In the past five years, a few of those structures have been restored and put to new use. Many are still abandoned and in various stages of decay, and others have been demolished. Yasinsac’s website www.hudsonvalleyruins.org tracks the changes that have taken place in all these locations, as he continues to search out other sites and structures to chronicle.
From the book’s blurb: “Hudson Valley Ruins provides a record of historic and distinctive architecture threatened by development, vandals and time and exposure to the elements. We hope this website will be a catalyst for efforts to save the neglected historic structures of the Hudson Valley region of New York State.”
The aim to expose and preserve the region’s important mansions, churches, factories and mills is an ongoing process of discovery and education – one in which Yasinsac and Rinaldi welcome public participation. A website feature, “Demo Alert,” allows people to contact them with information about the demise, deterioration or planned demolitions of structures – any structure of historical interest, from a grand architectural building like the Hudson River State Hospital in Poughkeepsie to a small remnant of early-20th-century commercial buildings like the Carvel Ice Cream Bakery in Hartsdale and to private homes both grand and small. If it has a story, it’s worth documenting.
Yasinsac credits a couple of teachers for igniting his passion for observation and documentation. A third-grade teacher would walk his class around the village and call the kids’ attention to what was there. Later, a high school photography teacher would point out an aqueduct, a fountain or a foundation as subject matter for shooting, and he says, “I always wondered what else was back there.” A near-obsession was born – one that he has found endlessly fascinating and meaningful.
Driving up and down the Hudson River to witness the ruins of commerce and livelihood, and watching what happens – or doesn’t – to these structures causes him to question: Are we to be known as a “historic place” or not? If a building or a site is not at least maintained, or restored and reused in a manner that doesn’t infringe on the original architectural integrity of the building, then the Hudson Valley cannot continue to claim its historical importance and glory.
His interest in photographic documentation has expanded to include trips that he has made across the country. He lectures and holds workshops – most recently a night photography workshop at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery conducted with Jim Logan. He is site manager at Philipsburg Manor, a National Historic Landmark in the village of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County. And he continues to lobby, through his own work and through collaborations with other organizations like Bannerman Castle Trust (see www.bannermancastle.org), for the honorable preservation of our history.