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Upcoming and Current Events and Programs

Our Summer 2023 Exhibition:

Summer Exhibition

The First 40: A Celebration of
Local History Preserved

1983 - 2023 The Roeliff Jansen Historical Society

July thru October 15th

HOURS: Saturday & Sundays 

2 to 4 pm

(or by appointment)

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the restored and repurposed church building, from July through October 2023, the RJHS is exhibiting a selection of rarely seen objects from its museum collection. The exhibit, titled The First 40: A Celebration of Local History Preserved, will highlight how each of these objects can bridge connections between the people, technology, and traditions of rural New York's past, to our modern lives today.                        

The exhibition also explores the evolution of the community and buildings and businesses of Copake Falls as related to the Copake Iron Works and Harlem Valley Railroad while celebrating the restoration, and adaptive reuse of the Old Copake Falls Church as the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society in 1983. The objects from our collection will reflect the history of our five member towns: Ancram, Copake, Gallatin, Hillsdale, and Taghkanic.

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(above left)  "View of the Iron Works, Copake Falls, NY" by John Bunyan Bristol (a portrait of the artist is below left), ca .1908
Above right: One section of the show is devoted to the history and restoration (2010) of the
Copake Memorial Clock in the center of Copake. A multimedia slide show of photographs of the clock and its restoration is continuously on view. Photos provided by

Rus Davis, who was instrumental in shepherding the entire clock restoration project, which concluded in 2010.

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WGY Story Graphic.jpg

The fascinating story of an
almost forgotten painting
and an important rural
church. There was a time
when both were nearly
lost to history

Read the Transcript of  WGY's



AUGUST 25, 1953


At its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern about the future.
Dr. William Murtagh, (1923-2018)
flrst “Keeper of Records” for the National Register of Historic Places.

This summer, the historical society welcomes you a enjoy a wide range of objects from our collection preserved within the physical walls of this remarkable building dedicated back in 1983. The wooden church building itself, rescued and restored by the local community, constitutes the centerpiece of the Society’s collection.

In this exhibition, the Society’s mission to preserve the past for future generations is highlighted through a treasure trove of artifacts, documents, and objects from the Copake Iron Works, the hamlet of Copake Falls, the Harlem Railroad, and many new and rarely seen items from the Society’s collection. Additionally, we are deeply grateful to the numerous individuals, local businesses and institutions that have generously put historically significant items on loan.
Through many period newspaper clippings, we have endeavored to tell both the story of the evolution of the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society, founded in 1974, and that of the collective effort on the part of individuals, organizations, and the town of Copake itself, to rehabilitate and repurposes the historic church building that has become the Society’s permanent home.
The exhibit also chronicles the preservation of sites and traditions central to the history of our five member towns: Ancram’s paper mill, Copake’s Memorial Clock, Gallatin’s venerable “Vedder Church” the Pulver family legacy in Hillsdale, and the legendary basket-makers of Taghkanic.

It is our hope that the summer exhibition in its entirety will bring to life the area’s once intensely industrial and agricultural past. As our visitors will discover, many items reflect cultural and technological transformations that have sometimes subtly, yet, inescapably, altered the texture of rural and small-town life forever.
But while the local landscape and way of life have changed substantially over the years, artifacts, documents, and vintage images do not change, and can, therefore, allow us an unfiltered glimpse of the past as they paint a vivid picture of our collective history. We invite you to join us on this journey back in time as you view The First 40: A Celebration of Local History Preserved.

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between


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