partner Greg outside ripping off the white plastic coating from the new front doors, and Matt and the kitchen staff breaking down large boxes once they were unpacked.

The space for the hotel was completely gutted to become what visitors see today. The upstairs hotel rooms, accessible only by stairs winding through the towers (the ultimate walk-up!), remain under construction. Phase 1 is slated to open with 12 rooms, one of which, "Hikers Haven," will offer bunk beds and is aimed at being a comfortable resting spot for locals and day-trippers who want an inspiring night on the town. 

ROOM WITH VIEWS.
LEFT: THE START TO THE TOTAL RENOVATION OF WHAT WILL SOON BE A HOTEL ROOM OVERLOOKING MAIN STREET.
RIGHT: VIEW OF MOUNT BEACON AND THE BEACON THEATRE FROM MAIN STREET-FACING ROOMS IN THE HOTEL'S TOWERS.
PHOTO CREDIT: KATIE HELLMUTH MARTIN

Says Alla, a master renovator of townhouses: "The facade was restored to the original state, and extreme measures were taken to structurally reinforce the building. We did create an entirely new facade of the first-floor restaurant, with the bi-fold windows in the front that will be open during the spring and summer."

When asked about the unexpected challenges of restoring this building, Alla mentioned several: "Site-work to take care of the storm water, running electrical and gas lines. The sprinkler and fire alarm system were very difficult. The Ansul system, which carries the smoke from the stovetop out of the kitchen, was very difficult to run out of the kitchen to the rooftop. You can see the Ansul running up the back brick wall of the patio."

If you've driven past any of these renovation projects (another hotel and spa is currently under construction on the West End of town, near the clothing boutique Nella's Bellas), you will see that they involve a lot of people, and if everything is going smoothly, the site always has something going on. We asked Alla what it's like having a renovation project as your full-time job: "It is all-consuming and takes over your life. Given the complexity of the project, you are on-call 24/7. There is constant managing of construction workers, buying supplies, and creating your timeline to open. Essentially, this is three projects in one: the construction of the hotel rooms, the restaurant, and the creation of the business."

The restaurant will be open for dinner only on most days (check their website for updates), and at some point soon will include a Sunday brunch. We wish everyone involved the best moving forward, and we look forward to cozying into one of the tables to order culinary happiness.

www.tbhbeacon.com

Historic Silent Auction of Hat Art Sends Off Beacon Historical Society

If you ever wanted to know what it's been like over the years to live in Beacon, just visit the current one-room archive of the Beacon Historical Society. The entire collection resides in the Howland Cultural Center, but will soon move to its new home at 17 South Ave., in the white house that is the former rectory of St. Andrew’s Church. "New home" is the key phrase here, as the society is getting ready to move beyond the single room it has occupied in the Howland Cultural Center - it literally is filled to the ceiling with this region's history. The volunteers, members and supporters of the Beacon Historical Society have been working for months, this fall especially, to fundraise for the new lease, which allows them to expand even more.

This Saturday is the highly anticipated auction of more than 50 hat silhouettes from over 50 artists, all using wood cutout hats as the canvas to depict Beacon’s past and present. The idea is similar to Newburgh's Lightbulb project: In its third year, participation has grown from 48 artists to 94 making art out of plywood lightbulb forms to connect art and awareness of the city's history. The remarkable hats on this side of the river, as well as goods from local businesses, will be offered at a silent auction to benefit the society. Members of the public will be able to view, and, if they wish, bid on the pieces of art this Saturday from 1 to 5 pm at the Howland Cultural Center. The hats will be on display throughout November, at which point the winning bidders can take home their art.

 My own hat, a collage of newspaper articles from the first newspaper printed in Beacon in 1913, and clips from 1930s editions of The Beacon News. Clips were photographed from the Beacon Historical Society's collection of bound newspapers and color-printed at Accuprint, then glued onto the board.

My own hat, a collage of newspaper articles from the first newspaper printed in Beacon in 1913, and clips from 1930s editions of The Beacon News. Clips were photographed from the Beacon Historical Society's collection of bound newspapers and color-printed at Accuprint, then glued onto the board.

The Beacon Historical Society has kept track of the happenings of this region for centuries. It safeguards rare records of moments in history, such as a 1769 Rombout Precinct Tax List and copies of Civil War pension records, Beacon Incline Railway tickets, school notebooks, uniform buttons, operating records from Highland Hospital, and so much more, as described by Alison Rooney in her January 2016 article in the Highlands Current.

Inside the One-Room Collection

The society's collection fills every inch of the walls and carefully packed drawers and bins, and society members know where everything is. Upstairs in the library of the Howland are the bound books of The Beacon News, the paper so fine that it now disintegrates at the edges, requiring gloves and a proper lifting technique to turn the pages.

Robert Murphy, president of the Beacon Historical Society since 1998, has written its story-filled newsletter since 1981.

Robert (Bob) Murphy is the longtime president of the Beacon Historical Society and 2015 recipient of the Dutchess Award, presented by the Dutchess County Historical Society. He knows where every single historical item is, and is happy to show you exactly where to find it - like these volumes of The Beacon News that he allowed me and possibly others to photograph. (There are a few newspaper-based hat collages on display this weekend!)

Up these stairs and around the top narrow balcony, you'll find the volumes of newspapers...

Pass the lady on display in the current art show, and head to the end of the hall to find the newspapers.

Pretty soon, more pictures like this will have more wall space to fill at the Beacon Historical Society's new home.

About The Hats - One Could Be Yours!

Diane Lapis, a trustee of the Beacon Historical Society, has been exceptionally inspired by the exhibit: "Standing in front of the wood-decorated hats by local artists at the Howland Cultural Center, one is drawn to the hat designed by Victoria Raabin, entitled, 'Me Encanta la Forma Que Se,' loosely translated as 'I love the way you look.' It sums up the spirit that these artists brought to the Beacon Historical Society’s 40th anniversary 'Hats Off' exhibit and celebration. One can feel the artists' 'love' of Beacon, as it is seen today, and in our collective memory."

Each artist needed to supply an artist statement about their hat. Not all participants are artists in the traditional or professional sense. We have randomly selected a few hats to highlight, but you'll see many more when you visit (and place a bid!) this Saturday.

In typical form, Theresa Kraft thought “outside the box” or literally “inside the box” and put her hat in a frame. Beacon memorabilia from The Evening News’ reporter Dick Shea’s personal collection surrounds the hat. The piece is an assemblage of local newspaper clippings, brochures, and film negatives, alongside a scrapbook with more than 50 original black-and-white photos from the 1950s, complete with Shea's crop marks. This hat is a tribute to Mr. Shea and the City of Beacon, from Shea’s point of view through his camera lens and words - the insider.

Samantha Beste is a painter of city scenes. Beacon has inspired her to branch out into mixed media. It has been a pleasure for her to “mix it up” in this city.

Rebecca Finlay's "Tails" is a mythological hat inspired by the Hudson River. This artist considers what the river may have been like in the past… clean and full of life as the mermaid's tail suggests.

 

Karen Meyer has always loved working with her hands. Most of the time, that translates into her daytime job as a Licensed Massage Therapist. She had so much fun creating her entry for the "Hats Off" project. Her creativity is rekindled and she is anxious to get back into making art, mainly jewelry and multimedia pieces. 

As a longtime resident of Beacon, Anne Forman appreciates the Historical Society and looks forward to the monthly newsletters. She has always loved to draw and paint, and majored in art education. She finds joy in living and teaching in Beacon, especially when she sees former students who recall past projects.  To Anne, that is a great feeling!

Brenda Murnane has lived in Beacon since 1993. She has made a wonderful life here with her family and grown a wonderful soap business, Beacon Bath and Bubble. Beacon is near and dear to her.

Insun Kim has lived in the Hudson Valley since 1987. She discovered a love of nature through landscape painting and remains fascinated by it.  She has been building trees out of nails for 11 years. “To me, trees are beautiful with or without leaves changing in appearance throughout the seasons, in color, fruiting bodies, and structure. Just as every person has their own story to tell, the trees speckled throughout our community and those surrounding it have stories of their own.”

Getting Involved With Beacon's History

You can donate to and join the Beacon Historical Society at any time. It is how you will get delivery of their famed monthly newsletter, which shares stories of Beacon.

Original hats on display that were made in Beacon.