February 28, 2015 | 9:55pm    area forecast: Tomorrow: Snow High 25°F, Low 2°F

Quick Search

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Thursday, February 26 - Sunday, March 1
    The Trojan Women
    Written by Euripides & directed by Nancy Saklad. Classical Greek tragedy relays the horrors of war as told by the women who survive the ploy of the Trojan horse and the battle of Troy. Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Phone: 845-257-3880. Url: http://newpaltz.edu.

  • Friday, February 27 - Sunday, March 1
    La Cage Aux Folles
    Diana di Grandi directs this Up In One Production of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. This show is of an outrageously funny and touching story—one of family values, love, diversity and acceptance. Fri & Sat at 8pm; Sun at 3pm. Tkts: $27/ $25. Phone: 845-876-3080. Email: upinoneprod@aol.com. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Film Screening: Hudson Valley Regional Artists
    7-9pm. Stephen Blauweiss presents 30 of his short films about HV artists. Phone: 845-255-1255. Url: http://gardinerlibrary.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    18th Annual Women’s Studio Workshop Chili Bowl Fiesta
    2-7pm. Local Art & Area Chefs. $5 admission, free after 4pm. Phone: 845-658-9133. Url: http://wsworkshop.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Snowshoe Walk at Olana
    Enjoy the beauty of winter along the scenic carriage drives. Break in your new snowshoes, or test out a pair of ours. 1–3pm. $10/adult, $5/child; All Ages; Snowdate: Sunday, March 1. Phone: 518-828-1872 x109. Email: shasbrook@olana.org. Url: http://olana.org.

  • Saturday, February 28
    Opening, Works on Paper
    Reception 6–8 pm. Phone: 845-757-2667. Url: http://www.tivoliartistsgallery.com. .

  • Sunday, March 1
    Toy & Train Show
    34th annual event. 10am–3pm. $3/under 6 free. In gymnasium & student dining hall. Sponsored by the CGC Foundation, Inc. Phone: 518-828-4181. Url: http://sunycgcc.edu.

  • Sunday, March 1
    Conservatory Orchestra
    Guest conducter Jeffrey Milarsky. Program: Adams’ Dr. Atomic Symphony, Barber’s First Essay for Orchestra, and two world premieres by Bard students. 3pm. $15/$20, free w/Bard ID. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

  • Sunday, March 1
    WWI & the End of the Gilded Age
    Special 1 & 1/2 hour tour explores the Mills's extravagance withering away in the cataclysm of the Great War. Pls.reserve. $10/$8/ under 12 free. At 1pm. Phone: 845-889-8851 X300. Email: Donald.Fraser@parks.ny.gov . Url: http://staatsburgh.org.

  • Sunday, March 1
    CSA Fair
    Hudson River Exchange's first-ever CSA Fair: sign up for a seasonal CSA share—from fruits and vegetables to herbs, meat and dairy. Check web for vendor list. 11am–2pm. Phone: 310-867-0372. Url: http://Hudsonriverexchange.com.

  • Sunday, March 1
    Conversation About Climate
    All viewpoints welcome and respected. Moderated by Lawrence Miller. 4:30pm. Phone: 845-876-4030. Email: starrdirector@starrlibrary.org. Url: http://starrlibrary.org.

  • Monday, March 2
    Conservatory Faculty Recital
    Jeffrey Kahane on piano and Joseph Swensen, violin, present Arvo Pärt's Fratres, Prokofiev's Sonata No. 1, Brahms's Sonata No. 1, and Gershwin's Three Preludes. 8pm. Phone: 845-758-7196. Email: conservatoryconcerts@bard.edu. Url: http://bard.edu/conservatory/events.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    Philadelphia Flower Show Trip
    Book reservation for CCE's annual bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show. This year’s theme: Lights, Camera, BLOOM! $70 inc transportation and admission. Leaving Millbrook promptly 8am, returning around 9:30pm. Pre-registration required. Phone: 845-677-8223 x115. Email: nh26@cornell.edu. Url: http://cce.cornell.edu.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    "Death and Doughnuts"
    Safe open forum about death and dying, led by Pastor Will Starkweather; guest speaker from Hospice. 2–3:30pm. Free. Phone: 845-876-4471. Url: http://rhinebecklutheran.org.

  • Wednesday, March 4
    Backyard Chickens for Beginners
    6-8pm. $10, $5 members, 12 & under free with adult. Registration available online. Phone: 845-340-3990. Url: http://cceulster.org.

  • Thursday, March 5
    Jack Kelly Talk
    From the author of Band of Giants, on the American Revolutionary War. 7pm. Refreshments, free. Phone: 845-757-3771. Email: tivolilibrary@gmail.com. Url: http://tivolilibrary.org.

  • Thursday, March 5
    Story time at Mohonk Preserve
    10am. Nature themed story and activity for ages 2-5 and their parents. Free. Phone: 845-255-0919. Url: http://mohonkpreserve.org.

  • Thursday, March 5 - Sunday, March 8
    The Trojan Women
    The classical ancient Greek tragedy relays the horrors of war as told by the women who survive the ploy of the Trojan horse and the battle of Troy.Thu-Sat 8pm, Sun 2pm. Phone: 845-257-3880. Url: http://newpaltz.edu.

  • Friday, March 6 - Sunday, March 8
    La Cage Aux Folles
    Diana di Grandi directs this Up In One Production of Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. This show is of an outrageously funny and touching story—one of family values, love, diversity and acceptance. Fri & Sat at 8pm; Sun at 3pm. Tkts: $27/ $25. Phone: 845-876-3080. Email: upinoneprod@aol.com. Url: http://centerforperformingarts.org.

  • Friday, March 6 - Saturday, March 7
    Haydn's The Creation
    Conducted by Leon Botstein, chorus directed by James Bagwell. W/members of American Symphony Orchestra, Bard Conservatory Orchestra & Festival Chorale & Chamber Singers &Graduate Vocal Arts Program, and Longy Chorale. 8pm. $25–40. Phone: 845-758-7900. Email: fishercenterboxoffice@bard.edu. Url: http://fishercenter.bard.edu.

Browse The All AboutTown Articles:

General Interest  |  Local History  |  Building & Home  |  Food & Wine  |  Health & Wellness

Postcard showing Mill Pond, Amenia. credit Courtesy Amenia Historical Society.

Amenia and the Birth of "The Brotherhood"

Spring 2014   

Ever wonder about that stone bank building at the corner of routes 343 and 22 at the center of Amenia village? If it looks to you like it came from another world, you’re right. In 1860, Dutchess County was the birthplace of the Brotherhood of the New Life, one of the many "alternative communities" born during the great American spiritual revival of the mid-nineteenth century. The Brotherhood began in Wassaic, and grew onto additional property in nearby Amenia where, after accumulating a sizeable amount of capital, the group founded the First National Bank of Amenia and built that stone building.

The Brotherhood’s founder was Thomas Lake Harris, a hypnotic and otherworldly minister who cobbled together his own eclectic set of beliefs during an evolving career. Harris started out as a young preacher in Western New York, where he became known for the poetical passion of his oratory. Then he embraced spiritualism, claiming to be in touch with the angels and publishing three books of poetical revelations dictated while in trances during his visits with dead poets in heaven.


Thomas Lake Harris in is late seventies. credit Courtesy Bart Casey.

Soon he declared that he had spirit-traveled to celestial communities on Mars, Jupiter and other planets—all part of his training to become the pivotal go-between between fallen man and the Deity.

By 1859, at age 36, Harris was the leader of New York City’s Church of the Good Shepherd, an independent, progressive and well-heeled congregation holding Sunday services in the chapel of New York University in Washington Square. Followers included Horace Greeley, future presidential candidate and editor of the New York Tribune, as well as wealthy heiress Jane Waring, daughter of a successful New York State stove manufacturer.

Harris traveled around the South on the eve of the Civil War and in Great Britain after the Crimean War. The civil and social unrest he witnessed convinced him that the tumultuous period was beginning,which would precede the final struggle between Good and Evil, itself the precursor to the second coming of Christ. To counter this cataclysm, he convinced a close inner circle of followers to pool their money and buy property in Dutchess County where they could prepare for the changes to come and become ready to play leading roles saving mankind in the new post-apocalyptic order.

For a brief period in the years before founding the Amenia settlement, Harris had been co-leader of a failed utopian community in West Virginia. Here he learned that any community attempting to set up a new world order should have only one leader—and a well-funded one at that. Sound finances and savvy business practices became his hallmarks. At the start, Harris’s main benefactor and deputy was Jane Waring, the heiress, who contributed millions of dollars in today’s money to the community. Jane also ran the farming operations, having grown up on a farm with her agriculturalist brother George, manager of Greeley’s farm in Chappaqua and lead sanitary engineer for the draining of Manhattan’s wetlands and the ensuing creation of New York’s Central Park. Joining from New York City and contributing commercial expertise came several experienced businessmen with their families, During the Civil War three large families arrived from Georgia, escaping the depradations of that battle-ravaged state and adding the proceeds from the sale of their properties and slaves. From Britain came Arthur Cuthbert and his fiancée, Emily Fawcett, to be married in Amenia by Harris; Cuthbert would become Harris’s lifelong disciple and biographer.

This founding group spent their days in healthy manual labor building the first house in Wassaic, which was located across from the famous Gridley kilns, on the wooded hillside overlooking the deep gorge creek of the Wassaic River, just off today’s Route 22. Today, forest has grown over the original stable’s grounds and garden. An early member recalled that the structure was "a very fine one at the time, and known locally as the House in the Woods." Evenings were spent in "right breathing": reaching out for contact with the celestial realm, where Harris was already a frequent visitor and confidant of the archangels. As more people came, new properties were bought around Mill Pond, on today’s Lake Amenia Avenue, where the Brotherhood operated a mill as a first base of commerce in the community. Jane Waring then planted the Brotherhood’s vineyards on the adjoining hillside, near today’s Silo Ridge Golf Course.


The stone bank building in Amenia built by the Brotherhood, now a branch of M&T Bank. credit Courtesy Amenia Historical Society.

As the community flourished, Harris decided they should spread the word more to local villagers about the great changes to come. To do this, his New York City disciples helped Harris found the First National Bank of Amenia, installing the prophet as president. At first, the bank was a modest one-room wooden structure with an imposing safe, a welcoming woodstove, and a wealth of chairs for townspeople to rest on and chat. Eventually, in 1865, the bank built its distinctive five-sided stone building now gracing the main street of the village.

More exotic members began to arrive. J. W. Hyde, an expert winemaker from Missouri, joined with his wife Lucy and son John to take over vineyard operations. In London Emily Fawcett Cuthbert talked up Harris to her close friend Lady Maria Oliphant, and soon this widow of the chief justice of Ceylon petitioned to join the Brotherhood. Before long she brought along as well her son Laurence, a prominent writer, war correspondent and member of parliament. The Oliphants brought wealth and an implied endorsement for Harris from the highest levels of British society, where they were friends and intimates of ministers, aristocrats and the royal family. And when Laurence completed his probationary period in England and arrived in Dutchess County, he brought with him a group of Samurai students on a secret mission from their lord in the southern Japanese province of Satsuma to learn the mysterious ways of the West. They were, in fact, some of the earliest visitors from Japan to ever come to the USA, and several went on to high office as ambassadors for the modern government set up by Meiji-era Japan; one even became minister of education.

Since everyone joining the Brotherhood contributed all of their worldly funds, the safe at the First National Bank of Amenia might well have been bursting at its seams. By 1867, it was decided the entire group should re-scale itself and relocate to larger properties 400 miles to the west on Lake Erie, , at Brocton, New York, where a more sizeable wine business could be cultivated. So, after a successful birth and seven-year childhood in Dutchess County, the Brotherhood moved on to adolescence in Brocton, and eventual adulthood in Santa Rosa, California, where from 1876 to 1934 it became a leading Sonoma County winery on the fabulous Fountaingrove estate. One family, disgruntled with Harris’s leadership, eventually returned east to Washingtonville, in the Hudson Valley, where as competitors to Harris they took over the oldest winery in the country and renamed it after the Brotherhood. This winery is still in operation today.

Harris’s later years brought scandals about sexual shenanigans and financial deceptions, casting a permanent cloud over the reputations of both Harris and Oliphant (who broke with Harris as well and went on publishing bestselling books about his exotic travels). At its inception in Dutchess County, however, this colorful community was full of hope and idealism. Writing in 1930, Robert Martin, who grew up in the Brotherhood, addressed questions about any possible "lax morals, or improper conduct" in the early Dutchess County days. He stated then they were all "a straightlaced, God-fearing band of men and women" intent on leading mankind to salvation. However, Martin didn’t pull any punches about his final assessment of Harris and the Brotherhood for his somber ending to the story, where he judged Harris "a charlatan, with feet of the most ordinary clay" who eventually squandered the members’ money and dashed their dreams of glory.

 
Banner

Featured Community Businesses

Something for everyone! Affordable daily and long-term rates. Unfurnished apartments also available. Free wi-fi, cable TV plus HBO, local calls. Pet friendly (pet fees apply), & children under 12 stay free. 24/7

3497 US Highway 9W, Highland
845-691-7272

Three spacious immaculate rooms, private baths, AC, HDTV, oudoor pool, hot tub, fitness center, flower gardens, Koi pond, Wi-fi. Delicious healthful farm-fresh breakfast menus. Peaceful, private nature-lovers site. Bicycles, minutes to Highland’s HV Rail Trail, Walkway Over The Hudson, climbing, canoeing. Close to New Paltz, Poughkeepsie restaurants, CIA, wineries, apple picking.

Highland
845-691-8151

You're invited to enjoy our hospitality, fine food, and free WiFi. From appetizers to entrees (chicken, meat, seafood), and from pasta specialties to wraps, our extensive menu will delight you, and our desserts will speak for themselves: Tiramisu, Cheesecake, Tartufo, Cannoli. Soda Fountain. Espresso & Cappucino

80 Vineyard Ave, Highland
845-834-2828

Do you have irreplaceable home movies, pictures or slides taking up a lot of room? Save space: Put those old home movies (8mm, etc), slides, photographs, videos on DVDs that you can watch anytime. Easy to store, easy to find. Need great gifts? We can replicate your DVDs for family and friends All work performed on premises. Local references. Reasonable prices. Fast turn-around.

Rock Cut Rd, Walden
845-566-6897

Your Bank. Our Community. Mortgage rates remain at all time record lows. Great rates and terms. Personal service throughout the life of your loan. Call or click today to consult with Tracy Mackey-Preferred Mortgage Consultant. Eleven Hudson Valley branches.

845-532-7090

Since 1973, we've been providing quality service & installation of overhead doors to homeowners, contractors, architects & commercial businesses. Let the "only real door company in the Valley" exceed your expectations.

40 Arlington Ave, Poughkeepsie
845-471-1130

We're a small boutique agency specializing in antique country homes and historic Hudson townhouses. We're sophisticated, honest and creative professionals who enjoy matching our customers with the most charming and interesting houses in the Hudson Valley. Check out our website, and see why people are saying it's the best real estate site anywhere. Or stop by and see us in Tivoli, Hudson, or Catksill.

41 E. Market St Suite 6, Rhinerbeck
845-876-5100

New shop in Milton. Whether it's Shabby Chic, a one of a kind piece of furniture for your home,  or a timeless treasure that turns you on, we can fill your needs! We offer artisan quality painted furniture, home decor, accessories, and custom pet portraits. Consider a gift certificate!

61 Main St, Milton
845-795-6210

Creating Spaces and Places of Lasting Beauty. Rick Alfandre, Architect, AIA. Architecture and Planning. Guiding the design of environmentally senstive, energy and resource efficient buildings.

22 North Front St, New Paltz
845-255-4774

Lifespring is a town of Saugerties sponsored (but open to area residents) educational program primarily for retirees and active adults interested in expanding horizons with stress free learning. Becoming a member and paying a $60.00 yearly registration fee will give you the opportunity to: about intriguing topics, challenge yourself in novel areas, and develop new friends. Online catalog and registration available, or call.

Saugerties
845-246-2800 ext 452

Rent from us and you'll be out over the Hudson River without using any roads or sidewalks. Walkway Over the Hudson is 1.28 miles long and it connects you to miles of paved and unpaved rail trails in Ulster and Dutchess counties. Enjoy the rail trails or our lovely rural roads without the hassle of lugging your bicycle. Those who are physically challenged to walk long distances can rent an electric scooter to partake of the fun on Walkway and the rail trails.

We are conveniently located with direct access to the paved Hudson Valley Rail Trail and the approach to Walkway Over The Hudson.

Bicycles are just $13.89 for the first hour. Scooters are $18.52 for the first hour. Lower rates for longer rentals. Free Parking for bike or scooter renters.

7 Linwood Ave HV Rail Trail at Vintage Village, Highland
845-691-4633

Full-service Hudson Valley commercial, digital studio specializing in every aspect of business and web photography, weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, holy communions, special events, family & executive portraits, and headshots of models and all people in the arts.

845-255-5255

For your wedding, anniversary, cocktail party, art opening, or even just a dinner for two. Make the event really special, set the mood, and enjoy. Russian trained classical violinist and pianist. Solo or duet. Reasonable rates, large repertoire, references. Also violin, viola, piano lessons.

New Paltz
845-256-9767

100% scratch, on-site, hand-made bakery using fresh butter and shell eggs, local milk; plus all sorts of vegan, gluten-free, and alternative baked goods including veggie soups and sandwiches. 100% Custom Wedding Cakes. A full service bakery with a mother's room, Free WiFi.

407 Main St, Rosendale
845-658-3355

Quatrefoil...Stewardship for your property. We are a residential building and design firm specializing in the restoration and renovation of historic homes. Reach us at the number below.

845-773-9234

AboutTown Ulster: PO Box 474, New Paltz, NY 12561, 845-691-2089  EMAIL US
AboutTown Dutchess/Columbia: The Chocolate Factory, 54 Elizabeth Street, Suite 11, Red Hook, NY 12571, 845-758-3616  EMAIL US
  Privacy Policy
Terms & Conditions