Museum in the Streets© of Millbrook, New York
The Village of Millbrook recently unveiled its Museum in the Streets© (MITS), a self-guided walking tour, featuring 32 permanent plaques, designed to promote a sense of historical identity and encourage the preservation of local history throughout the Village of Millbrook and the surrounding Town of Washington.
The bi-lingual plaques in English and Italian are the first American installation of Museum in the Streets©, an international program, to use Italian as a second language. The choice of Italian as a second language is to acknowledge the many Italian families who first settled in Millbrook in the early 20th century, when they came to work as stonemasons or laborers on the large estates. A great many of these families came from an area halfway between Rome and Naples, in or near the town of Fondi, 80 miles south of Rome. Many Irish immigrants joined them working on area estates.
The idea was developed in France by Patrick Cardon. His friend, Millbrook resident Barbara Peirce, thought the idea could work in her hometown, because people are always seeking ways to connect with their past and their family roots. Pierce notes that many of the surnames still found in Fondi and the Italian mountains are carried by their heirs to this day in Millbrook (Ianucci, Rotunno, & Velletri).
It took nearly two years to develop the MITS. The members of the Town of Washington and Village of Millbrook Historical Society provided key documents and photos for the project. They began with a walking tour of Millbrook already in print and focused on local historic sites. Photos were obtained from residents and business people. Check out the large descriptive panels at the Thorne Building and at the bus stop. It will certainly help you plan your visit to this charming town just east of the Taconic State Parkway.
Walk the village and read the plaques to learn how Millbrook began as an agricultural region, and how the railroad changed the area from farmland into a thriving village. The railroad station once stood where the current village green is now.
Free MITS brochures are available throughout Millbrook and at Dutchess Tourism at 3 Neptune Road in Poughkeepsie, and at our 17 Tourism Information Centers. See a list of their locations at http://dutchesstourism.com/listings/tourist-information-centers/