HILLSDALE — The Friends of East Gate unveiled an historic marker at the East Gate Toll House on Route 23 in Hillsdale on May 19. Funds for the marker were provided from The William G. Pomeroy Foundation’s Historic Roadside Marker Program. In addition to the Board of Trustees, in attendance were Hillsdale Town Supervisor Peter Cipkowski, Rick Howland, Legislative Aide to NY State Senator Kathleen Marchione, and Copake Falls resident Edgar Masters, whose generous donation allowed the Friends of East Gate to acquire the building in 2016.
In 2016 the East Gate Toll House was added to the State and National Register of Historic Places, but the designation did not include funding for commemorative signage. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation provides grants to municipalities and 501(c)3 organizations to cover the cost of erecting plaques and signs that preserve history. Since 2006, the Foundation has funded more than 625 signs through a variety of historic signage grant programs.
“We are very grateful to the Pomeroy Foundation for its generous grant,” said James Wagman, President of Friends of East Gate. “An historic marker at East Gate will literally put the building ‘on the map’ as one of the last surviving Toll Houses in the state from the great turnpike building boom of 1790-1845.”
“The William G. Pomeroy Foundation strongly believes that historic markers play an important role in local historic preservation by educating the public and promoting historic tourism,” said Paula Miller, Executive Director of the Pomeroy Foundation. “This can in turn provide much needed economic benefits to the towns and villages where markers are placed. We are delighted to recognize the East Gate Toll House as a grant recipient.”
Edelman Excavation of Hillsdale donated its services to dig the posthole for the historic marker.
The history of East Gate Toll House stretches back to the earliest days of the republic. After the Revolutionary War, the population in New York City grew at a rapid pace and demanded produce, flour, grains and livestock. This meant a steady source of income for farmers in what today are Columbia County and Berkshire County, Mass. But getting goods from the farms to New York in the days before canals, railroads and steamships meant carting them over poor roads west to the Hudson River, where they would be sent to New York by ship.
In 1799 the New York State Legislature chartered the Columbia Turnpike (today’s Route 23) as a commercial trade route between Massachusetts and the city of Hudson. The East Gate Toll House was built between 1820-1830. The success of early turnpikes in raising money and improving roads was striking. Because turnpikes facilitated movement and trade, nearby farmers, merchants, land owners and ordinary residents stood to benefit. The Columbia Turnpike became a source of civic pride at a time when Americans embraced a public-mindedness that encouraged community investment for long-term gain and resulted in the funding of schools, libraries, hospitals, churches, canals, and other public improvements.
Friends of East Gate is a non-profit group committed to saving and reusingthe historic East Gate Toll House, once the eastern-most terminus of the Columbia Turnpike.
The William G. Pomeroy Foundation’s two main initiatives are to help diversify the Be the March Registry by supporting bone marrow drives in diverse communities and topreserve our history through Historic Signage Grant Programs. In addition to the Historic Roadside Marker Program, the Pomeroy Foundation also provides grants for signage to commemorate public properties or districts that are on the National Register of Historic Places. For information about the Foundation’s grant programs, visit its website: www.wgpfoundation.org.