Elijah Bender, Marist, '18
Majored in History
What has your career path been to this point? Please share your current position and place of employment, as well as any previous roles that have shaped your professional life:
I recently graduated from Cardozo Law School in Manhattan in June 2021. Many of my courses focused on Real Estate, Construction, and Employment Law but I found Constitutional Law and more obscure topics like Indigenous Property Law very fulfilling.
I currently manage a portfolio of commercial and residential real estate in Manhattan and Rhinebeck, NY and in Stockbridge, MA for the family office and additionally oversee operations at Foster’s Coach House Tavern, an historic eatery in Rhinebeck, NY. It is quite an experience working in the Hospitality business and gratifying to me given how iconic Foster’s is to the Hudson River Valley. My studies in history and law have nicely complemented each of my career paths.
An example of one of my family’s recent acquisitions includes the Stockbridge Country Store (c. 1810) and the Mews on Main Street in Stockbridge, directly next to the Red Lion Inn (1773). It was in continuous ownership for over sixty years; it has been quite an exciting project and fits with our model of improving and managing concentrations of historic and landmark property. Another is a building on West Fourth Street in Greenwich Village which was continuously owned by one family since 1919 and was a bar and speakeasy frequented by Mayor Jimmy Walker and many notables of the time.
Recently, we leased the historic Northern Dispensary to God’s Love We Deliver, a charity fighting hunger among the infirmed. This organization fulfilling its charitable purpose in our building made us especially proud.
Many of the properties I manage in Manhattan were owned by individuals with deep connections to the Hudson River Valley. From warehouse buildings that were part of the holdings of Vincent Astor and his family to properties owned by the Roosevelts, Delanos, Livingstons, and Van Rensealears. In fact, one property on Tenth Avenue in the Meatpacking District was the site of the Delamater Iron Works, influential in building the ironclad USS Monitor for the government during the Civil War. Cornelius DeLamater was born in Rhinebeck and the name is still current in Dutchess County.
Can you share an experience/memory from your time at HRVI that stands out as meaningful?
It was a privilege and honor to work with Colonel Johnson, Chris Pryslopski, and Andy Villani in my capacity as an intern. They are dedicated to promoting the diverse history and culture of the Hudson River Valley. I gained a new experience with each shift, and this further enhanced my own interests in regional history. It has been wonderful to keep this relationship going as I have become involved with the Advisory Board of HRVI since graduation. Colonel Johnson is quite an authority, not just on military history, but the history of our Hudson Valley region overall. What a resource it was to have him as a professor and to continue to work with him in my capacity on the advisory board.
How has your experience at HRVI helped you advance your education and/or professional pursuits since graduating from Marist?
At any social function I promote the regional history work of HRVI and the journal. My internship at HRVI and simultaneous publication of “Answering the Call: A History of the Rhinebeck Fire Department” in The Hudson River Valley Review taught me to hone my writing skills. This was especially helpful in creating legal briefs, contracts, and other legal drafts while in law school.
This writing came naturally as I was trained to write concisely during my time at the HRVI and as a history major. My time at HRVI also equipped me with the necessary skills to research and write a 32-page dissertation on the Carciari v. Salazar Supreme Court decision concerning tribal recognition and land rights of Native Americans, a topic I have long been interested in and was proud to be able to contribute to.
The law and history go hand in hand. I have always had a deep appreciation for American history, particularly regional history. I owe it all to my WWII veteran grandfather. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of New York City and American history and, as a product of the Great Depression and career bartender, had stories that could interest anyone. Likewise, growing up in a real estate family, I had the privilege of access to voluminous files and records, which I spent many hours perusing when I wasn’t in the field working with my father and grandfather. It is through this ephemera that I was further drawn to the HRVI and the study of history and law. I will always be grateful for my time at HRVI and the skills acquired while working with some of the best people in the field.
As HRVI celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, do you have any advice for future HRVI interns based on your time at HRVI and your experience in your professional field?
Students and interns alike should use the Hudson River Valley Institute as a resource to further academic success while at Marist. It is a worthwhile commitment and will offer many opportunities. The support and expertise of the team will likewise prove valuable to your educational experience while at Marist.