An Evening with author Tonia Shoumatoff

New York’s Harlem Valley, with the last stops on the Metro-North train line from Manhattan, has an incredibly eclectic history for a predominantly agricultural region—a Victorian utopian community claiming to see fairies settled in Wassaic, attracting Japanese samurai and remaking the townscape of Amenia. An early version of the “Borscht Belt” began on the shores of Lake Amenia, where a once-thriving resort community vanished along with the lake itself. In 1916, following the death of Booker T. Washington, and in 1933, amid a crisis of dwindling membership, the NAACP was brought together at major conferences held at Amenia’s Troutbeck estate, owned by the organization’s only Jewish president, Joel Spingarn. Young graduates from the Rhode Island School of Design and other art schools launched the Wassaic Project, a festival and art residency using a converted grain elevator as their venue.

Join us at the Library to hear from Tonia Shoumatoff about Historic Tales of the Harlem Valley.


Kent Memorial Library
32 North Main Street
Kent Connecticut,

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