The Lace Mill an Important Facility for Artistic Kingston

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Kingston’s Stockade and Rondout Districts are familiar to history buffs, but scattered throughout Ulster’s County Town are individual buildings of historic significance. One of these is the Lace Mill, whose existence I learned of when I was recently invited to the opening of a photography show being held there.

Built around 1902–1903 and originally housing United States Lace Curtain Mills, this example of industrial architecture is located in Midtown Kingston, close (very close indeed, as you discover when you drive up Cornell Street, where it is located) to the railroad and thus convenient for the shipping of products to markets outside the area. This was economically important to Kingston as an industrial center, since the decline of the Delaware & Hudson Canal, on which so much commercial traffic had depended.  Later, in the 1940s and by that time a subsidiary of the Scranton Lace Company, the business employed between 250 and 300 people. It ceased operations in 1951, however, and was used as a warehouse for some years after that.

img_0697-ed-sBy 2013 the warehouse and thus the building itself was virtually abandoned. At this point the Rural Ulster Preservation Company (RUPCO) stepped in and purchased it with a view to reconstructing and renovating it to provide a variety of facilities for artists: living and studio space as well as venues for exhibitions. This has been a noteworthy step considering Kingston’s growing reputation as a nationally important center for the arts.

Now known as The Lace Mill, this historic building joins many other mills throughout the Northeast—I have personally seen several in southern New Hampshire as well as in Rhode Island—that have been renovated and repurposed and are now enjoying a new existence, usually as living accommodation.

img_0699-ed-sWhat I found especially interesting was the space on (and under) the ground floor that still housed some of the original machinery from the mill. Several visitors who had come to view one or more of the exhibitions taking place also made a point of photographing the machinery. Here you see two of my photos along with one of the building’s exterior (where you can see the sign proclaiming “United States Lace Curtain Mills”). It’s gratifying to see concerted local efforts succeed in saving a historically significant building from being abandoned and eventually torn down, and instead giving it a chance for new life by linking the past with the present. Thank you, RUPCO.

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Are you looking for some new home decor to brighten your living space? Please take a look at my recent photographs of another local landmark — the Saugerties Lighthouse, in painterly (artistic) and historic sepia versions.

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