New church rises where old one once stood

Standing in the sanctuary of the new Canaan Congregational Church are congregation members (l to r) Martha Lagerwall, Jay Aronson, Brian Clark, Rev. Charles Close, Tom Platten. Photo by Peter Flierl

CANAAN—A fire on November 6, 2017 destroyed the 190-year-old brick Canaan Congregational Church, despite the response mounted by 10 local fire companies. Two years later, after much hard work and planning, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, a new church will begin to hold services for congregants and friends starting Sunday, December 15 at 10 a.m.

During a visit after Sunday services held at the Canaan Fire Station, the pastor, Rev. Charles Close, and congregants led a tour of the new church. Stepping into the sanctuary where worship services will be held, the view is crisp, elegant, soothing. The window, which would be behind an altar traditionally, brings in nature.

Ann Vivian, a principal in the architectural firm of Guillot Vivian Viehmann (GVV) in Burlington, VT, was the designer. She specializes in churches and faith based structures. She is a graduate of the Andover Newton Seminary, now associated with Yale, where she studied sacred arts. She is active in the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art, and Architecture and a member of the Fellowship of Architects of the United Church of Christ (UCC). Read more…

Job shuffles leave Hudson shy 2 school administrators

HUDSON–City School District (HCSD) officials are so good that everybody wants them, Supervisor Maria L. Suttmeier told the Board of Education meeting last month.

This year the HCSD has experienced a turnover of high-profile staff, including three administrators leaving during school session for “higher” positions in other districts. “It’s hard to turn down a central office job,” Dr. Suttmeier noted on December 4. The changes opened administrative positions, some of which the HCSD filled quickly. But others, as of December 4, remained open.

One change in widely-known officials was announced over the summer and is still forthcoming, because Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds George Keeler said he will retire some time in 2020, though the date is not set. Last July, in anticipation of this change, the school board presented James Boyle, newly hired as head of maintenance, to work with Mr. Keeler, in preparation for taking over Mr. Keeler’s position when the time comes. Mr. Boyle is glad to have Mr. Keeler as a “sounding board,” Dr. Suttmeier said. Read more…

His lens has a wide angle

HUDSON–Photographer Jacob Elbaz’s gallery at 711 Warren Street displays Mr. Elbaz’s photographs, along with paintings, drawings and photographs by a variety of artists in a variety of styles. The gallery is part of the Three Rivers Art Project, a not-for-profit corporation Mr. Elbaz started in 2015 for the purpose of providing Middle Eastern artists with funds, supplies and resources, promoting their artwork and fostering opportunities for them to meet American artists, art collectors, and arts representatives. It has three branches: Sde Nehemiah in northern Israel, 77 Mercer Street in Manhattan, and Warren Street.

Mr. Elbaz, a dual citizen of Israel and Canada and a permanent resident of the United States, was born in Morocco in 1945 and moved to Israel when he was about 8. There, he spent most of his youth on Kibbutz Sde Nehemiah, where three rivers meet. Dyslexia made reading difficult for him. But his first girlfriend’s father was a photographer and awakened in him an interest in photography.

Shortly after completing his compulsory military service as a paratrooper, Mr. Elbaz bought a camera and took pictures as an amateur. “I taught myself. I never studied photography or art in an institutionalized way,” he says in a book about his pictures. Read more…

Re-re-re-review, but no vote yet on GRJH

COPAKE—A decision on the GRJH, Inc. application to build a gas station/convenience store in Craryville may happen in the foreseeable future.

The matter is before the Copake Planning Board for site plan review. At the board’s December 5 meeting, a majority of board members voted to finally close the public hearing that has been lingering for more than two years.

The site for the controversial proposal is on the northwest corner of the state Route 23, county Route 7 and Craryville Road four-way intersection, between the Craryville Post Office to the west and the Craryville United Methodist Church to the east. Craryville is a hamlet in the northwest part of the Town of Copake. Read more…

Columbia County History: County’s 19th century poor and ‘insane’

SOCIETIES’ TREATMENT of their unfortunates is an old and usually sad story. In 1972 TV reporter Geraldo Rivera dealt with this in a shocking report on conditions in Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School, which housed children with intellectual disabilities. As Mr. Rivera and others reported, its residents were housed in filthy conditions and sometimes subjected to physical and sexual abuse.

New York State’s earliest attempt (as a state) to care for its poor and mentally ill came via a 1784 law mandating that each town elect two overseers of the poor to distribute money to the needy. Subsequently, an 1824 law attempted to promote more regulated humane treatment of the state’s unfortunates. County Boards of Supervisors had to purchase land on which to construct tax funded poorhouses. From a contemporary perspective, several of the law’s provisions, including use of solitary confinement to deal with difficult inmates, would be quite controversial. Also, although inmates were denied voice in the decision, they could be farmed out to private, outside employers. The employers had to give suitable support for such persons. This was not slavery, but it was arguably close to it.

The county’s first poorhouse, a part of which was a farm, was established in 1830 in Ghent. In 1857 the racially segregated facility was the subject of a comprehensive report which noted that it consisted of a brick main building and some two-story wooden ones, all unventilated. Paupers occupied 18 rooms of the main house, which was warmed by stoves. The basements were occupied as kitchens, etc. Also, a 204-acre farm, yielding an annual revenue of $1,400 was connected with the almshouse. Read more…