A Historical Take on the Kindness of Strangers

Johanna Porr may not have been typecast in the role of Director of the Historical Society - a young woman in her late twenties - she is the new face of old Newburgh. The Marist graduate student is a historical buff with an affinity for the Hudson Valley in particular. Johanna is often seen bubbling over with genuine excitement for the content and latent viewpoints that lie within the archives of the Hudson Highlands library.

After 7 years at Washington's Headquarters she was offered the singly paid position at the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Hudson Highlands at the Crawford House on Montgomery Street.  The Crawford House and the Historical Society archive and library operate on limited resources culled from local membership dues and volunteer input.


The Crawford House

From the website:

The Captain David Crawford House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1830 for Captain David Crawford, his wife..and two young daughters. Crawford, a civic leader and maritime entrepreneur, played a key role in the transition of Newburgh from a small riverside community to a thriving shipping and industrial city.

Johanna is taking her role very seriously - even spawning a tributary meet up group called “The Horse Thieves” in honor of records she found in the library that detailed the adventures of vigilante horse thief pursuants.  The social group meets the last Friday of every month at the North Plank Tavern -

The history enthusiast runs a productive ship with wind in it's sails from a quiet back office...occasionally giving tours through the proud old house - exquisite woodcarving on the front door are repeated throughout the house second only to ornate black marble fireplaces.  The solid mahogany winding staircase is a frozen moment in time.


Members of the Horse Thieves Representing at Tweed Run in new paltz

Local croquet team “The Horse Thieves” pose with champion player, Nate Lange.   From left to right:  Andy Tabor of Newburgh, Kate Oldrey of New Paltz, Jackie Harbison of Wallkill, Hector Rodriquez of New Paltz, Jeremiah Ventry-McGee of Plattekill, Nate Lange of Beacon, and center Dawn Elliott of New Paltz

So, she's excited, we're excited and the Historical Society is excited.... then imagine her surprise when she walked in to work one day to find her beautiful landmark home had been marred by taggers in the night.


not our c 'u' p of tea

But, this story has a happy ending.  Thanks to local artist - Gerardo Castro -  the damaged sign became a fast candidate for a face-lift. The refreshed image was returned to its rightful place looking better than ever.


new and improved! photo by Michael Gabor

We'd appreciate it if the painters would take to canvas in the future - lest history repeat itself! Thank you Johanna for sharing this story with us and Gerardo for the rescue via Newburgh Art Supply.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Historical Society or would like to be included on their mailing lists, please email your information to joh.porr@gmail.com or follow them on facebook.

Photos Provided by the Historical Society / *Courtesy of Michael Gabor
Article by Stefanie Pearl