The Lansingburgh Historical Society was founded in 1965 by a group of residents concerned about preserving the history of the Lansingburgh community. Their immediate motivation for forming the society was the demolition of the Lansing House in that year. The Lansing House had been built in 1749 and had been the home of the Abraham Lansing family who were Lansingburgh’s earliest settlers and for whom the village of Lansingburgh was named. The house was just north of a Lansing family burial ground which was located just west of the present intersection of 109th Street and Second Avenue. Most of the remains from that burial ground were moved to the Oakwood Cemetery in the late 1860s. Now with the loss of the Lansing House in 1965 and the earlier loss of a second Lansing farm house north of the village and the burial ground, nothing remained of the Lansing family property. A fully furnished model of another Lansing House created by Frances Broderick, a founding member of the society, is a display item in the historical society museum.
The historical society was chartered under rules of the New York State Board of Regents and the NYS Education Department in December 1965. In about 1968 a house at number 2 114th Street came up for sale as a tax delinquent property. The society purchased the house. The house built in the 1780s for Stephen Gorham, a local ship builder, had been changed architecturally (roof style, entry location, porch addition, etc.) several times since it was built. Gorham never occupied the house and it had had several owners after his death. In 1838 Mrs. Allan Melville, née Maria Gansevoort, rented the house. She was newly widowed and moved with her five children from Albany to Lansingburgh. Among her children was young Herman Melville. He took odd jobs and attended school at Lansingburgh Academy just three blocks east. He began writing in this house, mostly poetry at first, but later two of his early novels, Typee and Omoo.
The Melvilles left this House in 1847 but it continues to carry the name Herman Melville House. The first floor is the headquarters of the Lansingburgh Historical Society and serves as the venue for various events to celebrate history, people and events in Lansingburgh. It is furnished with a variety of items representing different periods, some of the furnishings being elegant examples from an earlier life in the Burgh. A museum in the third floor attic houses artifacts relating to the culture and industries of the community. There are two private apartments in the house. There is a monthly Open House at Melville House and the house can sometimes be shown by appointment with advance notice. See arrangements elsewhere in this website.
Beginning in 2010 the society began an effort to rehabilitate two cemeteries at 107th Street and Third Avenue. The Lansingburgh Village Burying Ground dates from 1771 and was originally given by Abraham Lansing to the village. It is the burial place of many soldiers from the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the US Civil War plus many other very early residents of Lansingburgh. The Old Catholic Burying Ground was the first Catholic cemetery in the Burgh. It began as the cemetery for the Keating Rawson and John Tracy families. Many Irish Catholic immigrants are buried there and most stones show the county in Ireland from which they came.
The society is a not-for-profit entity. It depends entirely on memberships, donations, and the rents from two apartments in Melville House for its survival. It has US IRS 501c3 status. We invite your membership and support by attending the many events we conduct during the year.