The Historical Society of the Nyacks presents a new exhibit titled B. W. Church—Boat Builder curated by T. Robins Brown, an architectural historian who lives in Nyack in the house where Church resided from 1919 to 1947. Inspired by a chance meeting with Church’s great-granddaughter who shared her family’s fascinating collection, Ms. Brown developed the exhibit to reveal the previously little-known life of Byron W. Church. In 1901, Church, an experienced boat builder in Mystic, Connecticut, moved to Nyack with his wife and two young daughters.
He was the president of the newly-formed Church Motor and Launch Company. During the following decades he constructed boats at four Hudson River locations in the Nyacks under this company’s name, his own name, and the ambitious Hudson Yacht & Boat Company, located at the current Petersen Boatyard. His career reveals the rapidly evolving boat-building industry in the early 20th century. Local recreational boat builders continued the tradition of making wooden boats while responding to rapid innovations in engines and boat design, and to sometimes ill-fated corporate investment.
A rare 1902 boat catalogue, a half-hull model, and tools drawn from the collection of Church’s descendants are among the fascinating items and images in the exhibit. Photographs and graphics illustrate the variety of his creations: 98-foot-long luxury yachts, functional launches, and diminutive stock cruisers. Charming photographs of the Church family, a handmade toy boat and toy hutch, and items related to the Nyack Boat Club and Knights of Pythias show his life as a family man and club member. Even tragedies, including the fatal explosion of the yacht Luvina are revealed.
The exhibit will be open from 1pm to 4pm every Saturday and Sunday from June 6 through July 26 (except July 4 & 5), or by appointment by calling (845) 418-4430. The Historical Society of the Nyacks museum is accessed under the front porch of the Depew House, 50 Piermont Avenue, adjacent to the Nyack Library parking lot. There is no charge for admission. Donations are encouraged.
The Historical Society of the Nyacks thanks co-sponsors Nyack Boat Club, Petersen Boatyard, West Shore Towers, and 103 Gedney Street Owners, Inc. and supporter The River Club Restaurant.
B.W. Church, Boat Builder
June 6 through July 26, 2015
(closed July 4 & 5)
Historical Society of the Nyacks
50 Piermont Ave.
Nyack, NY 10960