Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Poestenkill, NY and The Village Crossroads at The Farmers' Museum

By: Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhibitions
Bird's-eye views of burgeoning American cities and towns became a popular promotional tool for town development and an expression of local pride during the mid-19th century. Most were sold in lithographic form to a mass market. Hidley, a house painter, carpenter, taxidermist, and handyman, painted five views of Poestenkill during the 19 years that he lived there from 1853 to 1872. One of these views was made into a lithograph for wider sale. This particular painting is probably his earliest and shows the town from the east viewed from a natural elevation, "Snake Hill." A number of the buildings, such as the Eagle Hotel, Union Hall, and Poestenkill Union Academy, still stand today. Did you know that this painting was the inspiration for the layout of the Village Crossroads at our sister museum, The Farmers’ Museum? Its first-hand account of the organization of a mid-19th century rural New York village was the perfect primary source as The Farmers’ Museum was being created in mid-20th century. Want to learn more? You can check it out here.
Top: Poestenkill, N.Y. by Joseph Henry Hidley. Gift of Stephen C. Clark, N0382.1955

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