Built circa 1780, this old stone house is fairly new compared to some of its neighbors (it was built after the Revolution). The land upon which the house sits was originally owned by Anthony de Hooges and his wife Eva. It was purchased by Conrad Elmendorf, who likely built the home after the War. and handed down to his great-grandson Col. Jonathan Elmendorf who served in the War of 1812. The property is now home to the Hurley Historical Society, which host an Old Stone House Tour every year.
Upstate New York
Van Etten-Dumond “Spy” House // c.1726
One of my favorite houses in Hurley is the Dumond House (also known as the “Spy House”), a pre-Revolutionary stone cottage built in Dutch traditions. The house is one and one-half stories high, and is built of limestone. The limestone walls are of various thickness, from a nearby quarry, with the square ends laid up in mortar made of clay, and pointed with lime mortar outside. The house was built by Jacobus Van Etten (1696-1779) and used as a Guard House during the American Revolution. In 1777, it was famous for housing the convicted British spy, Lt. Daniel Taylor after he was caught carrying a message between British Generals Henry Clinton and John Burgoyne. Lt. Taylor was arrested as a British spy, convicted in court of spying and held in the basement of the Du Mond House as a prisoner. He was hung on October 18, 1777 from a nearby tree. American soldiers encamped in the area were paraded by the body as a warning to any potential British sympathizers. The home was later owned by the Dumond Family. It has been owned by the Kent family since 1933.
Polly Crispell Cottage // c.1700
Another of Hurley’s stone houses is this beauty, known as the Polly Crispel Cottage. The house was built before the American Revolution c.1700 by an Anthony Crispell, a cordwainer. The home was likely a half cape in form with the door and two windows to its right. The other half was added at a lower level later on with the floors uneven, likely in 1735 where a construction date plaque read. The home also features a dutch door, which I wish we had more of in New England.
Half Moon Tavern – Elmendorf House // c.1710
When Pieter Ostrander settled in Hurley, NY with his family in the late 1600s. Being of Dutch descent, he (and other settlers) built their homes and barns in Dutch traditions. This lot along the village’s main street was acquired by Pieter and inherited by his son, Arent in about 1710, about the time the home is estimated to have been built. It was acquired by the Elmendorf Family by the early 19th century. At that time, the property operated as the Half Moon Tavern, after Petrus Elmendorf purchased it in 1804. The addition to the east (right) was built as a weaving room. The property remained in the Elmendorf family until 2008 (that’s almost 300 years in two families!) It was acquired by the new owner who has been restoring and researching the home ever since. He runs a blog documenting the property’s rich history.
Ostrander-Houghtaling House // c.1705
Pieter Pieterzen Ostrander (1657-1706) was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands by 1657. His father died in the East Indies and soon after, Pieter, his mother, his stepfather Arent Teunissen, and older sister Tryntje Pieters immigrated to New Netherland (New York), arriving in 1661. Initially the family settled on Coney Island in Brooklyn and were eventually forced out by English settlers. The family removed to Wiltwyck (present-day Kingston, in Ulster County, New York. In Kingston, Pieter married Rebecca Traphagen Ostrander (1662-1720) in the Reformed Dutch Church of Kingston, New York, on 19 January 1679. Some time after their marriage, Pieter and Rebecca moved southwest to the nearby village of Hurley, where in 1687 he was one of several villagers to take an Oath of Allegiance. They built a small, single-room cottage here and lived there until it was expanded around the time Pieter passed away. In 1715, the house was deeded to Pieter’s son, Arent. During the time of the American Revolution, the home operated as a tavern. In October, November, and December of 1777, this house is said to have been the military headquarters for General George Clinton’s Continental forces and the town was the temporary capital of New York State. In 1782, the home was later believed to be where a reception was held in front for George Washington as he rode through town in 1782. In the 19th century, the left (northern) half of the house was added on by owner Abe Houghtaling, who operated that side as a wagon making shop. Whew! That’s a lot of history!
Church of the Holy Transfiguration // 1891
Highlighted by the establishment of the Catskill Mountain House in the 1820s, and furthered by the construction of subsequent resorts and boarding houses, the Catskill Mountains enjoyed a lively seasonal tourist industry that continued largely unabated throughout most of the nineteenth century. Mead’s Mountain House was representative of the smaller, less ostentatious boarding houses that sprang up in the region to serve a more middle-class clientele of tourists. This church, the Church of the Holy Transfiguration was originally constructed in 1891 in association with Mead’s Mountain House as a modest place of worship for guests of the Mead family’s boarding house and those of the nearby Overlook Mountain House. The chapel was constructed in 1891 and modestly built, constructed with a wood balloon frame above a fieldstone foundation with detailing reminiscent of the rustic aesthetic, popular in the Adirondacks to the north. In the 1960s, Father Francis, the much-beloved “hippie priest”, here welcomed hippies who had congregated in town during those years that culminated in the famous art and music festival. Fr. Francis began the practice of this lesser known branch of Catholicism, which acknowledges the Pope as an earthly spiritual leader but, unlike classical Roman Catholicism, does not consider the Pope to be supreme or infallible. The small chapel remains as a quirky and important piece of local history.
The Colony Hotel // 1929
As Woodstock New York surged in popularity as a retreat for American and European artists, savvy businessmen from Manhattan could not help themselves but to envision ways to make a little extra money. Morris Newgold and his son, Gabriel of New York City who purchased the Overlook Mountain House in 1917, sought to expand their upstate lodging empire and built a secondary establishment in the village of Woodstock, the Colony Hotel. The Colony Hotel serve as a more modest establishment to the grand Overlook Mountain House atop Overlook Mountain and would be a staging area and a stopover point for guests coming up the Hudson River by boat or train. Guests would spend the night at the Colony and eat at its fine restaurant before making the arduous trip up the mountain to the Overlook Mountain House the next day. The Colony Hotel appears to have been Gabriel’s idea who prided himself on the new building being “pretentious” as it was much more substantial than the more modest, vernacular buildings around the village. Gerald Betz of nearby Kingston was the architect for the Colony Hotel. Construction began for the Colony Hotel in 1927, and it opened to guests the summer of 1929. Morris died in 1940 and Gabriel continued to manage the Colony until his son took over from 1945 until the 1960 but as event space for arts and antiques fairs. It became known as the Colony Arts Center. The Colony’s website goes on to state that the building sat empty almost entirely through the next forty years. It was recently restored by artists Alexia and Neil Howard who converted it to a music venue and beer garden, it is pretty amazing and a must-see for history buffs visiting Woodstock.
Overlook Mountain House Ruins // 1923-
One of the most intriguing and historical hikes around is at Overlook Mountain in Woodstock, there is just something so mesmerising and enchanting about abandoned places. Overlook Mountain has long been a significant location in New York. In the boom years of New York City after the Civil War, more than 90 quarries in the Town of Woodstock (many around Mount Overlook) produced bluestone for sidewalks in Manhattan. By the end of the 19th century, the mountain and surrounding area became a tourist location for New Yorkers escaping the woes of city living, looking to breathe in the fresh mountain air up the Hudson. The current ruins Overlook Mountain House was actually the third hotel on the site. The first Overlook Mountain House was built in 1871 and accommodated 300 guests, before it was destroyed by fire in 1875. It was rebuilt in 1878 by the Kiersted Brothers of Saugerties. Overlook was used irregularly between 1887 and 1917, when Morris Newgold of Manhattan purchased the hotel. In 1921, it was the site of a secret organizational meeting of what was to become the Communist Labor Party of America. The second incarnation of the Overlook Mountain House was destroyed by fire in 1923. And Morris Newgold sought to rebuild with fireproof construction.
His architect used concrete to rebuild the hotel, which likely would have been covered with stucco. They also broke ground for a chapel, stables, and a standalone lodge for private housing for his family. Newgold’s shaky finances paired with the Great Depression made for slow progress, and portions of the resort were still “under construction” as late as 1939 (and the main hotel never being finished from what I could find). Morris Newgold died in 1940 and the property was either sold by his son or acquired via eminent domain by the New York State Conservation Department and made part of the Catskill Forest Preserve. You can now explore the old ruins of the Overlook Mountain House between views of the Catskill Mountains.
Woodstock Artists Association & Museum // 1919
By 1919, artists from all over the United States and Europe were living and creating art in Woodstock, NY. As a thriving and expanding group of diverse individuals, the need for a welcoming and open-minded gallery space was quickly recognized. To facilitate this, a group of five painters established two complimentary organizations: The Woodstock Art Association (later changed to Woodstock Artists Association in 1933) who would maintain the exhibition space and set its artistic principles, and the Artists Realty Company who would finance the construction and maintenance of the physical space. The five painters being: Carl Eric Lindin (1869-1942), John F. Carlson (1874-1945), Frank Swift Chase (1886-1942), Henry Lee McFee (1886-1953) and Andrew Dasburg (1887-1979). New York City architect William A. Boring was commissioned to design the new museum and art space for the group. Boring (whos career was anything but boring) briefly worked for McKim, Mead and White for a year before starting his own practice with Edward Tilton in 1891. His most noted work is his 1897 Immigration Station on Ellis Island for which he and Tilton won the design competition as relative unknowns. The refined Colonial Revival building for the Woodstock Artists Association sits right in the middle of the village and its symmetrical façade is defined by a central double door entrance with transom and pedimented enframement. Of particular interest is the row of four elliptical windows above the double-hung windows.
Trippy Tower House // 2002
One of the most unique buildings I have ever stumbled across is located in the mountain town of Woodstock, NY. Often referred to as the Trippy Tower House, the house was built over the course of 15 years by artist John Kahn, who designed sets for the Muppets and “Fraggle Rock”. The Tower House is crafted from repurposed materials such as slate, copper, aircraft grade aluminum and redwood with the property being considered his largest “sculpture” and his life’s work. The 3,518 square foot home has three bedrooms and four bathrooms across its five floors The cylindrical house was completed in 2002 and sold five years later when Kahn moved to Easter Island. Kahn sold the house to Rhoney Gissen Stanley, who was former secretary to the Grateful Dead and wife of Owsley Stanley, the Dead’s sound man and the alleged first mass producer of LSD. It was listed for sale again in 2017 for $1.2 Million.