I enjoy photographing historic buildings and have lately gone in search of the ones in and near the Mountaintop region of the Greene County Catskills. Some I’ve discovered simply by wandering around, some from the classic book Picturesque Catskills, and some have been suggested by Carolyn Bennett of the Catskill Mountain Foundation in Hunter. I’m particularly grateful to Carolyn for having put me on to Saint Mary’s of the Mountain Church, right down the road on Route 23A in Hunter. Built in 1839, Saint Mary’s of the Mountain is the oldest Catholic church in the Catskills. It served the Irish and German immigrants who settled in the Catskills to work in the tanning, cotton, and lumber industries.
The Diocese of Albany, in which Hunter is located, closed the church in 2002 and planned to demolish it. Fortunately, a group of local citizens banded together to save the church, and in 2011 the diocese transferred the title to the Village of Hunter. Saint Mary’s of the Mountain is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The unforgiving Catskill weather hasn’t been kind to this historic church and it is sorely in need of repair and restoration. The committee is actively raising funds to ensure that this beautiful historic landmark can be restored and preserved. I will be adding my own efforts to this project, but meanwhile I wanted to share with you a few of the photos I took during a recent visit. It was toward the end of May and fresh snow had been falling on the top of Hunter Mountain–real snow, not fabricated ski snow–a glorious day!
Please consider making a contribution, even a small one, to the church restoration project. Check out their Facebook page or send checks made out to “Village of Hunter St. Mary’s Fund” to PO Box 934, Hunter NY 12442. Every little amount adds up. Every little amount brings this historic church closer to the day of its former glory.
Also — great news! — our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour is now available!