Briarcliff Names New Village Historian

Karen Smith Briarcliff Village HistorianBriarcliff Manor has just named Karen Smith its new official Village Historian. The post once held by such notables as Tom Vincent and Margaret Pearson Finne has been vacant for sometime.

Karen was surprised when Mayor William Vescio called her with the news, “You could have pushed me over with a feather,” she said. Mayor Vescio believes that, “Karen deserves this honor.  She has lived in the Village for a long time and knows just about everyone here. She has a passion for the history of the town and has tirelessly worked to help preserve our heritage.”

Karen has lived in Briarcliff Manor since 1973. Originally from Idaho, Karen graduated from the University of Utah and taught history for two years in Salt Lake City. She married her high school sweetheart and moved with him to Charleston, South Carolina.  She loved Charleston and became steeped in its charming beauty and historic past.  She got involved with a house tour group and discovered that Charlestonians reveled in their history.  She had the good fortune to get to know them and learn the living recollections they shared with her.

She later moved to Boston where her husband attended Harvard Business School and then to Briarcliff Manor where she raised her son Rob.

She lives in that same house in Briarcliff Manor today, which was built by Harry Addis. A few years ago, she was excited to discover a stained glass window at The All Saints Church during a house of worship tour, which depicted the identical scene that is on the Village seal and which bore the name Addis, the man who built her house.

In addition to her career teaching history, Karen also worked for fifteen years as a social and wealth manager for the Brokaw Family in New York.

She is currently the co-president of the Historical Society along with Jan Wagner. She has always been drawn to history but it was her neighbor, Bill Sharman, who got her interested in Briarcliff’s history in 1976 during the (America’s) Bicentennial. She is one of the founding members of the Historical Society and has been through all the ups and downs as the Society struggled with finding a home. They finally opened their doors on August 21, 2010 in the new Eileen O’Connor Weber Historical Center, located in the basement of the Briarcliff Manor Library.

As Village Historian, Karen devotes her time to cataloguing and organizing all the relevant material that has come home to the Center. At present, the Society only has a provisional charter and she would like to get the Society up to speed and thereby eligible for a full-fledged charter–the requirements are exacting. She wants to protect the materials and make them readily available to researchers. She also would like to be able to create opportunities for more school outreach programs.

With her passion for Briarcliff history, her eye for detail and her evolving skills with the newest preservation and cataloguing technologies, Briarcliff is fortunate to have such an interesting and diligent new Village Historian.

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