NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Upgrades 2016 Tours With
Renowned Interpretive Specialist Bill Weldon
New Emphasis on Native Americans, Enslaved Africans, and Early Politics
NEW PALTZ, NY (April 12, 2016) – Historic Huguenot Street will officially launch its 2016 season on Saturday, May 7 from 10 am – 5:30 pm. The organization has spent the last 6 months working with Bill Weldon, former director at the National Association of Interpretation (NAI) and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, to develop a completely refreshed tour experience for the year.
The updated tours on Huguenot Street incorporate engaging stories from the National Historic Landmark District’s history, with a renewed emphasis on featuring under-represented groups, including Native Americans and enslaved Africans. Visitors will even have a chance to discover through interpretive illustrations what the New Paltz area looked like prior to the Huguenot refugees’ arrival. The selection of collections pieces displayed in the historic houses has also been updated, showcasing pieces that have not been exhibited publicly in years.
“We strive to update and improve our tours every year, and Bill Weldon’s knowledge and experience has helped us tremendously this year,” said Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming. “The stories of Huguenot Street are still so relevant today; we’re telling the story of a refugee diaspora that created Huguenot settlements across the globe, and the accounts of their relationships with the existing communities around them.” She continues, “Of course, 2016 is also an election year, so we’ll be touching on some of the lesser-known political narratives of the street, such as the story of Josiah Hasbrouck, an 18th century New York Assemblyman and early 19th century U.S. Representative who grew up in the Jean Hasbrouck House.”
Weldon is a career veteran of interpretive planning, training, and historical performance. Since 1991, he has scripted, directed and performed in a variety of public programs, special presentations, and video productions for historic sites across the United States. From 2005 through 2013, he has served as artistic director for “Revolutionary City,” Colonial Williamsburg’s interactive outdoor drama. Most recently a recipient of NAI’s 2015 Award of Distinction, he has conducted workshops on interpretation throughout the country and has trained Historic Huguenot Street’s interpreters for the last three years. An interpretive performer himself, Weldon’s principal character has been Patrick Henry, Virginia’s renowned Revolutionary statesman and orator. His audiences have included heads of state, Supreme Court justices, and school children of all ages.
Beginning Saturday, May 7, tours will be offered hourly from 10 am – 5 pm (with the last daily tour departing at 4 pm) every day except Wednesdays. Tour tickets are $15; seniors and members receive 10% off, and active military members receive free admission. Tickets can be purchased in the Visitor Center and Museum Shop at 81 Huguenot Street.
A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century. It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses. Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.
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