The Historical Society of Walden and the Wallkill Valley celebrated its 65th anniversary on October 21 with a gathering at the Jacob T. Walden House in the village, where members enjoyed refreshments and recollections.
Founded in 1958, the society is a volunteer organization seeking to preserve local history, whether its members memorialize significant locations with state markers, educate residents during their public meetings or maintain buildings like the Jacob T. Walden House or Shafer House.
Today’s open house began with an award ceremony honoring Walden Elementary’s history club students for their walking tours, the club’s annual project in which students guide and inform residents about the village’s historical locations.
“This year’s group was really great to work with. Every year, the group is different, and every year, the group brings different qualities. This group was very high-energy, but when they sat down and started researching and learning, there was no running and jumping. They loved it,” said Nancy Phelps, one of the society’s trustees and a professor at Walden Elementary School.
“Many of you came to the walking tour, and you saw what they did, and it was rather impressive. And so the New York State Archives thought so too, and they have given us an honorable mention…I’m very proud of them, they should be proud of themselves,” she continued.
This year’s history club comprises Ayden Batista, Xavier Bolding, Jaden Matias, Elora Padannamackal, Madison Ticker, Micheal Torres, Rahul Kumar, Lucca Russell and Blake Velez. On top of giving them certificates, the society also offered these students and their families free memberships for the group’s 2024 season.
“We’re so proud of these children, and we see these children as future members of this society. And we can’t wait for them to be more and more active,” said Barbara Imbasciani, the society’s president.
Following the ceremony, Imbasciani recounted the story of the society’s base of operations, the Jacob T. Walden House. What started as a disheveled, two-family apartment from the early 1700s eventually became a shining restoration of Walden’s past years. While most of the house’s original furniture and artifacts were lost to time, including photos of Jacob Walden, the society has done its best to refurbish the building as faithfully as possible.
“Sixty-five years ago, when the society started, this house was here already…a two-family apartment falling apart in a complete state of disarray. And members of the Walden got together and decided they needed to save this house,” Imbasicani said.
“They bought a broken-down, two-family house with no idea what they’re going to do with it…we did not know what the house is supposed to look like, or what it should’ve looked like…they just renovated it the best they could, and what they think a rather affluent man from that era would have lived like. They did a wonderful job, she continued, giving her thanks to everyone in the community who donated money.
Imbasciani then announced news and upcoming events, starting with the new roof that Max Home Improvement will donate to the society’s house.
“Our newest, most exciting thing is we’re getting a new roof. There’s a construction company in the area called Max Home Improvement, who saw an article in the spring that we were fundraising again. And they’re donating the roof, they’re donating the supplies, the supplies, they’re donating the labor, they’re donating everything,” she eagerly explained.
For more information on the historical society, visit its website at thewaldenhouse.org.