The Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History is a relatively new institution inKingston,New York, highlighting the social and mercantile history of nineteenth and early twentieth century Rondout,Kingston’s waterfront district. As most of Rondout’s early residents were immigrants, theReherCenteris also in the process of expanding its programming to explore immigration in its contemporary as well as its historical contexts, to provide for residents, visitors and school groups opportunities for diversity training and to work together cross culturally toward common goals.
TheReherCentergets its name from the bakery that once occupied the buildings on the corner of Spring Street and Broadway. First opened by Frank Reher in 1908, the Reher Bakery served two generations of this Jewish immigrant’s family that lived and worked in the bakery buildings at 99-101 Broadway from 1908 until 2004. The Reher Bakery building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure within the boundaries of the nationally designated Rondout-West Strand Historic District and the Kingston Urban Cultural Park Heritage Area.
The interior of the bakery building is little changed since it was first constructed in 1883, providing an exceptionally vivid window on the past. Little needs to be recreated to bring to life the story of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ immigrant and mercantile life ofKingston. Shortly before his passing in October 2004, Hyman Reher, the last of the Reher family bakers, deeded the bakery to the Jewish Federation of Ulster County for the purpose of establishing a cultural center to relate the immigrant experience of the Rondout district.
TheReherCenterfor Immigrant Culture and History is a project of the Jewish Federation Of Ulster County (UCJF). The UCJF recognizes that the story of the Reher family is the story of many of the immigrant groups that established roots in the burgeoning Rondout area in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, working on the canal and in the brick yards and boat yards, and operating the many taverns, furniture and hardware stores, groceries, inns, stables, rooming houses and clothing stores that served the population.
The mission of theReherCenteris to provide an institution that works to document, embrace, and promote regional cultural history and diversity by:
- providing exhibition space and a depository for educational, historic and archival materials for research and special exhibits and programs with a focus on the nineteenth and early twentieth century immigrant and mercantile history Rondout, Kingston and the Ulster County region;
- operating a cultural center where ongoing community input by representatives of all immigrant groups that have settled in the region can assure honest and balanced programming and provide opportunities for cooperation;
- extending the historical perspective of the mission of theReherCenterto include programming that studies and interprets immigration in its contemporary context; and
- encouraging an increased appreciation of cultural diversity and community by means of its programming.
Currently, the Reher Bakery is undergoing restoration and is open by appointment only. People interested in finding out more about our project can check out our exhibit at theDowntownHeritageAreaVisitorCenteror call the Jewish Federation office at 845-338-8131.