I drove into one of the most distressed small cities in America this past Monday, and was both assaulted and astonished by: rows and rows of brick townhouses from the nineteenth century and before, many gone to rot, manifest poverty, amazing elevated Hudson River views, a historic district of restored Gilded Age mansions saved from a sweeping program of urban renewal and by their courageous owners, and a fisher cat. Perhaps I would not have ventured into Newburgh if I had known that it was “The Murder Capital of New York“, but then I would not have seen the deterioration or the restoration (or the fisher cat, which is not a cat at all but a rare weasel-like creature–it fled into an abandoned wooded lot before I could turn on my camera, but I knew immediately that that’s what it was). I went to Newburgh to see Washington’s Headquarters, but came away seeing a whole lot more. I’m going to refrain from including images of Newburgh’s distress–but let me assure you that its surviving restored structures are all the more picturesque because of the contrast.
Along Montgomery Street in Newburgh, New York; villas and a foundation garden. The influence of Calvert Vaux (1824-95) and Andrew Jackson Downing is very apparent. There is a park named after Downing in Newburgh, and this last house is clearly based on “Design no. 14” in Vaux’s Villas and cottages. A series of designs prepared for execution in the United States.
The Hudson River Valley is, of course, picturesque in both natural and man-made ways: and when they come together they really grab hold of you! The whole region is dotted with romantic structures, large and small, alone and in assemblages like Montgomery Street. On the other side of the river, I captured a few more romantic structures, and, for contrast, the USS Slater (the last World War II destroyer afloat) on its way up the river to Albany.
On the other side of the river: houses (actually I don’t think this first structure is a house–some sort of chapel?) in Cold Spring and Rhinecliff; the USS Slater on the Hudson.
July 3rd, 2014 at 8:10 am
I like the house wiht the tower. We’da called that an elf house when we were kids.
July 3rd, 2014 at 8:22 am
Your post is so very informative and reflective of what is going on with the economy presently. I have several of Andrew Downing’s books and they are some of my favourite architectural inspirations. I understand the huge cost of restoration and maintaining of these picturesque homes but what a shame to lose them due to neglect. Thanks for bringing light to them. I salute the braves souls who has chosen to bring some of these structures back to life.
July 3rd, 2014 at 8:54 am
Thanks for your reply, Gwen. The homes that are featured here are obviously in good hands, but the majority of Newburgh’s historic structures need help fast–a LOT of help. Not sure what’s going on regarding zoning and preservation efforts–I’m going to do some research.
July 4th, 2014 at 11:04 am
Beautiful photography. Thank you for sharing and expanding our worlds outside of our grasp. I myself do not travel far, but even close to home I try to “see” beyond what is in front of me. Salem is a wonderful place to do just that. And, you always add wonderful information with everything you post. On a side note…I am enjoying the transformation of 3 Webster with a front row seat, as I am at #4.
July 4th, 2014 at 11:09 am
Hi Laura—I so agree with you about Salem—when I started this blog 3+ years ago I never dreamed it would go on so long with Salem posts; I thought it would either cease or evolve into something else entirely. But Salem keeps inspiring me! Glad it does you too. I really hope that the condominiums on Webster Street enhance your neighborhood–my husband has been working very hard on them! I think the indoor parking is going to be key. I hope he lets me in for an updated post soon.
July 5th, 2014 at 6:59 am
Beautiful photos. I grew up in Westchester county and many of my haunts were along the Hudson. I loved the old homes, the hills and cliffs, and water. If you venture further down from Newburgh, you’d get to the famed town of Sleepy Hollow, where Washington Irving is buried, along with some Rockefellers, Andrew Carnegie, and a few other characters. Thanks for sharing.
July 7th, 2014 at 9:30 am
What wonderful pictures! Really made my day seeing such beauty. I’d love to live in that blue house – it looks so full of character and history, more so than anything I’ve seen in the UK where I live.
July 7th, 2014 at 10:06 am
Hello Susannah–they are lovely houses but your houses can more than compete!
October 3rd, 2019 at 11:59 am
The picture of the little church here is some information
October 3rd, 2019 at 1:14 pm
Thanks so much: love it!