The exact site of Schryver's tavern has been unknown - until the DOT forwarded the historical findings of their research to the Esopus Town Board. It seems that the tavern stood exactly where the soon-to-be-demolished Town Hall is now. A park had been planned for the site all along. In 2005, the board voted unanimously to create a memorial park honoring Truth and to erect a statue of her there.
Deborah Silvestro, one of the major proponents of the project, said that her inspiration grew out of her interest in local history. "One of my special personal interests is the women's suffrage movement. Sojourner Truth is a name that always pops up in that." Silvestro also lives across the street from the old Town Hall. "It was a revelation. A lightbulb just went off. People keep forgetting her around here, and she's recognized around the world."
Silvestro also pointed out that it's been 200 years exactly since Truth worked on the spot. "So we're hoping this park becomes a magnet in Ulster tourism," she said. Silvestro envisions a complete Sojourner Truth tour, including the route she walked when she left the Dumonts and slavery, and the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston, where Truth famously won a court battle to have one of her sons brought back from slavery in Alabama in 1828.
Artists are currently being interviewed to create the statue itself that will stand in the park. Truth was over six feet tall herself, so a representation of such a physically and psychically imposing figure should have the same impact. "We're looking for someone who's enthusiastic about history, who's knowledgeable about the details and has empathy with our project," said Silvestro. Those interested in applying can contact either her, at (845) 338-6494, or Ann Gordon, at (845) 331-7380.
The first of what is to be a series of benefits to fund the Sojourner Truth Park Monument will be held on February 28, beginning at 3 p.m., at the Port Ewen Reformed Church on Salem Street off Route 9W. Performing in concert will be the Esopus Festival Choir, under the direction of Linda Besnahan McCarthy, and the Ulster County Outreach Choir, led by Dennis Washington. Silvestro has written a biographical narration on Sojourner Truth's life that will underscore the music. Free refreshments will be served afterwards. There is a suggested donation of $10, and kids under 10 will be admitted free. For more information, contact the Church at (845) 331-2782.