Situated in the heart of Orange County, the town and village of Goshen are located approximately 60 miles north of New York City. Goshen was originally part of what was known as the Wawayanda Patent, dating from 1703.
The first settler was Christopher Denne, who arrived in 1712. According to Samuel W. Eager’s 1846–1847 An Outline History of Orange County,
“The proprietors laid out the Village of Goshen by running a broad street or avenue, nearly north and south through the plot, some half a mile in length, and then by laying off four lots of eighty acres each, on the east and west sides of it. The village, most probably, was laid out within a few years after 1703 the date of the patent, 1714, for we have seen deeds for the lots in the village plot record, dated as early as the latter period.”
Within the village is the Church Park Historic District that encompasses not only the center of the village but also includes the residential area of large Victorian homes of South Church and South Streets. Being rich in architectural treasures, Goshen is fortunate to have unique homes throughout the village and a number of early homesteads throughout the town.
As the county seat, one of the main sources of employment today, as it always has been, is the county government. An area along Main Street, within the historic district, where many lawyers have their offices is known as Lawyers’ Row. The area contains fine examples of 19th century townhouse architecture.
Goshen is well-known for its roots in harness racing. The village is home to the Harness Racing Museum and the Hall of Fame of the Trotter.
Historic Track is the oldest active harness track in the United States, having seen racing since 1838. Historic Track is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Formerly known as the Hall of Fame of the Trotter, the Museum was originally built as a stable in 1912. The Museum promotes the great sport of harness racing, and maintains the largest collection of horse mementoes in the world.
Another track, now gone, known as Good Time Park, was a mile-long racetrack and home of the Hambletonian harness race. The Hambletonian harness race that was run every summer in Goshen from 1930 to 1956, before moving to Illinois, is now run at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
The Maplewood House where the Village of Goshen Village Hall is located was built in 1816, which was a private residence, a bank, and the Village Hall since 1976.
Some relatively famous names from Goshen’s past include Gen. James W. Wilkin, speaker of the New York State Assembly; Dr. Benjamin Tustin, one of the first doctors to experiment with the use of vaccines; and Horace Pippin, the African American painter, who lived and painted in the village. Anna Dickerson, an anti-slavery activist, and jazz musician Willie “the Lion” Smith also called Goshen home.