Thursday, April 8, 2021

Two museums and a hike in Westchester County

Cross River Reservoir Spillway


When I travel I always look for small, interesting museums. I have also been doing the same thing in New York City, where I live. But recently, I started looking north, to Westchester Country, where I have found a new group of places to visit. This week, let’s travel to two museums and take a quick hike.

Horace Greeley House - Chappaqua NY

Horace Greeley House

Horace Greeley (1811 - 1872) was a progressive newspaper editor and founder. He lived a life at the center of American politics in the middle of the 19th century. He was born in New Hampshire, and grew up in Vermont. As a youth, he apprenticed to a local printer, learning the trade. At the age of 20, he moved to New York City, where he worked at several print shops. He also started working with the state’s Whig Party. In 1834 he began publishing a literary magazine called The New-Yorker (not connected to the current magazine of the same name). He used this forum to promote the Whig party’s positions calling for more worker’s rights, and for the burgeoning capitalist class to take the needs of their employees into account. During the recession of 1836-37, he wrote one of his most famous editorials, saying “Go west young man, and grow with the country.” This was a call for the unemployed to move out of the east coast cities to this growing ones around the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. 

The Greeley family. Popular Graphic Arts, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1838 he became editor of the state-wide Whig newspaper, The Jeffersonian, and helped to elect William Seward as Governor. In 1840, the newspaper played a key role in William Henry Harrison’s victory as president. After this election, Greeley decided to create a daily paper in New York City. The Tribune, under Greeley’s editorship became a national voice for pacifism, equality for women, and an end to slavery. He even hired Karl Marx as a European correspondent. As the Whig party fell apart, Greeley supported the new Republican Party, and then the Radical Republicans, eventually running for president against Ulysses S Grant.

The Tribune. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1854, the Greeley family chose the village of Chappaqua as a place to build a summer house. The original location of the house in on a hill that over looks the village center. In 1864, they moved to a house that was closer to the main road because Mary Greeley was tired of being in the woods. The family lived in the house until both 1872, when Mary and Horace both passed, about a month apart. Their daughter moved to a nearby house in 1873, and leased their parents home to a series of families for the next 50 years. The house was sold in 1926, and in 1940 it was converted into a gift shop for Greeley memorabilia and town history.

In 1998, it was saved from demolition by the New Castle Historical Society, who renovated it as a historical site and new office. In 2000 it opened to the public. Today most of the rooms have been restored with period era furniture and art work and photos from the family.

The Story of a Summer, written by a cousin of the Greeley Daughters

Katonah Museum of Art

Katonah Museum of Art. Ɱ, CC BY-SA 4.0  via Wikimedia Commons

After visiting the Horace Greeley House, head 10 miles north on the Saw Mill River Parkway to the town of Katonah. Here you will find the Katonah Museum of Art. The KMA is a non-collecting museum, which means that it has no permanent collection of its own. It produces 3-4 exhibitions every year, geared to the visual arts. They span a wide range of artistic disciplines. On my visit, they were hosting a show titled “Still/Live”. They presented many new takes on the staid tradition of still-life art. The pieces include paintings and photography, but also a robot that uses AI to create new still life pieces every day. The is ingenious use of computers that allow visitors to interact with pieces, creating their own works. 

The KMA is not large, housing three galleries and an education center. In conduction with its exhibits, KMA also hosts artist talks, musical events and family oriented activities.

New Orders, Evertime 01 by Ori Gersht

Seven Days: Birthday Party by Chuck Ramirez

Human Study #2 by Patrick Tresset. A robot that creates still life drawings


Cross River Reservoir and Dam

Just 400 meters north of the KMA, along route NY-22, is the entrance to the Cross River Reservoir Dam. This is a chance for a short hike (0.5 miles each way) from the parking area. It is a lovely walk, and the view from the top of the is beautiful. If you don’t feel like taking the stroll, you can drive up to another lot, near the  top of the dam.



New York City offers a lot to see. So does the surrounding area, and it is great to visit the towns in Westchester.

Nuts and Bolts:

The Horace Greeley House - Open Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday, 1PM-4PM. Free Admission, but advance tickets are needed due to COVID.

Katonah Museum of Art - Open Tues-Sat 10AM-5PM, Sun 12pm-5PM. Advanced tickets are needed due to COVID. Admission is $10 adults/ $5 seniors, disabled, and students


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