Updated: Dec 29, 2019
As another year quickly passes it is fitting to pause and reflect upon 2019 milestones for
The Friends of Harmony Hall-Jacob Sloat House. First and foremost, it is important to relate that the core board members of the FOHH are long standing, accomplished and devoted volunteers with demanding professional and personal lives. This reality alone, makes the following accomplishments over 2019 even more impressive.
Secondly, it is important to place the Harmony Hall not-for-profit preservation/restoration in the context of countless causes that vie for the attention of a diverse public audience. Not-for-profit initiatives/foundations/causes related to children, animals, environment to name but a few, quickly register on the radar of supporters. Not so with not-for-profit projects that have as their fulcrum and foundation; literally and figuratively, a historic house as the project/brand identity. Sloatsburg organizations including FOHH, The Revitalization Committee, and The Chamber all continue to make efforts to educate the public on the historic importance of this oft forgotten Rockland County village. This is all the more important as we approach the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution.
The benefit of Historic Preservation/Restoration has always presented built in marketing challenges. Thankfully, the Harmony Hall project continues to admirably distinguish itself as a year-round cultural resource center since 2006!
This year's Highlands Bluegrass Festival realized increased corporate sponsorships and local business participation. Over 1,000 attendees enjoyed the best in bluegrass music on Harmony Hall's great lawn. Other signature FOHH events such as Plein Air, Victorian Holiday and Victorian High Tea have enjoyed increased attendance
year over year. Guest artist lectures included
art historian & writer Eve M. Kahn, whose most recent book “Forever Seeing New Beauties” was published by Wesleyan this year and curator Geoff Welch's ongoing Highlands history & environmental presentations.
Negotiations between the FOHH and site owner resulted in a long awaited & necessary long-term lease agreement. A celebratory atmosphere accompanied the long-awaited lease signing between The Friends of Harmony Hall and Town of Ramapo on Sunday, November 3, 2019. The ceremony took place in the recently restored double parlor of Harmony Hall. FOHH Board
Vice-President Barbara Berntsen succinctly reiterated the critical benefits of this administrative milestone document saying, “The lease will permit the FOHH to move forward with long awaited forward planning autonomy and preservation progress”. Supervisor Specht lauded the Friends' work and accomplishments since their formation in 2006.
The FOHH looks forward with hope and enthusiasm to 2020 progress and the prospect of meeting new friends and supporters whilst with gratitude and wistful heart we say goodbye to two of our dearest and long-standing supporters of HH who passed away this year: Gretel Bush, 94, wife of Sloat descendant and founding FOHH President Harrison O. Bush, Jr. and Gardner Watts, 105. “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind. We’ll take a cup of kindness now for old lang syne…”
Gretel and Gardner personified “How far that little candle throws his beams. So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice.
May the light and blessings of this season & a new year, bring good tidings to our valued FOHH members, advocates and families. Your on-going support makes possible the ongoing vital year-round cultural resource that is Harmony Hall-Jacob Sloat House!