With a vista looking out to the Hudson River, it’s understandable why a 19th century merchant who ferried freight and passengers between Manhattan and Stuyvesant would choose this location, a spot where docks for steamships and warehouses for goods once dotted the shoreline, to live.
Nothing but the trees and railroad tracks stand between the house on the market at 66 Riverview Street in Stuyvesant, N.Y. and the view to the adjacent Hudson River. Once known as Kinderhook Landing, Stuyvesant became an independent town in 1823 and benefitted from its waterfront and the arrival of train service in 1851. An 1842 Gazetteer for New York records that at the time the small town boasted a church, a tavern, a dozen or so stores and warehouses and about 50 houses.
This brick house dates to 1838 according to local records, although there is frustratingly little information about its construction. Stylistically, with its peaked gables and bracketed eaves, it fits in with the picturesque villas and country houses popularized in architectural pattern books of the 1840s and 50s.
Maps of Columbia County from the 1850s through the 1870s show the property in place and marked as belonging to “A. Davis.” By a map of 1888 it is labelled as the property of “Mrs. A. Davis.” Local newspaper accounts and census records show that to be Alexander and Sarah Davis. Alexander pops up frequently in the local paper, Kinderhook Herald, in connection with his business enterprises starting in the late 1820s.
By 1839 he was a partner in Schutt & Davis, operating the “tow-boat Fishkill” between Stuyvesant and New York for the transport of freight and passengers. The steamboat Superior was added in 1842 and a few years later Davis formed A. Davis & Co. and continued in the freighting and passenger business until the 1860s. While apparently known at times as Captain Davis, he doesn’t seem to have been at the helm; others are listed as the captains in the many ads for the company’s services.
If the house does date to 1838 and Davis was the original owner, he moved in before his 1845 marriage to Sarah Pratt. The only newspaper accounts of Davis in association with any house in Stuyvesant that turned up are ads in 1846 for a “pleasantly situated” dwelling house with an excellent garden. It is not clear if that is this house or another property that Davis owned but he and Sarah were definitely in residence in the Riverview Street house in 1858. That year an illustration of the house labelled “Res. of Alex. Davis, Stuyvesant” was published on an 1858 map of Columbia County.
The illustration shows the house set behind a fence with a curving walkway leading to the entrance. A generous lawn surrounds the house and there is a glimpse of what might be a well. Many of the details of the facade are still visible today, including balustrades surrounding the second floor balconies — presumably ideal for watching water-front activity — bay windows and arched windows and doors. Missing are the chimney cupolas that once graced the roofline.
Census records for 1875 show 69-year-old Alexander and 53-year-old Sarah living in a brick house valued at $12,000 along with just one live-in servant, Martha A. Gardiner. After briefly coming out of retirement for a new shipping venture, Alexander died in 1878, lauded in a memorial in the Kinderhook Herald as a man of “simple, unaffected and sincere” character and a “lover of piscatorial sports.” An auction of his personal property was held at the house the following year.
Sarah, an active member of the nearby Methodist Episcopal Church, held onto the property until her own death in 1903, with it appearing in her will as “the Davis homestead” located “a little north-easterly from the railroad depot.” She left the property to the widow and children of her late brother.
While the four-bedroom home has had some renovations on the interior, the current owners, who have had the property for 35 years according to the listing, have restored many of the features the Davis’ might recognize. There are wide planked floorboards, Greek Revival-style ear moldings surrounding many of the doors and windows, crown molding and in the parlor a more Italianate-style mantel echoing the arched windows of the exterior.
The windows are plentiful, including in the dining room with windows and doors opening onto the enclosed central porch.
A renovated kitchen has wood cabinets with arched detailing echoing a wood mantel. An aquatic theme pops up on the backsplash with creatures including a fish and a turtle rendered in mosaic tile.
Up the original staircase with carpeted treads are the bedrooms with more wide planked floorboards and multiple balconies. There are three bathrooms and the two full baths shown in the listing photos include one on the first and one on the second floor, both renovated.
The virtual tour has a few more photos than are shown in the listing, including extensive views of the surrounding 1.8 acres of the property. In addition to the side deck, which has views towards the water, there is a paved rear patio.
As noted in Sarah Davis’ will, the house sits close to the railroad depot, although it no longer serves as such. While train service to the town ended in 1958, Amtrak trains still rumble along the tracks. Built after a devastating fire ripped through the town in 1880, the former depot is now used for community events such as a local market while efforts to restore the building are ongoing.
The former Davis home has had a price drop since it was first listed for $1.2 million in September of 2020. It’s now listed for $949K with Lisa Bouchard Hoe of The Kinderhook Group.
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