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Two Hudson Valley Cafes Changing Hands

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Two of my favorite restaurants north of the city are changing hands. That’s a helluva lot better than closing their doors.

Caffe Macchiato in Newburgh is under new ownership as the original owners, Barbara and Edwine are starting up a farm in Haiti. Kalite Farm is an “Eco Agritourism” endeavor that the couple has been planning for the past few years. It’s now in the process of being built.

Macchiato’s new owner is Claudio Pantoja and it sounds like he’s swinging into action big time on the cafe. The restaurant will be opening early for breakfast and serving dinner as soon as they get their act together and -get this!- there will be more vegan options on the menu according to Newburgh Restoration.

Tivoli’s vegetarian Luna 61 (formerly in Red Hook) is also under new ownership. Original owners Deb and Peter have opened what sounds like an equally fabulous place in Burlington, Vermont, called Revolution Kitchen. Luna will be reopening for lunch in mid September and they should have their dinner schedule up and running by the end of September.

Homeless for Thanksgiving?

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Election Day is here and that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Sandy left a trail of destruction behind her but you know what? If you’re here reading this, that means you have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Liberty View Farm has started a Facebook page called Thanksgiving in the Hudson Valley. They will be hosting Sandy victims at their farm and are inviting other Upstate folks to join them in offering up their own hospitality.

If you’ve been left homeless or even just powerless, take them up on their offer! Sounds like a great refuge. If you have a second home that’s not in use at this time, please consider hosting a family.

All Over the Place

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The $200k house challenge is proving to be quite difficult. And you know what else? Buying a property strictly for investment is way harder than finding a place to live. Never in my life did I care so much about what others thought until this property search, because I’ve gotta think about who’s going to buy it versus what I like.

So what do I like? Ok, as usual, I’m posting pictures without links so I’m not advertising homes I might want for myself.


I fell love with the Accord farm house above. In love! Three acres on a corner lot for $125k. The catch? The work it needs is not merely cosmetic. That is fine, but this city girl gets intimidated by wells and septic. Don’t know the first thing about them. In this case, there’s a well located INSIDE the house. Anyone know if that’s a big deal? I called the listing agent to tell her that I may be interested but wanted to know what she knew about that well. She didn’t return my call which bought me some more time to look at homes that needed less work.


This farm house is a case of “If it was for me, I’d grab it.” but a flip? It would probably take the better part of a year for a proper restoration and before I even get in there to do my stuff, the mechanics would need to be worked out.

I’m keeping it in the back of my mind but continuing to look.

Jon, my broker, has done a million successful flips. He keeps telling me that I should be looking for a quick and easy “FLIP” that only needs cosmetics, not a restoration project. I see his point. I do! And I’m trying, but it’s tough to wrap my head around a vinyl sided house….


This vinyl ranch is actually a possibility according the Flip Gospel of Jon. There’s not much to do on it. I can bring back the 1950’s look from the decade it was built. If I get it for the right price, I can make a profit, but not really if I have to pay the $199k asking price.


The location is what I love most. Right between High Falls and Rosendale where some of my favorite restaurants are located. Nuts, right? I’m thinking about what I can eat while working on the house! But in my defense, those areas are desirable for folks who would appreciate my kooky style of renovation. In other words, I don’t have to go conservative.


Just when I thought I had narrowed it down, I ran into a friend on the subway. He mentioned that some of his gay friends have homes in Sullivan County. I’m like “Invest in a gay area? I’m there!” Sooo, I’ll finally be looking at Sullivan County next week after putting it off because I’m just not familiar with the area.

Then this morning another friend forwarded a listing in Brooklyn that might be doable. Brooklyn? That’s where I wanted to do this in the first place. The only reason I’m looking upstate is because I thought I couldn’t afford down here. Yeah, I got into the idea of having a place to go for the summer, but work is work. I can do the 9-5 in Brooklyn and rent a place upstate. Sheeeeet.

I need professional help. Not from a broker and not from a therapist (ok, maybe a therapist). If anyone knows a good psychic, post it in the comments.

Welcome Back Nevele

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While driving around down 209 in Ulster County last week, I spotted all of these Nevele signs. I was all like “What? The Nevele is back?” Not so fast. There was a meeting on April 12th to talk about plans to convert the resort into a casino. Don’t know what happened at that meeting but the signs were not put there by residents of the area, rather developers and business owners who want to see this happen.

Although I don’t wish for The Catskills to look like Atlantic City, the old Borscht Belt has hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere to go but up. Yeah, gambling is bad habit, but casinos will bring jobs and tourists to the area. And let’s face it. As much as I loved my 1970’s Catskills growing up, it wasn’t the classiest place in the world anyway. I mean, really, have you ever seen a bunch of Jews at an all you can eat meal? My family would pass around the Mylanta after dinner. That is not a joke. So, what I’m saying is, the people these casinos would bring in can’t be any worse than my family.

Speaking of Catskill resorts, the fire at Grandview Palace looks pretty bad. It’s been nice to think these places still exist and they just need to be rediscovered but the finality of the fires and tear downs rips away at our childhood.

But there is hope! Right?

Dutchess County Under $100k

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I drove for countless hours yesterday just to look at three properties. I’d like to share two of them with you because I’m passing on them. The third one is a possibility so that I’m keeping to myself for now.


The Staatsburg 1940 cottage (above) is listed at $74,500. It’s well worth it. The listing says it needs work but honestly, I don’t see it needing anything more than some updating and a paint job. If you’re unfamiliar with Staatsburg, that’s the area north of Hyde Park and south of Rhinebeck. Not bad, huh?

So why am I passing on it? Well, the 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow is only 691 square feet. Although I did want a small, easy project to work on, I don’t believe that I can make a killing on this house as an investment because of the size and location. It’s more local than weekender, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

If I lived in the area and didn’t have to drive 2 hours to work on the house and if I had cash that I wasn’t going to miss while I’m waiting to sell, it would be worth doing.


Anyway, as you can see, it’s a cute little house. For $74,500, how can you go wrong? Especially with that awesome wallpaper!

This bank owned Red Hook house is listed at $84,500. It’s on a not-so-busy road across the street from a lake. There are some trailers and multiple-pick-up-trucks-in-the-driveway households nearby. Yeah, so I’m a city snob. So be it.


That didn’t bother me so much. One problem is the flip job. The guy lost his house due to some bad decisions (I got some background from a neighbor up the road.) so I don’t want to add insult to injury by knocking his renovation, but some flip jobs just scream Home Depot and this is one of them. The house was built in 1912. Personally, I’d rather restore a beat up 1912 home.


Don’t know if you can see from the photo but this is new parquet tile over what looks like a decent oak floor.

Since I’m a recycling maven, I reaalllly hate to renovate an already renovated property. I’m sure this stuff can be donated, but it bothers me to rip out new work. So that’s why this is a pass.


Well, there is one more thing. After seeing this, I left without going down to the basement. I don’t know what it’s from but I didn’t want to encounter it in the house so I ran out. I did look in the basement and saw mold and a water line on the wall.

Don’t know how/if the water problem can be remedied, but hey, the house is $84,500 and the upstairs is clean and livable.

The $200k Challenge:OC

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Orange County covers a fairly large area. There is definitely an assortment of homes that can be had not only for under $200k, but even under $100k. Think Newburgh and Middletown for those extremely affordable houses.

Before you run up there to find your inexpensive dream home, a few things…

Taxes are pretty high in Orange County. Like as high as New Jersey high. The fact is, taxes are always higher in the burbs than in the city, but from what I’ve seen, Orange is worse than Dutchess and Ulster.

The good news is that Metro North does run on the west side of the Hudson. There are limited stops to Port Jervis, but it will still take you nearly 2 hours to get from Penn Station to Middletown. An every day commute can set you back about $300 per month.

Although there are plenty of second homes in Orange, it seems to be more of a commuter community. Lots of cops and firefighters living up there so it’s a pretty safe place to be.

The homes that I looked at this week were in Cornwall on Hudson. Really pretty area near Storm King. The town is cute but not much was going on the day I went up. I should let you know that there were also affordable listings in Highland Falls which is right near West Point.


The house above is listed at $150k. It needs work and plenty of it, but location, location, location! It’s more of a suburban area than private country location, but it’s within walking distance to town and has killer views of the river on the block. Should I go ahead and assume that the 1922 structure was a barn or horse stalls at one point? It looks like it.



There are wide plank floors throughout but the wavy gravy walls and ceilings need to go. (The house isn’t leaning, I was too lazy to fix my lens distortion.)


This one is interesting. Listed at $199,734. It sits on over 2 acres of private land. Really close to 9W but you wouldn’t know it. The thing with this house is that it’s an unfinished renovation. Everything has been roughed in, but at over 2000 square feet, materials will be too costly for my budget. How about you? Could be worth it. Taxes are $13k. Told ya.




Under $100k in Warwick

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Check out this too-good-to-be-true place in Warwick. Of course the $75k asking price has people bidding against each other. It’s not a short sale and when I looked at it, there was nothing apparent to the eye that was a deal breaker. It just needs some work to finish up the renovation that someone started. Nice location and decent property.


When I called the list agent to find out what the deal is, I found out that it may not be such a deal after all. Or maybe it is, but delving into the problems would be uncharted territory for me.

The home currently has no running water. The seller tells the agent that it’s a broken pipe but let’s assume the worst and figure on drilling a whole new well. Just in case. Furthermore, the septic system is a mess. Worst case scenario, let’s say it needs a new one. The owner also thought he would save on the price of oil, so he installed a coal heating system. Coal? Who does that?

Ok, so those are the big issues. I was almost tempted to check out prices on those items but as of last week there were seven offers on the table, above ask, so I just didn’t bother.

Nice house though. Someone who knows a thing or two about something other than city sewer and water is gonna steal this baby for a song.

Dining Out For A Good Cause

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Hey NYC, still feeling guilty about kvetching about how lame Hurricane Irene was only to find out that upstate was devastated? Well, here’s your chance to redeem yourselves. And don’t worry, it doesn’t involve donating your favorite pair of shoes or picking up a hammer. It’s something we all love to do….dine out!

Dine Out Irene means that this Sunday (yeah, today) participating restaurants will donate 10% of sales to aid local farmers who were hit hard a few weeks ago. Not enough notice? Check the list. Some restaurants are running it tomorrow as well. Annnndddd….there are a few joints outside of the city, so if you’ve got some spare change in your pocket, you really don’t have an excuse not to do this now, do you?



Buying a Country Home. Or a Commune.

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Here we go again! It’s a vicious cycle for me. City home. Country home. City home. Country home. After losing my shirt on the Beacon home during the market downshift, I vowed never to invest anywhere other than the 5 boroughs again. I also vowed that would be my last renovation.

But I am an addict. I’m itching for a renovation even though I know it’s bad for my physical, mental and financial health. And right now, upstate New York is one big bargain basement!

Good thing I don’t even have the savings for a bargain right now.


Now is the time to buy. There are plenty of second homes on the market. The economy is depressed. Towns are even more depressed. Interest rates are as low as they get. Passing through Stone Ridge last week, it looked as if every other house was for sale. In once completely unaffordable Rhinebeck, there were actually a few places under $200k. People are nervous and can’t do the second mortgage and high taxes. They are purging.

Ah, we didn’t get to see that Millbrook property I wanted to look at. Decided not to schlep to Millbrook when we saw that there’s already an accepted offer. Somebody is making a good move.

What *I really want is an entire bungalow colony. A house? Been there. Done that. Borrring. I need more of a challenge. I’m bringing back the Catskills, baby! (*Notice I say “I”, not “we”.)

We looked at two abandoned colonies in Ellenville (see below for listings). The town didn’t seem as run down as it did a couple of years ago, but maybe that was my rose colored glasses. There were some active colonies that had been taken over by Hasidic Jews. It was nice to see some life up there even though those people wouldn’t play with me. My idea is to make a colony for the oughts. I hate to say it, but a hipster colony.

The reason the Catskills faded was that people were able to fly to distant destinations. Although that still remains true, the staycation has become more popular since flying is a pain in the ass now. Less money, less time, more responsibilities means staying closer to home looks better.

The idea is exciting. Probably a helluvalot more exciting than actually restoring an entire colony. I have some peeps who may be interested in doing this with me and we’ll probably look into it more seriously come September. A cooperative thing would be easier than going it alone.

Ping me if you want in. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll learn to renovate and have a place to go for the summer.

Camp Road. 21 units on 7 acres. $284,999.

Katzman Road. 13 units on 35 acres. $218k.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

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We took our dog friendly vacation in Red Hook, NY this past week. After giving up our upstate home connection last year we reckoned it would be easier to rent a place whenever we felt the need to get out of the city. Dog friendly vacation rentals are plentiful enough. We just have to worry about the extra clean up and damage that our mutts may cause.

The dogs had an awesome time, of course. Long hikes and paddles in creeks. Chasing down invisible creatures. This vacation really WAS for them. I had a nice time too. At least I think I did. The fact is that, oddly enough, after 7 years of country living, I still feel completely out of my element there. I try though. And I do enjoy it to an extent. Really!!

When we first arrived at the house in the woods we were greeted by Sari of the management company. Her truck pulled into the driveway just before us…a big pick up with an American flag on the rear window. Hubby said “That must be her.” I was like “No way. She has a 212 exchange on her cell phone.” Sure enough, it was her and sure enough the truck was just a loaner while her Jeep was in the shop. After screeching and jumping from  frog, Sari explained that she was a born and bred Manhattanite who had only moved up there three months ago. We spoke about city-girl-life-in-the-country and my husband worried that my words might send her packing.

Anyway, here’s what we did during the week. Click on links as they are recommendations or places to avoid….

The house was lovely. It’s actually located in Gallatin, which is how we got the wooded seclusion. A bit remote, as it’s about 10 minutes into Red Hook or Tivoli. It sits on about 4 wooded acres. There’s a bit of a landing with some seats if you wanted to hang out in the woods, but we stayed on the deck. We were able to keep the dogs confined up there so they wouldn’t run off chasing deer. There was a table and chairs and lounge chairs. And oh yeah, a hot tub!

The house is perfect for shares because the 2 bedrooms are set up on either side of the kitchen/living room and each has it’s own bathroom. The driveway is shared with other neighbors who we saw from time to time.

On the way up we stopped in Beacon for lunch and a hike. Dennings Point is where we used to take our dogs all the time (Lyme Disease warning) when we lived there. It was an easy hike in which we knew the trail and we wanted the dogs to calm down before arriving at the house. While there, we also noticed that Long Dock is finally taking shape. They’ve built a kayak rental kiosk down at the riverfront. It’s not up and running just yet but it looks like it won’t be long. Also of note is the Roundhouse at the other end of town.

Two of the better hikes we took near Red Hook were the Stissing Mountain Fire Tower and Ferncliff Forest. The Walkway over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie is definitely worth doing. The dogs had to stay on leash for that one, but the humans enjoyed it. We missed our beloved Poet’s Walk this time but we made it to Minnewaska which was pretty crowded. Hated Mills Norrie State Park in Staatsburg. Manicured lawns and paved road, but the few trails we found were not maintained and didn’t go very far. Maybe we were missing something?

The most fabulous hike was up near the Berkshires (less than an hour from the house). Bash Bish Falls can be an all day affair even though we only spent a couple of hours. The park is great for picnicking, hiking, swimming and camping. The falls are amazing and even though swimming is no longer permitted because of several deaths, people do it anyway. The deaths were caused by stupid people diving off the rocks into the water, not just swimming in the hole.

We actually had some minor difficulty renting kayaks locally during the week. The kayak companies ran tours but didn’t want to just rent them out. We ended up renting on the more laid back west side of the river. Kenco on Rt. 28 in Kingston rents kayaks for $55 apiece or $65 for a tandem. You’re on your own from there. They’ll give you a map and some suggestions but they don’t bring it down to the water for you. We ended up with a tandem because that’s all we could fit on our car. We put in on The Rondout in Kingston. It was an interesting urban trip where we saw old boat yards, shipping containers and other industrial ruins. Pretty cool. Only not so cool because shade was hard to find. My biggest complaint was the sun. There were several beaches to pull into for a picnic.

We spent our evenings more civilized like. Upstate Films has a second location in Woodstock now where we saw a great Oirish fil-im called “The Guard“. American Don Cheadle was an executive producer and supporting actor. Go see it!

Dined at some good restaurants, both old and new to us…

Terrapin in Rhinebeck. Good vegetarian selections on menu.

Luna 61 in Tivoli. Completely vegetarian and always awesome.

Rosendale Cafe. Nowhere near Red Hook, but if you’re in this neck of the woods, it’s the best vegetarian place around. The backyard is very dog friendly too!

Red Hook Curry House. Popular Indian buffet.

Red Devon. In Bengall? Met friends for dinner here. It was really good and not all that far but it seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere. It was busy enough and yes, it was worth the trip.

Portofino. Another schlep! This one in Staatsburg. You drive through a completely rural area and then all of the sudden….hello…there’s a restaurant! Family style Italian. It was good and the waitress was a hoot, but she and the kitchen gave me shit for trying to get a cheeseless eggplant dish, so I dunno.

That was the enjoyment part. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in the real estate bit.

Country Homes Under $200k!

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Oh, this is bad. I just got agent’s access to Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan County MLS. My renovations are nearly finished in Brooklyn, summer is near and I don’t have a weekend place. I shouldn’t look. I’m not in the market. But it’s so tempting. Must stop looking…. (But if you want to look at them, maybe I wouldn’t mind taking a drive up with you.)

The house above is a “handyman special”. Those words are music to my ears. For $159k, you can be located right in the Village of Rhinebeck on 2.8 acres. Hello! It’s not a small house either: 2575 total square feet. 1000 of that is unfinished, but the place needs a total rehab anyway. 

Hyde Park short sale for $179,925. An 1850 Colonial on 3.46 acres. The house is 2300 square feet and has a barn! Doesn’t look to be in bad condition.

Village of Millbrook. A 1940 stucco 824 square foot home on hardly any property. Listing price is $180k and the agent says bring in all offers. Ooh, this looks like a nice fixture upper! What better way to spend your weekends in the country than working on your house. I kid, I kid.

This one actually brought tears to my eyes. This house wants some lovin’. Located in The Gunks near the town of Pine Bush, famous for it’s UFO Festival and my mom’s siting of the KKK way back in the early 70’s. (True story. They’re probably long gone by now.) This deliciously scary looking 1820 fixer upper is $198k and sits on 2 acres. Heeerrre’s Johnny!

Leaving the City. Got What it Takes?

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Our moving sale was great! Thanks to everyone who showed up and helped us rid ourselves of worldly possessions. Most of the folks I conversed with were curious as to where we were moving. About 90% were surprised when I told them we’re heading back to Brooklyn. I was informed that we’re heading in the opposite direction of everyone else.

It seems there’s a mass migration to the Hudson Valley again and Beacon is hot at the moment. Good for us, since we want to sell our house. I say, bring it on!

We chose to move back to Brooklyn after six years away for many reasons. The main one is that Hubby has been working in Greenpoint for the past year + and stays in Brooklyn most nights while I live upstate. Just doesn’t make sense.

But just in case you’re thinking of leaving the city for greener pastures, I’ve compiled a list of questions to ask yourself before making the big move. These factors bothered me, but everyone is different.

1. Food delivery! My husband jokes “What does my wife make for dinner? A phone call.” I don’t cook, I don’t cook, I don’t cook. My mother isn’t much of a cook. I come from a “Let’s order in” family. I think there’s ONE place in Beacon that delivers.

2.  Restaurants. Again with the food. I’m a Jew. We like to eat. The restaurants around here are meh. IMO, there are finer dining establishments further north in weekender territory, but they are too far from Beacon.

3. Sidewalks and bike lanes. Ok, so maybe it’s not such a big deal, but some streets lack sidewalks. I’m sorry, I don’t like walking in the road or on someone’s grass. Although I don’t cycle, there are no bike lanes. Not really a reason not to move up here, but it just bothers me.

4. Everyone all up in your business. Small town life. How quaint. You see the same people. Everyone knows one another. For me, it was charming for 5 minutes. There’s something to be said about anonymous city life and that is “I miss it”.

5. Shop hours. Oh, this is a killer coming from “The City That Never Sleeps”. The Main Street store owners seem to come to work whenever they feel like it. I gave up on many of the mom and pop shops because they were never open when I needed something. Special thanks to Beacon Natural and Artisan Wine who open 7 days per week, normal hours.

6. Strip malls. It’s an inevitable part of suburban life. Face it. If the Main Street shops ain’t helping ya, that’s what’s left. Which brings me to….

7. It’s a car culture. OMG, I used to make fun of people who drive a few blocks. Now I’m one of them! Something you would never do in the city because of traffic and parking. Something I do here because the Main Street shops are so unreliable that I may end up driving to the strip mall.

All of the above being said, there are many pluses to living in the Hudson Valley. How about clean air and fabulous mountain views? Being near the Hudson so you can kayak or sail (We said we would, but hardly ever got around to it). No crowds. Better quality of life. Larger living space and back yard.

It’s really about everyone’s own choice. I grew up with the rat race. As much as I wanted a quieter lifestyle, I feel like a fish out of water here. Do I regret leaving the city? No, it was a lovely vacation. But now it’s time to go home.

2 Cool Hudson Valley Homes for Sale

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I shot two impressive homes on Monday. What are the chances of that? A Spanish villa inspired (realtor says English) stone house in Beacon and a sweet Victorian in Poughkeepsie.




The “Under the Beacon Sun” house needs some work, but it looks soooooo worth it! My jaw dropped when I walked in. But then I was like “No. More. Renovations!” It’s listed at $299k.


The Poughkeepsie house is on a lovely block within walking distance to Main Street. The people living here have good taste, which doesn’t hurt. Don’t know the price yet, but last I heard, Poughkeepsie was less expensive than Beacon.




Terror Trials. The Case for Newburgh

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So now that Bloomberg has decided he doesn’t want the 9/11 trials in NYC, Mayor Nicholas Valentine of Newburgh, NY is offering his hospitality.

As an NYC transplant in the Newburgh area, I’m putting in my two cents.

Personally, I thought it would’ve been a fine idea to hold the trials in NYC. It would have been cathartic for us to see these guys brought to justice right near the scene of the crime. Punishment if found guilty? Parade them through the streets of Bensonhurst or Maspeth. End of story.

NYC would’ve probably been a tad too busy to hold these huge trials. But Newburgh? There’s NOTHING going on there! Seriously, as long as it doesn’t cost the City of Newburgh anything, they should totally do it!

The Mayor knows that this would put Newburgh on the map. There’s a 20% unemployment rate, a ton of boarded up buildings and a handful of wonderful businesses struggling to survive. There are plenty of hotels in the area, an international airport, major roadways and oh, did I mention a military base? A friggin military base! Plus, West Point is just down the road a bit.

If commuters are inconvenienced by traffic on the bridge, they can hop a ferry across the river to Metro North. Problem solved.

So, who is against it? Orange County Executive Ed Diana says “Not in my backyard!” He wants it outside of the U.S. and says he will do everything in his power to stop it from happening in Orange County. “Forty-four Orange County residents lost their lives on that most horrific day, and to bring these monsters to Orange County is an insult to our residents,” Diana told the local Record newspaper.

Unemployment. High taxes. Struggling businesses. High crime rate. In a beautiful location on the river within an hour of NYC. With gorgeous architecture. Nah, better keep the status quo. Let’s keep Newburgh off the map.

Oh BTW, Mr. Diana, that was sarcasm.

Bannerman Castle Kayak Tour

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We picked the hottest day of the year for a 3 hour kayak tour on the open river, but we finally got to see Bannerman Castle up close and personal.

If you’ve ever taken the Metro North Hudson line past Cold Spring, you know the castle I’m talking about. It’s the ruins on the island. Yeah, that’s Bannerman.


We’ve lived in Beacon for five years now and every summer we say we’re going to do the tour. Finally, last week when we were walking up Main Street we saw a sign outside Mountain Tops Outfitters that said “Bannerman spots still available for August 15th tour.” So we just went in and booked it before we changed our minds.

You don’t have to kayak to get to the castle. There are large boat trips that let you off to tour the island. The kayak trip would have been pleasant enough had it not been 90 friggin degrees out. It’s about 1.5 hour from Beacon, 1.5 hour on the island and then 1.5 hour back. Three hours of river kayaking might be a bit much for a beginner, especially since you have to stay with the group. We kayak maybe 2-3 times per year and my muscles were slightly sore the following day, but it was nothing compared to the heat stroke I had.


Bannerman Castle lived up to my expectations! Wesley Gottlock was our tour guide. He and his wife, Barbara have some awesome New York history books out, including one on Bannerman. I filtered out the stuff that didn’t capture my attention and soaked up what was important to me.


That would be:

Frank Bannerman arrived from Dundee, Scotland in 1851. Nine year old Frank started to collect scrap from the harbor and became so successful at it that it that the business rapidly evolved into a munitions dealership. He started out at The Brooklyn Navy Yard and soon had to expand to 501 Broadway, NYC. Around 1900, NYC grew nervous of him storing so much ammunition and forced him out.

He came across Pollepel Island by chance and purchased it for his business. The massive castle he built housed his collection and he had a smaller home built on the island for he and his wife. Although Bannerman had no architectural training, he basically designed the buildings. Now, here’s my favorite part….he used recycled materials in the construction of his castle! Not entirely, but massive stones that were taken up for the foundation were reused, as was some of his inventory built into the walls.


Frank Bannerman died in 1918. In 1920, an explosion destroyed part of the complex. In 1967, the State of New York purchased the abandoned island and started giving tours. Two years later, the building was completely destroyed by a fire, making it unsafe for visitors.

The property is now owned by the NY State Park Department/Historic Sites and hard hat tours are given by Bannerman Castle Trust.

Frank Bannerman is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


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