Discover the many unique opportunities for learning that the Rensselaer County Historical Society offers to visitors. Our extensive object and library collections, historic buildings, and historic neighborhood allow educators, students and adult groups to experience history firsthand.
Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at RCHS, 57 Second Street in historic downtown Troy.
Street parking is available. Call 518-272-7232 for more information. Some of our events require pre-registration.
History Comes to You
RCHS can bring history to you! We bring special presentations on the history of Rensselaer County to groups in and around the Capital Region. Potential presentation topics include an introduction to Rensselaer County history, the Underground Railroad, Uncle Sam, and more. For a brochure of Bringing History to You topics, click here
To schedule an outreach presentation for your group, contact County Historian Kathy Sheehan at 518-272-7232 x15
Interested in celebrating Troy’s Bicentennial? On Wednesday, October 19 join the Rensselaer County Historical Society’s Rising Leaders Advisory Council for an evening of history and beer! Mix and mingle and learn about the Collar City’s beer brewing throughout the centuries. Festivities begin at 7 pm at Rensselaer County Historical Society Museum and then move to Rare Form Brewing Company for tasting.
The program will begin with a look at RCHS’ current exhibition Visions of Troy: 200 Years a City 1816-2016 paired with a talk from Kathy T. Sheehan, Registrar and Rensselaer County & Troy City Historian, who will give us a look into the breweries that have come and gone throughout the years. Then the party will travel for a short walk to one of Troy’s newest craft breweries Rare Form Brewing Company where everyone will get the chance to try a pint of the commemorative Bicentennial Brew.
This night is sure to be a fun learning experience for all! Wear good walking shoes and dress weather accordingly. Tickets cost $10 in advance, or $15 for same day registration (cash or check only). One pint of beer is included with the cost of admission. Ages 21+. Rensselaer County Historical Society is located at 57 Second Street, Troy, NY 12180.
For advanced tickets, please call Rensselaer County Historical Society at 518-272-7232.
The 2016 Thomas Phelan Endowed Lecture
Celebrating the Historic Preservation Act of 1966: Past, Present & Future Visions
Saturday, June 18, 2016
10am – 11:30am
Bush Memorial Center on the Russell Sage College Campus & The Rensselaer County Historical Society
Moderator: Ruth L. Pierpont
Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, NYS Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation
John G. Waite, FAIA
Senior Principal of
John G. Waite and Associates, Architects, PLCC
Michael F. Lynch, PE, AIA, FAPT
Director of Historic Preservation Services, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
James J. Conroy
Associate Broker, Berkshire Hathaway Blake Realtors
June History Walks
Saturday, June 4th, 2016 – Underground Railroad in Troy
Troy was a hotbed of abolitionism and Underground Railroad activity. Walk to where history was made including the site of the rescue of Charles Nalle. This walk will begin at the Farmer’s Market Information Booth 10:30 AM on Saturday June 4th.
Saturday, June 11th, 2016 – Urban Renewal
In 1965 Architecture Worth Saving in Rensselaer County was published by RPI Professor Bernd Foerster. The book showcased important buildings that should not be torn down as part of Troy and Rensselaer County’s Urban Renewal Movement. The transformation of the built environment in downtown Troy created economic and social upheaval that impacted the growth of Troy for many years. Sadly some of the buildings in Foerster’s book did not survive, but many others still stand as a testament to the preservation movement that continues today. Tour the sites associated with Troy’s Urban Renewal and the resulting historic preservation movement of the 1960’s and 70’s including the Boardman Building, Troy Theater, Union Railroad Station and the 5th Avenue brownstones. This brand new history walk will begin at the Farmer’s Market Information Booth 10:30 AM on Saturday June 11th.
Troy Night Out
May 27th, 2016 5:00-8:00 PM
Join us for a special book signing with local author, Shirley W. Dunn, who has just published Fort Crailo and the Van Rensselaers, The Dutch Colonial Origins of Greenbush & the City of Rensselaer as part of RCHS’s on-going celebration of Rensselaer County’s 225th anniversary. The fully illustrated history of this popular historic building in the City of Rensselaer brings together many years of Mrs. Dunn’s research into the history of the house and the family who built and lived there. Books may be purchased in the RCHS gift shop during the evening. Mrs. Dunn will discuss the book in an informal presentation beginning at 6pm.
The book also includes images of the Rensselaer County Historical Society’s portrait of John Jeremias Van Rensselaer (1762-1828), one of the last owners of Fort Crailo. This rare portrait, painted in oil paint on a tin panel, was recently restored by art conservator Joyce Zucker, thanks in part to a grant from the Conservation Treatment Program of the Greater Hudson Heritage Network. Ms. Zucker will discuss the challenges of the restoration process and some of the interesting discoveries she made during the project. The portrait will be on view for the evening.
May Hidden History
Note Special Date: Tuesday May 24th. 4:30-6:00 PM
Walking Tour of North Central Troy. Meet in the Parking lot across from the Ale House located at 680 River Street.
Join Kathy Sheehan, Rensselaer County & Troy City Historian and Michael Barrett, Director of the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway for a tour of North Central Troy. This area from Mount Olympus to 101st Street, was the site of large collar factories and laundries, rail yards for the Boston & Maine, the Federal Dam and lock and other businesses, churches and civic organizations. Michael and Kathy will share many of the famous and infamous events that happened in this neighborhood! A tour not to be missed
History walks are held every Saturday in May, June, September and October. Led by RCHS staff, each tour has a different theme. Tours leave promptly at 10:30 am from the Farmer’s Market Information Booth. $5 per person, free for RCHS members. No Reservation required. Please join us!
The Air Was Full Of Smoke And Cinders: Troy’s Great Fire of 1862
Saturday, May 7, 2016
On May 10, 1862, fire erupted on a bridge crossing the Hudson River and within hours, more than 500 buildings in the city were destroyed. Walk back into history as you retrace the progress of the “Great Fire” and see the disaster’s impact.
Explore Centennial Troy
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Explore the last century of Troy’s history, through the lens of the built environment that is Troy today. We will explore Troy’s downtown historic district using historic photos that capture the city at key moments throughout its history. This tour is in conjunction with the Bicentennial exhibit Visions of Troy: 200 Years A City: 1816-2016. On view now at RCHS through December 19th, 2016.
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Explore one of Troy’s most iconic neighborhoods, Washington Park. Tours will meet at the corner of Second and Washington Street.
Troy Night Out
Explore the UGRR History Project Art Exhibit
Along the Rails in Troy:
From Hoosick Street to the Canal, 1929 and Today
Thursday, May 19, 2016, 7 PM
Compare views of rarely seen parts of Troy with the same locations today in this presentation and learn now the railroad was part of everyday life well into the 20th century.
RCHS members free, Not-yet-members $5.
Troy Night Out
Celebrating Women’s History Month with author Kathleen A. Donnelly
Friday, March 25th from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Double your fun while you discover one of Troy’s treasures. Visit RCHS to explore the acclaimed Bicentennial exhibit- Visions of Troy: 200 Years A City 1816 – 2016 and stay for an Author’s Book Signing with Kathleen A. Donnelly. As the author of Women Of Influence, Professor Donnelly (Ret.) will give short presentations at 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. to share highlights from her series of insightful essays about thirty women who were awarded Honorary Degrees from Russell Sage College. Celebrate Women’s History Month with us from 5:00 – 8:00 for TNO!
Hidden History Tour of the Rensselaer County Courthouse
Join us Tuesday March 29, 2016 at 4:30 p.m.
County Clerk Frank Merola will guide us through the maps, records and other collections that are housed in the Rensselaer County Courthouse! We will meet at the 3rd Street courthouse annex entrance. Parking is available in the lot to the south of the courthouse.
RCHS members $12.00.
Click here for tickets
The image above is our 2nd courthouse built c.1830.
Rensselaer County Historical Society Member’s Only Reception
JOIN US FOR A
FREE MEMBERS NIGHT GALLERY OPENING RECEPTION!
Thursday, February 25th, 2016 5-7 PM
Visions of Troy: 200 Years a City
Please join us for a Gallery Opening and Reception. Don’t miss the unveiling of Troy’s Bicentennial exhibit!
Join us for gallery visits, light refreshments and to lift a glass to celebrate Troy’s Bicentennial.
Finding your Roots
Friday February 26, 2016 5-9 PM
Visit the opening of the Bicentennial Exhibit at the Rensselaer County Historical Society during Troy Night Out Friday, February 26 from 5-9pm. While there, you’re invited to bring your family stories, heirlooms and photos to be photographed and used in the WMHT #FindingYourRoots social media campaign. WMHT will be on hand to document.
Rising Leaders Sneak Peak Social
Are you looking for something fun to do the first week of February?
Join us for our inaugural Rising Leaders event on Thursday, February 4th!
Light food will be served with a cash bar.
Visit RCHS on Facebook for more details
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Rising Leaders is a RCHS affiliate group created to bring together young professionals through history and non-profit leadership.
From Our Hart to Your Heart
Join us for a family friendly look at historic Valentines from the RHCS collection.
Saturday, February 6th 2 – 4 p.m.
Activity suitable for children 5 and older & for the young at heart.
RSVP to email@example.com to save your spot!
Program Fee of $5 Includes:
- A brief history of Valentine cards and how they often reflect current events
as well as friendship & romance
- Light refreshments and
- All materials
Hidden History Tour – West Hall History and Renovation
Tuesday October 27, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Location: 110 8th Street
$15 for public, $12 for members
Below Stairs, An Augmented Reality History Adventure for the Hart-Cluett House
Saturday, November 14, 2015
$15 per person, $10 RCHS Members and Students with Valid ID
Bring your Smart Phone or Tablet (and a pair of headphones if you wish to use them) and join us for this exciting new way to experience local history and the Hart-Cluett House. Do you have what it takes to succeed “below stairs” in the 1850s? Play the part of a servant looking for a job in the Hart household as she/he has a trial day of work. You will have to hunt through the house to complete your assigned tasks and see if you get the job! This program is a cooperative project with RCHS and students of Rensselaer’s COMM Mobile AR Design Course and Prof. Rebecca Rouse.
- Note: There are a lot of stairs to climb in this experience.
2015 Greens Show
December 3-6, 2015
Phelan Lecture, September 12, 2015
Hidden History Walking Tours
Hidden History tours offer a look into little-explored locales throughout Rensselaer County.
Tours are led by Historian Kathy Sheenan.
Tours begin and end at the Market Information
Table at the Troy Waterfront Farmers Market.
Tours depart at 10:30am and last about an hour.
$5 per person, Free for RCHS members.
Uncle Sam’s Life in Troy
Saturday, September 12, 2015
This tour takes you to sites associated with Samuel Wilson, the “real” Uncle Sam. You’ll also visit the RCHS museum, which includes artifacts from Samuel Wilson’s life and images of our national symbol.
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Stroll the streets of downtown Troy and you’ll find a rich built environment. This tour showcases some of Troy’s architectural gems as you explore the range of styles found in Troy.
The Marquis de Lafayette Visits Troy
Saturday, September 26, 2015
For much of 1824 & 1825, Lafayette, the hero of the American Revolution, made a triumphal visit to the US, including visiting Troy twice. Follow in his footsteps as he was shown the bustling city that Troy had become.
Hart-Cluett House Tours
Tour the Hart-Cluett House, one of the finest intact houses of the late Federal period in America, the second Saturday of every month each with a different theme.
2015 Tour Dates: September 12, October 10, November 14, December 12
2015 Boat Trip to Manhattan
On Day One 120 people passengers boarded the Captain JP in Troy and journeyed down river all day to NY Harbor with great views of river estates, wildlife, barges and of course the iconic Manhattan skyline en route. Day Two the group split up to visit The Met, The Guggenheim and The Museum of the City of NY then traveled back upstate for dinner and exploration at the magnificent historic Mohonk Mountain House.
To see photos from this event go to facebook.com/RensselaerCountyHistoricalSociety
Click here to visit our School Programs/Education page. We have great walking tours, historic house tours and our programs align with New York State Learning Standards and build on the Common Core Standards.
RCHS is handicapped accessible.
Click here for map, directions & hours
Call 518-272-7232 for more information