About Us
by John Kelly


The Friends began as a formal organization in 1998, although it had gestated for at least a decade before that. Several groups of long time valley residents had previously organized for special purposes, such as the repair of the Beaverkill Church, and the maintenance of roads along the river, and there was increasing discussion on all sides about a variety of local issues. At the same time, a wider, and younger, population had coalesced around an annual end-of-season tennis tournament, originally hosted by Michael and Winsome Macintosh on whose Campsite Road property the court was located. The outcome of the exquisitely seeded matches occasioned an awards ceremony and get-together attended in each succeeding year by an increasingly large number of players, watchers, gossipers, and party-goers. The awarding of the Steiff beaver-on-a-board trophy required a speech that soon evolved into valley announcements and discussion of local issues.

It should also be recorded here that there had been a significant demographic change around Beaverkill in the early ’70s when, during a relatively short period, a number of older residents left or died, their places and, frequently, homes taken by an incoming group of thirty and forty somethings and their children, numbers of whom had known each other in the city. Among the early members of this population was the group who gathered to build the cooperative tennis court that became the venue for the annual open tournament. These new residents, mostly summer visitors, were enthusiastic about their new homes in the valley, conservation and preservation oriented, and community spirited almost to a fault.

Into this receptive environment Patricia Adams, who lived closest to the Bridge, introduced a letter in January of 1998 asking for an expression of interest in an organization that would deal with community preservation issues, initially the picnic area of the Campsite, the Beaverkill Church, the Covered Bridge, and the Iron Bridge. Response was immediate, and the association was organized that year as the Friends of Beaverkill Community. Patricia Adams became the first president, serving until 2004 when she resigned to become the editor of volume II. 

Meanwhile, Volume I had been published in 2003, with a second printing in 2005.  Volume II appeared in 2006, followed in 2007 by the Heritage edition which included all the material from Volumes I and II, plus an additional photos section.  The Heritage edition was reprinted in 2008.

In 2000 the Friends, through Mike Teitler, were incorporated as a New York not for profit corporation primarily dedicated to preservation, and quickly received qualification as a tax exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code, permitting contributions to be made on a tax deductible basis. In addition to holding a general business and social meeting at least annually and committee meetings throughout the year, the Friends publish, update, and provide to their dues paying members a directory for use within the group. An extensive website, created by Colin Foote and currently maintained and enlarged by Virginia Lawrence, records the doings of the Friends and contains numerous photographs and some items not included in the two histories published by the Friends as well as reprints of some articles from these volumes.

In spite of a universal feeling for Beaverkill and its history, the Friends are frequently not of one mind on local issues. Preservation can controvert improvement, utility can contend with history, private and public use can be at odds, and the interests of permanent residents are not necessarily the same as those of summer visitors. The approach taken by the Friends has to date been primarily to keep the membership informed about the status of issues of interest to the community, particularly governmental actions proposed for the area and any hearings and related requests for comment, thereby enabling members to make their feeling known on a timely and effective basis. Officers of the Friends and committee members try to attend all relevant governmental meetings in order to keep the membership up to date. They do not assume positions on behalf of the entire group and indicate that their comments reflect their personal positions only. However, the regular presence of representatives of a broad based and well informed local group shows an interest and potential political strength that, the Friends believe, has helped to generate favorable governmental actions, among other things, in connection with the two bridges and the campground. Debate among the Friends themselves is frequent and encouraged.

As an early act, the Friends established a Heritage Committee in order to further its preservation mission by collecting and presenting materials relating to the history and lore of Beaverkill. These volumes are part of the result.

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