Make your own mark in history


To the editor:

May is National Preservation Month. Also known as Historic Preservation Month, the month celebrates the nation’s heritage through historic places.

Historic organizations promote a variety of activities on the local, state and national levels. 

This May, the theme is “People Saving Places” to shine the spotlight on everyone doing the work of saving historic places — in big ways, and small.

Here in our community, the Kingsbridge Historical Society is an organization whose mission is historic preservation and cultural enrichment in Kingsbridge, Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil, Marble Hill, Inwood, Van Cortlandt Village and Fieldston. In spite of our area’s very historic legacy, too few of our historic buildings and sites have received landmarking, and even fewer have been saved from the onslaught of real estate development.

One very notable exception is that of Edgehill, the brick-and-mortar headquarters of the historical society. This former church was originally built in 1888 as a mission chapel serving the pastoral needs of the workers of the Johnson Ironworks, located down the hill in the Spuyten Duyvil Creek. 

For years, the church served the local community as a Presbyterian chapel, until it closed as a functioning religious institution in 2018. After a lengthy legal process, the Kingsbridge Historical Society celebrated the acquisition of the church in December 2022, and set upon converting it to a place to hold its meetings, organize events, store its archive, and to plan and promote the historical society and public events.

Right from the start, the historical society took upon the important task of preserving this landmarked architectural gem, remediating and restoring the 136-year-old structure of Edgehill — which, for many years, had fallen into disrepair.

An ongoing fundraising campaign was initiated to address much-needed renovations, including (but not limited to) funding a new heating system, the protection and restoration of the four Tiffany-stained glass windows, and the painting of the exterior, all while hosting historical and cultural programming enjoyed by members and the general public.

Edgehill is listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places, and as a New York City Landmark.

So how can you do your part to “save” this historic place and help ensure its presence in the greater Riverdale area for generations to come?

First: If you’re not a member already, become one. For only $10 a year, your membership provides much needed income for the Kingsbridge Historical Society.  A membership is a commitment to the shared mission of the historical society, which is to help preserve and keep alive the diverse tapestry of our local history.

Our community has many facets, and historic preservation helps tell these stories.

Two: Make a one-time or sustained donation to the Kingsbridge Historical Society Restoration Fund, found on its website. Donations of any amount are welcome and needed. 

Three: Encourage family, friends and neighbors to become members of the Kingsbridge Historical Society. 

Please join us this month to celebrate Historic Preservation Month in this shared mission, as we seek to preserve the best of our past, and to promote future programming and community building activities.

As a member and supporter of the Kingsbridge Historical Society, you can do your part to support and sustain those aspirations.

Stephanie Coggins

Stephanie Coggins