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.
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.
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!
This home in Schenectady’s Stockade Historic District appears to have been built in the mid-19th century, and is an excellent example of a modestly sized Gothic Revival cottage. The house was occupied around 1860 by David P. Forrest, who served one term as Mayor of Schenectady in 1859, later becoming an Inspector of State Prisons from 1860 to 1862. The amazing Gothic bargeboard and other trimmings have remained and add so much intrigue to the home’s design. And that lancet window in the gable end! Swoon.
Grand architecture in New York is not just limited to commercial buildings, churches and offices, even civic buildings here can go toe-to-toe architecturally with any in the world! On the border of the SoHo neighborhood, the former New York City Police Headquarters showcases the unity of the five boroughs into the City of New York in 1898, a city in need of a large and centrally located Police HQ. The firm of Hoppin & Koen was hired to design a large structure, fitting to represent the largest police force in the country and the five boroughs it represents. The grand Beaux-Arts building makes a statement with its perfect proportions, expanses of rusticated limestone and granite, and the massive central dome at the roof. The New York City Police Department relocated in 1973 to the larger One Police Plaza building, and the former headquarters was vacant for a decade until the early 1980s when the property was purchased by developers and converted to condominiums.