Society Celebrates Efforts to Preserve Huguenot Street in New Paltz

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. --- On Huguenot Street in New Paltz, you can see the historic buildings once used by refugees from France, who came to the village more than 300 years ago.

"Here in New Paltz, we find this marvelous community of French speaking people who came to settle here, and we have made restoration grants to the preservation of these houses," said French Heritage Society Board Chair Elizabeth Stribling.

Members of the French Heritage Society have aided in the restoration of the settlement since 2002. Preservationists say that, like the refugees 300 years ago, the U.S. needs to lend a hand to those coming from the Middle East today.

"We talk about refugees from Syria -- the Huguenots were refugees from France that were being persecuted for religious reasons," said Historic Huguenot Street Board President Mary Etta Schneider. "So there are so many levels of connections to what’s going on today."

Schneider is descended from Huguenot refugees herself. She says having this rich history here in the Hudson Valley shows how important French culture is to the U.S.

She added that the connection is especially important in the wake of the Paris attacks.

"To close our doors would be a very difficult thing, because it’s refugees who have made America, and we are a country of immigrants," Schneider said.

Village of New Paltz Mayor Tim Rogers agrees.

"I think it is something we should all look out for," he said. "We need to look out for each other in times of need."

"The acts of war that happened in Paris last week, I think, and the fact that people are still strong in their convictions to have life go on and do the important preservation work, I think is a great testament to both countries," Schneider said.

Historic Huguenot Street plans to restore more buildings within the site, if funding comes through next year.

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