Upper Red Hook’s colorful past unveiled

In the past 200 years, a presidential candidate, a first lady, a portrait artist, two of America’s founding fathers and many others have passed through the town of Red Hook. Learn about their stories and more when local historian Roger Leonard reads from and signs copies of his new book, “Upper Red Hook: An American Crossroad,” on Thursday, June 7, at the Elmendorph Inn.

Leonard, who served as pastor of St. John’s Reformed Church in Red Hook for 33 years, has been working on the history for nearly 15 years, but began recording interviews back in 1976. The book is a culmination of his work, coinciding with Red Hook’s bicentennial.

“Upper Red Hook was a kind of stage which had its fascinating brief touches with fame,” says Leonard, “But the real story is the people of many kinds of occupations who put down their roots there: farmers, ministers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, soldiers, merchants, slaves. It is an American crossroad.”

The free event is sponsored by the Red Hook Public Library, which was founded in 1898. Since 1935, the library has made its home at 7444 S. Broadway in a building designed by Orson Squire Fowler. Built by Red Hook Tobacco Factory owner Allen Barringer Hendricks, the house is one of the finest examples of octagonal architecture in the Hudson Valley.

For more information, call the library, 845-758-3241.

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