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.
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.
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.
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.
When Dutch and German colonists began to settle along the Hudson River Valley, they brought with them their own religious beliefs and desire for community in a new home. In the Village of Woodstock in Ulster County in 1799, the Dutch settlers began meeting in homes to worship establishing a church. By 1805, they petitioned the denomination for an organized church and purchased land, which is now known as the Village Green. In the heart of Woodstock, they built the first church structure. In 1844, that building was torn down for a new, Greek Revival place of worship on the outskirts of the Green. Architecturally, the church exhibits a prominent temple front with pedimented gable and Doric portico capped by an octagonal steeple. Inside, the sanctuary is lined on the walls and ceiling with decorative, pressed tin, which is apparently from the mid-19th century. The church remains very active in local and current events.
One of the oldest extant buildings in Woodstock Village is the old Tannery Brook House. The building (or a part of it) was originally an old grist mill developed by Isaac Davis and it was later turned into a saw mill. Around the end of the Civil War, the structure was home to the village blacksmith operated by John Wigram Davis, then it was enlarged as a barn for wagons and carriages. Later, owner Peter Longendyke operated a boarding house from the building. Around 1904, the New York Art Students League is believed to have had their first summer art class in the upstairs rooms of the building. In 1935, owner Lamonte Simpkins remodeled it as “The Art Shop”. Upstairs Mr. Simpkins sold clothes, shoes and drygoods, while downstairs The Art Shop and Tannery Brook Garden Flourished. The building was rebranded as the Old Forge House, as a nod to its historic use. It remains a vernacular, and important piece of Woodstock’s rich history from sleepy industrial village to vibrant artist community.
The James Nelson Lasher House in Woodstock, NY was built by James Nelson Lasher (1829-1906) in about 1884. “Nelson” Lasher, a farmer from Bearsville, acquired 45 acres on the outskirts of the village of Woodstock and established an undertaking business on the property, in 1879. Over the next two decades, he farmed the property with his son Franklin “Frank”, who by 1890, also began to manage the undertaking business. Frank Lasher (1864-1912) may have added the Queen Anne porches and tower to the house around this time. In the early 1900s, the Lasher household consisted of Nelson and wife Elizabeth, and Frank and his wife and three children. Nelson died in 1906 and Frank died six years later, leaving the property to his son, Victor, who continued the family undertaking/funeral home business. The property was sold out of the Lasher family in 1960, but operated as a funeral home until 2019. The property has recently been eyed as a hotel and for town offices, I wonder what its future holds!
One of the largest buildings in the charming village of Woodstock, NY, is the former Krack House… I know what you are thinking, and no it was not due to illegal activity! The Krack House was developed in 1870 by Charles H. Krack (1824-1893), as a response to the success of other summer hotels built nearby as the area saw a boom in tourism. Charles Krack was born in Germany and after serving in the military there, he arrived to America in the mid-1800s. Here, he served as an overseer of a Georgia plantation, and moved to New York City after the Civil War, operating a hotel in Manhattan. He later became the owner of a floating bathhouse on New York City’s East River anchored near Grand Street, and made great money, investing it up the Hudson in Woodstock. In Ulster County, he got involved in politics. The Krack House was a summer lodging facility with food service and all the best amenities in the village. After Charles’ death in 1893, the property was eventually purchased by Stanley Brinckerhoff Longyear, who rebranded the hotel in his name, The Longyear. The building appears to now contain apartments above commercial spaces.