Gretchen Carlson to appear at Greenwich event to discuss her career and new book on November 16th



On Thursday November 16th, you can celebrate women who make a difference and have a real impact on the community.  The speaker at this event  focuses not just on her past accomplishments  but what really matters to her and how it has contributed to her success.

November 16th promises to be an inspirational luncheon at Greenwich Country Club with the nationally recognized speaker and author, Gretchen Carlson.

Ms. Carlson is a former Miss America, graduate of Stanford University, a reporter for CBS and several television stations in Texas, Ohio and Virginia before coming to Fox News.  She has had the honor of gracing the cover of this year’s Time Magazine titled, “Gretchen Carlson wants to change the way women fight sexual harassment.”

This will be Ms. Carlson’s first appearance following the publication of her book, luncheon is Thursday, Nov 16 from 11:30am until 2:00pm at Greenwich Country Club.

All attendees will receive a copy of Ms. Carlson’s book. A portion of final proceeds will be donated to Ms. Carlson’s “Gift of Courage” fund established to empower women and girls.

Register online at

For tickets and more information

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Romeo and Juliet: the classic Shakespeare play now at the Westport Country Playhouse


A fantastic production of William Shakespeare’s  Romeo and Juliet is playing now at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport Ct.  The famous love story of two star crossed lovers set in Verona , Italy is still famous today as it was when it was written in 1597.  Although the story of Romeo and Juliet has origins in Italy as early as 1320, long before Shakespeare was born, it was his play that has transformed this story into an ageless classic that is still relevant today.

The current local production at the Westport Country Playhouse is a worthy interpretation of this timeless classic.  Directed by Mark Lamos  who has been described as “one of the finest Shakespearean directors in the world”.  Mr. Lamos and his team has assembled a wonderful cast and with beautiful and rich costume design by Fabian Fidel Aguilar which helps capture the rich setting of the play.

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James Cusati-Moyer as Romeo and Nicole Rodenburg as Juliet light up the stage at Westport

Shakespeare’s style of writing in iambic pentameter is somewhat challenging to follow at first when the play opens.  The actors stress alternative syllables in the verse.  However as the play moves onward your ear becomes attuned to the complex language and its delivery, and it is not only enjoyable, but quite brilliant.

The story of Romeo and Juliet is well known,  but for those who need a refresher, the story takes place in the city of Verona Italy where two families, the Capulet’s and the Montague’s are at war with each other.   Her we meet Juliet who is just 14 and whose father has plans to marry her off to a man she does not know or love.  At a chance meeting at a party, Juliet encounters Romeo who is a member of the rival family.  It is indeed love at first sight, but a love that is not acceptable to either family.  The young lovers have their own plans, and as the audience will find they will wind up together, but not as they had certainly planned.


The cast of mostly members of Actors Equity include a truly moving performance by Nicole Rodenburg as Juliet (she has trained at the Shakespeare Globe Theater in London). Her performance was for us the highlight of the evening, innocent yet complex as she brings the character of Juliet to life. James Cusati-Moyer as Romeo does a fine job and Patrick Andrews commands the stage as Mercutio. Alison Cimmet plays  Capulet’s wife, Felicity Jones Latta offers an emotional and moving performance as the Nurse, and Peter Francis James is captivating as  Friar Lawrence.   A fine cast also rounds out the rest of the players.  The set is somewhat minimal in the style, yet colorful  of the plays of the period, but Juliet’s iconic balcony was present and well incorporated into the stage.

A wonderful production with first rate acting and direction.  If you want to see a Shakespeare play and have not, or it has been a long time since you have seen one, then please get tickets to this brilliant show.

Now through November 19th at The Westport Country Playhouse

Westport Country Playhouse

25 Powers Court  Westport Ct.

tel. 203.227.4177         web

review written by Frank Wallace and Irene Young Wallace

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Bridges Of Madison County: a wonderful musical with Broadway talent comes to MTC Norwalk through November 19th


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The wonderful story of the Tony Award winning Bridges of Madison County (the Musical) is now playing at the Music Theatre of Connecticut in Norwalk.    The musical is based on the best selling 1992 book of the same name by Robert James Walter, later made into a movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep (1995)  and was adapted as a musical and produced on Broadway where it received 4 Tony nominations (winning 2) and won 2 Drama Desk awards.  This heartfelt drama with an excellent score is now making a brief run in Norwalk, and  this is a must see show.

If you are not familiar with the story, it involves a lonely Iowa housewife, Francesca who was a war bride from Naples Italy.  Her Italian fiance was killed in World War 2 and she marries an American G.I. who brings her back to the United States where they live on a secluded Iowa farm with their two children.  Secretly she yearns for her life back in Italy and her lost love.  When her husband and two children go off to the State Fair for a few days, she finds herself alone.  By chance, a photographer Robert Kincaid, from the National Geographic who is doing a photo essay on the local covered bridges  stops by looking for driving directions.  This new stranger who is a world traveler awakens something in her long slumbering soul.  His camera and his photographs serve as a metaphor for the wide world outside the flat Iowa farmland where she feels trapped and alone.

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The two find themselves in a few short days falling in love, and Francesca feels alive for the first time in years.  But they are two ships passing in the night, and though the pull of this new love is strong, Francesca cannot leave her family for her new love.  The characters and the audience in this emotional story are left with the lingering thoughts of what might have been.


Julia Lambert Pratt

The play stars Juliet Lambert Pratt as Francesca who delivers  a truly Broadway quality performance.  Her voice was emotional and moving as it filled the theater.  All eyes in the audience were fixed on her truly passionate performance.  Her experience on Broadway (Les Miserables) as well as National Tours and Regional appearances served her well as she shines as Francesca, and brings her to life in front of your eyes.  A truly exceptional actor and first rate talent. We hope to see her again in a future performance.

Sean Hayden takes on the demanding role as Robert Kincaid, the photographer.  He gives a wonderful performance and tackles the extensive musical score.  He has appeared in Lincoln Center and off Broadway as well.   The rest of the cast Frank Mastrone (Charlie) and his wife Kirsti Carnahan (Marge) bring some comic relief to the tension in the drama. Greg Roderick plays Bud the husband of Francesca and the rest of the cast of Matt Grosso (Michael), Megan O’Callahan (Carolyn) and Mia Scarpa (Marian) help round out the story of these two lovers .

Excellent direction provided by Kevin Connors, who also is the co-founder of the theater and Artistic Director.  His directorial resume is long and very impressive.    All members of this cast are professional actors and members of Actors Equity Association.

This wonderful show runs through November 19th with performances at Fridays at 8pm,  Saturdays at 4 pm and 8pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets are $30-55 which is a bargain for the fantastic quality show you will experience.   Reservations are suggested.  The theater is small and very intimate and the audience is really pulled into the action of the performance.  Please do not miss it!

Music Theatre of Connecticut

509 Westport Avenue  Norwalk Ct 

tel. 203.454.3883       web

Review by Frank Wallace and Irene Young Wallace of I On the Valley

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Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and more Historic Hudson Valley events


The Pumpkin Carousel- new this year

This is a fantastic event that you must experience and will certainly get you in the Autumn spirit.  The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze has returned to historic Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton On Hudson.  This is one of the country’s most extensive displays of lit Jack O’Lanterns.

The grounds of Van Cortlandt Manor are transformed into a Halloween fantasy landscape with over 7000 lit and carved Jack O’Lanterns. Each one is hand carved  It is an extraordinary sight.


Upon entering under the lit arch you follow along the Pumpkin Promenade, and over the “Pumpkin Zee” Bridge, a lit marvel of craftsmanship.   Under the bridge is a sea of underwater creatures all carved into pumpkins.  Everywhere you look there is some new detail to admire.  You pass an amazing sea serpent and enter the amazing “Pumpkin Planetarium” with its constantly changing light show.


Your path wanders through such great creations as the circus train, Headless Horsemen display, witches and their cauldron, spiders, skeletons and so much more.  The tour ends back near the Manor House itself which has been transformed into a dramatic backdrop for a constantly changing light show.  This is really amazing and you must experience this event.

There is also a tent serving drinks and snacks and a tent filled with Blaze related gifts.

Tickets:  In advance only !!   $20 adults ($25 Saturdays), $16 Children (3-17) ($20 on Saturdays) Under 3 free   TICKETS ARE FOR SPECIFIC TIMES.  See website for dates and time availability.


Horsemans Hollow at Sleepy Hollow   through October 31 at Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow

Irving,s Legend with stories by master story teller Jonathan Kruk   through October 31 at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow

Dickens’s A Christmas Carol  told by master story teller Jonathan Kruk  starting December 9-10, 15-17 at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow

for more info and tickets please visit

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Hudson Valley Restaurant Week returns October 30th-November 12th. Over 200 restaurants offering Price Fixe menus!

HVRW fall 2017

Hudson Valley Restaurant week, presented by Valley Table Magazine is back again! Starting Monday October 30th, 2017 and it runs  through Sunday November 12 ,2017.   This event involves over 200 participating restaurants in the Hudson Valley which offer diners special three-course price fixe dinner menus for $32.95 (not including beverage, tax and gratuity). Many of these fine restaurants also offer three course price fixe  lunch menus for $22.95 (not including beverage, tax and gratuity).  There will be 115 restaurants participating in Westchester County alone.


Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges is one of the many restaurants participating

This is an amazing opportunity to try new restaurants, or revisit some old favorites at a very reasonable price. There are no tickets or coupons to buy and the process is easy ! Go to the Valley Table website and scroll down and view the participating restaurants, then choose a restaurant (or more), call the restaurant to make a reservation and then enjoy!  It is advised that you make reservations as this is a very popular event.

Many of the restaurants will have the Restaurant Week Menu  on their own websites.  Each restaurant offers selections off that special menu for you to enjoy the discount and experience new eateries.
You really should not miss this special time get out and dine at some of the fantastic restaurants we have here in the Hudson Valley!

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Enjoy Jazz Brunch at Mediterraneo of White Plains

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An upscale and relaxing Sunday Brunch dining experience awaits at Mediterraneo in White Plains.  The restaurant now has a Jazz Brunch on Sundays from 11am to 3pm and features not only fabulous food, but bottomless Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s and the soft sounds of a two piece group playing instrumental jazz.

The restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Renaissance Square is housed in a modern space with soaring two story high windows which open to the streetscape outside.    The space is very unique and attractive.   The menu at Mediterraneo is described as Mediterranean coastal cuisine with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and the freshest seafood.

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The menu for Sunday Brunch is a short list of 6 items ranging in price from $12-$23 with items such as Egg White Frittatas to Strip Steak and  scrambled eggs with mozzarella toast.  However as it is mid day you can opt for regular appetizers and entrees from the menu, which gives the guest many more delicious options.  There are 15 different appetizers on the menu priced from $10-$15 which provides a wide variety of options for you and your dining guests.

We sampled the delicious Butternut Squash  and Red Lentil soup.  This creamy soup also contained cumin, quinoa and lemon oil.  It was a good choice on  a fall day, and the cumin gave the soup a unique taste that was quite satisfying.  Very healthy and not too filling.

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Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup

Another choice was the Organic Farro and Escarole Salad with dried cranberries, roasted chestnuts and clementine slices.  A very healthy choice and the mix of ingredients was delicious with contrasting tastes between the hearty flavor of the farro and the sweet taste of the cranberries and clementines.   A pleasing selection that will not fill you up for your next course.

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Organic Farro and Escarole Salad

For entrees, we selected two from the available list of 17 different items.  One of our selections was the Jumbo Sea Scallops in a butternut squash puree, cranberry compote and pumpkin seeds.  The fresh sea scallops were expertly prepared and the choice of seasonal autumn ingredients was innovative and delicious.  A wonderful dish and a nice presentation.

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Jumbo Sea Scallops in a Butternut Squash Puree

We also enjoyed the Parmesan Crusted Fillet of Halibut, with tomato, chives, beurre blanc and roasted cauliflower.  The halibut was served in several smaller squares and surrounded the roasted cauliflower.  A really interesting take on halibut and it was delicious.  The roasted cauliflower was good compliment to the halibut, and beurre blanc was not heavy, but rather light.   The dish is definitive of the restaurants theme of coastal Mediterranean cuisine.

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Parmesan Crusted Halibut

If you are looking for a Sunday brunch experience that  provides a wide variety of fine dishes and the soft sounds of relaxing jazz music, then you should check out Mediterraneo of White Plains.

Mediterraneo of White Plains

189 Main Street White Plains New York

tel.  914.448.8800 

web: info and reservations:

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City Perch Kitchen and Bar: Farm to table dining and cocktails bring movie night to new heights


photo: City Perch

Dinner and a movie just became a whole lot easier in Westchester County.   City Perch Kitchen and Bar in Dobbs Ferry is the perfect place to enjoy cocktails and dine before or after seeing a movie at the fantastic Ipic Theater next door.   The menu is American Seasonal with an emphasis on farm to table ingredients.

City Perch is actually attached to the Ipic Theater (see our separate review).   This hip eatery features a rectangular bar with plenty of seating, bar games and tables.  The dining room features tables from intimate tables for two and for parties of 4 and more.  The theme of the restaurant is birds and wall art, unique custom lighting and more attest to this motif.  The lighting is subtle and creates a cozy and yet elevated place to dine.  There is also a private room for parties, and when weather permits, outdoor dining. There is a definite upscale feel to the restaurant.

Craft cocktails, described as Farm to Glass provide a wide and fun choice to enjoy before or during your meal.   The Perchmopolitan was a house berry infused vodka with cranberry, fresh sour and a splash of prosecco .  A very smooth cocktail and a real pleaser.    The Norma Jean was a refreshing concoction of vodka spiked strawberry lemonade.

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For starters we began with the  Brioche Crusted Maryland Crab Cakes.  Three small cakes served with an old bay remoulade, frisee and citrus salad and with yuzu vinaigrette.  An excellent way to start the meal with this fresh blend of soft crab and delicious ingredients.  The perfect size without filling you up before your entree.   The Yuzu vinaigrette was a perfect compliment and gave the crab cakes a little kick of flavor.

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Brioche Crusted Maryland Crab Cakes

We also sampled the Mussles.  A nice bowl of mussles served in a delicious white wine, dijon and saffron broth that was perfect.  As a seafood lover I was very pleased. Also available on the menu are King crab, shrimp, oysters served raw or as Oysters Rockefeller.

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The entree portion of the dinner menu offers many selections from burgers, pork, chicken, seafood, salads, and fresh pizza.   We tried several items from the menu for our entree.  The Shrimp and Grits was a fine choice with grilled shrimp, and a grits with a bacon vinaigrette.  The shrimp was delicious but the grits were missing something and tasted a bit plain to me. I am not sure what spices could have been added but it lacked the kick I was expecting. Still a nice dish.

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Shrimp and grits

The Grilled  Salmon was grilled to perfection and served in a healthy plate of quinoa, spinach and a saffron emulsion.  A pleasant presentation and a very nice healthy dish.

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Grilled Salmon

As we saw a lobster being delivered to another table, we just had to try the Oven Roasted Maine Lobster which was split and the claws removed from the shell for easier dining.  The lobster was 1 1/2 pounds and was delicious.Irene october 222

With just a bit of room left, we had to sample a dessert.  We split the Raspberry Red Velvet Pavlova , an interesting tall desert with a knive inserted in top consisting of crispy vanilla meringue, red velvet raspberry chunk ice cream, whipped cream,  and raspberry sauce.  A decadent and very filling dessert.  Great to share.

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Rasberry Red Velvet Pavlova

City Perch was a real fun dining experience.  Service was friendly and our items were brought to our table like clockwork.   If you are going to the fantastic Ipic theater next door (both restaurant and theater are connected) or just looking for a new place to dine, City Perch Kitchen and Bar in  Dobbs Ferry is the place.   Great for date night or dining out with friends.

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City Perch Kitchen and Bar

1 Livingstone Avenue Dobbs Ferry New York    (right off the Saw Mill Parkway)

free parking !

tel. 914.348.7007


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Join the Westchester Food Bank for “An Evening of Good Taste” October 26th

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A great event for a great cause comes to Whitfe Plains on  October 26th 2017 from 6:30 to 9 pm. The Food Bank For Westchester,Inc, will be holding its 27th Annual “An Evening of Good Taste” .

Join the Food Bank  for “An Evening in Good Taste,” a night of savoring 25 top chefs’ fine food creations, networking with other Food Bank supporters, and raising funds for the Food Bank for Westchester’s initiative to end childhood hunger in Westchester County.

Some of the participating restaurants will be: Abigail Kirsch, Bona Bona, The Castle at Tarrytown, Bread and Brine, The Cookery, Chutney Marsala, Crabtree Kittle House, The Dessertist, Harvest On Hudson, Ladle of Love,Lulu’s Bakery, Mediterraneo, Mt Kisco Seafood, Rivermarket, Saltaire and more!  

Come out and have a great evening and sample the dishes of some great local chefs.  Your ticket price goes to support the amazing programs of the Food Bank For Westchester, Inc  which is fighting to end childhood hunger in our communtity.

For information on this special evening and for tickets:

Location of event  1133 Westchester Ave  White Plains NY

Food Bank for Westchester, Inc.   

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Blockheads: fun, affordable, innovative and healthy Mexican comes to White Plains

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A successful Manhattan based eatery has brought its San Francisco style of Mexican food  and fun atmosphere to downtown White Plains.  Blockheads first opened in Manhattan 24 years ago and now has 5 locations around the city.  White Plains is their newest location and with it they have brought their signature style of casual, fun, and a lighter more innovative approach to Mexican cuisine.

The location is  right on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains.  The decor of Blockheads is eclectic and fun, and not the typical Mexican design motif.  No Mexican blankets on the walls, no sombreros, and no mustard colored stucco walls.  The floors are a mix of tiles, the walls are ship lap wood with an interesting collection of paintings and photographs, tables  with metal chairs painted bright colors.  The doors at the entrance are reclaimed from another location and are painted a distressed light green. Lighting is repurposed as well and are adorned with colorful bulbs.   After my first drink, I felt as if I was no longer in White Plains but on vacation somewhere sunny, carefree and  fun.

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We started with drinks and we just had to try a couple of the variety of fun frozen  margaritas. They have numerous flavors including, peach, mango, guava, coconut, passion fruit and even pomegranate.  We sampled the mango and the pomegranate and can report they were delicious.  Interesting they are not served in the typical margarita glass, which is consistent with Blockheads unique approach.  Also on the drink menu are beer, sangria and more interesting drinks.

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Frozen Margaritas in lots of fun flavors!


We dined at lunch and the food menu is clearly different from typical Mexican fare served in this country.  The heavy sauces and bombardment of gooey cheese is missing from the menu (thankfully!) and its place is a lighter and more innovative approach to Mexican food.  The stated mission of Blockheads is to make healthy eating affordable and fun.  All three the deliver on their mission.

We started with the Chicken Fajita Quesdilla as an appetizer which was full and spice and flavor.  You can tell the chef likes to experiment with combining dishes and different flavors.  It keeps the menu interesting.

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Tacos were up next and Blockheads serves its tacos by layering two lightly grilled soft tacos and then adding the ingredients.  We tried the fish and butternut squash tacos.  Both were excellent and light and I can honestly say I have never had a butter nut squash taco, but it was the perfect dish on a fall afternoon.

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Fish Taco and Butternut Squash Taco

We also tried the large and delicious Vegan Butternut Squash Burrito, a full 12 inch soft whole wheat tortilla stuffed with butternut squash, vegan cheese, brown rice and pinto beans.   I am not a vegan, but this dish was amazing.  I  felt  that we were eating a  super healthy as well as delicious dish that makes you feel satisfied, not stuffed.

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Vegan Butternut Squash Burrito

Blockheads takes special care of all its customers by offering a menu that is vegan and vegetarian friendly, and  health conscious. Gluten free items are also available.  Do not despair as there is plenty for the meat lovers in your group.  There are also bowls that blend Asian and Mexican themes which we did not try.

Blockheads is a reasonably priced fun place to dine with friends.  Great food with an emphasis on healthy dining options, in a fun atmosphere make this eatery one we will be returning to again.

Tacos (2)  start at $13.95  Quesadillas start at $10.95  Burritos start at $12.95

There is also Sunday Brunch !

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40 Mamaroneck Avenue  White Plains NY

tel. 914-288-8070

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Bannerman’s Island: tour a wonderous and mysterious castle in the heart of the Hudson Valley


Along the east shore of the Hudson River just south of  Beacon  is a fascinating place worth exploring called Bannerman’s Island.  The small island is well known for its mysterious castle ruins that dominate the island itself.  It can be easily seen by boaters on the Hudson, train travelers along the east shore tracks and motorists on Route 9D.  While the abandoned island and its fanciful structures were off limits to visitors for years, now you can take advantage of guided tours of  the island provided by the Bannerman Island Trust.  You must reach the island by boat or by guided kayak tours.


A short boat ride takes you to the island

The island  has had several owners over the years but its most famous owner was Francis Bannerman, a Scottish immigrant who lived in New York City.  In the years following the Civil War and the Spanish American war, Bannerman built a successful business of buying surplus war materials from the U.S. Government and reselling them.  He eventually had to move his warehouse of munitions out of New York City, and he found the island (known as Pollepel  Island)  the perfect spot.   There he had built an arsenal warehouse and smaller summer house that resembled a Scottish castle.

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The residence with gardens maintained by volunteers

The tour we took started by boat from the Beacon waterfront and it was a short scenic ride to the island. On reaching the island, the tour guide led us to the arsenal ruins itself which has seen some of its walls collapse in the past decade.  Efforts are ongoing to stabilize the structure.  Here we learned more about Francis Bannerman, his business, and the development of the island.

Next we visited the smaller but no less impressive Bannerman family residence that was used as a summer home.  With its location at the north end of the scenic Hudson Highlands, this must have been a wonderful place to spend a summer.  We were able to tour the downstairs of the home and study its rooms.  The guide had a binder of documents and photos to share with the tour group.


The tour also provided a story telling session by Jonathan Kruk, a Hudson valley story teller, who entertained us with tales while dressed in a purple vest and bright orange top hat.  Perfect tales for all ages.

The Island also hosts other events during the season (May-October) including such as plays, outdoor movie screenings, live music and more.   So put this on your calendar for next spring.   Exploring this beautiful and fascinating island made us proud to be a resident of the Hudson River Valley.

Bannerman Castle Trust Inc.


photo credit:  Renee Wallace

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