STAATSBURG – In recognition of Independence Day, Staatsburgh State Historic Site will offer its “Slavery, Segregation and Staatsburgh” program, exploring themes of race, freedom and citizenship, based on recent research on the history of Staatsburgh. Join historical interpreter Zachary Veith for a conversation about the long road from slavery to freedom taken by black men, women and children against the backdrop of the Staatsburgh estate, built by the son of a signatory of the declaration of Independence. In addition to this special program, the site will be open for mansion tours on July 4th.
“Slavery, Segregation & Staatsburgh” will also be offered at 1 p.m. on July 9 and 17. The program is free, but reservations are required at www.bookeo.com/StaatsburghSHS. Visits to mansions can also be booked on the Bookeo website: admission is charged on arrival for visits. Visitors can also enjoy a stroll or picnic by the Hudson River, or hike along wooded trails in adjacent Mills and Norrie State Parks.
July 4, 1827 marks the official end of slavery in New York City. It has been celebrated by generations of black New Yorkers as Freedom Day. Yet 25 years later, the famous black activist Frederick Douglass asked, “What is the 4th of July to the slave?
Staatsburgh’s founder, Governor Morgan Lewis, son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, enslaved people of African descent in Staatsburgh. Yet when his great-granddaughter, Ruth Livingston Mills, lived in Staatsburgh at the turn of the 20th century, the staff were exclusively white and of European descent. At the same time, a free black community was able to develop and prosper in the surrounding hamlet.
Veith will show photographs and historical documents related to the paradoxes of American independence, including a letter from the Staatsburgh Archives detailing Morgan Lewis’ sale of enslaved Peter Williams to John Jay.
“Slavery, Segregation & Staatsburgh” and the Staatsburgh blog series, Enslaved & In Service, are featured as part of the State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation’s “Our Whole History” initiative from New York, which aims to explore Indigenous, Black and LGBTQ+ people. , and more untold stories at historic sites across the state. “All Our History” seeks to bring a more balanced historical narrative to public awareness, enriching both the history of our state and the stories we share through the OPRHP system. Through ongoing research and new interpretations, the OPRHP seeks to create an environment that is more inclusive, more representative of our multicultural past, and welcoming to all.
Staatsburgh was the fall residence of Ruth Livingston Mills, a prominent figure in the New York Society, and her husband, the industrialist and philanthropist Ogden Mills. When the mansion was redesigned in 1895 by famed architect Stanford White, it was the lavish party setting for the elite of the Gilded Age Society.
The lives of the servants whose labor made this opulent setting possible are showcased through programs and exhibits alongside the lives of the Mills family.
Staatsburgh State Historic Site and Ogden Mills & Ruth Livingston Mills Memorial State Park is located on Old Post Road in Staatsburg, off Route 9 between Rhinebeck and Hyde Park. The historic site is one of 6 sites and 15 parks administered by the New York State Taconic Region Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. For more information, call 845-889-8851 or visit the Staatsburgh websites at Parks.NY.gov, Facebook and Blogger. Staatsburgh events are listed on Parks.NY.gov/Events.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails and boat launches, which were visited by a record 78 .4 million people in 2021. A recent academic study found that spending by state parks and its visitors generates $5 billion in production and sales, 54,000 private sector jobs and more than $2.8 billion dollars of additional GDP for the state. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, connect on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. The free New York State Parks Explorer mobile app is available for iOS and Android devices. To download, visit: Google Play Store, NY State Parks Explorer App or Apple Store, NY State Parks Explorer App.