New Rochelle, NY—Honoring the legacy of one of America’s most iconic Founding Fathers, the Thomas Paine Festival will inaugurate the newly-named Thomas Paine New Rochelle Center featuring the unique historical sites adjacent to one another on North Avenue in New Rochelle -- the Thomas Paine Cottage Museum (est. 1784), the Thomas Paine Monument (est. 1839), and the Thomas Paine Memorial Building (est. 1925).
The program on Saturday, June 18th will begin with a ribbon-cutting and wreath-laying ceremony at 11:00 AM. Speakers and special guests will include Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Mayor Noam Bramson, Deputy Mayor and City Council member Sara Kaye, State Senator Shelley Mayer, State Assemblyperson Amy Paulin, New Rochelle City Historian Barbara Davis, New Rochelle author Linda Tarrant-Reid, and the President of Revolutionary Westchester 250, Constance Kehoe. The ceremony will take place near the Thomas Paine Monument, gravesite and Memorial Building at 983 North Avenue.
On Saturday afternoon, families are invited to a Colonial Fair 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Thomas Paine Cottage, 20 Sicard Avenue) with historical reenactments, music of the colonial period, family-centered entertainment, lawn games, a Juneteenth recognition of Paine’s opposition to slavery, educational opportunities. The day will end with musical selections from the pre-Broadway show “The Crossing and the Ten Crucial Days”
Festival organizers are the Huguenot & New Rochelle Historical Association, the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, and the Thomas Paine Memorial Association. Funding was made possible by a donation from the City of New Rochelle and private individuals.
Gary Bush, President of the Huguenot & New Rochelle Historical Association, said, “The Thomas Paine Festival is an opportunity to stimulate the interest of young people and community members in the importance of Thomas Paine’s life within local New Rochelle history and promote historic preservation of his homestead.” Bush added, “Hope for our future relies on our ability to care about our past.”
Other Festival events will start the evening of Thursday, June 16th when organizers will host a Colonial Tavern Night offering food, drinks, and music of the era by Erik and Eliza Lichack on the grounds of the Cottage Museum (20 Sicard Avenue) starting at 5:30 PM. The Museum and Building will be open with many new exhibits.
Friday, June 17th events will begin at 10:00 AM with a Symposium at the Thomas Paine Memorial Building (983 North Avenue), featuring presentation about Paine’s life, works, and legacy. The Symposium, open to the public, will bring together scholars to prepare the way for increased national recognition of Paine’s role in the American and French Revolutions and the spread of democratic ideals globally. Members of the Editorial Board of the Thomas Paine Collected Works Project will conduct a panel discussion about the project, closing out the Symposium around 2:30 PM. At 3:00 PM, the Iona College Ryan Library (715 North Avenue) will host a viewing of Thomas Paine-themed artifacts, including original documents and his writing kit. A reception and dinner theater will round out Friday’s festivities, starting at 6:30 PM at the Greentree Country
Club (538 Davenport Avenue). Actor Ian Ruskin will be presenting his one-man play, To Begin the World Over Again: The Life of Thomas Paine. Ruskin said, “I look forward to portraying Thomas Paine in New Rochelle, New York. It’s exciting to present my play in the very place where Thomas Paine once lived.”
A co-organizer of the Festival, the Thomas Paine Memorial Association, will be providing educational materials about the bill in the US Congress to authorize a statue of Paine in the nation’s capital. A message from Congressman Jamie Raskin, the principal sponsor, will be shown at the Thomas Paine Memorial Building (983 North Avenue) at 12:30 PM. In his words, “Despite his catalytic role in founding America and our constitutional republic, Thomas Paine remains too often on the dark outskirts of history. It is way past time for Congress to give Thomas Paine the central place of respect and awe he deserves in our Nation’s Capital.”
The commissioned sculptor for the Washington, D.C. statue, Zenos Frudakis, will speak on Saturday at 2:00 PM inside the Thomas Paine Memorial Building (983 North Avenue).
To learn more about which Festival events are free and open to the public; which events require reservations and tickets; and to see a map of the locations mentioned above, please visit: www.ThomasPaineCenter.org