Kingston Historic Center of New Book and Exhibition – Daily Freeman
KINGSTON, NY – A major gallery exhibit complementing Stephen Blauweiss and Karen Berelowitz’s new book “The Story of Historic Kingston” opens at the Fuller Building in Midtown this weekend.
After a special opening night at 6 p.m. on Friday, Blauweiss recommends checking out the “Midtown Then and Now” event in front of the Fuller Building on Saturday at 8 p.m. He will share a special presentation and the gallery will be open. Doors open at 7 p.m.
The 500-page coffee table book includes 950 images spanning 400 years. It is the result of more than four years of work, research and conservation, said Blauweiss.
The exhibit features panels with images from the book in addition to others, Blauweiss said.
He said the Fuller Building, restored by Kingston architect Scott Dutton, is a perfect place to house the exhibit. He added that it is an example of adaptive reuse of a historic structure, a movement that has gained momentum locally in recent years in the wake of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s which, according to critics, devastated large parts of the Rondout area as well as areas of North Front Street and Washington Avenue in Uptown.
“I designed the exhibit to fit into this unique space,” Blauweiss said.
In Midtown, those years saw the destruction of landmarks such as the Beaux Arts Post Office, Union Station, and the more recent demolition of the old Trailways bus station on Broadway on what is now a drug store chain. Blauweiss said each of these lost buildings will be featured in the exhibit. An original station sign—which served passengers until rail service on this side of the Hudson River ceased after the Thruway opened in the 1950s—is included in the exhibit.
When visitors first enter through the doors closest to a parking lot between the Fuller Building and the YMCA, they enter a dedicated exhibit hall in Midtown. By Monday morning, large signs telling the story of the much-missed post office were already in place.
An adjoining room features an enlargement of a former leaflet advertising passage on the iconic Mary Powell steamer and via the ticket office with Ulster and Delaware Railroad trains to the Catskills. On the other side of the room is a large vinyl enlargement of an advertisement for the New York and Rosendale Cement Company, which was one of several cement companies that supplied cement to projects like the Brooklyn Bridge. Panels also highlight the local bluestone and brick industries and their contribution to the growth of New York City.
Blauweiss pointed to a vintage Kingston Point Park sign waiting to be hung. It dates back to its days as a destination for steamboat passengers in the early 20th century, which even featured a small amusement park.
In the next room, a hand-painted old Modjeska sign studio, commissioned by a former corset store next to the Kirkland Hotel on Clinton Avenue, hangs on the wall. Modjeska’s countless vintage photos of local business signs help paint a picture of the town in the early to mid-20th century.
Blauweiss said another panel tells the story of Sojourner Truth, iconic abolitionist, women’s suffrage campaigner and Ulster County native, with a life-size reproduction of a rare photo featuring her. Three video screens will present a rotating spectacle of photos from yesterday and today, he added.
Berelowitz said sources for the book and exhibit photos include Friends of Kingston History, the State Archives, the Library of Congress and numerous private collections.
“Some families have kept pictures of their grandparents standing in front of the business they owned,” she said.
Berelowitz hopes visitors will leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the history of Kingston and the region.
“We guarantee it will inform and delight you,” Blauweiss said.
Other special events include Sunday Gallery Talks on August 28 at 11 a.m. and September 18 at 11 a.m., as well as a closing party on September 21 at 6 p.m.
The Fuller Building is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information about the book and special events, visit https://www.hudsonvalleyhistoryandart.com/kingstonbook or call (845) 339-7834.