One of the highlights of my recent trip to Dutchess County in New York’s Hudson River Valley was the opportunity to meet with members of the Stanford Historical Society (SHS) and learn about their ongoing historic home inventory project.
Spearheaded by local resident, Charlie Shaw, and SHS President Kathy Spiers, the inventory aims to document the early homes and businesses in the Historic Hamlet of Bangall. Charlie was preparing a presentation for the Society and gave me a brief preview of the project.
Bangall is a gem located in the heart of the greater Town of Stanford. It is almost hard to believe that today’s quiet little crossroads community once boasted a busy railroad station, four mills, and numerous businesses, including two hotels. The area’s earliest church was founded in Bangall in 1755; today it is a private residence. Several cemeteries dot the roadsides, in varying stages of upkeep. The site of the old train depot is now a popular farm-to-table restaurant, market, and café. Residents continue to pick up their mail from the Bangall Post Office, as they have since 1851.
The Post Office building was gifted to the Stanford Historical Society in 1973 and is now a fully-operational United States Post Office run by Postmaster and SHS member Louise Woodcock, and home to the society’s collection of local history materials.
I was fortunate to meet with SHS President Kathy Spiers, her husband Jeff Spiers, member Louise Woodcock, and Charlie Shaw to hear more about their future plans for the Society and the Historical Resource Inventory.
Meeting with members of the Stanford Historical Society and local Bangall residents. (from left) Jeff Spiers, Bangall Postmaster Louise Woodcock, SHS President KathySpiers, Charlie Shaw.
The inventory project was initiated nearly twenty five years ago, in 1984, and has been recently revived and revitalized by SHS volunteers. Members are busily collecting data on various residential and commercial buildings throughout Bangall, noting structure features, age, and construction details, and documenting entries with photographs. In some cases, they have been able to add notes about current and previous owners as far back the mid 1800s.
Communities such as Bangall are always in a precarious position. By definition, a hamlet is an unincorporated community and subject to the administration and rulings of the larger town. Shaw explained to me that at one time the Town of Stanford included seven historic hamlets; today, many of these little neighborhoods are scarcely more than a crossroads. The Historic Hamlet of Bangall stands apart as a vital, active community, and hopefully will remain a landmark site on the map for many years yet to come.