It was more than 400 years ago that Henry Hudson first explored the Hudson Valley. I’m sure if he were to return now he would be pleasantly surprised at how much has changed- and also how much has stayed the same. The beauty of our landscape- for one- is just as inspiring and breathtaking as it likely was then.
According to Travel Hudson Valley, we are “famous for being the first wine producing region in the country, while the bountiful farms have been here for centuries.” It was the Hudson Valley landscape that inspired “the first arts movement in the U.S, the Hudson River School,” the site notes. “These 1800s artists/naturalists-on-canvas would not be surprised to learn that 20th century residents were crusaders in saving the Hudson Valley landscape at Storm King Mountain where the country’s environmental movement was born.”
History is important to our region, where you can still see where George and Martha Washington lived. “Touring homes of the Vanderbilts, Roosevelts and Rockefellers offers visitors an inside view of how the wealthy lived in style,” Travel Hudson Valley notes. Today, my firm is lucky enough to represent some of the finest historic homes that have come to market in recent times. They seem to tell a story of their own as soon as you set foot in the door.
Living in a historic home requires an appreciation for the past. It is an art to maintain a home’s past while updating it for modern living. Two homes we currently have listed manage to do just that: the Freneau House in Piermont and Almost Brook in Tuxedo Park.
The Freneau House is one of Rockland County’s early Greek Revivals, overlooking the Hudson River at 4,000 square feet. Circa 1810, it was renovated in 1999 and still features the original period staircase. The property resides in the historic village of Piermont, which was developed as we today know it in the 1830s. The Freneau House has been a witness to Piermont’s own inception and development.
Almost Brook in Tuxedo Park, also known as the John Foster Cottage, was built circa 1890, when the property was purchased by insurance executive John H. Foster. The second owners were Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Adee. Ernest was the vice president of the Mercantile Trust Company, while Geraldine- his wife- was active in several women’s organizations. They held their daughter’s wedding reception at the property in 1920.
The home originally was built as a summer cottage for Mr. Foster in the historic Village of Tuxedo Park. Sited on 2.2 acres, there were two major renovations, one in 2003 and another in 2013. There are hand-painted murals, reminiscent of the Hudson Valley School, and a 17th century English fireplace.
Nestled in the Ramapo Mountains, Tuxedo Park features 100 year-old trees, three pristine lakes, an 18-hole golf championship course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and is considered one of the finest examples of pre-World War I architecture in the United States. While the Hudson Valley and tristate area offer a number of communities with beautiful historic homes and affluent owners, what makes Tuxedo Park stand alone is the designation of the entire village as a historic site, securing its listing on the National Register of Historic Places. There are roughly 350 homes in the Park, 250 or so built before 1930, with lake and mountain views and minimal disturbance to the natural terrain.
Head to Highland Mills, and you will find a beautiful vintage masterpiece at 187 Country Highway 105. Once a retreat for actors and artists, it was the former home of Gypsy Rose Lee. The circa 1901 Colonial Revival style home is set on a private 6.8 acres with a long tree lined driveway. It was completely rebuilt in 2011 with the finest materials. There are restored period moldings, hardwood floors, period paneling and exposed brick walls and archways.
The natural beauty of the Hudson Valley has not changed dramatically over the generations, having been preserved and enhanced over the course of 400 years. In fact, its beauty has been fodder and inspiration for poets, artists and ordinary people who just want to enjoy the area’s signature peace and quiet, going from everyday life to one that is rich and extraordinary.