Piermont is a small municipality, but it's history—which includes pre-Revolution homes, a World War II embarkment station and a notable pier—is no drop in the bucket. And the Piermont Historical Society is working to ensure the village's residents know that.
The organization came together unofficially in 2004, and their original, sole goal was to preserve the village's old railroad station on Ash Street. The group's original name was the Piermont Railroad Historical Society. The railroad station they sought to preserve was built in 1883.
"The station was starting to deteriorate badly," recalls Sylvia Welch, one of the group's founding members. Welch and a handful of other historically-minded residents scheduled several kitchen table meetings to talk strategy, and eventually restored the building with the help of grants and donations.
"It cost between eighty and one-hundred thousand dollars to rehabilitate," Welch said. The renovations were carried out with historical accuracy, too, even though most of the original plans were missing. Old postcards were used to ensure the original decor and ambience remained.
Now, the station—which is on the fist Sunday of each month during the warmer seasons—is the only one in Rockland from that era. "Everything else was torn down," Welch said.
The building is also used for occasional lectures and Christmas parties (which Welch dubs "igloo parties," due to the station's frigid interior come winter). There is still work to be done, like routine maintenance and drainage upgrades, but the modest station is now a major part of Piermont's culture.
Once the station was salvaged, however, the society decided not to rest on their laurels. Welch and company were quick to change their name to something more broad, obtain a charter from the state and begin work on other projects. The most recent? Adding the Rockland Road Bridge—and surrounding area—to the state register of historical places. Currently, the society is working to raise around $200,000, which would be put toward cleaning up the landscape and installing plaques.
The group, which currently has nine members on its board, will also hold an annual members meeting in November. "We're looking to expand membership," Welch explained.
"For a small society, we've made quite the impact," she added.