Meeting of September 5, 2013

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (15): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Peter Brown, Pat Bailey, Terry Brewer, Debbie Brown, Dick Drumm, Doris Calamaras, Dean Calamaras, Rommel Tolentino, Stewart Wagner, Debbie Rodriguez, Carole Spencer, Len Leonidas.

Guests (3): Heidi Hill, Bill Wyld, Mark Hoyt.

Program: The (Re)Development of Fort Crailo

Crailo as it looks today.
Crailo as it looks today.

Heidi Hill, site manager of both Fort Crailo in Rensselaer and Schuyler Mansion in Albany, presented a program on the history of the historic Rensselaer site, which is the museum of the Colonial Dutch in the Hudson Valley.

She showed slides of Crailo — actually a historic home rather than an actual fort — and how it looked and changed over the past 200+ years with the addition of different wings and outbuildings. Although the current house has seen many changes, the foundation, some brick work and wooden beams are original.

Crailo in 1940.
Crailo in 1940.

Crailo was built in the early 18th Century by Hendrick Van Rensselaer, grandson of the original Patroon. Although the original architecture of the house was in the Dutch style, in later years it was made to look more like the Georgian style preferred by the English. The structure at one time was used as a boys’ boarding school and later as a church rectory.

The name comes from the 17th Century Dutch word Crayloo, sometimes spelled Cralo, meaning “crows’ woods.” At the time of its construction, the riverbanks were heavily wooded and populated by many crows.

Heidi also spoke about Susan deLancey van Rensselaer-Strong, a descendant of the founding family, who raised funds to help save the decrepit house when it was about to be razed. In 1924, her group sold the site to New York State, which owns it to this day. Over the ensuing years it has been stabilized and restored to useful shape.

Crailo offers a tours, a number of educational programs — such as a cooking demonstration with a Dutch oven, that is very popular with kids and adults. Heidi also discussed other programs offered at Crailo State Historic Site and distributed literature about the other events and the upcoming Harvest Faire.

They still plan to build a Hudson River dock on the property to encourage boat traffic.


• The new Capital Region Rotary Club, based in Albany, will hold a Charter Dinner on Wednesday, September 8, at the Italian-American Center, Washington Avenue Extension. Several SRC members are planning to attend, and our club will present the new Rotarians with a check for $250 in support of their start-up costs.

• SRC’s book drive for Unity House of Troy is thriving. Even before receiving contributions from club members, President April and chauffeur Bill collected and delivered 220 books to the shelter. People from Troy, Latham, Watervliet, Albany and East Greenbush have donated. Several hundred more books are in hand, so we may be able to extend our reach to other service organizations beyond Unity House.

• The club will have an information table at the Fort Crailo Harvest Faire from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 4, at the historic site, 9½ Riverside Avenue in Rensselaer. We have donated $500 to help fund the event.

• The 2013-14 program schedule assignments were distributed. Program coordinator Bill reminded members to book their guest speakers as far in advance as possible; he also noted that if anyone wants to swap dates with another member, to be sure to let him know as soon as you do that.

• April noted that several members have yet to pay their 2013-14 dues, which were due in June. She urged them to do so ASAP.

NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, September 12. Please refer to the letter President April sent to everyone last month concerning our programs and goals for this Rotary year. They will be explained and discussed at this meeting.


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