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Bannerman’s Island Lecture – Briarcliff Manor Library March 18th

In case you missed Thom Johnson at our seminar in Chappaqua last year (or want to see his fabulous lecture again!), he’ll be at Briarcliff Public Library on Sunday, March 18th at 2pm.  Click here to view the flyer.  To register call 914-941-7072 or email Shelley Glick at

One of the founders of the Bannerman Castle Trust and co-author of the Arcadia
Press book on the castle, Thom will present a slide lecture on the history of the island and the arsenal that Francis Bannerman VI built there. This talk will cover the island’s history prior to the arsenal, why it was built there, its years as a working arsenal, the shut down, sale to the State, the fire in 1969, and the creation of the Bannerman Castle Trust. This lecture will be illustrated with historic photos and artwork and current images of the site.

Thom Johnson is a life time resident of the Hudson Valley who first saw the Castle over 45 years ago and has been researching it for all of those years. He is a retired arts educator that believes in using our history sites to guide both young and older citizens on how to preserve and reuse these sites.


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John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature

Presented to Professor Robert P. Watson, PhD
for The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn:
An Untold Story of the American Revolution

Fraunces Tavern, 54 Pearl Street, New York, NY
6pm on Wednesday, 6 June 2018


The 2018 Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature will be presented to Professor Robert P. Watson, PhD, for his book The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: an Untold Story of the American Revolution at Fraunces Tavern on the evening of Wednesday, 6 June, after a 6pm reception in the Flag Gallery.  For additional information and reservations, please contact Jessica Hitchen at the New York Council, Navy League of the United States at (212) 825-7333 or via email at


The most horrific struggle of the American Revolution/War for Independence occurred just 100 yards off New York, where more men died aboard a rotting English prison ship than were lost in the entirety of the war.  Moored in Wallabout Bay, off Brooklyn, until the end of the war, the derelict ship, the HMS Jersey, was a living hell for thousands of Americans, either captured by the British, or accused of disloyalty.  Crammed below decks — a shocking one thousand at a time — without light or fresh air, the prisoners were scarcely fed food and water.  Disease ran rampant and human waste fouled the air as prisoners suffered mightily at the hands of brutal British and Hessian guards.  Throughout the colonies (later States), the mere mention of the ship sparked fear and loathing of British troops.  It also sparked a backlash of outrage as newspapers everywhere described the horrors of the ghostly ship.  This shocking event, much like the better-known Boston Massacre before it, ended up rallying support for Independence, and for the war.  Revealing for the first time hundreds of accounts culled from old newspapers, diaries, and military reports, award-winning historian Robert P. Watson follows the lives and ordeals of the few survivors to tell the astonishing story of the cursed ship that killed thousands of Americans, and yet helped to secure victory in the fight for Independence.  This is a story that must be told.

About the Award:

The inspiration for the Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature is the life and service of Commodore John Barry (1745- 1803) a Continental Navy hero of the American War for Independence, later chosen by President George Washington to build and lead the new United States Navy, successor to the Continental Navy.  Pursuant to a Joint Resolution of Congress, on 22 December 2005, John Barry was formally recognized, in the Public Law of the United States, as the first flag officer of the United States Navy, and similarly in a memorial at the US Naval Academy, 10 May 2014.   Previous recipients of the Commodore John Barry Book Award for American Maritime Literature include James D. Hornfischer for his The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944 – 1945; Tim McGrath for his Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy and America’s Revolution at Sea; and Craig L. Simonds for his NEPTUNE: The Allied Invasion of Europe and the D-Day Landings.

Fraunces Tavern is the historic location for the Awards ceremony.  It is here that General George Washington celebrated the evacuation of the last British forces from New York on the last day of the American War for Independence on 25 November 1783, and later resigned his commission, bade farewell to his officers, and returned to his home in Virginia.


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Heaven’s Ditch Seminar with Jack Kelly 10 March


Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold and Murder on the Erie Canal
Presentation and Book Signing with Author Jack Kelly

Register Here for 10 March, 2018
Registration at 10:30 AM, Lecture at  11:00 AM
Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY

Join us as author Jack Kelly offers a fresh look at a critical moment in American history as the nation celebrates the Canal’s bicentennial.  A technological marvel of its age, the Erie Canal was the epitome of the can-do attitude of the age of the common man. The visionaries of the era didn’t just dream, they made things happen, building a 360-mile waterway entirely by hand. They invented new religions and new modes of living. The canal made New York the financial capital of America, brought the modern world crashing into the frontier and stimulated the nation’s commerce for decades to come.  Heaven’s Ditch illuminates the spiritual and political upheavals along this “psychic highway” from its opening in 1825 down through 1844. It tells its story through a fascinating cast of characters: William Morgan planned to expose the secrets of Freemasonry–his fate permanently altered American politics. Charles Finney touched off the greatest revival of religion in our history. “Wage slave” Sam Patch became America’s first celebrity daredevil. William Miller envisioned the apocalypse. Joseph Smith, a farm boy and spiritual prodigy, gave birth to a new and distinctly American religion. Along the way, the reader encounters the very first “crime of the century,” a treasure hunt, searing acts of violence, a visionary cross-dresser, and a panoply of fanatics, mystics, and hoaxers. The climax arrives on the day millions believe the world will end.

The Public is invited. Please register here or contact NMHS at 914737-7878, ext. 0 if you plan to attend. A $5-$10 donation is appreciated.  After the lecture, NMHS will host a luncheon—$25 prepaid with cash bar.  Reservations are required for lunch.

Can’t make it to a seminar?  Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see the presentation online!

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George Washington’s Birthday Celebration at Washington’s Headquarters, Newburgh 17-19 February 2018

Newburgh, New York – Revolutionary War reenactors in uniforms fire a cannon at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site as part of George Washington’s birthday celebration on Feb. 18, 2012.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation invites the public to Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site (84 Liberty St, Newburgh, NY) to celebrate George Washington’s Birthday.  The event will be held February 17th, 18th and 19th, from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm each day, and our own NMHS Seminar Series Steering Committee Member Dr. Raymond Phillips will be doing a historical presentation on Sunday!  For additional schedule details and information, call 845-562-1195 or visit the Facebook Event Page  and check out the Daily Program.  Admission for all three days is free, though donations are appreciated.

There will be music, military demonstrations, historical presentations, and a take-home craft every day. Join us in singing “Happy Birthday” to The General, eat a piece of his birthday cake and enjoy all that each day has to offer.  The General will be greeting visitors in the historic headquarters with balladeer Thad McGregor offering musical entertainment in the dining room. On the grounds, reenactors will be performing military drills culminating at the end of the day with a review of the troops by the General himself. Troops that will be present each day are: Saturday – the 5th New York Regiment, Sunday – 4th Connecticut Regiment and Lamb’s Artillery, and Monday the 5th Connecticut Regiment.

The museum building will host a craft for visitors of all ages, along with offering interesting historical presentations. One such talk on Saturday will be about Mount Gulian during the Revolutionary War, and another will touch upon enslavement in the Hudson Valley. On Sunday, learn about George Washington’s health while residing in this area. On Monday, a reenactor will share her insights into portraying Martha Washington for a contemporary audience.

For additional schedule details and information, call 845-562-1195 or visit the Facebook Event Page.  Admission for all three days is free, though donations are appreciated.  Sponsorship for this program is provided by the Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands, Palisades Interstate Park Commission and the Palisades Parks Conservancy.

Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is a registered national historic landmark. It is located at the corner of Liberty and Washington Streets within the city of Newburgh’s East End Historic District. The site is one of 35 historic sites within the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is one of 28 facilities administered by the Palisades Inters Park Commission in New York and New Jersey. For further information contact: (845) 562-1195.  For more information about New York State Parks, please visit our website at


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In the Pages of Sea History 161

Sea History 161 is in the mail and on the newsstands. Just look at what’s in this issue:

The 11th Maritime Heritage Conference, by Burchenal Green
The National Maritime Alliance is joining forces with the National Maritime Historical Society, Tall Ships America, and the Steamship Historical Society of America to host the triennial Maritime Heritage Conference, 14–17 February 2018.

We Built Her to Bring Them Over There”—The Cruiser and Transport Force in the Great War, by Salvatore R. Mercogliano, PhD
German ocean liners interned in American ports proved a windfall for the US military, which used the passenger liners to carry American doughboys to France to fight in WWI.
Featured article of Sea History 161: read it here.

The National Maritime Alliance—Advocating for Maritime Heritage,by Dr. Timothy J. Runyan
Chair of the National Maritime Alliance, Dr. Runyan shares the organization’s origins, successes and failures, and the path ahead, advocating for our nation’s maritime heritage.

Learning the Ropes, by Dr. Louis Arthur Norton
Sailors use rope for just about every aspect of their work. Take a look at how this ubiquitous material is made and manipulated into both functional and beautiful works of art.

A Celebration of the Life and Art of Oswald Brett, Seafarer and Marine Painter, by Stan Stefaniak, with John Stobart
Os Brett spent his life musing about, sailing on, and painting ships of the sea. He left a legacy in art that brings to life the maritime world from the Age of Sail to the ships of WWII.

Diamond Shoals No. 71: The Only US Lightship Sunk by Enemy Action, by C. Douglas Kroll, PhD
In the summer of 1918, the lightship stationed out on Diamond Shoals broadcast a warning over the radio about a U-boat in the vicinity, only to become the Germans’ next target.

National Maritime Historical Society Annual Awards Dinners, by Burchenal Green
Get the full report on the NMHS annual awards gala at the New York Yacht Club in October, and learn all about the 2018 National Maritime Awards Dinner in our nation’s capital.

Around the World Under Square Sail—Setting Out, The Skipper’s View by Captain Daniel D. Moreland
Wonder what it was like to set out on a deep-sea voyage under sail? Captain Dan Moreland shares his thoughts as he prepares to take his barque, Picton Castle, on its 7th circumnavigation, and there might be a berth for you.

Plus, you’ll find the regular features you look forward to in every issue:

Deck Log
NMHS: A Cause in Motion
Marine Art News
Sea History for Kids
Ship Notes, Seaport & Museum News
Maritime History on the Internet
Book Reviews

On our cover this issue: Diamond Jubilee, by Robert Semler.

Click here to learn more about Sea History magazine.

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Iron Dawn Seminar with Richard Snow 27 January

Iron Dawn: The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History – Presentation and Book Signing with Author Richard Snow

Register Here for Saturday, 27 January
Registration at 10:30 AM, Lecture at  11:00 AM
Hendrick Hudson Free Library, 185 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY

Author Richard Snow argues that no single sea battle has had more far-reaching consequences than the one fought in the harbor at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in March 1862. The Confederacy, with no fleet of its own, built an iron fort containing ten heavy guns on the hull of a captured Union frigate named the Merrimack. The North got word of the project when it was already well along, and, in desperation, commissioned an eccentric inventor named John Ericsson to build the Monitor, an entirely revolutionary iron warship – at the time, the single most complicated machine ever made. Abraham Lincoln himself was closely involved with the ship’s design. Rushed through to completion in just 100 days, it mounted only two guns, but they were housed in a shot-proof revolving turret. The ship hurried south from Brooklyn (and nearly sank twice on the voyage), only to arrive to find the Merrimack had arrived blazing that morning, destroyed half the Union fleet, and would be back to finish the job the next day. When she returned, the Monitor was there. She fought the Merrimack to a standstill, and saved the Union cause. As soon as word of the battle spread, Great Britain—the foremost sea power of the day—ceased work on all wooden ships. A thousand-year-old tradition ended, and the path to the naval future opened.

The Public is invited. Please register here or contact NMHS at 914737-7878, ext. 0 if you plan to attend. A $5-$10 donation is appreciated.  After the lecture, NMHS will host a luncheon—$25 prepaid with cash bar.  Reservations are required for lunch.

Can’t make it to a seminar?  Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see the presentation online!

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2018 Seminar Series Schedule

The 2018 NMHS Seminar Series Schedule is here!  Save the dates below for the upcoming lineup of world-class speakers.  For more information: click on the links below, check out the 2018 NMHS Seminar Series webpage, or download the printer-friendly Seminar Brochure.  We invite you to Sponsor the Series and take advantage of everything our sponsorship options have to offer!  Sign up online, call (914) 737-7878 Ext. 0, or email to sign up today!

​Sat 27 January Iron Dawn with Richard Snow
Sat 10 March Heaven’s Ditch with Jack Kelly
Sat 19 May Blackbeard’s Last Battle with Kevin Duffus
Wed 20 June The Sunken Gold with Joseph Williams
Sat 21 July Hudson River Maritime Museum Excursion
Sat 22 September Art of the Yankee Whale Hunt with Michael Dyer
Sat 3 November Hell Around the Horn with Rick Spilman
Sat 1 December Hudson River Lighthouses II with Scott Craven

Members of the general public are encouraged to attend!  NMHS Seminar Series events are both a great way to learn about new facets of our maritime heritage and also to meet others who share an interest and enthusiasm for the field.  Continental Breakfast & Registration for Saturday seminars begins at 10:30 AM, with lectures starting at 11:00 AM.  (The schedule varies for the June Wednesday evening seminar and the July excursion.  Please see individual listings for details.)  Unless otherwise noted, all seminars are held at the Hendrick Hudson Free Library (185 Kings Ferry Road in Montrose, NY).  There is no charge to attend the seminars, but a $5 to $10 donation at the door is appreciated to support our educational mission.   On our Saturday seminars, if you would  like to join NMHS and the speaker for lunch following the presentation, the cost is $25 prepaid, with cash bar.  For more information and to register for any seminar, please email or call 914 737-7878 x 0.  Can’t make it to a seminar?  Be sure to Subscribe to our YouTube Channel to see the presentation online!

With a Seminar Sponsorship you can support the Series AND enjoy family fun at maritime museums across the country!  A contribution of $100 or higher not only entitles you to a reserved spot for the complete 2018  seminar series, but also to a one-year membership in the Council of American Maritime Museums (CAMM), which includes free admission for a year to over 75 museums nationwide!  (As a Friend of NMHS you’ll also receive the quarterly magazine Sea History, a 10% discount on NMHS merchandise, a membership card and decal.)  Your generosity enables the Society to fulfill its mission by presenting a dynamic range of seminars that promote greater understanding of our rich seafaring heritage and create a constituency to advocate for our maritime legacy.   Thank you!

Check out the full 2018 Seminar Lineup
Sign up for a Seminar Sponsorship

Friend us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe on YouTube

The NMHS Seminar Series is generously supported by our Sponsors
Howard Slotnick and The Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation
and our Seminar Friends Denise Dunn, Linda Hallenbeck, Liam Murphy, John Plotke, John Shanahan, Jane Syracuse, and Karin Wexler.

The NMHS Seminar Series was founded in 1992 under the auspices of the National Maritime Historical Society at its headquarters on Charles Point in Peekskill, New York.  Its mission is to build greater awareness of the rich seafaring heritage of the Hudson River Valley and the world at large, and to create a constituency to advocate for our maritime legacy.  Through its monthly lecture series and annual outreach events, the NMHS Seminar Series is actively engaged in promoting maritime heritage, providing valuable educational programs and preserving historic ships and traditional seafaring skills. Since its inception, the Series has organized over 300 lectures, seminars, field trips and ship preservation projects featuring noted authors, historians, film producers and artists to publicize the maritime history of our area and abroad.

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Fiddlers’ Green, John Mecray

February 13, 1937 – November 1, 2017

The trustees and staff of the National Maritime Historical Society mourn the loss of marine artist and friend John Mecray.  We extend our deepest condolences to  his wife Mary and all the members of the Mecray family.  We are truly thankful for his enduring artistic contributions to our common maritime heritage.  Fair winds, John.

John moved his family to Newport, RI the same year that the Tall Ships first came to the Island in 1976 and launched his second career as a marine artist. John combined his superb painting talent with an encyclopedic knowledge of sea faring history. Over the years his paintings and rare drawings were hung in homes of America’s premier art collections.

John’s keen interest in yachts and yachting history led to the founding of the Museum of Yachting and their annual classic yacht regatta. In 1993, he helped found the International Yacht Restoration School, IYRS, where he was trustee. John is a member of the Mystic Seaport Museum’s Yachting Committee, the New York Yacht Club, The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Herreshoff Marine Museum, among others.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the International Yacht Restoration School, 449 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840 or the Hope Hospice Palliative Care Rhode Island, 1085 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02904 or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


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2018 National Maritime Awards Dinner

On the Waterfront: Washington DC in 1899, by Patrick O’Brien

Reception at 6:00 PM; Dinner at 7:00 PM
Business/Cocktail Attire

Register Online or Print Invitation

The National Maritime Historical Society and the National Coast Guard Museum Association will honor three distinguished individuals at their National Maritime Awards Dinner on Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at the elegant and historic Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.  This illustrious event brings together in one place those who love and serve the sea—leaders of the military sea services, maritime authors, artists, scientists, sea explorers, competitive yachtsmen, boat designers and builders, cruise operators, maritime educators, museums, philanthropists and government officials who have supported America’s maritime heritage.

For information about sponsoring this event and advertising in the dinner journal, please see the Sponsorship and Journal Ad materials and contact Wendy Paggiotta at  We gratefully acknowledge Fleet Sponsors J. W. Marriott Jr. and Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger, and Underwriter Howard Slotnick for their generous support!

In addition to the annual Live and Silent Auctions offering an array of incredible collectibles, sails, resorts and more, this year’s dinner will also feature the Washington Invitational Marine Art Exhibition Through the leadership of acclaimed artist Patrick O’Brien, a select group of contemporary masters from the American Society of Marine Artists will display their work.  This is an exhibition of mostly small paintings, offering guests a chance to meet the artists, see their paintings, and perhaps purchase a favorite to take home.  View this short video by Patrick O’Brien featuring his work On the Waterfront: Washington DC 1899, one of the paintings on display and for sale at the gala.

It is with great excitement that Dr. Timothy Runyan and Denise Krepp, co-chairs for the 2018 National Maritime Awards Dinner, announce this year’s three extraordinary honorees:

J. W. Marriott Jr. will receive the NMHS Distinguished Service Award.   Mr. Marriott is Executive Chairman and  Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, Inc.  Mr. Marriott served as a supply officer aboard the US Navy aircraft carrier USS Randolph (CV-15) from 1954 to 1956, which he calls an important learning experience and one that greatly influenced his management style in the hospitality industry. Marriott International maintains a “Spirit to Serve” philosophy, fostered by J. W. Marriott, to provide extensive corporate support to America’s returning veterans. Mr. Marriott places a great emphasis on people—his staff, communities, and guests. He served 40 years as the world-famous hotel chain’s chief executive officer, before stepping down in March of 2012. His leadership spans more than 60 years building the global hospitality company to what it is today, with 6,500 properties across 30 brands in 127 countries and territories, with approximately 675,000 people worldwide who wear the Marriott badge.  Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, USN (Ret.), former Chief of Naval Operations, will present the award.


William C. Baker will receive the NMHS Distinguished Service Award.  Mr. Baker is the president and CEO of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the largest nonprofit conservation organization dedicated solely to preserving and restoring the Chesapeake Bay. With over 200,000 members, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is a fierce advocate working to protect and restore a national treasure and integral part of America’s maritime heritage through advocacy, education, litigation and restoration. Mr. Baker is focused on one goal—“Saving the Bay,” and achieving a clean, healthy and productive estuarine system that will be a model for water bodies worldwide. The director of many organizations, Mr. Baker holds honorary doctorates from several universities and is the recipient of the 1992 Presidential Medal for Environmental Excellence, the nation’s highest environmental honor.  Senator Benjamin Cardin of Maryland will present the award.


Donald T. “Boysie” Bollinger will receive the National Coast Guard Museum Association’s Alexander Hamilton Award. After a lifetime of providing quality construction of vessels for both military and civilian use, Mr. Bollinger has continued to be recognized for his generosity and philanthropic giving. His influence and dedication have benefited many organizations, most especially the United States Coast Guard Foundation and National World War II Museum. For his unwavering support, the National Coast Guard Museum Association is honored to recognize this icon within the maritime industry. Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania Thomas Ridge will present the award.



Gary Jobson, America’s Cup winner and America’s “Ambassador of Sailing,” will be the Master of Ceremonies. Video introductions of the recipients will be produced by Rick Lopes and XXL Media.  Entertainment will be provided by the Mariners Chorus of the United States Merchant Marine Academy, directed by Dr. Katherine Meloan.

Founding dinner chairman Philip Webster recommends that guests make their reservations soon by emailing or by calling 914 737-7878, ext. 0, since he predicts this dinner will sell out especially early.  Tickets are priced from $275.  ($150 of each ticket is the tax deductible portion.)  The National Maritime Historical Society and the National Coast Guard Museum Association are also seeking sponsorship support at varying levels from corporations, associations, foundations and individuals that wish to support the work of the United States maritime community at the National Maritime Awards Dinner and to honor the 2018 award recipients while contributing to the educational programming of both organizations.  Sponsorship opportunities from $600 to $50,000 are available.  For  information on sponsorship and advertising in the dinner journal, please see the Sponsorship and Journal Ad packets, and contact Vice President Wendy Paggiotta at

Image result for mayflower hotel dcThe Mayflower Hotel has reserved a block of rooms for the nights of April 24 and April 25 at the special rate of $359 per night (plus tax).  Rooms will be available until 5 pm on 3 April or when the block is full.   To reserve a room, use this passkey link or call the reservations number 877-212-5752 and give the group name National Maritime Awards Dinner.




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Early Dutch New York with Marine Artist Len Tantillo

Join the National Maritime Historical Society for
Early Dutch New York with Marine Artist Len Tantillo

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Coffee & Registration at 10:30 AM; Lecture at 11:00 AM
Holiday Potluck Luncheon to Follow

Cortlandt Yacht Club – 238 Kings Ferry Road, Montrose, NY

Historical and marine artist Len Tantillo will present on paintings of Early Dutch New York, inspired by the “rivers of New Netherland” — the Hudson, the Connecticut and the Delaware. Upon these waterways hundreds of vessels carried goods and passengers, and the diversity and organic beauty of their varied designs has long been an inspiration to the artist. A licensed architect who left the field of architecture in 1986 to pursue a career in the fine art of historical and marine painting, Len Tantillo has produced over 300 paintings and drawings and has appeared internationally in exhibitions, publications and film documentaries. To see more of his extraordinary work, visit

Please RSVP HERE, or you may contact NMHS at 914-737-7878, ext. 0 or via email if you plan to attend. A $5 to $10 donation is appreciated. After the lecture, NMHS will host its annual Holiday Potluck Party — please bring a favorite dish, drink or dessert that serves six to eight people and join in the fun!

Can’t attend this seminar?
Be sure to subscribe to our NMHS YouTube Channel and view it there!

Check out the full Seminar Lineup
Get your Seminar Season Passes

Friend us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe on YouTube

  The NMHS Seminar Series is generously supported by our sponsors: Howard Slotnick, The Henry L. & Grace Doherty Charitable Foundation, Liam Murphy, John Plotke, Jane Syracuse, Linda Hallenbeck and the Division Street Grill.

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