This sturdy town of red-brick buildings was settled first by Quakers from Vermont in 1781. Later, in the mid-1800s, it was famed for its colored slate quarries—producing maroon, green, and blue slate—worked primarily by people of Welsh descent. Granville today still sports slate roofs, slate chimneys, slate patios, slate sidewalks, and even slate business signs.
Pember Museum of Natural History
Housed in a striking Victorian mansion, the Pember Museum (33 W. Main St./Rte. 149, 518/642-1515, www.pembermuseum.com, 1–5 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat., free admission) is a surprisingly Old World place filled with elegant glass and wood exhibit cases. Preserved inside are hundreds upon hundreds of birds, insects, reptiles, and mammals, all collected by amateur naturalist Franklin Pember in the late 1800s.
Some of these species, such as the passenger pigeon and Carolina parakeet, are now extinct. Others, such as the South American possum and red kangaroo, come with their offspring in tow. Larger specimens, such as the Alaskan brown bear and brown pelican, almost burst out of their cases. Walk down the aisles here and you’ll feel as if you’re surrounded by a magical, about-to-awaken menagerie.
Slate Valley Museum
To learn more about Granville’s slate history, step into this renovated 19th-century Dutch barn (17 Water St., off Main St., 518/642-1417, www.slatevalleymuseum.org, 1–5 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat., adults $2, children under 12 free). Inside, memorabilia, tools, machinery, photography, and artwork date back to the days when Granville was known as the “Colored Slate Capital of the World.” During the town’s heyday around the turn of the 20th century, 64 slate companies employing 3,000 men were located here.
At the heart of the collection is a powerful 25-foot mural depicting 13 men at work in a slate quarry. The mural was painted in 1939 by Woodstock artist Martha Levy for the federal Works Progress Administration.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition