| Tappantown Historical Society Annual Meeting
November 3, 2017
President’s Annual Report for 2017
Good evening and welcome to the 52nd annual meeting of the
Tappantown Historical Society. I am Carol LaValle, president of the
society. On behalf of the THS board of directors, thank you for coming
tonight and for all your help in ensuring that we are successful in fulfilling
our mission of education and preservation. A successful year such as
this one is not possible without the support of our members and
volunteers, collaboration with other community organizations and
historic societies, and a committed board of directors. They are Tom
LaValle, Joe Napoli, Marilyn Schauder, Jackie Shatz, and Keith Walker.
Officers are Vice presidents John Morton and Chris Gremski; Treasurer
Michael Fiorentino; Recording Secretary Barbara Jones, and
Corresponding Secretary Betsy Walker.
Particular thanks go to Jackie Shatz, who, after many years of
sound advice, and hard work at the candle table on Colonial Day and in
the Thrift Shop, is leaving the board at the end of her term in December.
Many people contribute to preservation and education in a variety of
ways, so it is a great pleasure to recognize these contributions at our
Annual Preservation Awards dinner in February. The 2017 awards went
In March, in collaboration with the Tappan Reformed Church, we
offered a free concert: Rockland County composer Denman Maroney’s
opera Claudius Smith, which tells the story of the legendary Tory outlaw
known as the “Cowboy of the Ramapos,” during the revolution.
The Memorial Day Parade was, indeed, a memorable event, even
though the parade never got under way. A deluge broke minutes before
the parade was scheduled to begin, but our Fife and Drummer, Erik
Lichek and Peter Kutul, respectively, were here. Reverend Hoover
opened the doors of the Tappan Reformed Church for the memorial
service and the VFAT and American Legion were piped in by Erik and
Peter. After the ceremony, they remained to play a medley of timely
Developing and maintaining the local history room in the Tappan
Library is a major commitment. Over the year, local historian Ken Kral
continued organizing our archives so that much of our material is
available to the general public upon request. Once all of our material is
organized, we will begin digitizing our records. With that goal in mind,
Betsy Walker and Larry Vail met with representatives of a digitizing firm
to explore what the process entails and how THS might use this
technology. Just working with old fashioned technology of books and
paper archives, we have helped several students with research projects,
one on the history of the ’76 House and another on the identities of
members of the Bogert family buried in a small family cemetery in Pearl
River. Most recently, we helped with a history scavenger hunt organized
by the Orangetown Museum for Dominican College students. Another
way we help students is with our THS Scholarship for Excellence in US
History. This year, TZHS senior Daniel Henry received the $500.00 award.
Keeping our commitment to the library to offer programs, we sponsored
a talk by Marilyn Schauder that augmented a pictorial history of the Dutch
Settlement of NY that was on display for two months in the library.
Another on-going project is the improvement of the Tappan
Memorial Park. Parks and Recreation Superintendent Aric Gorton met
with a group of board members in May to walk the park and review what
was needed. The flow of water from the pond to the brook has improved,
more gravel has been added to the pathways, some brush has been
cleared, and there is a new garbage can! There is more to be done, of
course, but there are very limited resources for landscaping in the town
budget. We will look into ways to help, perhaps finding grants for larger
projects, and also volunteering to help plant and maintain flowers in the
planters and beds. Other sites THS helps to maintain are the Andre
Monument and the small triangle. That little patch is hard to maintain, so
we have asked landscape architect Mary Ellen LeWarn to design a low
maintenance plan for planting that will be compatible with the designs of
the Memorial Triangle and the Library perennial beds, both of which she
designed. Once again, THS will be decorating the lamp posts on Main
Street and around the Memorial Triangle for the holiday season. You may
have noticed that as the bulbs in the lamp posts burn out, they have been
replaced by brighter LED bulbs that are not compatible with the older
bulbs. Obviously, LED lights make economic sense, and there are LEDs
now available that are softer and mellower in tone, so we are hoping to
work with the engineering department on appropriate replacements.
Colonial Day on September 23 couldn’t have been better. A fine,
autumn day brought over 800 people to the DeWint House grounds.
Begun 33 years ago on a more modest scale, Colonial Day is our major
educational event involving many reenactors, demonstrators, and
volunteers for the colonial craft tables. Along with the generous help of
the entire Jones family and long-time volunteers, we were blessed with a
quite a few new volunteers, who we hope will be back for future Colonial
Upgrading the Historic Areas Ordinance was a major goal of the
Preservation Committee, a group that included residents of Tappan,
Palisades, members of HABOR, town historian Mary Cardenas, and town
supervisor Andy Stewart and his deputy Allan Ryff. Our efforts were
partly successful. In August, the town Council approved changes that
tighten the process and waiting period for the demolition of structures in
the historic areas, and that clarify the types and sizes of signs permitted
in the historic area, especially in not allowing electronic and neon signs.
Speaking of signs, several more historic markers have been
restored and await replacement by the Orangetown Highway
Department. Also with the help of the highway department, we are
looking into having a button installed at the crosswalks in the historic
area to be able to change the lights. This would improve safety in this
crazy quilt of intersections and especially help with our walking tours.
Walking tours continue to be an important part of the THS program
for both student and adult groups. This year, Thano Schoppel and
Marilyn Schauder gave tours to 436 people: 371 from school groups (220
of them were the 4th graders from Cottage Lane) and 65 adults. Keith
Walker led two classes of Cottage Lane 4th graders on the annual Andre
Walk on October 2 that commemorates the trial and hanging of Major
Our membership in the Tappan Zee Thrift Shop is a significant help
in sustaining our efforts. Jackie Shatz and Rosie Dixon contribute many
hours to benefit THS, and recently Betsy Walker has become a
volunteer. Your donations and purchases on our behalf are another
important part of the equation, but we could use more volunteers to
spend a few hours a month helping at the shop itself.
For the coming year, we will continue our usual activities and
events, develop new programs, and most important, try to increase our
active membership. As you can see from this report, our success has
always depended on the support of our members, local businesses, and
community organizations — the Masons, The TRC, the VFAT, and the
American Legion, The Tappan Library, OLSH, the HSRC, the Orangetown
Museum, and the Town of Orangetown. Thank you.
Finally, we remember tonight two founding members of THS who
died this past year: Jane Toan and Willian Theodore “Ted” DeBary. Both
were in their nineties and had long lives enriching this community for
over 50 years. We hope to carry on their legacy and that of the many
others who formed and nurtured this organization.
Next, Michael Fiorentino will give the Treasurer’s Annual Report
The final order of business is the election of new officers and directors:
The nominees are for president, Carol LaValle; 2nd VP, Chris Gremski;
3-year director John Morton; 2- year director, Marilyn Schauder; 2 1-
year directors — Larry Vail and Joe Napoli
Are there any nominations from the floor? There being no further
nominations, will the Rec. Sec. please cast one ballot for the nominees?
Is there a second? All in favor? Opposed?
Nominations are accepted.
That concludes the business part of the meeting. After a brief pause for
refreshments, we will turn the program over to Evan Pritchard.