Volunteers have been the backbone of our work since the beginning of the Constitution Island Association. Each year, local residents come together to lead tours, help with the island's gardens, and volunteer at our signature Summer events. This ongoing work continues to ensure the preservation of Constitution Island and all the treasured history within the Warner House. Training materials are provided.
DIG INTO HISTORY
Constitution Island Association gardeners help maintain the “oldest, continuous garden in the Hudson Valley” by spending mornings in Anna B. Warner’s perennial Walkway and Herb gardens.
The historic gardens are maintained in accordance with Anna’s 1872 month-by-month book, “Gardening By Myself.” We invite volunteers of all ages to join us on Wednesdays to help maintain the flowers and, of course, pull the weeds. No experience necessary. We have a team of returning volunteers who can assist newbies in the technical aspects of the gardens. Fresh bouquets may be arranged for house visitors throughout the season. You could join us once a season or every week from May – October. We enjoy special events and garden workshops throughout the season.
Become a part of History:
Constitution Island Association docents lead tours of the Revolutionary War fortifications and the Warner House for school children, the general public and special interest groups.
As a representative of the Association, Docents are expected to be knowledgeable, have good communication and teaching skills, be willing to work as a team player, and project a professional image. Your love of history, ecology, architecture, and the decorative arts will inspire visitors to the island. Docents are responsible for learning the material in the Volunteers Manual and presenting a smooth, informative tour for visitors. Each docent takes responsibility for a guided tour through a section of the Warner House. The docent may volunteer as an escort for the Revolutionary War fortifications as well. "Little American” school tours take place in May and early June. Docents have the pleasure of interpreting the Warner House “in costume” as Susan and Anna Warner. The Redoubt docent can also wear period garb – either as a soldier or as a workman and speak in first person. This is optional, but a favorite with our visitors. Docents board the boat for public tours July through October, on Wednesday at 1 PM from South Dock at West Point. They arrive on the Island before the tour to check & prepare the rooms for which they are responsible. Volunteers are required to fill out government forms with each person’s name and address included. Hours of volunteer service are recorded. All information collected by the Association and the United States Military Academy is confidential. In the event of an accident on the Island, docents will be expected to promptly report the incident to the appropriate staff or emergency personnel. They will be also asked to fill out an emergency report for incidents in which they are directly involved. Docents may also wish to participate in one or two special events that are held on the Island the last Saturday of the month – in season – May through September. All volunteers are invited to attend an Award Ceremony that is conducted by the United States Military Academy at West Point.
People interested in volunteering are asked to attend a 90-minute orientation. These can be arranged at the convenience of the volunteer. Orientations are held at the Desmond-Fish Library in Garrison, NY and at Building 2104 at West Point Visitors Center on Main Street in Highland Falls, NY. For a reservation or more information, contact us at email@example.com. You can also subscribe to the Volunteer Contact List by clicking the button to the left and entering your name and email.
a day at the warner's
A docent arrives an hour or so before the guests are due, tidies up after previous visitors and reviews history and script of the day. Today you might be Henry, or Susan, or Anna, or Bertha, or Aunt Fanny. And then it’s…
“Welcome to Constitution Island, home of the Warner family.”
Over the course of an hour you’ll show your guests to the sitting room where Anna’s guests enjoyed tea under the Stuart Gilbert painting of George Washington; the family dining area where Susan and Anna wrote more than one hundred books; the kitchen where Bertha toiled over the wood stove; the library housing some of the 2000 books the family owned; the office where Henry pursued his dreams of hotel and rice paddy and the east dining room were Susan and Anna hosted cadets who had rowed over for bible study that day.
And that’s just the first floor.
Upstairs we can puzzle over the mechanics of Henry’s “invalid chair”; Susan’s unique night table with built-in potty; the guest room’s trundle bed and Aunt Fanny’s Wilson sewing machine. Not to forget the Lilliputian bathtub.
If you have engaged the guests successfully you will be peppered with questions - some profound - some simple - some complex - some inane - some hostile - each of which you will answer to the best of your ability, promising to research those you cannot yet answer.
Time’s up and “Thank you for coming!”
As your group heads back down the path to the dock you’ll sit down on one of the benches in front of the Piazza, thankful for having had the privilege of sharing a bit of little-known history in one of the loveliest locations in the Hudson Valley. (Submitted by Carl Treuter, docent since 1995)