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Constructed in 1915, this building housed the Alsdorf Dancing Academy which was established in 1849 by Professor DuBois Alsdorf and operated by his descendants. In 1827, when New York mandated the end of slavery within its borders, large numbers of formerly enslaved people in the Hudson Valley flocked to the town of Newburgh in search of work and housing. Among these former slaves were George and Caroline Alsdorf, who settled there and gradually became very successful business owners. Their son, Dubois Alsdorf, was sent to New York City to study music with William Appo, an acclaimed African American musician. Dubois Alsdorf eventually returned to Newburgh, where he founded an orchestra and the Alsdorf Dancing Academy. Dubois Alsdorf had three sons, Ulysses, Simon, and Charles, and each followed in their father's footsteps as musicians, with Charles Alsdorf teaching dancing classes in Newburgh while Simon led orchestras and Ulysses became a talented composer and pianist.

The Alsdorf Dance Academy

Building, Property, Window, Cloud

The grave of Dubois Alsdorf

Plant, Cemetery, Grave, Headstone

Though few students of slavery are aware of the fact, New York once had a large slave population—reportedly the third largest among the original colonies. The largest concentration of slaves in New York was in the Hudson Valley. When the state of New York prohibited the institution in 1827, many of the formerly enslaved people in the Hudson Valley flocked to the region’s towns and cities in search of opportunities. Newburgh became a common destination for former slaves, such as George and Caroline Alsdorf.

The Alsdorfs took the surname of their former Dutch owner and settled in the town soon after being freed. By all accounts, the couple was hard-working and remarkably successful. They farmed for a few years in order to save money, but eventually opened a men’s clothing store, a catering business, a bakery, a tailoring shop, and a ladies’ hair salon. Within 20 years of being freed, the couple had amassed enough savings to purchase a home in Newburgh.

George Alsdorf also possessed a natural musical ability, which he apparently passed to his firstborn son, Dubois. Dubois was talented enough that his parents sent him to New York City to be apprenticed to William Appo, an African American orchestra leader and composer who traveled the world performing with Francis Johnson and his band of Black musicians.

By the late 1840s, Dubois returned to Newburgh, where he organized the town’s first brass band, and worked for a number of years playing the violin for city dances. He also toured the country with his own band, which featured a number of social dances, including quadrilles, polkas, waltzes, reels, and others. He and his band became popular performers at vacation spots such as Saratoga Springs. As social dances became more popular, Alsdorf took lessons himself, and eventually became confident enough to open his own studio in the ballroom of the old United States Hotel.

Dubois Alsdorf would have three sons, Ulysses, Simon, and Charles, each of whom brought their various talents and abilities to the Alsdorf Dance Academy. They also expanded the business by building Alsdorf Hall to house the Academy, where Charles served for many years as the primary dance instructor.

Alsdorf Family and the Underground Railroad , Hudson Valley Press. January 31st 2018. Accessed February 15th 2022.

The Alsdorf Dancing Academy's Role in American Music and Dance, Newburgh NY. April 6th 2020. Accessed February 15th 2022.,the%20newly%20wealthy%20upper%20classes..