The Lansingburgh Historical Society was founded in 1965 by a group of local residents as an educational organization chartered by the New York State Education Department through its Board of Regents. Its purpose is to promote the history and culture of Lansingburgh, once both a village and town in western Rensselaer County on the eastern shore of the Hudson River. The community began when Abraham Lansing offered lots for sale in the late 1700s. Buyers came from western and southern New England to establish businesses and trade along the Hudson River. Herman Melville began his writing career here as a youth. Chester Arthur was once a resident. In 1901 Lansingburgh officially became a part of the City of Troy. It predates Troy and was once a thriving commercial center. The historical society celebrates that history. It is a 501c3 organization which depends primarily on memberships and donations to meet its expenses. It receives no ongoing support from any public or private entity.
The Herman Melville House is the headquarters of the Lansingburgh Historical Society. The first floor contains two connected parlors which are used for meeting and display. The rooms are furnished with pieces from local historic homes. Among the display items is a doll house and furnishings made by hand, a box which once held letters exchanged between the Melville and Gansevoort families, a collection of books about people and places in the area, and an array of art works, models, photos and tin ware which have local significance. The third floor attic houses a museum with artifacts from the brick, brush and rope making industries along with street signs, tools, and toys representing Lansingburgh’s past. Across First Avenue is Melville Park, once the site of a ship builder and carpenter shop, now a place of quiet reflection on the shore of the Hudson.
The historical society tells the story of Lansingburgh through a variety of cultural events held from February through November. Speakers present evening lectures on topics related to the Burgh and our Hudson-Mohawk region. A few times a year there are field visits to places with local appeal and interest.
Beginning in 2015 we will be showcasing the many architecturally unique and historic homes in Lansingburgh with a guided walking tour. There have been programs featuring the work of local artist and writers. Some programs focus on the industries that were once an important part of the local economy. The society publishes a newsletter, The Courier, which lists these events and carries stories about local people, places and institutions. The newsletter is a bimonthly publication and goes to all members.
There are two ways to visit Melville House. We run an Open House on the second Saturday of each month 10:00AM until 12N, March through November, where visitors can see the house, hear about Melville, and see the museum. No appointment is necessary.
Other visits can be made by appointment. Please make the contact by email well in advance of when you want to come and be sure to tell us in that email if you have a particular purpose in the visit. College and graduate students in history and literature can sometimes be given an experience tailored to their interest.
The society welcomes genealogical inquiries about Lansingburgh people including information about burials in the cemeteries we care for at 107th Street at Third Avenue. Please make those inquiries by email and be sure to include any names, dates, places or events which you know about. Be sure to let us know what specific information you are looking for. Our policy on genealogical searches allows for the first two hours to be free of charge. You are informed about what has been learned in that two hours and whether more information may be available. If you choose to continue the search, you are charged $25 per hour. All proceeds go the historical society.
See the Contact Us page for email and other contact information.