Hudson Valley History Reading Festival in Hyde Park

FDR and the Hyde Park school board discuss plans for the Roosevelt High School in this Olin Dows mural in the Hyde Park post office.

Every summer, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum presents a Roosevelt Reading Festival, featuring readings by authors who have written about the Roosevelt Era (this year’s event will be in July, following the rededication of the Library in June). Building on that success, the FDR Library and Museum will partner with the Friends of the Poughkeepsie Public Library District to present the inaugural Hudson Valley History Reading Festival on Saturday, April 20.

In four sessions, beginning at 10 a.m., authors of recently published books on Hudson Valley history will present author talks followed by book-signings. The event will be held in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center at the FDR site in Hyde Park. Copies of the authors’ books will be for sale in the New Deal Store located in the Wallace Center.

Public programs specialist Clifford Laube says that the event was inspired by Roosevelt’s love of local history, and it seemed a natural extension of that to offer a program featuring writers of Hudson Valley lore.

First up on the program will be Anthony P. Musso, author of Hidden Treasures of the Hudson Valley (Stefano Press, 2012), which details a number of relatively unknown yet historically significant locales in the region. Some are important for their link to Revolutionary War history and early American industry, and others are just plain fun to know about, like the regional connection to the Smith Brothers of cough drop fame or Matthew Vassar’s beer-brewing days before founding the college.

At 11 a.m., Robert and Johanna Titus will address The Hudson Valley in the Ice Age: A Geological History & Tour (Black Dome Press, 2012). Robert Titus, a geologist, and Johanna, a molecular biologist, will discuss their research and take listeners back to the origins of the Hudson Valley region, describing how the landscape features that we know so well were formed as a result of glaciations and the melting and erosion that followed.

The reading schedule will break for lunch at midday. Options for participants include the site’s café, which reopens for the season that day, or several restaurants located nearby.

At 1 p.m. the talks resume with Wesley and Barbara H. Gottlock talking about their book Lost Amusement Parks of the Hudson Valley (Stefano Press, 2011), which takes a look at the rise and fall of the amusement parks that lined the banks of the Hudson River from the turn of the 19th century into the 20th – like Orange Lake Park, which drew so many up from the City to Newburgh for “a day in the country” enjoying games of chance, a dance pavilion, a rollercoaster and merry-go-round and canoe and rowboat excursions.

At 2 p.m., the final talk of the day will feature William B. Rhoads, author of Ulster County, New York: The Architectural History and Guide (Black Dome Press, 2011): a survey of the changing architectural styles that have appeared in the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains in hundreds of years of history, along with the social and historical context within which the structures were built.

Admission to the Hudson Valley History Reading Festival at the FDR site is free of charge.


Hudson Valley History Reading Festival, Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., free, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, 4079 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park; (845) 486-7745,




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