Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Lincoln Society in Peekskill to remember Lincoln’s stop in Peekskill

Oldest active Lincoln Society in the nation honors Lincoln with parade, re-enactments, and film in uniquely Peekskill annual remembrance
Lincoln+Exedra+Event+%0ACourtesy+of+LincolnSocietyinPeekskill.org
Lincoln Exedra Event Courtesy of LincolnSocietyinPeekskill.org

On Saturday, Saturday, February 17, 2024 at 11:00 am, the oldest continually active Lincoln Society in the United States, the Lincoln Society in Peekskill (circa 1903), will once again honor and remember President-Elect Abraham Lincoln’s visit to Peekskill which occurred on February 19, 1861, less than two weeks before he was inaugurated as President of the United States. Lincoln’s brief stop was made possible at the behest of Peekskill resident and lawyer William Nelson, a colleague of Lincoln’s during their time together in Congress in 1847.

Nelson Avenue was named after William Nelson, the Kurzhal Building was built by him almost 200 years ago, and Peekskill’s original municipal building and the current City Hall stands on the site of William Nelson’s home. 

At 11:00 am sharp, the 2024 Annual Lincoln Remembrance Day Event will begin with a wreath laying ceremony at the Lincoln Exedra. This portion of the program will focus on Lincoln’s legacy. 

The Lincoln Exedra, originally dedicated on October 6, 1925 and rededicated on November 5, 2017, was created to commemorate Lincoln’s stop in Peekskill. It was designed by Gilbert H. Anderson, a Peekskill architect, and is made from “Peekskill Granite” sourced from the Mohegan granite quarry in what is now Sylvan Glen Preserve in Yorktown. 

​Henry S. Fee, Peekskill’s sole surviving member of the Grand Army of the Republic, addressing the audience gathered to dedicate the Lincoln Exedra on October 6, 1925. Also attending were: Thomas Nelson Jr., grandson of Congressman William Nelson, N.Y. State Assemblyman from Peekskill, James Apgar, and Mrs. Gertrude Windsor who attended the nominating convention for Lincoln at Chicago in 1860.
Photo credit: LincolnSocietyinPeekskill.org

The land the Exedra sits on was donated by John Smith Jr., a veteran of the Civil War and President of the Lincoln Society from 1917-1918. The Exedra’s location provides a direct line for viewing to the original Peekskill train depot, now known as the Lincoln Depot Museum, where President Lincoln spoke to a crowd of over 1,000 people. 

At the original dedication of the Lincoln Exedra in 1925 were many prominent politicians and leaders of Peekskill at the time. In attendance were NYS Assemblyman James K. Apgar, Thomas Nelson (grandson of William Nelson), Dr. Alexander Dunbar who was Superintendent of Schools and classmate of Robert Lincoln at Harvard, NYS Senator Seabury C. Mastick, and Peekskill Highland Democrat Editor George Briggs who read a letter from his long-time friend Chauncey M. Depew (who knew President Lincoln intimately), as well as many other dignitaries.

Shortly after the wreath laying ceremony, the crowd will then be led in a parade led by Civil War reenactors down South Street, making a right onto Hudson Avenue, and then turning right down Water Street and proceeding to the lawn of the Lincoln Depot Museum.  

 

Photo credit: John Testa
Courtesy of LincolnSocietyinPeekskill.org

At approximately 11:30 am, the crowd will be transported through time to February 19, 1861 for the recreation of Lincoln’s 1861 visit to Peekskill. Lincoln Society board members Michael Macedonia and Bob McFarlane will be portraying President Lincoln and Congressman William Nelson. The ​5th New York Duryea Zouaves Reenactment, one of the most renowned fighting units of the American Civil War, will be there to help take the crowd back in time to 1861 with Civil War music, unit ​songs, and speeches. 

At 12:00 noon, the Lincoln Society of Peekskill invites the public to a special screening of the award-winning documentary, “Warning Signs: Lincoln’s Response to Rising Tensions in the 1850s”.  This documentary, produced by the Lincoln Presidential Foundation, an Illinois-based nonprofit organization, features Fritz Klein as Abraham Lincoln as well as interviews with acclaimed historians and Lincoln scholars. The documentary has received a regional Emmy award nomination as well as three national awards: gold and silver Telly awards and an Award of Distinction from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.

Lincoln Presidential Foundation https://www.lincolnpresidential.org

Emily Lapisardi, President of the Lincoln Society in Peekskill noted, “We feel that [the film] is a perfect fit for our event since it focuses on Lincoln’s life in the period just before his inauguration — a period which ended with the journey to Washington, DC that brought him through Peekskill!  We’re extremely grateful for the Lincoln Presidential Foundation’s assistance in making this local screening of their beautifully-made and very informative documentary possible.” 

 The Lincoln Society in Peekskill honors President Lincoln’s stop in Peekskill every February. This uniquely Peekskill event brings in people from all over the region. “We had a wonderful turnout at last year’s commemoration and hope that the community– and Lincoln enthusiasts from the wider region– will join us again this year,”  Emily Lapisardi, president of the Lincoln Society.

The outdoor portions of the commemoration event are free. A donation of $10 for adults is suggested to support the work of the Lincoln Society and the Lincoln Depot Museum and the indoor events including the special screening of the documentary film.

 

Photo Credit: Deric Gochenauer
Courtesy of LincolnSocietyinPeekskill.org

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About the Contributor
As a Peekskill native, Dave is thrilled to be working with the Peekskill Herald showcasing featured calendar events. A 1999 graduate of PHS, he remembers reading and enjoying the original weekly print edition of the Peekskill Herald every Thursday. He especially liked the political stories, local features and sports coverage when it was written by Peekskill Runner columnist Jack Burns who always managed to weave history into the running times. An avid hiker, he enjoys exploring the local trails as well as the concrete ones in his job as a conductor for Metro North Railroad. He’s a former teacher and co-founder of the Friends of the Peekskill Dog Park, where he frequently can be found with his Koda. He’s happy to be part of the Herald’s growth as the source of local news for Peekskill and looks forward to highlighting a few of many of the events and happenings in Peekskill and the surrounding communities. Reach Dave at [email protected]