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North Salem Landmark Art Unveiled at High School

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – About 10 years ago, the town's Historic Preservation Commission asked Croton Falls artist Mike Bonelli to do a series of pen and ink drawings of North Salem landmarks.

Under the guidance of former chairman Gail Pantezzi, the works were collected into a booklet, each drawing accompanied by Pantezzi’s text, describing the building’s history and its architectural features, along with anecdotal information.

Among the 20 or so landmarks depicted are Delancey Hall, the Purdy Homestead, the Keeler Homestead, the Uriah Wallace House, Union Hall and Baxter Road itself.

The booklet, “Historic Landmarks of the Town of North Salem,” is still available for purchase, but what ever happened to the drawings?

The commission’s vice-chairperson Bruce Buchholtz thought the sketches ought to be seen by everyone, so with the help of Supervisor Warren Lucas and Assistant Principal George Bovino, Bonelli’s original sketches have been framed and hung on display in the entrance hall of North Salem High School .

The unveiling took place on Wednesday, with more than 50 people who came to celebrate the event, which was accompanied by music, refreshments, a few short speeches and a reading by student Alexa Salvato, based on an excerpt from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town.

Bovino thanked the various people responsible for the project, as well as the artist “for his talent,” and passed the microphone on to Gail Pantezzi, and then to current commission Chairperson Francis Tuoti.

“Buildings can be replicated, but we have the originals,” Pantezzi said. “Once they are gone, they’re gone. So I ask you to encourage your neighbors to come forward,” to have their properties recorded and landmarked.

Tuoti said, “It is a privilege to be able to display the drawings here at the school. I know they will help students appreciate the historical significance of the town and its contribution to America.”

Bonelli, a 35-year resident of Croton Falls, has had a life-long career doing humorous illustration, characterization and architectural renderings. “For many years, every time a teacher retired they asked me to do a caricature,” he said.

When the time came on Wednesday evening to cut the ribbon and invite guests to view the exhibition, there was some puzzlement about who would have the honor. It was finally given to Bonelli himself.

The Bonelli renderings of North Salem landmarks will be on display in the high school entrance hall for about a year.

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