The Poorhouse Monument
Sculptress, Trina Greene, has created a monument to immortalize the former residents of the Ulster County Poorhouse who died and were buried at the site.
The following are the words of the artist:
A monument is envisioned that will serve to teach and remind viewers about the time in Ulster County and the rest of the nation during which there were no safety nets at all for the poor and disenfranchised - from the elderly to infants.
The Poorhouse, ‘conveniently’ located 1.5 miles south of New Paltz, in an era where in the 1800’s the only means of local travel was horse-drawn, existed for around 150 years on what is now the Uster County Fair Grounds. The last buildings were torn down in the early 1970’s. Bones from over 2300 unmarked graves occasionally surface after a rain or flood, and were disturbed when the swimming pool was put in.. Who were these forgotten people? The elderly, the very young, the insane, the impoverished, of various ethnic backgrounds. All homeless with no one to care about them, and now with only indentations in the ground to mark their burial sites.
Proposed Site: the artist proposes to sculpt a life-sized figure of an aging woman, to be cast in bronze, and mounted on a granite slab to be placed on the Ulster County Fair Grounds in front of the swimming pool area, so that it can be cited from the Libertyville Road and easily approached. This site is very near some of the burial grounds behind the swimming pool.
The Concept: an ageing and stooped woman, holding together a thin shawl with one hand, looks into a future that is devoid of hope. Her expression shows strength, compassion, and helplessness at the same time. Her other arm and hand seem to ward off an uncertain fate. Details of features and shawl become blurred, melting into the mists of the past, and vague imagery of birds and flowers on the shawl seem to suggest the potters’ field in which she will be buried.