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Tarrytown-SleepyHollow Daily Voice serves Sleepy Hollow & Tarrytown
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Tarrytown-SleepyHollow Daily Voice serves Sleepy Hollow & Tarrytown

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Society Keeps History Alive for Tarrytowns

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- There’s an old brick house on Grove Street where you can find letters signed by George Washington, a piece of the tree from which Major John Andre was hanged, and guns from the Civil War, old maps and newspaper clippings, signs from businesses long shuttered and clothing from the 1800s.

It’s all part of the Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow Historical Society’s collection. The non-profit organization has been collecting and cataloging the history of the Tarrytowns since 1889.

“Most of our collection is related to people who lived here,” said Sara Mascia, curator of the historical society. “Most of our collection was donated by people who lived here or once had some association with Tarrytown or Sleepy Hollow or their ancestors had some association. We’ve sort of collected these artifacts and documents to document the history of the average Tarrytowner-Sleepy Hollower.”

The society is currently showcasing an exhibition of Civil War history, which includes artifacts from local residents who fought in that war.

The society preserves and exhibits a lot of artifacts, but they also help people who are trying to research events or their family genealogy. Mascia said a lot of people come in to find out more about their family history or how old their house is. If they bring in their own research, she’ll ask for a copy so that no one else has to “reinvent the wheel.”

The historical society also puts on community events such as essay contests, historical talks and school programs. “We go out into the community as well, we’re not just in this house,” Mascia said.

The society and its vast collection are housed in the Jacob Odell house at 1 Grove Street. The house was built in 1848. Today, along with many other houses on the block, it is listed on the national register of historic places. The historical society considers the house its biggest artifact.

Historical exhibits are showcased on the first floor and research is conducted on the second. The basement and attic house the Society’s collection, which is still growing to this day.

“We continuously collect history,” Mascia said, describing how one day someone left an original 19th century ball gown in a plastic dress cover on the front door of the house. Another person had recently donated an old stereoscope. Others will ask if the society wants photos or documents that are in the family.

“As things disappear, like the businesses,” she said. “We try to get images of them.” If a major event happens, Mascia will collect documents and other things related to it.

Mascia said they always try to work with whoever needs help doing research.

“It’s typical historical society, but not so typical in that we try to really make sure that we are available for people,” she said.

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