Widow Jane Distillery and Century House Historical Society, a non-profit organization in Rosendale, NY, have announced a partnership to preserve Rosendale’s local history and culture including the landmark Widow Jane Mine.
The Widow Jane Mine, located on the grounds of the Century House is one of the first and one of the oldest examples of a natural cement mine in the country. For more than 100 years, cement from the Widow Jane Mine was used to build early American icons including the Brooklyn Bridge and the base of the Statue of Liberty. While the era of natural cement is long gone, the area’s 32-square-mile limestone shelf is now the source of the limestone-rich water used to proof Widow Jane whiskeys.
SCOPE OF THE PARTNERSHIP
– Widow Jane Distillery will make an annual contribution to support the Century House Historical Society in its mission to preserve and present the history of Rosendale and the Hudson Valley’s renowned cement industry, transportation links, businesses and, most importantly, the people who lived and worked in the area.
– Widow Jane will support the refurbishment of an exhibit within the Century House’s on-site museum.
– The Century House Historical Society and Widow Jane Distillery will co-host an annual celebration of the local history to be held in the Widow Jane Mine and the surrounding picnic grounds.
“The Rosendale Mines are a huge part of New York State’s rich history and the hard-yet-sweet, limestone-rich water found in these mines is what makes Widow Jane whiskeys so special,” says Lisa Wicker, Widow Jane president and head distiller. “Further, there’s a shared roll-up-your-sleeves, DIY sensibility that unites the communities of Rosendale and Red Hook, Brooklyn. We’re proud to support the tireless, entirely volunteer team who maintain the Estate and Mines, keep that history alive, and protect that precious water.”
“For over a century, natural cement from Rosendale was used to build America,” said Althea Werner, director of Century House Historical Society. “Thousands of families lived here, worked and sacrificed in these mines for generations producing the building material that helped construct American landmarks as well as many of the everyday structures in New York and worldwide. The history and contributions made by the miners and their families to America are too important to let time erase. Our partnership with Widow Jane Distillery will help preserve this history for future generations while recognizing the newest industry to come to Rosendale.”
TIES THAT BIND: ROSENDALE AND BROOKLYN
The connection between Rosendale and Brooklyn extends to materials used to build one of the borough’s most recognizable landmarks.
Limestone mined from Rosendale is ideal for manufacturing into a tough and durable natural cement. By the end of the 19th century, the superior quality of Rosendale cement was known worldwide and was actively used in the construction of some of America’s most iconic monuments, including the Brooklyn Bridge.
MORE ROSENDALE MINE FACTS:
– In 1830, commercial mining began in Rosendale and spread throughout the region.
– By 1840, Rosendale had 13 cement companies operating 16 sites collectively producing 600,000 barrels of cement annually.
– By 1891, half of the cement in North America was Rosendale cement.
– Other major landmarks constructed using cement made of Rosendale limestone include the base of the Statue of Liberty, the US Capitol Building, the American Museum of Natural History, Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, and the New York State Capitol. More can be found here.
WHO WAS WIDOW JANE?
The legend of Widow Jane is shrouded in mystery. Here’s what we know: The name Widow Jane is a reference to Jane LeFevre Snyder who lived at the Century House and was a beloved figure in the community. Jane became a widow the age of 31 and lost all four of her male children as infants.
The Widow Jane Mine is currently open in accordance with New York State Parks regulations. Small donations are accepted for admission. The Century House museum is open on Sundays in the summer from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. or by appointment. Check CenturyHouse.org for updates.