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Groundbreaking Ceremony Held at Peekskill's Lincoln Depot Museum
2011 marks the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's historic visit to Peekskill.
Today, ground was broken for the interior construction of the Lincoln Depot Building which is slated to become the future Lincoln Depot Museum.
Westchester County Legislator John Testa was joined by County Executive Rob Astorino, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster, Former Peekskill Mayor Frances Gibbs and dozens of others to mark the beginning of the contruction.
The building, which is located near the Peekskill waterfront is the site where Lincoln made his speech before some 1500 people. It was one of his many campaign stops on a 12 day journey from Springfield, Illinois to his inaugural in Washington D.C. in 1861.
It is widely believed that Lincoln visited the City at the request of Peekskill Attorney William Nelson who served with Lincoln in Congress.
During his stint as Mayor of Peekskill Testa was able to obtain the necessary funding to purchase the Lincoln Depot site and facilitate the complete renovation of the exterior of the structure. The lifesize bronze Lincoln Statue that stands in front was dedicated in 2006.
A 40 year Civil War Reenactor and Lincoln Historian, Testa says the project is a dream come true for him and Peekskill's Lincoln Society.
The 3,000 square foot building will be transformed into a visitor's center featuring educational programs, lectures and special exhibits that will enhance the impact of the site.
Former Governor and Peekskill Mayor George Pataki was instrumental in helping obtain the $5 million in NY State grants to restore the museum.
Testa says he's hopeful that the final renovation of the Depot into the Lincoln Museum will serve as a tourism hub as well. He envisions it as a place for students to plan class trips and as a destination for tourists who want to experience the Historic Hudson Valley.
He noted the proximity to the Peekskill train station will serve to attract visitors from all parts of New York State.
Testa reflected on his long-term vision for the Lincoln Depot Museum, saying he wants visitors to realize the city and county's role in history. Said Testa "Whether it's the Lincoln stop or the Civil War connection,Westchester and the Hudson Valley was a very central part to a lot of the history and development of this nation, not just this area. From the Revolutionary War right on up, a lot of the people who came from here,as well as the events that took place here, played a big role. So we have a lot to be proud of."
The Lincoln Society is sponsoring a number of events open to the public in the upcoming weeks to celebrate the Lincoln Sesquicentennial. To find out more visit www.lincolnsociety.com.
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