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September 02, 2014
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Luxton Lake unveils monument

Contributed photo Jimmy Smith ca 1955.


Community residents such as composer, bandleader, jazz composer, lyricist, bandleader and musician Noble Sissle (who served in Europe’s regiment during World War I and had a pioneering role as coauthor of the Broadway show “Shuffle Along”) will also be honored. Other names on new monument are Joseph L. Dollinger (real estate developer who began the community with Noble Sissle), Terry Lockett and Harry and Ella Shepard (clubhouse proprietors).

Two living residents—drummer and singer Jimmy Smith and respected community elder Ruth Nelson—will be honorably acknowledged with plaques.

The new monument and grounds won the 2011 Sullivan County Democrat Stewardship Award for Historic Preservation granted by the Sullivan Renaissance.

The area around the monuments is in the process of being converted into the Luxton Lake Reflection Garden. The historic slate from the former jazz-infused clubhouse foundation can be seen both in the grounds around the monument and in the garden design.

With the breaching of the dam in 1983, the lake was drained. Even though the clubhouse was taken down in 2007, Luxton Lake still lives. What was once a vital community of many black families is now a diverse community of over 40 households whose members are black, Latino, gay and white. Their pride in their history continues with the plan to continue to honor those who came before. The slate foundation from the clubhouse is a vital part of the new monument.

Luxton Lake may not be a lake any more, but its community lives on, and looks back on and honors its rich past.

You can see historical pictures of Luxton Lake, and view Tina Spangler’s documentary “Lucky Lake” on Luxton Lake’s Facebook page.

[Patricia M. Aakre is a NY poet and school librarian who has spent her summers in Narrowsburg since 1994.]