Last Sunday, the Haverstraw Brick Museum held an “Olde Fashioned Christmas,” which featured a Christmas tree made of brick as well as a more traditional one. Even Santa Claus made an appearance to kick off the lighting ceremony.
The brick tree was designed by museum trustee Herb Feibusch, and features lit snowflakes and candles with a big Haverstraw Brick Museum star on top. It took about a month for Fiebusch to construct the brick tree. He previously had made an electronic brick tic-tac-toe game for the museum, which now sits in the children’s room.
The museum feels a close connection to the holidays, as they were quite significant to the workers of the brick industry. “This was a big holiday for the village. It was religious and most of your brick workers were Catholic and it was very important,” said Patricia Gordon, president of the museum.
Linda Toneatti, vice president of the museum, said that the brick making industry in the area began in the 1700s and peaked in 1890. “The reason was there was a bad fire in New York. All of a sudden brick was the solution, as brick wasn’t going to catch fire.” The clay used to make the brick was acquired from Pecks Pond and the Hudson River. The brick industry even extended out of state, as Toneatti says they have found brick originating in Haverstraw as far away as Philadelphia. The last brick maker in the area closed in 1941.
Many of the people in attendance at the event were born and raised in Haverstraw. They looked through old yearbooks and pictures of the former brick industry, while sharing memories about the Haverstraw of yesterday. Santa Claus then made an appearance, giving out gifts to everyone who attended.
The Haverstraw Brick Museum, while focusing primarily on the history of the brick making industry in the area, also preserves the culture and lives of those involved in the industry. The museum contains many artifacts from the time and continues to educate local children and adults alike. If you are interested in visiting the museum, it is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. You may also call the museum at 845-947-3505 to schedule a private visit.