Autumn News from Odell House

10/27/2022

The Launch of Westchester’s Philipsburg Encampment of 1781

We are excited to announce the launch on YouTube of our newest video, Westchester’s Philipsburg Encampment of 1781. Written, produced, and directed by OHRH board member Chris Rubeo, it has been designed for use by Westchester students studying American History in grades four and seven. But it’s also an introduction for anyone interested in Westchester’s role in the Revolutionary War. The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area provided matching funds to create both this video and Thank You, France, which premiered earlier this year. When Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters is open for tours, these videos will play on screens in the welcome center and prepare visitors to see the exhibits. Thank you to Chris, former board member Andrew Bordwin, Board Vice President Tom Hay (who appears in the film as General Rochambeau), and all who helped bring this project to completion. Watch the video here.

A map of Westchester’s Philipsburg Encampment of 1781

The Completion of the Archeology Study at OHRH

Hartgen Associates has completed the written report of all their findings from the “big dig” in May. It is a very comprehensive report describing the history of the site within the context of New York State history and relating that to their findings. They dug 39 trenches or holes and carefully labelled each bag of material they found. These bags are now in the possession of the Friends and are waiting to be shown at the museum. Among the most intriguing items are pottery shards that correspond to intact pottery pieces we have rescued from the house.

Artifacts from Odell House

Further areas for exploration were identified, including the possible outdoor kitchen now seen as a partially collapsed chimney at the rear of the 1855 section. In our research for the Slavery and Odell Farm study we are reaching a conclusion that the enslaved people on the farm most likely lived inside the house, as no evidence of a detached slave quarters was found in this study. This was the usual space allotted to the enslaved in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City and we would like to investigate the basement and attic of the house in another archeology study. Thanks to our generous private donors we fully funded the archeology study and we hope to go further in the future with the same support. You can read the Hartgen report here.

A 19th Century Photo of Odell House
A 19th-century photo of the rear of the house showing the kitchen in the middle.

Contract Signed for Cultural Landscape Plan

Aspect 120 has been chosen to write the Cultural Landscape Plan for OHRH. Headed by licensed Landscape Architect, Susan Jainchill, the firm will begin work next week. The plan will be completed no later than April, 2023 and will have design spaces for handicap accessible walk ways, a designated outdoor classroom, a meeting space for large groups, the location of a monument to the four French soldiers who died while camped in Hartsdale in 1781 and much more. Souvenir Francais USA, a division of the national French association maintaining war memorials and memories of those who died for France, have generously donated funds towards the monument. The Friends have an active committee working with Aspect 120 and expect to work with local garden clubs to create native gardens and a replica of the kitchen garden used by the Odell family.

Construction Update

On October 24, the firm of Abbott and Price will begin the work of replacing the old roof with permanent, historically accurate wood roofing. This will be a four-month process that will start with the 1855 stone section and move into the 1732 and then 1760 sections. By completing the winterization of the 1855 second floor, it should allow work to then begin on making the first floor usable soon for some temporary displays. We will give you more information about this in our November newsletter.

New Board Members and the 2021 Annual Report

At our Annual Meeting on September 10, we were happy to vote four new members into office. Donald and Christine O’Dell (yes, he is a descendant of both Jonathan Odell and of Margaret Dyckman’s family) of Newburgh, N.Y. and Rob Pellegrino and Peter Marcus of Ardsley. Rob and Peter are the Ardsley Town historian and the head of the Ardsley Historical society respectively, and longtime supporters of our project. Marc Cheshire, our wonderful webmaster and communications director and Kathy Evers, assistant treasurer, were voted to be members of the Executive Committee. We were sad to say goodbye to Fred Charles, Andrew Bordwin and Bill Morrissey and we thank them for all their many contributions to OHRH.

At the meeting we also approved the release of our first Annual Report covering the period of 2020 to the end of 2021. The Friends have grown enormously since our founding in January 2020, and we could not have accomplished half of our progress without the very generous donations of our many supporters listed in the report. Current projects underway include the completion of the guide to Odell documents stored at the Westchester County Historical Society (where they will soon be available to all scholars), completion of the Slavery and the Odell Farm report, a report on Native Americans in the Hartsdale area and many more. Look for a display of Victorian holiday cards from the Odell family papers at the Greenburgh Library in December.

We Need Your Support

These projects will need funding to be completed and published. We cannot thank you enough for your donations and urge you to continue as we launch the 2022 campaign. You can donate through our website or by check, mailed to Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters, c/o Seal, 14 Rochambeau Dr., Hartsdale, N.Y. 10530.

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