Sunday, August 30, 2020

The Pink (Gate) House of Poughkeepsie & Winifred Pleninger

 This past summer to occupy ourselves, the kids and I schlepped to various thrift stores. I mean, not too many were local due to Covid, but we managed to find a couple an hour away that were fun. In Ithaca, NY they have a several called the ReUse store and this is where we found this beauty. It's a rather well done water color and certainly caught my eye for $10. The painting itself was slipping down so it was rather hard to even tell that it was signed. Frame was in excellent shape, but what really caught my eye was the pink gingerbread house in the wintertime. 

Since the walls here at Pratt Inc. are pretty much full, I wasn't sure why I had actually bought it. A snippet of newspaper on the back had caught my eye and I'm a sucker for good art AND a good story. Bought it home, cleaned it up, and discovered that Win Pleninger had painted it. My quick google searches really turned up nothing....although I had some good key words to use....

Here is the clue I had to work with. 

With that little clue photographed, I turned to the internet. In particular a Facebook Group that I like a lot:  Weird Second Hand Finds that Just Need to be Shared. The internet did not disappoint. Within a half hour I had quite a story. Check out what the New York Times has to say about the Pink House in 1976

These days a new road would mean a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) review. You'd have to submit your project to SHPO and see if they allowed you to tear it down.  I cannot envision that they'd be on board with tearing down a historic structure without moving it, changing where the highway is going or at least a year's worth of work to analyze the project every single which way to Sunday. I guess we all hate red tape, but at the risk of losing things that are important, a little red tape will save regrets later on. I guess it's kinda cool that 40 years later we have a process to make sure the things we love hang around a little longer. 

The Weird Second Hand Finds group also turned up a link to the Poughkeepsie Historic Preservation Office on Facebook who posted some cool photos of this house back in the day and a lot more info!

Needless to say, Poughkeepsie does not have this pink house any longer. It's a sad story and one that was probably repeated at least a couple of times in various places in New York. My daughter and I agreed at this point that obviously saving this painting was the best way was to give it back to the City of Poughkeepsie. So, we contacted the lady who was tending the Facebook Group and said listen, we have this painting we really know nothing about. Are you interested? The answer was maybe, because who knew who Win Pleninger was? So, she did some digging and it turns out that she was really Winifred Pleninger and was a local artist. It's possible she even painted the house in real life before it was torn down. (Insert Cold Chills here!) 

Now, the answer was a resounding YES! She would find a home for this painting. Keep in mind that this literally was a $10 purchase! Lexi is going to college near Poughkeepsie, so we met up with the Historic Preservation lady the day Lexi moved back in. It was hard to have a meaningful conversation with masks and social distancing, but I felt confident that good things would come of this exchange. 

Just got the email earlier this past week. This painting has been accepted at the Clinton House! Lexi and I are beyond thrilled and can't wait to visit if it's installed! Generally speaking, junking isn't always this exciting, but I'm so happy we got this painting somewhere that others can enjoy it and better yet tell the story about Historic Preservation. 


  1. Mitra, I have been forgetting about your blog but just visited it and found this story!!!!!! How exciting. You are one cool detective :)


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