The Friends of Harmony Hall recently received a generous donation from Roberta Simons Moore.
Ms. Moore, who lives in Palm City, Florida, was raised in Sloatsburg and has deep genealogical connections to historic Sloatsburg. Roberta was one of three children born to her mother, Laura Waldron, and father, Edwin Simons. Her other siblings were Lillian and Ed.
Two of her uncles, Russ and Everett served in World War I. According to historian and Sloat descendant Harrison Bush one brother was still on the front lines for one week after armistice was declared. Their regiment did not know that the war had ended.
Aunts and uncles on her mother’s side included Alfrette, Cornelia, and George. George Waldron was the Sloatsburg blacksmith with his business located at the site where the current Sloatsburg Municipal Building stands. Roberta’s father, Ed Simons, was the owner operator of Simons Electric. Ed’s sister Annie was the second wife of Charles Allen. Mr. Allen was the Uncle of Sloat descendant, Mary Allen Bush, mother of Harrison Bush, Jr. & William A. Bush. Roberta Simons was a Suffern High School classmate of William A. Bush.
During the first half of the 20th Century, Sloatsburg witnessed many changes. Not the least of which was the New York State Thruway in the early 1950’s. The physical changes to the topography of Sloatsburg were dramatic rendering destruction to once pristine and important sites in the village and causing the removal of significant homes from the landscape. One lovely architectural feature lost to the thruway was the dramatic field stone bridge at what is now the area of Seven Lakes Drive and Greenway. This elegant bridge was the entry point for Ramapo Heights now known as Pine Grove Lakes. The community was conceived as an upscale residential and year-round sports lifestyle close to NYC. Original amenities included a stable, club house, in-ground children’s pool adjacent to the current playground, and two manmade lakes.
The lower lake, then known as “Mirror Lake”, had a white sand beach surrounding the entire perimeter of the lake, diving platforms, and aeration fountain system. The upper lake with earthen damn was designed to feed the lower lake and provide boating and fishing for residents.
The original homes in elegant and varied colonial revival designs, were built around what was described as a “New England Village Green”. Post cards of the day advertised Ramapo Heights as being… “A Place to really live.” “Adjacent to the great Harriman State Park of 42,500 acres, 35 lakes and many, many, miles of winding forest roads”.
Near the Fieldstone Bridge was a refreshment stand which served hot dogs and other simple fare. Harrison Bush recalls working at the stand as a kid. The proprietress was Roberta Simons' Aunt Cornelia known by all as “Neallie”. Harrison recalls that Cornelia was a formidable personality and had been married to a gentleman of indeterminate American Indian ancestry named Coe, who worked for the FBI. Likely more stories to be told in just that tidbit of information!
The Friends of Harmony Hall send heartfelt thanks to Roberta for her generous gift to the Harmony Hall restoration! We hope all remain well and safe in these challenging times. The Friends of Harmony Hall look forward to seeing our friends, members, and supporters later in the year at our 2020 scheduled events.