Terrific Weeds at the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site

Patch of Weeds 9

A couple of months ago, this large patch of weeds used to look like a few pine trees and a berry bush.  There were still some weeds around the pine trees, but in such a short amount of time, they grew into large, thick, competitive vines.  In the photograph above, the pine trees they cover are barely noticeable.

My director and I spoke about the grounds of the Brinkerhoff House Historic Site in East Fishkill, and we both agreed that this patch of weeds had been left to grow rampant for too long.  The pine trees that the vines were growing on and around were almost completely dead, and it was an ugly addition to the East Fishkill Historical Society’s beautiful property, so I decided to clear out this mess.

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A couple of days ago, I started to try and figure out what exactly in this patch of messy vegetation was salvable, and was not invasive weeds.  I was very excited to clear a small section, but something clicked when my old college buddy came over for a visit.

When my friend, Anthony Mancini, came to the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site, I gave him a tour of the Brinckerhoff House, the 1885 Carriage Barn, and the 1820 One-Room Schoolhouse.  He was pretty impressed, and mentioned that he has been recently been playing a large part in his community in Putnam County.  As a journalist, he writes articles about local history and current events.  He was always an inquisitive person.  When we started to walk back to the Brinkerhoff House, I pointed out the yard work I was in the process of finishing.  When he saw the large patch of weeds that I was working on clearing, he immediately smirked and said “Ah, you have a bad case of Oriental Bittersweet, huh?”

Patch of Weeds 7

He told me that he already wrote six different articles of the Oriental Bittersweet – how this year they are growing more rampant then ever before, and that their presence is really effecting the vegetation in the Hudson Valley.  When he left the site, I Googled “Oriental Bittersweet,” and he was right.

Everything I read about this weed made it clear that the whole entire patch of “weeds” was actually just a patch of one huge weed, the Oriental Bittersweet.  Even more surprising, was the berry bush which I thought was good looking and planted on purpose, was actually an Oriental Bittersweet itself.

Over the next several days, I have been working on clearing all the vines from the trees, and removing that “berry bush,” but here are some picture of the process.

An attacked pine tree:

Patch of Weeds 1

Half-way rescued:

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Its sad reality.  Now it can breathe. Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree:

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Cleaning up:

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Ice House Under Construction

On Tuesday morning construction began on the Ice House of the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site.  Several months ago the Ice House was moved from the property of an old farm which used to be directly across the street from the Town Hall of East Fishkill.

When it was built in the 1870’s its purpose was to store ice over the spring and summer months for the farm.  Probably for a dairy farm, this ice probably helped to keep milk cold.

Inside of the ice house will soon be an exhibit of ice harvesting and the ice industry in the Hudson Valley during the nineteenth century.   There will also be local history of the farm which the ice house came from.  Once the roof is complete, the display cases from the 1785 unfinished attic, which used to hold the Civil War diary of Richard T. Van Wyck, will be moved to the ice house to hold this new display.

Here are some pictures from Wednesday morning.  In this shot is also the red 1820 One-Room School House which was moved from where the corner of the Taconic Parkway and Beekman’s Road intersects.  Behind the tree is the ice house.

 Ice House Under Construction 1

This photograph shows the front of the ice house.   Notice how the doors go up and down the whole façade.  At the peak of the roof there is a hook in which a pulley would be used to move heavy mounds of ice and milk up and down from the shelves inside.

Ice House Under Construction 3

From this angle, behind the tree is the 1885 Carriage Barn which was moved from the “John Jay” house which was owned and occupied by Van Wyck’s for many centuries.

Ice House Under Construction 2

Renovations, Research, and Recognition

In the upcoming months, the East Fishkill Historical Society will be updating you on the renovations of the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site.  The recently moved 1870 Ice House, which was moved from across the road of Town Hall, will be getting a new roof, and the large unfinished attic will be cleared from its old display.  Once the roof of the Ice House is fixed, we will install an exhibit of the ice industry in the Hudson River Valley.

We are also due for a detailed, yet brief, update on the research of Sergeant Clinton J. Peterson of the 369th Infantry of World War I.  The resources are abundant: in newspapers, and through personal diaries and scrapbooks.  A narrative and exhibit is definitely in the works, and his personal possessions are under good care in our Collections Room.  As a matter of fact, we just ordered new archival material, such as extra large newspaper boxes to store newspapers, maps, and indenture documents.

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The East Fishkill Historical Society does not only serve as an organization which preserves our local history, but we also want to encourage those in our community, who are interested and who have time, to get involved.  Our team at the Brinckerhoff House Historic Site is active, and we are slowly receiving more and more recognition from the public and the press.  A couple of weeks ago, the Directors of Mid Hudson Historic Destinations, Roy Jorgenson, and Lynn Eberle, invited the Southern Dutchess Press to the Brinckerhoff House to talk with our Curator, Michael Barootjian, and our Director, Malcolm Mills.  A few months ago, Michael finished designing and creating a brochure for MHHD, and they launched 20,000 to 27 different historic sites and cultural centers in the Mid Hudson region.

Moving and Creating New Exhibits in the Brinckerhoff House

ImageThis is a picture of the Bailey Room in the Brinckerhoff House of the East Fishkill Historical Society.  The Board has agreed that it would be the historic site’s best interest if we made a new exhibit inside of our main building.

These two display cabinets were emptied and moved from the 1820 One-Room Schoolhouse into the Bailey Room.  Some documents of Robert Van Wyck’s war diary, from the Civil War, will be moved from the older exhibit, which is currently in the upstairs of the Brinckerhoff House. The display cases from the upstairs of the Brinckerhoff House will be moved into the newly moved Ice House.  Inside the Ice House, there will be an exhibit of the history of the Ice House, other ice houses, and the ice industry of East Fishkill (and the larger Hudson Valley).  A lot of moving around and working hard, but our goal is to have a really nice exhibit room for this summer’s season.

If you, or anyone you know, has any information on ice houses, and the local ice industry in the Hudson Valley, please contact us (or have your friends contact us) as we encourage involvement from anyone interested.