Located by Peekskill Bay on the east bank of the Hudson River, The Lincoln Depot Museum is a 3,000 square foot freight and passenger rail depot where President-elect Abraham Lincoln stopped to greet New Yorkers on February 19, 1861 during his inaugural train ride between Springfield, IL and Washington, DC.
New York State Governor George Pataki aided the City of Peekskill with a grant to restore the old rail depot as a museum. County Legislator John G. Testa, then the Mayor of Peekskill, steered a volunteer board of directors to incorporate The Lincoln Depot Foundation, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established to restore the Depot as a museum that would illuminate and celebrate Lincoln’s relationship to New York and to New Yorkers before and during the Civil War. Remembering and recounting Lincoln’s ties to Peekskill has special resonance for those who treasure the history of the Hudson Valley as well as lovers of Civil War history.
The mission of The Lincoln Depot Museum is to explore, remember, and educate audiences about the place that our local history played on the national stage.
The Hon. John G. Testa served as the mayor of the City of Peekskill for three terms before being elected to his current position as County Legislator. A life long Peekskill resident, he also served on numerous nonprofit boards including two terms as President of the Lincoln Society in Peekskill, one of the oldest in the nation, and on the board of Westchester Community College.
Historic preservation and celebrating America’s history have played an important role in all of Testa’s adult life. He has served as a Revolutionary War reenactor with the 1st New York Regiment of the Brigade of the American Revolution for over 40 years.
As a Common Council Member and later Mayor of the City of Peekskill, he played a fundamental role in securing the property the Depot resides on and in getting the grants from the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York State Department of Environmental Protection that have financed its transformation. Now, in his role as President of the Lincoln Depot Museum Foundation, he is dedicated to not only completing the physical side of the project but to establishing a nationally-recognized organization that will sustain itself for the foreseeable future.
Mr. Caplan has more than 26 years’ experience litigating a broad range of entertainment, intellectual property and commercial matters. His clients have included recording artists and producers, publishing companies, record labels, personal managers, business management, accounting firms, professional athletes, and dealers in fine art. He is a member of the Westchester County and New York State Bar associations, the Copyright Society of the United States, the International Association of Entertainment Lawyers, and the Friar’s Club. He is an avid collector of Lincoln, Civil War and baseball related photography.
Hon. Cathy Pisani, a life-long resident of Peekskill, has served the community most notably as a City of Peekskill Common Council Member/Deputy Mayor for sixteen years and a Peekskill High School educator for thirty-six years. She has enthusiastically participated in various and diverse areas of civic life, including her current Board Memberships: Hudson Valley Hospital Center’s Foundation, the Lincoln Society in Peekskill and the Executive Committee of the Retired Teachers/Peekskill Faculty Association.
Cathy Pisani’s energies and commitments over the years have focused on Peekskill’s improved economic growth and development through such boards as Peekskill’s Industrial Development Agency, Youth Board, Human Relations Commission and the Paramount Center for the Arts. Currently, she is a member of Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce and Peekskill Museum.
Jeffrey Sweet is a lifelong resident of the area, and has been involved in many civic organizations for his entire adult life. He has a diploma from Syracuse University, and directed Labor Relations at the Westchester Medical Center for many years. Thereafter, he was Vice Chair of the NY State Workers Compensation Board until his retirement.
General Patrick Garvey, a retired Marine Corps Reserve officer, is the Chairman of the Kentbridge Group, LLC, a management, scientific and technical consulting firm. He previously served for eight years as Chairman of the Cavalry Security Group/ U.S. Cavalry, Inc., a leading international supplier of military and police equipment and training. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Peekskill’s City Manager and earlier was the Commanding Officer of Camp Smith and President of the National Maritime Historic Society in Peekskill. He currently is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist College.
Dr. Hales is recognized region-wide for his activities as a preservationist and in the medical world. More than two decades ago, Hales was among the first to come up with the idea of turning the then neglected Lincoln Depot building, which was being used as a warehouse, into a museum. He is given much of the credit for the building’s salvation, and also for the preservation of one of the most historic sections of Peekskill’s Main Street, a portion known as Doctor’s Row for the richly ornamented historic buildings which line it.
Yorktown resident Paul R. Martin III is a professional historical artist, illustrator and art teacher in the Pearl River School District. He received his BA in art from Southampton College and his MA in Drawing from Long Island University. His drawings and paintings have been exhibited throughout the New York Metropolitan area for the past 20 years. His original art and prints are on permanent display at the R. E. Lee Civil War Research Center and Library, The Civil War Library and Museum of Philadelphia, The Pentagon, the United States Congressional Building, West Point, and hundreds of private collections throughout the country.
Steven Feldman has always been fascinated with history and especially local history and the connections to Abraham Lincoln. He is also an active local resident who believes in giving back to his community. Steve is familiar with organization development through his experience with the ASPCA, Recycled Paws Animal Rescue, Caring for the Homeless in Peekskill and the Peekskill Rotary. He is a Lieutenant in the Peekskill Volunteer Fire Department and a member of FASNY. Steven owns and operates All Weather Home & Building Improvement, a full service residential and commercial building company, He also owns and operates Reliable Maintenance Solutions, a full service property management company.
The exhibit, “New York and Abraham Lincoln: The Indispensable Relationship,” not only shows the impact of Lincoln to Peekskill and the Hudson Valley region but to New York as a whole. The importance of New York to Lincoln’s success will also be highlighted. It is the only such museum in the entire State of New York and has gained national attention and interest.
Since the acquisition of the historic building in 2003 and the formation of the Lincoln Depot Foundation in 2007, the goal of creating a museum and historic site has become a reality. With the help of a $3 million NY Environmental Protection Fund and NY Empire State Development Corporation grants obtained in 2007, thanks to then Governor George E. Pataki, the Depot Foundation has completely restored and renovated the original Peekskill Train Depot that was the site of President-elect Abraham Lincoln�s visit on February 19, 1861. The final phase of designing and creating the museum itself is now complete.
“We are proud of the result of our many years of hard work,” said Museum President John G. Testa. “There has been a tremendous amount of research, planning and collaboration to achieve this success. Although we faced opposition and setbacks at times, we were persistent and committed to making this dream a reality,” added Testa. Testa was the Mayor of Peekskill from 2002-07 when the building was acquired and the grants awarded.