04/18/14 11:30am
89 scheller park rd coxsackie ny

89 Scheller Park Road, Coxsackie: $485,000

Have we yet extolled the virtues of Coxsackie? Pretty sure we have, but we’re going to do it again, because it’s spring and you need an excuse to visit a new place. Coxsackie in Greene County, 30 minutes south of Albany, 10 minutes north of Catskill, and two hours and 35 minutes north of Brooklyn. The riverfront town is known (to us, anyway) for great historical architecture, a nice waterfront park, and one of the best places around to find some good, affordable properties. Don’t let the weird name scare you away. One thing we will mention, though, is that it’s sleepy. Businesses have come and gone, but it’s poised, friends. Right on the cusp. Worth a car trip, no doubt about it.


04/11/14 11:30am
155 ox rd roxbury ny

155 Ox Road, Roxbury: $324,000

In honor of the upcoming Catskill Mountain Film Festival, May 2-4 at SUNY Delhi in Delaware County, we thought we’d take a look way up north for some gems on the market. All of them are located in Roxbury, Margaretville, Franklin and Fleischmanns, and the prices are situated in the mid-range and lower. While that might seem too far north for a weekender (these towns are all over three hours from Brooklyn with the exception of Margaretville, which is two hours and 50 minutes), those looking to permanently relocate might find Delaware County’s Catskill Mountain environs pleasingly pastoral and idyllic.


04/04/14 11:30am
1028 sutton road durham ny

1028 Sutton Road, Durham: $750,000

Here’s the deal with the current luxury home market in Greene County: There’s more available than we expected at the $2,000,000-plus range, almost nothing in the $1,000,000 range, and some very nice offerings in the $500,000 to $800,000 range. Since it’s Greene County (north of Ulster County, west of the Hudson), you get a whole lot of value for your home buying dollar, more so than areas south or even Columbia County at this point. So have a look at these beauties. See if any of these fancies strike your fancy.


03/28/14 10:00am
6 stratton avenue mongaup valley ny

Mountain Lake in Smallwood from the 6 Stratton Avenue listing

We’re not finished with Sullivan County just yet (check out last week’s post for Part One). There are still plenty more listings to enjoy from this Catskill Mountains destination, with today’s picks ranging in price from $349,900 to $118,900. Spoiler alert: The cheapest one is located in a small, private lake community. The others are located on good-sized pieces of land, but nearly all of them need a shot of individual creativity to really make them pop, and one is in need of total renovation. Take your pick.


03/25/14 10:45am

Charles Nalle plaque

Charles Nalle, his body battered and bleeding, blood streaming from his wrists where the heavy slave manacles bit into his skin, stumbled up the embankment of the Hudson River, into the town of West Troy, N.Y. It was April 27, 1860, and Nalle had just escaped being taken back into slavery. He was, according to the law, still the property of his half-brother Blucher Hansbrough, of Culpeper, Va. That morning, he had left his employer Uri Gilbert’s house on 2nd Street, in Troy, and walked to the bakery, intent on getting bread for his employer’s household. Two years had passed since that fateful day in 1858 when he had boarded a boat in Washington, D.C., on his way to freedom in Philadelphia, and then on to upstate New York, bound for Canada.

To look at the man making his way up the embankment, one would scarcely have taken him to be the average Negro slave. He looked as Caucasian as any other free white man. He was the son of a Virginia planter named Peter Hansbrough and his slave named Lucy, who was herself half white. Charles was four years older than his half-brother Blucher, and was given to him by their father. The two men looked so much alike, a change of clothing would have obscured master from slave. But blood made all the difference, and Charles’ African lineage had assured him of a life of slavery. Unless he took his fate in his hands, and boarded the Underground Railroad to freedom.

The story of Charles Nalle’s early life, his family in Virginia and Washington, and his life in Troy up until this day can be found in Part One and Part Two of this story. We ended the last chapter with Charles Nalle escaping his captors and jumping on the ferry to West Troy, which today is the city of Watervliet. The hounds of hell were behind him, but so was salvation, in the person of Harriet Tubman, the “Moses” of the Underground Railroad, a woman who had never lost a passenger. And she, and the members of the Vigilance Committee, and the citizens of Troy, weren’t going to start losing one now. (more…)

03/21/14 11:30am
yasgur farm in bethel

Yasgur Farms, site of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival in Bethel in Sullivan County

When our thoughts turn toward the Catskill Mountains, Sullivan County is the first place that comes to mind. From factory area to tourism hub in the Borscht Belt, Sullivan, which boasts a population of around 76,000 as of 2012, has seen its share of hardships and bumps in the road. But when city-dwellers began to head north after 9/11, they discovered hidden Catskills gems like Narrowsburg, Callicoon, and Livingston Manor. Slowly but surely, people are catching on, despite Sullivan’s economic struggles and its difficulties reinventing itself after the resort town boom came and went. While it’s difficult to find work in the county (and in upstate New York in general; Sullivan is not unique), housing prices make the idea of commuting two hours (plus or minus) to the boroughs and back again appealing…at least for the weekend. Today, we found four properties in Sullivan County that are under $200,000, attractive, and less than 2.5 hours from Brooklyn.


03/20/14 10:45am

Harriet Tubman during Civil War, wikiThe great Harriet Tubman was a tiny little woman, with strong African features, no taller than five feet. But she was as tough as nails, and as fast and resourceful as a ninja. Over the years between 1849 and the dawn of the Civil War, she singlehandedly traveled back and forth from the plantations of the South to the Canadian border more than 19 times, leading captives out of slavery. Over 300 people directly owed their freedom to her, and she faced capture and certain death every day as they traveled north along the Underground Railroad. Her own family members were among the first people she shepherded to freedom, and some of them settled in upstate New York, in Auburn, and in the Capital region.

Part of Harriet Tubman’s success lay in the fact that most people didn’t believe that this diminutive black woman could possibly be the scourge of plantation owners everywhere. They didn’t know what she looked like, and they never caught her, or came close to finding out her identity. For those she helped to freedom, and those who helped her as operatives on the Underground Railroad, and supported her financially and in spirit, she was simply called “Moses.”

In the spring of 1860, she was slated to speak at an anti-slavery rally in Boston. She was traveling east from Auburn, so when she reached the Albany area, she decided to take some time to visit a cousin in Troy. The entire Capital District was a hotbed of abolitionist activity, and many of the area’s citizens were conductors on the Underground Railroad. Troy had a great number of people sympathetic to the anti-slavery cause, and the prosperous city had a small black community that included successful store and small business owners, outspoken ministers, and others, who with many of the city’s leading white citizens, were members of abolitionist groups. Harriet Tubman was right at home in Troy.

So was another man, one we met in the first chapter of this story, where greater detail can be found. Charles Nalle had escaped from bondage at the hands of the Hansbrough family, in Culpeper, Virginia. His father was the wealthy planter, Peter Hansbrough, and his mother was a light-skinned slave woman named Lucy. According to all accounts, Charles Nalle looked as white as the next white man, but his black blood had condemned him to a life of slavery. He had grown up playing with his half-brother, Blucher, although those filial ties were never spoken of, but had none of the young master’s advantages, not even the ability to read or write. (more…)

03/18/14 10:45am

State at 1st Street, Mutual Bank Building, Troy

Like Brooklyn, the Capital City area has long been recognized as an important nexus of the Abolitionist Movement in New York State, in the days before the Civil War. Anti-slavery activists were quite busy in Albany, Troy and the surrounding towns. The Hudson River cities became important routes on the Underground Railroad; the road to freedom in Canada for fugitives escaping slavery in the southern states. After the Fugitive Slave Act was enacted in 1850, the need for a strong and active resistance movement to pass escapees on up to Canada was necessary, as the new federal law not only made it a crime to help escapees, it also allowed bands of slave catchers to operate freely. The law also compelled local law enforcement to imprison and hold those who were captured, whether local officials wanted to, or not.

There was a small, but strong black community in the area, with black churches, schools and communities established in Troy, Albany, Saratoga, and beyond. Solomon Northrup, the hero of the true story “12 Years a Slave” lived with his family in Saratoga Springs. It was from there that he was kidnapped and spirited away down South, into slavery. Troy was home to several important black abolitionists, including Henry Highland Garnet, one of Troy’s most prominent ministers. Harriet Tubman had a cousin living in Troy. In Albany, Stephen Myers, another African American abolitionist, was publisher of “The Northern Star and Freeman’s Advocate,” an important African American newspaper. Myers was also one of the most important Underground Railroad agents in the state, and helped thousands of people make their way to freedom.

Our story starts not in Troy or Albany, but in Culpeper County, Virginia. There, Charles Nalle was born into slavery. He was the property of the Hansbrough family, and was, in fact, the planter’s son by one of his slaves. Charles Nalle favored his father, and was fair of complexion, and would pass for white anywhere but in the South, where even a drop of African blood doomed him to a life of slavery. He was not allowed to learn to read or write, and worked on the plantation, as a coachman. He was said to have a great affinity with horses. He was allowed to marry a woman named Kitty, who lived on a nearby plantation. Allowing slaves to marry was a rare occurrence, and having a married couple on different plantations was purposefully done to prevent strong family bonds from developing.

Kitty’s owner died, and in his will, freed the slaves on his plantation. Virginia law forbad free blacks from living in Virginia, so she had to leave the state. Kitty and their two children took up residence in Washington DC, which was also a slave territory, so she could be closer to Charles. He was rarely allowed to visit her. Finally, in 1858, on one of those rare visits, Charles saw his opportunity to escape, and with the help of a white agent of the Underground Railroad, he and another man named James Banks were spirited north. The Hansbrough family was furious, and in retaliation, sold Charles’ brothers far to the South, “sold down the river,” where slavery was even worse than in Virginia, and they were never able to be found again. (more…)

03/14/14 11:30am

Fridays at 11:30, Brownstoner Upstate brings you a selection of properties within three hours north, and a little east or west, of New York City.

terrapin restaurant

A delectable goat cheese wonton from the Terrapin Restaurant, Rhinebeck (photo from the website by Rhys Harper)

We’re in the throes of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, which started March 10 and continues through March 23. This year, some 180-plus restaurants in the Hudson Valley are participating, and they’re offering three-course prix-fixe dinners for $29.95 and lunches for $20.95 (reservations strongly recommended). That constitutes rock-bottom prices for many of these fine dining establishments. So this week, we thought it would be fun to take a little house/restaurant tour of the Hudson Valley, focusing not only on cool properties, but where to find tasty food, as well.


03/07/14 11:30am

Fridays at 11:30, Brownstoner Upstate brings you a selection of properties within three hours north, and a little east or west, of New York City.

1739 county rd 2 olivebridge ny

Interior, 1739 County Road 2, Olivebridge: $425,000

There are few places we love house hunting in Ulster County as much as Olivebridge. The wee hamlet in the town of Olive marches to the beat of its own handmade drum, a secluded place in the country where the mavericks go to commune with nature and build abodes tucked away in thick woods. The Ashokan Center exemplifies the true spirit of Olivebridge in one of its taglines: “Nurturing the spirit through nature and the arts.” That pretty much says it all. This week, we’re looking at four unique properties in Olivebridge ranging in price from the low $400s all the way down to the ultra-cheap $39,000. Olivebridge is approximately 2 hours, 18 minutes from Brooklyn, according to Google Maps.


02/28/14 11:30am

Fridays at 11, Brownstoner Upstate brings you a selection of properties within three hours north, and a little east or west, of New York City.

373 chestnut hill rd woodstock ny

373 Chestnut Hill Road, Woodstock: $2,000/mo.

Perhaps we’ve been looking at the Worst Room a little too much recently, but the rental market in the Hudson Valley and Catskills is starting to look more appealing than ever. For only a bit more than this stunning rental on the Lower East Side, you can enjoy a slightly higher level of comfort in an entire house just an hour or two north of the city. Feast your eyes on these new rental beauties listed within the past week on the Brownstoner Upstate real estate listings.


02/21/14 11:30am

Fridays at 11, Brownstoner Upstate brings you a selection of properties within three hours north, and a little east or west, of New York City.

putnam valley ny

One of Putnam Valley’s many lakes. Photo from the town of Putnam Valley website.

Well, Town of Lakes, if you want to get technical about it. That’s what the Putnam County town of Putnam Valley has dubbed itself, and it basically says it all. Putnam Valley, located within the Hudson Highlands, is one of the best places to look if you’re searching up north for a lakefront property or something close to a lake, since you can’t drive too far without finding one. Nearby lakes includes Lake Peekskill, Lake Oscawana, Cortlandt Lake, Lake Mohegan, and Indian Lake. While Putnam Valley is a mere 60 miles north of Brooklyn, it feels a world away, since the town has tried hard to sustain its rural character and untouched feel. The properties we’re surveying today aren’t necessarily lakefronts, but they’re close enough. Plus, non-lakefront means more affordable prices.