The Orange Historical Society, on the occasion of the town’s bicentennial, is inviting people to take a self-guided walking tour of the Historic District to appreciate all over again the historic charm of its town center. On its website, www.orangehistory.org, it has posted a tour guide of the Historic District, up and down Orange Center Road.
The seven-page document has 27 numbered stops, going north on the westerly side of the road, past the Congregational Church, then back down on the other side with its municipal buildings. It describes the history of each building in the context of the history of the town.
Ginny Reinhard, president of the Orange Historical Society, said the idea for the project came from Betty Hadlock, a member of the Historical Society Board of Directors and a member of the Orange Board of Education, when she found a description of the buildings from the 1970s, right before the Historic District was formed in 1978. The original information had been collected by Richard Mason, whose claim to fame was to discover and transcribe for the 20th century reader the Revolutionary War diary of Robert Treat.
Hadlock and Reinhard edited the publication, with help from Dr. Evelyn Russo, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel of the Orange School System and Lisa Mitchals, Library Media Specialist at Race Brook School. The handsome black-and-white drawings of some of the buildings were done by Penny Vaughn.
The idea is for people to be able to access the descriptions on their phone while they are out, if they so choose, or print them out ahead of the walk. Some paper copies of the document are available at the Academy Museum, when it is open to the public.
The Historic District was created in 1978 to keep the character of what was originally a farming town intact. “Most buildings of the historic district were residential, although Orange Center’s historic role in town commerce, education, and religious life is also well represented,” the introduction says. The district consists of 58 structures, buildings and sites such as Orange Center Cemetery. The buildings and structures range widely in age from circa 1800 to 1937.
By Bettina Thiel – Orange Town News Correspondent