In 2004, the Town Board of Saugerties passed a Historic Preservation Ordinance, Local Law No.3 of 2004; “An Ordinance related to the establishment of landmarks or historic districts in the Town of Saugerties”. As part of the Historic Preservation Commission’s Powers and Duties, Section 4A of that Law requires “Adoption of criteria for the identification of significant historic architectural, archaeological and cultural landmarks and for the delineation of historic districts.”

To satisfy Section 4A, the Historic Preservation Commission has classified Saugerties historical legacy into 20 categories. Each category represents a recognized and adopted criterion of Saugerties unique architectural, archeological and cultural landmarks.

1 Roadways

The local turnpikes and public roads are rich in historic fabric. They are among the earliest and longest in use in the state. During a major improvement program of the 1930's which among other improvements straightened parts of the Malden and Saugerties & Woodstock turnpikes, and other roadbeds, there were many sections that were bypassed ,e.g., “Old 212” and “Old 32”, or abandoned to be annexed to adjacent property. Those sections left Saugerties with the remains of early road construction and engineered infrastructure rarely preserved. These sections are historic because they were the earliest “tram” roads, built for transport of bluestone from the local quarries and later were the earliest macadam-surfaced roads in the state. Remains visible at the many stream crossings and drainage culverts of these ancient roads are historically significant.

2 Commercial Buildings on Roads

All our roads have historical significance as links to places where work occurred. The blacksmiths and feed stores and rest stops at crossroads and stream crossings represent some of the oldest local businesses. These businesses were responsible for the upkeep of the road and bridges that brought customers to their doors. Nearly 120 miles of roads were already in use by 1811 when the town was formed. Some stone house business locations date from as early as the middle of the eighteenth century and their owners were the leading citizens and politicians of the era.

3 Agricultural sites on roads

Cultivated land, ancient barns and many stone farmhouses line our roads. They are reminders of the original working character of the land. These farms, for two and one-half centuries fed the local population whether they were village businesses or later workers in the mills, the quarries and the river. Only in the past fifty years have most of those fields returned to forest, their identities as pasture or farmland noticed only in stone walls in the overgrowth.

4 Stone Walls

An 1803 survey divided the previous Kingston Commons ownership of most of the local land into a geometric grid of hundreds of lots. This document’s effect is marked on the ground by hundreds of stone walls in the countryside. These define the corners and directions of that 1803 survey and are thus significant historically. Fortunately, some of these stone walls are visible along our roads and are excellent reminders of our heritage environment. They endure because not only are they shared property markers but specific provisions in the State Education law protects them from being moved or removed.

5 Estate Settings

In the beginning the largest parcels of land were owned by related families cooperatively farming. As agriculture became less profitable, the land went through division.The first divisions were for bluestone quarrying and other specialized uses on marginally tillable land. Countering subdivisions, tracts were sometimes bought and joined back together by the wealthy to establish farms as scenic environments. These late nineteenth and early twentieth century period of consolidations are historically significant because records of land transactions allow us to verify past ownership and occupancy.

6 Industrial Sites

The village of Saugerties is the site of some of the earliest Industrial Revolution manufacturing in the Hudson Valley. These industries are historical because they were the first to introduce many technologies into America, such as the first machine produced paper. These innovations attracted many entrepreneures who proceeded to develop local water power resources which then expanded into a multitude of small scale economic opportunities and their own cottage industries. As white lead, gunpowder, and brick manufactures applied local supplies of cider vinegar, firewood, charcoal, potash, barrels and other materials to their processes competitive business practices built an economy significantly advanced from the agrarian and craftsman base of the period. The identification and interpretation of both the sites and the occupations of this early manufacturing activity shows how Saugerties’ economic development heritage incubated and thrived.

7 Bluestone Quarry Sites

Quarrying is a prime historic example of local economic opportunity at work. A local and regional demand for stone for foundation walls, curbs and sidewalks expanded into the development of a multi-million dollar flagging stone industry that impacted Saugerties for a century. Quarry cuts and their accompanying rubble mounds are abundant. They form both an historic landscape and a unique rural character. The National Register site Opus 40 exemplifies both the historic and artistic significance of quarries. Unintentionally, quarrying has left the land as an attraction that inspires imaginative artistic works, still offers economic opportunities while at the same time is recognition of its historic antecedents.

8 The Railroad

The course of the railroad and its four depots in Saugerties is historically significant. When the route was developed in 1878 as a north extension of the Wallkill Valley Railroad linking Kingston to Athens, it displaced and diverted many of the Town’s traditional roadways. Remnants of the overpasses and crossings built in 1882 for these roads are along the railroads path freezing in time this ancient road transportation corridor. It is possible to trace routes and observe structures of the Kings Highway and Catskill Road by the train rail bed that otherwise were totally lost in places where the carriage road bed has been adapted to the automobile.

9 The Thruway

From 1949 until 1953 the first length of all the NYS Thruway was constructed in Saugerties. On July 4th 1951 the “Catskill Turnpike” was opened from Saugerties to Catskill, and on December 16th 1953 the roadway south to Kingston from Saugerties was opened. This is historically significant because along with the construction of the Kingston Rhinecliffe Bridge in 1954, the region attracted large corporate businesses and Saugerties started to become suburbanized. Thus the decade of the 1950’s brought competition that caused the decline of the century and a quarter-old employment structure which was centered on manufacturers located in the village as well the village being the center of commerce.

10 Our River Frontage

The most enduring symbols of our river front heritage are the Lighthouse and the Long Dock. These are both defined by mile long land features extending into the Hudson. The Long Dock has historic connections and identities with river, railroad and land transportation. It was built in 1878 to decrease congestion at the village wharfs and support a shorter ferry route across the river to the east shore and the NY Central railroad. Its historic significance is as a model of cooperation between business interests and the government resulting in legislation which permitted the Town to add land for this purpose. It is thus an early experiment in private-public partnership in support of economic development policy.

11 Waterfront Commercial Sites

The wharfs and warehouses along the miles of river frontage are historic workplaces. In early years all roads led to the river and everything that was transported on them was transferred to boats or barges. The shoreline is historic because agricultural produce, brick, stone, ice and locally manufactured products reached markets by river transport. Stevedoring, crewing and wharf construction and maintenance were the work of specialized laborers who made their homes by the river. Many of these homes and the river workplaces are still extant and are historically significant.

12 The Villages

The villages and hamlets closest to the river are unique in their land division and development history. In the first decades of the 19th century streets and lots were laid out in Glasco, Saugerties Village (nee Ulster) and Malden (nee Bristol). These plans are historically noteworthy because residential lots were located away from valuable tillable land but on steep inclines that required substantial adjustments for building and street placement. These early urban planning methods like the structuring of the dwellings and design of the infrastructure for streets and utilities, demonstrate the extent to which the Saugerties community expended resources and made investments in order to create viable and valuable living environments.

13 Planned Communities

The concept of a model community has been a constant theme in local Saugerties history. Late nineteenth and early twentieth century artists colonies, bungalow colonies, and resorts brought the idea of sharing scenic views and common facilities to both land ownership and commercial development. This particular vision is bookended by the historic 1831 incorporation of the Village of Ulster (later renamed Saugerties) to manage the large population brought in by the mills on one end and the equally historic suburban housing developments of the 1960's created to manage the demands of another population explosion brought by improved transportation and large corporate employers. The designs and locations of planned community sites are documented in histories and in promotional material, e.g. Shagbark and Barclay Heights. They are historically significant for the growth they brought to the local economy and the social changes they gave rise to.

14 Planned Resource Development

Local environmental locations where there was development of the natural resources present are inseparable from the larger historical heritage. Water for drinking supply, power generation and navigation along with the clay, shale, bluestone and limestone resources of the earth, all played a significant part in local history. Planned, once active, and currently existing reservoirs, ponds, dams, raceways, canals, pits, quarries, jetties and dikes that can be viewed from public places are as much heritage viewsheds as any scenic vista and are significant for their interpretive views of the past.

15 Institutional Places

Saugerties has been a trading center since Henry Hudson’s time. It is the nearest that the tide water of the Atlantic comes to the interior of the continent. Every occupant here, from native to European, has engaged in the exchange of one thing for another. The reason for the earliest paths and earliest structures was trade. This history is embedded in the consignment houses', factories', private banker's and government official's involvement in every aspect of the economic life of the community. Places of barter, exchange and record keeping are historic because they institutionalize every transaction we use to qualify what we regard as historically significant today.

16 Marketplaces

The public space that is most historic is the market area of the village of Saugerties. It grew from the continuous support of a hundred years of settled population centered on the mills. Populations around other work places also developed their own commercial centers that are historically significant. All of them began as places of temporary produce stands and carts that later evolved into small clusters of buildings with their merchandise and professional merchants. Market places with early post office addresses appear on the earliest maps, in gazetteer listings and in newspaper advertisements. Many larger residences in hamlet areas were built as early front-parlor markets. These are more historically significant as local landmarks then ordinary residences because they evolved into the commercial and social fabric that defined the village and hamlets.

17 Public Houses

The front parlors of roadside residences were also often used as taverns and were often the central gathering place of a locality. Histories of the late nineteenth century contain mention of dozens of earlier taverns along with the progression of their ownership. The Articles of Confederation were signed in the Post Tavern. The charter of the Town was signed at the home of Christian Fiero, also a tavern. Town meetings were held in the Mynderse Tavern. Taverns are thus historically significant because of their associations with events in the political organization of the community. Many of the stone houses in Saugerties that are along the main roads were once taverns.

18 Public Recreational Sites

The views of the mountains and the river encouraged shared appreciation of the outdoors from the earliest times. An economy based on visitors attracted to overlooks, hiking trails and related outdoor activities is embedded in local history. Recreational rowing clubs, sport fields, viewing towers, horse racing rinks, scenic paths, and swimming beaches have been supported as membership or commercial enterprises for both residents and visitors since the earliest days of industrial development. Residents of large estates, the common citizen, and the vacationer equally enjoyed horseback riding and early automobile and bicycle touring on the many public roads into the mountains. Parks for sports activities at these historic places, some now publicly supported, carry on traditions introduced over a century and a half ago. The locations of all these outdoor activities are historically significant to our heritage environment.

19 Public Gathering Places

Churches, lodges, schools, theaters, and even undeveloped land are significant as historic gathering places. For example, the large level bedrock outcrops in 1715 was the site of the Kaatsbaan's first Sabbath and a large farm field of the Winston Farm in 1994 became the site for the 25th anniversary celebration of the Woodstock Festival. Because of the relationship of the founding Dutch population to the Dutch Reformed Church, the part religious persecution played in the large Palatine immigration, and the way the cosmopolitan temperament of their skilled workers was encouraged by the first industrialists, many historically significant sites relate to worship. At one such site (Trinity Church) can be found the world renowned William Morris stained glass window. All of this is historically significant locally, regionally and even internationally.

20 Burial Grounds

Ancient burial grounds associated with a single family, a settlement, or a local church are found throughout Saugerties. Some are on roads, but many are lost in the woods on private land, only accessible by now abandoned pathways. Finding out about these “lost” burial sites occurs in strange ways. For instance, the one for the Wynkoop family is only known because of a listing by Congress as the last resting place of an officer in the Revolutionary War. All cemeteries and burial grounds are protected by law and it becomes the responsibility of the community to make sure their markers and locations are preserved. A large attraction of an historic place like Saugerties is the record it preserves of its past. Genealogical visits by current generations of families that started out in Saugerties or the Hudson Valley is a common reason for a “tourists” visit.

The Great Knot, April 27, 2011

Michael Sullivan Smith, 2015
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