New local history stories gathered in the latest Historic Amsterdam League book


AMSTERDAM – Long-time city resident Jerry Snyder with a keen interest in local history knows many stories from Amsterdam’s past. Still, he said the latest Historic Amsterdam League book contained a treasure trove of untold stories that even he was not familiar with.

“We’re trying to find stories that no one else has told about Amsterdam,” Snyder said. “To find hidden corners to show people things they’ve never seen before. “

“Arts of Amsterdam: Art Removes the Dust of Daily Life from the Soul” is the 10th book in HAL’s Amsterdam series on local history and the 11th book in total published by the non-profit association lucrative.

Snyder pointed out that the latest publication focused on local people and their contributions to the city’s cultural heritage was a departure from previous books.

Past offerings have focused on the physical aspects of different areas of the city and their history serving as an accompaniment to the annual visits provided by HAL before being sidelined by the pandemic.

“We present it in a way that makes it more interesting, it gives a different twist to the story that makes you think. If you connect with something on a personal level, it makes it more real, ”Snyder said. “Then he has a better chance of surviving.”

The aim of the non-profit association has always been to publicize the history of the city to help its preservation since its founding by Snyder and city historian Robert Von Hasseln with the support of other townspeople. like-minded in 2010.

After covering most of the city’s physical history, Snyder said the group were prompted to explore their more creative side by HAL secretary Barbara Persico, who has a particular interest in the arts.

“I give it a lot of credit,” Snyder said of Persico, who did a lot of the writing and research for the book. Other contributors include Bob Cudmore, Dan Weaver, Jackie Murphy, Dave Brownell, Dave Northrup, Bert Nepaulsingh and Snyder.

Snyder, a retired engineer, admits his interest is more generally drawn to infrastructure and the physical world. Still, he was thoroughly drawn into the city’s varied cultural background while working on the book.

While the book of course features an excerpt on Amsterdam star and Hollywood star of the film’s heyday Kirk Douglas, it also contains nationally published articles on two local cartoonists, The Lore local amateur theater, the childhood of the silent in Amsterdam. film actress Raye Dean, the artistry of sign painter John Fraser Harvey and more.

Lorraine’s Story Aubrey Madriska is one of Snyder’s favorites who remember her as the pianist in the senior choir to which her grandmother belonged. He had no idea that Madriska made her music debut as a silent film accompanist at the age of 15 in 1918. She continued for 11 years to match music on the screen until that talking films take over.

In 1968, Madriska received an unexpected call inviting her to audition to play the piano again while accompanying silent films at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. She landed the job and after that performance started performing every year for the Burnt-Hills-Ballston Lake Film Festival.

Madriska was nationally recognized as one of the last surviving pianists of the silent movie era upon her death in 2000.

Another Snyder favorite included in the book is the story of Anselm Heberer, an organist at St. Mary’s Church who opened a renowned music school in the city after studying in Europe. The Amsterdam Conservatory of Music operated in Amsterdam from 1885 to 1916 and attracted aspiring musicians from all over the state.

Snyder discovered and wrote the history of the forgotten music school after spotting a sign for the conservatory on an old postcard from Amsterdam and researching its origins. The conservatory that once stood on East Main Street was demolished in the 1960s to make way for the thoroughfare.

Most of the stories included in the volume are the result of local history fans pulling the thread when their interest was piqued by a tidbit they spotted while researching another aspect of the town’s past, said Snyder.

Uncovering these stories is part of the nonprofit’s goal of entertaining locals while reconnecting them with the city to encourage its future preservation so that its history and tradition does not drift further into the dark. future.

“If we don’t tell these stories now, they’re going to be lost,” Snyder said.

There are still plenty of stories to be discovered and told in the city, Snyder added, teasing that HAL has already come up with a unique angle for next year’s book and could easily revisit the local art scene one day.

“We could probably do a second volume, there’s no shortage of material,” Snyder said.

“Arts of Amsterdam: Art wipes the dust of everyday life from the soul,” from the Amsterdam Historical League is on sale now. The book can be purchased by visiting the Walter Elwood Museum and the local Hawker and Bakery for the price listed. Or it can be purchased from HAL by mail for $ 14 with shipping and taxes. For more information, visit historicamsterdam.org

Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.


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