A Park, and Home to The Hastings Historical Society: Draper Park - Draper Cottage, A father-son story
By: Riley Wentzler & Felicia Barber
(All Photos Courtesy of the Hastings Historical Society)
On Washington Ave, Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706 stands a 9.9-acre park with picnic areas (https://www.hastingsgov.org/parks-and-recreation-department/pages/parks-facilities). Also on the grounds of the park is a building that was once an astronomical observatory, but is now a museum and home to the Hastings Historical Society (https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/history-of-historical-society/). The park is named “Draper Park” and the building, unsurprisingly, is named “Draper Observatory Cottage.” But, they aren’t named for the same person.
The park is named for Dr. John William Draper, but, the Draper Observatory was built in 1860 by his son, Henry Draper (personal communication from Jan Clough at the Hastings Historical Society), and is therefore named for the younger Draper.
Dr. John William Draper (1811-1882) was a famous philosopher, chemist, and historian. He was born in Saint Helens, Lancashire, England in 1811. He came to the United States in 1832. Four years later, he earned a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 1839, he went to New York City where he became a professor of chemistry at the University of the City of New York (later New York University). It was while there that he made his most significant scientific accomplishment, the first astronomical photograph, a picture of the moon announced in March 1840. In addition to this, he was also responsible for the second photographic portrait, taken in December 1839.
Draper’s most famous work as a historian was his book, History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874). However, he also wrote, History of the American Civil War (1867-1870). He continued to teach at the University of the City of New York until his death in 1882 (MICROSOFT ENCARTA, 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation).
Like father, like son. Henry Draper followed in his father’s footsteps.
(Henry Draper’s Observatory c. 1860)
After graduating from medical school in 1857, Henry set into motion plans to build an observatory here in Hastings. From this observatory, in 1863, Henry took the clearest photos of the moon to date. He had spotted the moon using a 15.5-inch Newtonian telescope, which he had placed into a revolving dome earlier using a treadmill -- human-powered (Baker 1888 p.11-13). He went on to take 1,500 such photographs (https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/permanent-exhibits/).
(the Observatory becomes a museum)
In 1994, the Village of Hastings offered the Henry Draper Observatory to the Hastings Historical Society. The Society then spent $400,000 to renovate the building, turning it into a museum called, “Draper Cottage.” These renovations were completed in 1997 (https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/history-of-historical-society/). The former residence of Dr. John William Draper is only two doors south of the Draper Observatory Cottage at 271 South Broadway (personal communication from Jan Clough at Hastings Historical Society). The Draper Observatory Cottage is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been since 1975 (https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/draper-observatory-cottage/).
In conclusion, Hastings has two Draper memorials, “Draper Park”, which has an entrance on Broadway just south of Washington Ave, named for Dr. John William Draper and “Draper Observatory Cottage” named for his son Henry. The close proximity of these two memorials is a beautiful reminder of the bond between father and son.
Previous Slices of History include:
- Hastings’ Best and Brightest: Nobel Laureates of Hastings
About the Authors:
We are both Assistant Town Historians at Greenburgh Town Hall and we are engaged to be married and are currently looking for permanent employment.
I was born and raised in a small rural town in central Pennsylvania. In high school, I took every honors course available including four years of Spanish. I received A’s in all of them. I graduated third in my class of 146 students. This brought me to Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Once there, I continued my trend of academic excellence. I graduated summa cum laude in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and a Master’s in Communication Studies, with a G.P.A of 3.94. It was also there that I met my lovely fiancée, Felicia Barber. My Master’s in Communication has promoted public speaking, teamwork, and customer service. My Political Science degree has developed my research skills using computer-based tools and provided me with experience using the Microsoft Office products. My minor in Spanish has facilitated my bilingual capabilities. During my internship at Greenburgh, I created the petition for the State Roads project using website tools. My diverse education and areas of interest have provided me with a wide range of skills. I look forward to finding a career opportunity in business or government. To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at email@example.com, or to help me find employment, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I was born in New York City and raised in Hartsdale, New York. I graduated from Ardsley High School. I recently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. It was here that I met my fiancé, Riley Wentzler. As a result of my academic excellence, I won a scholarship every year. I learned and applied many graphic design skills to projects during my summer internships and at school. I am proficient in using Adobe graphic design applications including Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. For my Identity/branding course at Edinboro, I created logos to appear on the tee-shirts of Physical Education majors. For a veteran’s upcoming event, I used a typeface to focus the reader to the soldier in the poster. For the State Roads Legislative Campaign project, I created the embedded graphic-photo that accompanied the petition I am looking for a job to utilize my skills as a Graphic Designer in an agency, print shop, company or government To suggest a topic for next week’s article, you can contact me at email@example.com. To learn more about my artwork or to help me find employment you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Interviews with the authors:
Barker, G. F. (1888). Memoir of Henry Draper 1837-1882. None: None.
Hastings Historical Society. (2018, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). DRAPER OBSERVATORY COTTAGE. Retrieved from Hastings Historical Society: https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/draper-observatory-cottage/
Hastings Historical Society. (2018, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Hastings Historical Society. Retrieved from Hastings Historical Society: https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/history-of-historical-society/
Hastings Historical Society. (2018, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). PERMANENT EXHIBITION. Retrieved from Hastings Historical Society: https://hastingshistoricalsociety.org/permanent-exhibits/
Hastings on Hudson Municipal Building. (2021, (NOT GIVEN) (NOT GIVEN)). Parks & Facilities. Retrieved from Village of Hastings on Hudson New York: https://www.hastingsgov.org/parks-and-recreation-department/pages/parks-facilities
Microsoft Corporation. (1993-2003, (Not Given) (Not Given)). Encarta Encyclopedia. Redmond , Washington , United States of America.