This past weekend I went on a day trip to one of my favorite places in the entire world, the Mohonk Mountain House and Preserve. The Mohonk Preserve is the largest visitor and member-supported nature preserve in New York State, with 165,000 annual visitors and 8,000 protected acres of cliffs, forests, fields, ponds and streams. Located in Ulster County on the Shawangunk Ridge, a section of the Appalachians 90 miles north of New York City, both the Mountain House and the Preserve date back to the 1870’s, when two Quaker brothers bought Lake Mohonk and the surrounding land and built a small resort for family and friends. When you look at the “mountain house” now, it’s nearly impossible to imagine it as a small resort. Like most resort hotels it has undergone a nearly continuous program of enlargement and modernization, the end result of which is a Victorian castle/mountain lodge with looming tile-capped turrets, an enormous wood-beamed dining hall and veranda, stone and wooden balconies and gothic gables. It is simultaneously spooky and lovely. The view of the multiple-winged structure on a lake that appears to be the sky dipping down to touch the mountaintops is only second to the view from the nearby Skytop Tower, which looks out over the entirety of the Hudson River Valley and the cliffs of the Shawangunks. It is in a word…breath-taking. I’ve been coming here since I was a child and it never ceases to remind me just how beautiful a place southern New York State is. In honor of that, I’ve decided to feature four houses from Ulster County…mostly because one of the aftermaths of a trip to the Mohonk is non-stop daydreaming of living near it. Two of the featured houses are going to be hits, one will be a miss and the last will be left up for you to decide. Let’s begin!
House 1: Hardenbergh-Davenport House – 3 Mill Dam Road, Stone Ridge – $399,000
Built in 1815, this 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath Gothic Revival is set in the heart of the village of Stone Ridge. Set on 1.5 acres, this property’s charm is not so much in its setting as in it’s historic details, including triple front gables with ornate fascia carvings and finials, a strap-hinge front door and dutch-door that opens onto a flagstone terrace, preserved wide floor boards and floor-to-ceiling French doors. The family room with a cathedral ceiling is an unfortunate renovation, but the general lightness of the home is rare for period homes from this time. This home has earned The Taste Maven Stamp of Approval!
House 2: Rondale House – 115 Buck Road, Stone Ridge – $1,499,000
The Rondale is an exquisite historic estate featuring a 1710 Dutch stone home with a guest house, horse barn, pond, stream, inground pool and views of the Mohonk. The 5 bed, 3 bath home features three original fireplaces, Dutch doors, and many original built-ins and details. You may have noticed the significant jump in price between House 1 and House 2. This is largely because House 2 happens to sit on 65 acres of protected forest and pasture and every structure seems to have been impeccably maintained. The stone home is just one of the jewels in this crown. A large eat-in kitchen with cherry cabinets leads to the period perfect beamed dining room with colonial beehive fireplace and wood stove insert, beamed ceilings, built-in cupboards and original hardware. A cozy beamed alcove opens onto the grand living room with beamed ceilings, a Rumford fireplace and a dutch-door to the stone veranda. The library (squeal!) features a 7-foot stone fireplace, built-in bookshelves and cabinets, and wood beams. The master suite is unfortunately a recent addition, so you have to trade history for comfort to get your walk-in closet and master bath. And get this…the pool is a stream-fed, natural pool! Sure the water is chlorinated, but it’s like you’re in freakin’ nature! There’s a separate 2 bedroom guest house, a stone 3-car garage with a storage loft, a 2-story horse barn, trails and pastures for said horses and a stream-fed pond stocked with bass for fishing. This estate is beautiful in both setting and structure. Even though I don’t like the interior of this one as much as the first it has earned The Taste Maven Stamp of Approval! So far you’re killin’ this, Stone Ridge.
House 3: Bevier Homestead – 46 Bevier Road, Gardiner – $545,000
Don’t let the exterior of this 4 bedroom, 3 bath French Huguenot farmhouse built circa 1900 deceive you…it is NOT this cute on the inside. Pros: 3.47 acres, 300 feet of river frontage, and mountain views. Cons: Everything else. Nowhere near as atrocious as some of our friends down in Plano, Texas…but this disappointing house has earned The Taste Maven Stamp of Disapproval.
House 4: Wallkill Fixer-Upper – 2331 Bruynswick Road, Wallkill – $224,900
So I have little to no information on this house, other than the realtor-provided description that goes along with the listing. It mentions that it sits on approximately 46 acres, has 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, aluminum siding (blech) and was built in 1935. The realtor also mentioned that it is near the “Mohank”…which is not how you spell it…and the “Gardiner Skydive Ranch”. Unfortunately when I started to type that last bit into google, it auto-filled the search to “gardiner skydive death” which led me to some disconcerting news about the frequency of death-by-skydiving at this establishment. There are zero interior pictures of this house and just looking at it from the outside I’m not sure the structure is actually salvageable. But I hope it is, because I’d hate to think of this property being bought and some asshole turning it into a mcmansion subdivision for New York City weekenders and retirees.
So what do you think? Would you give this home your stamp of approval or your stamp of disapproval?