Those who stayed loyal to British crown examined
BY ROBERT KNIGHT
An exhibition, possibly the first ever held in Rockland County, will spotlight loyalists residing here during the revolutionary War who supported continued linkage with Great Britain rather than separation from Mother England and the formation of a new and independent United States of America.
The exhibit, entitled ”Loyal to the Crown,” is being presented this winter by the Orangetown Historical Museum and Archives formally opens this Saturday, with free admission and guest speakers from 2-4 p.m.
Refreshments will be served and the special guest speaker will be George Way of Staten Island, a nationally noted collector of colonial era Dutch and English portraits, artifacts and other art works, who has loaned a considerable portion of his personal collection for this exhibit. Last year way also loaned the Dutch equivalent pieces from his collection, to show how the early Dutch settlers lived and prospered in America after sailing to the “new world” to settle locally and become the region’s first inhabitants since the Indians centuries earlier.
The exhibit is being held at the Museum’s DePew House at 196 Chief Bill Harris Way in Orangeburg, also formerly known as Blaisdell Road,, at the corner of Orangeburg Road.
The exhibit will remain all winter with weekly open houses every Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. It can also be opened for special events, group tours and other activities various days, evenings and weekend by special arrangement by calling the museum at 845-398-1302.
Built during the Revolutionary War by descendants of the earliest Dutch settlers, the Isaac DePew house, along with the Michael Salyer house in Pearl River is home to the Orangetown Historical Museum and archives, according toe exhibit curator Elizabeth Skrabonja. The inhabitants were descended from from original signers of the 1686 Tappan Patent.
“How they might have reacted to portraits of English royalty and nobility hanging in their home is open to conjecture,” Skrabonja said. “While a majority of Dutch families would have been quite inhospitable towards the British and their claims on the new world – there were those who embraced the connection. The allure and feeling of inevitability of the crown created an atmosphere in Orangetown and Rockland County ripe with dramatic contrasts,” she adds, “with brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor.
“Loyal to the Crown – British art from the George Way Collection is intended to present to grandeur of empire the kept many – loyal to the crown.”
Of the George Way collection of British art, Skrabonja says “Context and a joy of collecting is immediately apparent in considering British art from the collection of George Way.
“Representative portraits of royals from as far back as the 16th century are joined with masterful pieces of furniture and objects of everyday and exclusive use. This combination enlivens the viewers experience and displaces our sensibilities while we consider a thimble, a walking stick or a coin within the context of a portrait of King Charles 1.
“Unparalleled in this regard, the collection presents an immersive point of view of the highest quality and is even more remarkable when considering the Mr. Way lives with these pieces of art and history on a daily basis. Many of the items items on view are being exhibited for the very first time, creating a particularly rare opportunity for both scholars in the field and interested viewers.”