Category Archives: Culture

Upstate Jane: 2 Handmade Woodstock Homes- 1b/2b for 275K and 2b/1b for 139K

For over a hundred years…Long before the famous concert borrowed the town’s name, Woodstock has been home to artists, craftsman, musicians, activists and eccentrics looking to flee the city and live their lives simply and honestly surrounded by other bohemian’s that would celebrate and embrace community living, and passions that main stream society wasn’t ready to accept or fully respect. When the American Dream was still about finding your own way and doing it yourself, many of these people did not “buy” homes when they fled the city, but instead built them by hand with local materials found on the land, and down the creek in the area. With the help of the community and perseverance  (plus a lack of clear town building codes and permits I am assuming) they created some of the most ingenious and interesting homes around. Four generations later, some of these homes still exist today and are even available on the market. You can view these homes in the 1974 published book aptly titled “Woodstock Handmade Houses” by Robert Haney and David Ballantine, available on I was lucky enough to find this book thrown for the trash on a W. 70th Street curb in Manhattan on our way back from…yes, Woodstock.

The Maverick Concert Hall above

Hervey White was the Harvard educated “grandaddy” of the local handmade house phenomena,  leader of the Maverick Festival and original management team of the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, also in Woodstock. An idealist to an extreme, Hervey helped build hundreds of handmade homes with and for people, as if scattering seeds across Woodstock’s landscape during the initial years of the  Festival in the 1900’s and beyond.

Below are two “handmade homes” available to purchase currently in Woodstock. There are more though, if you look hard enough.

For 275K, this 1954 handmade home has a warm, rustic and open layout that seems ideal for a couple or single person’s weekend retreat. Full of quirky and efficient details, this is the quintessential handmade house. Featured in the 1974 book, this home is ready for a new loving owner. Click here for the listing. Also available to rent for $150.00 a night.

Beds:1 Bed Baths:2 Bath House Size:1,480 Sq Ft Lot Size:2.93 Acres

Potentially one of the first Maverick Homes, this stone cottage for 139K, is across the road from the Maverick Concert Hall, and was built in 1910. Along with its neighboring Maverick Festival homes, it is once again a quintessential antique handmade home.  I can picture Hervey White placing the stones and mortar of this house alongside his fellow festival attendees. (The likes of Isamu Noguchi and Russell Wright)

Set into the hillside, this adorable 2 bedroom/1 bathroom home is in a convenient location and would be easy to maintain. Click here for the full listing.

Beds:2 Bed Baths:1 Bath House Size:875 Sq Ft Lot Size:0.68 Acres

Introducing Our New Column: Upstate Jane!

Folks, we’re so excited. Interior Designer Megan Oldenburger, owner of Dichotomy Interiors, an interior styling, design, renovation and staging firm, will be writing regularly for us about decor, real estate and culture upstate.  Megan lives and works out of her Woodstock home with her husband, designer Richard Smykowski, and their two dogs, Gidget and Fern. She is living the dream, having recently transitioned from part-time upstate residency to full time. She has insider knowledge and an amazing eye — she’ll also be offering up great ideas for renovation and decorating your second home (or, if you can figure out as she and Richard have, your full time upstate home). Megan also runs Urban Jane a design, interiors, and lifestyle blog.

Most Delicious Dinner Ever, This Friday in Tivoli

If you have not been to the Burrito Stand, incredible burritos from the back of a trailer on Route 199 in Red Hook, then you have something to look forward to for next summer. In the meantime, the team behind the burrito stand is cooking an indoor dinner this Friday. Here’s the menu:

  • organic salad with bosc pears and walnuts
  • curried coconut soup with cauliflower and leeks
  • braised lamb over potatoes
  • flan
  • hot rum punch

Make reservations by wednesday evening: 845 514 4066. I was supposed to be there this weekend but I’ll be downstate instead. Dang.

Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival This Weekend, Oct 15-16

You don’t have to be in the market for a baby lamb to enjoy this one. The Dutchess County Sheep & Wool Festival, in Rhinebeck this weekend, is my idea of heaven, even though I have no plans to add livestock to my pet menagerie any time soon. Wool and yarn for sale, herding dog competitions (just like Babe!), pumpkin carving, cooking demos, a full schedule of activities for kids, and lots and lots of fuzzy animals. Can anything be better than a critical mass of border collies and hand knit mittens set against the backdrop of a pretty Hudson Valley town at the height of fall foliage? I think not.

Pig Out for the Catskills on Oct 15

And speaking of DIY Catskills fundraising: Jimmy’s No. 43, the East Village bar/gastropub of the moment, is holding a Pig Out event on the weekend of Oct 15 in Jeffersonville and Callicoon Center. (Orientation points: that’s in Sullivan County, near Bethel.) It’s $35 for advance tix, $45 if you’re not a planner, and all money goes to Farmhearts, a non-profit helping farm families in the Catskills.

The event will feature four chefs roasting eight Catskills-raised whole pigs in open pits, plus local wine and beers and veggie sides. Tix for Pig Mountain Catskills can be bought here. For a schedule of the activities, click here.

Illustrious Upstaters: Big Jay Fink

Big Jay Fink, Indefatigable Upstate DJ

If we had an Upstater of the Week feature, I’d lobby to nominate Greene County WRIP DJ Jay Fink, so I was thrilled to see Jay get a shout-out in today’s New York Times. Jay’s tireless marathon radio coverage of the storm—much of it done when he was supposed to be on vacation—has proven invaluable to stranded mountaintop residents as well as to neighbors who want to help.

Listening to Jay’s broadcasts on WRIP post-Irene, especially as a city dweller, has been a wonder of tight community camaraderie. People stop by the station to give info about a clothing drive or a church dinner or FEMA sign-up sheet, and Jay seems to know every single person by name and family history. WRIP has also become a kind of de facto StoryCorps project, with locals calling in simply to tell how they experienced the storm, what they lost and what they’ve seen, thanking neighbors by name who helped them out or specifying what others might need.

Much like the amazing reporting being done at Watershed Post, Jay’s work at WRIP shows how vital community journalism can be and conversely, how symbiotic the relationship is between journalists and their communities. Listening to WRIP, it’s clear that people call Jay before anyone else (including 911) because they know him and trust him. I know I would.

Town of the Week: Bethel

Bethel got on our radar when a reader alerted us to its offerings — not just on the nature front but the cultural front as well. Most famous for being the real home of the Woodstock festival, that concert site is now a cultural center within walking distance of many of Bethel’s offerings. The town encompasses the hamlet of Smallwood (a former Christian community that several folks have written in to ask us to cover), as well as Black Lake, White Lake and a few other teeny hamlets. Lots of good water in the area, but we find it a little light on the architectural charm, unless you’ve got a couple of million for a gated estate — there are plenty of those for sale, built at a more hopeful time in the American real estate market.

Our Bethel correspondent purchased an adorable cabin here which she now rents out, and has written in to sing the hamlet’s praises.

Weekending at the Real ‘Woodstock’

West of the Hudson and far from the more popular upstate destinations of New Paltz and Rhinebeck lies the best kept secret of the Catskills: Bethel. Blessed with varied real estate, swimming and boating lakes, historic sites, and beautiful scenery, Bethel is full of family activity all year ‘round.

When we purchased our cabin in the fall of 2010 we thought of it as nothing more than a quick and inexpensive getaway from Brooklyn.  Our place is in a hamlet within Bethel called Smallwood.  Most of the cabins are nearly identical due to the popularity of cabin ‘kits’ from Sears in the 1930’s when most of the places in Smallwood were built as part of a private vacation community. Of course, most of them now have additions of porches, screen rooms, and lots of cobbled-on additions. Most of the cabins here are seasonal, meaning they run on town water which is only turned on from April till October, after that its pretty impossible to stay unless you have your own well. Our street is half and half; partial summer residents and part year round residents. We’re the rarity, weekend people who come up all year around. My husband is a fan of the fall foliage season, while the kids can’t get enough of the peaceful calm of winter (oh, and the sledding, snowman building and skiing!).

There is so much to do in Sullivan county for families of all ages. At the Woodstock concert site they’ve built a gorgeous outdoor concert facility where family pak lawn tickets can be had for as little as $60 per family. On the immaculate lawn where the sounds of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin once played you can now enjoy the sounds of Elton John, Selena Gomez, and the New York Philharmonic. The annual July 4th family Philharmonic concert complete with fireworks is always a hit for all ages. Kids play and roam while adults enjoy the music and a picnic dinner.  The museum is also really a class act and thoroughly air conditioned for a humid or rainy afternoon.

Most communities up here have some sort of lake. Read the rest of this entry

Saugerties’ Jonathan Dixon Reads in Woodstock, August 13

We wrote about chef and author Jonathan Dixon’s Saugerties life, and his new book Beaten, Sauced and Seared, a few weeks ago. If you’re Upstate this weekend, you can hear him in person at the Oriole 9 restaurant in Woodstock. Reading begins this Saturday, August 13th, at 6PM.

Upstate Art and Music Festival: The Wassaic Project, August 5-7

We haven’t ventured up to Wassaic, a Dutchess County hamlet close to the Connecticut border. But a friend and reader alerted us to a music and art festival there at the Wassaic Project. Here’s the skinny: “The Wassaic Project Summer Festival is a FREE, annual, multi-disciplinary celebration of art, music, and community in the hamlet of Wassaic, NY. 2011 will feature over 100 artists, 23 bands, poetry readings, dance performances, film screenings, and much more. August 5th-7th, 2011. Art Reception in Maxon Mills, Saturday 5pm-7pm.” Coincidentally, I swear, my little bro’s band is playing at 8PM on Saturday!

One of the cool things about Wassaic, besides this art collective, is that it’s serviced by Metro North. Which means we’ll be checking out real estate there soon!

Upstate NY Edible Sculpture Party, July 23

If you have not yet eaten a bust of Kim Jong-Il made out of ham, then you haven’t really lived. Or at least you haven’t lived upstate. Or at least you haven’t lived upstate with my brother, who started this little party about five years ago with his wife, friends, family and fellow artist pals. It’s now grown big enough to warrant its own write-up in Travel+Leisure and a new home at the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies.

Past entries include a shit-shaped sushi roll, a severed leg made of meatloaf, a folk art mask crafted of tootsie rolls and Christopher Hitchens’ head made of spam (not exactly edible, but close). My last entry was marshmallows in the shape of the Shmoo. I’m not sure I can top the earthship I made out of chocolate donuts the first year, but I’ll try. You don’t need to make anything–just show up, gawk and eat, and meet some nice folks on the east side of the river. Photos of past entries here, as well as on the jump, and a video on the jump, too.

If that’s not enough upstate culture for you, check out my bro’s latest show, The Upstate NY Olympics.
Read the rest of this entry

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