The Beacon Historical Society was formed in 1976, with a mission to preserve, procure, and present Beacon’s heritage and history. To that end, the Society’s collections contain more than 2000 items, including books, prints, documents, photographs, postcards, paintings, maps and artifacts--all relating to Beacon. Our office is located in the Howland Cultural Center, a historic building designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Society holds a monthly meeting (except in January and February) with informative slide presentations on local history on the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Howland Center. Our office is open to the public on Thursday mornings from 10 am to 12 pm, and on Saturday afternoons from 1 pm to 3 pm, with volunteers on hand to assist anyone doing research about Beacon’s history.
Postcard view of the summit of Mt. Beacon, c. 1910, with the Beaconcrest Hotel at left, the Casino, and the Powerhouse for the two cable cars. There were many summer cottages, pathways and hiking trails attracting tourists from New York City and beyond.
Henry Hudson in his ship Half Moon discovers the North River.
From its inception in 1976, when a handful of preservation-minded citizens organized into a group to save Beacon’s unique history, the Beacon Historical Society has grown into an invaluable repository of our community’s heritage. Through donations of historic photographs, treasured family scrapbooks, old business ledgers, maps, and scores of other local items, Beacon residents have made us the Community’s Attic, a room of priceless collections that hold the memories of times past, ready to reveal our city’s story. Our collections have historic items not to be found elsewhere—items like: old railroad ledgers of business correspondence from the New England Railroad; a set of photographs from the nineteenth century depicting “Wodenethe,” the grand estate of Henry W. Sargent, one of the eminent horticulturalists of America; and watercolors of local artist Alice Judson, an accomplished seascape painter of the 1920s and 1930s, and dozens of other examples. It is the goal and responsibility of our board of trustees and volunteers of the Beacon Historical Society to keep Beacon’s history alive and accessible to the present generation and those that follow.
Postcard: Main st.,
Trustees of the BHS are elected by the membership each year to serve responsibly as board members in preserving and protecting the City of Beacon's history.
Interest in local history and recognizing its importance to the Beacon community motivates the trustees to volunteer their time and energy in serving. Seven trustees were born and raised in Beacon and maintain a passionate interest in its history. Other trustees moved to Beacon within the past ten to thrity years and became involved with the BHS after attending several of their monthly meetings, these meetings were always presentations of historic information by guest speakers, films, and other media format. The archives are a treasure trove of information, as one trustee states, and all are committed to promoting the society's collections. "Folks from all around the country are constatnly sending donations to the society....indicating that people want to see Beacon's history protected and promoted."
The Historical Society has so many interesting pieces of information in the collection and so many artifacts that go back to the mid-1800s; they are irreplaceable." "Being involved as a trustee in the Beacon Historical Society is meaningful and gives me a great deal of pleasure," states one trustee, "I feel that all of us at the BHS are providing a service which is invaluable in protecting, preserving, and promoting Beacon's fantastic history for present and all future generations."
Every trustee acknowledges that the BHS with its ever expanding collection needs to find a more suitable location to store its treasures and provide exhibition space for the public to have an an opportunity to learn, share, and appreciate the history of this grand and glorious Hudson River city.
The Beacon Historical Society welcomes everyone interested in the history of Beacon to attend its monthly meetings (except during January and February) held at the Howland Cultural Center at 7:00 pm.