Every now and then my camera and I take the road up to Tannersville to document the changes in the historic Cold Spring House, a once glorious and popular vacation resort that has been abandoned to go to ruin. If you read my post of September 25, 2014 you’ll see that the two photos at the bottom of that post show the right wing of the building as it looked at that time. On December 26 I drove up there with my son, Anton, who had never seen Cold Spring House before, and I was dismayed to see what had happened to it in that short time. Here are my latest photographs. That right wing has come crumbling down, and the iron staircase outside the building at the top floor, well, it now looks like the iconic “Stairway to Heaven.”
It’s easy to find if you turn south at the traffic light just as Route 23A enters the village of Tannersville from the west. Follow the road as it bends to the right and before long you’ll see it looming on your left — the poor abandoned remains of the once magnificent jewel of Tannersville resorts, Cold Spring House. Back in the heyday of Catskill resorts Cold Spring House could boast of being not only the second largest one in Tannersville but also the first one to welcome Jewish guests. Built in the 1890s, it ceased operation sometime just after the middle of the twentieth century.
I first photographed the Cold Spring House in August 2013 and have returned three or four times since, to document its appearance at different seasons. And, alas, to witness and document its decline. This past Saturday a delightful motorcycle-riding couple visiting from the Midwest spent a few moments examining the house and grounds, and then, probably assuming that anyone casually crouched at the side of the road over a tripod and DSLR camera must be an authority on things in the area, asked me if I could tell them anything about the history of this house. (It turned out that the nice gentleman had spent a few summers at the Latvian summer camp over toward Elka Park in his younger years.) I told them what I knew and suggested that they could learn more if they googled the name; I knew this would take them to Greene County historian David Dorpfeld’s fine article in the Register Star from two years ago.
Before they set off again (I gave them directions to Lexington in case they were interested in seeing two more ruined hotels) they asked whether I would be posting any of my pictures of Cold Spring House online. I gave them my card, which happens to have three small photos on the front. He pointed to the middle one and asked if that was the same place. Yes, it was. We marveled at the extent to which it has changed — deteriorated — since I took the picture, 13 short months ago. Whenever I tell people I’ve been to photograph it again they will sometimes ask me, “Is it still standing?” My usual reply is, “It was two days ago [or however long since I was there last] but I can’t guarantee whether that’s true now.” They understand.
Here are some photos from my shoot on Saturday. I wanted to capture the building amid the autumn-colored flora–red, yellow, and orange life springing up among the sad decay of the building. Perhaps you’re wondering whether a place like this harbors ghosts. I can only assure you that if it does, they are friendly, positive ghosts.
There is a surprising variety of worthwhile restaurants and cafes along Route 23A between Hunter and Haines Falls. (I say “surprising” because one wouldn’t necessarily expect a rural region of the Catskills to have better eating places than a certain area of Bergen County, NJ with which I’m familiar, and yet such is definitely the case.) A number of them are in colorful Tannersville, which prides itself on its restaurants and has taken to touting them quite enthusiastically.
Tannersville. If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I’m a fan of the Last Chance. But here’s a recommendation for something totally different: Maggie’s Krooked Cafe. It looks quite unprepossessing both outside and in, but on my visit to the Mountain Top last week I decided to try it out and got attentive and friendly service from Violet and the best beef burger I’ve had probably in my entire life. Coming from someone who hasn’t been a fan of beef burgers for many a year, that’s saying something.
Maggie prides herself on using fresh, local ingredients and all food is cooked to order. The extensive breakfast menu features a variety of pancakes — including potato pancakes — along with other dishes. (I’m going to have to try the pancakes some time, although I did warn Violet that my standards for pancakes are very high.)
If you’re traveling through Tannersville, you might want to give the Krooked Cafe a try. It’s on the north side of Route 23A. Oh, and it was written up in Hudson Valley magazine’s restaurants issue in January 2014. So if you hesitate to take my word for it, believe the experts!
The beautiful sunflower field just outside New Paltz didn’t disappoint this year! Click on the above photo to get to my website, where you can enjoy more recent sunflower photos, which are also available for purchase.
Sunday saw two anniversary celebrations among the arts community on the Mountain Top. In Haines Falls, the Mountain Top Historical Society threw a party for its fortieth anniversary. Ice cream, cake, lemonade, and ice tea were offered for our enjoyment, and top-notch music from the fifties performed by the Rhythm and Blues Band ensured that it was great fun to “twist gain, like we did last summer” — or perhaps more summers ago than I care to count…. Earlier in the day, Larry Tompkins gave a presentation on historic Windham. Alas, other commitments meant I had to miss this, but MTHS President Cyndi LaPierre assured me that it was well attended.
The MTHS has the friendliest, most dedicated, and most knowledgeable people you can imagine. Stop into their colorful headquarters the next time you’re driving along Route 23A — you can find details on their website — and while you’re there, check out my photography exhibition “Natural and Historic Landscapes,” open through Labor Day weekend!
The other celebration was taking place in Tannersville, where the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center was celebrating the first anniversary of being in business. The place was alive with well-wishers, and I also met some of the regulars whose work is for sale there, including photographer Francis Driscoll and local historian/author John Ham. Rick Thomas has done a superb job of bringing together gifted regional artists and collectors to a bright, friendly venue where you’re sure to find something you’ll want to buy, for yourself or for a gift.
In Hunter I stopped into the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery for a preview of a truly
eye-opening photography show that’s opening this weekend. Carolyn Bennett is always on the lookout for interesting artists to showcase, and this time she has managed to find three photographers whose work really pushes the envelope as to what can be done in the medium. Palenville’s Dan Burkholder I’ve been familiar with from Facebook and his website and was glad for this opportunity to see some of his fine work “in person.” While I was there I met Vincent Bilotta, also from Palenville, who was busy hanging his portion of the exhibit. The third photographer is Fawn Potash from Catskill and I look forward to being able to study her work more closely.
The opening reception for “Light Sensitive” is this Saturday August 16, 2 to 4 pm at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery, Route 23A in Hunter. Hope to see you there!
In the short time it has been in existence–it celebrates its first anniversary on July 6– the Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center has evolved into a major presence in the vibrant Northern Catskills art world. An outreach of the Hunter Foundation, the TAAC is appropriately located on Route 23A, just a few miles from the famed Kaaterskill Falls, a beloved subject of landscape painters at least since Thomas Cole first painted it in the 1820s.
The TAAC’s vendors represent an impressive mix of local artists and antique collectors. From prints, paintings, and photographs to rugs, chairs, and other items awaiting new owners to love them–and let’s not forget the books on the history of the area–, the TAAC truly does offer something for everyone. All is under the skillful management of Rick Thomas, who has made this space in a renovated 19th-century building a pleasure to walk through. Walk in the door and you’ll get a friendly greeting from Rick, who welcomes you to have a leisurely look around in the two-floor space.
Rick’s hospitality extends as well to organizing talks by the TAAC vendors. Recent speakers have included famed Northern Catskills photographer Fran Driscoll and historian/author John Ham. It’s a great way to get to deepen your acquaintance with the artists/collectors/authors and their works.
I’ll be giving a talk at the TAAC on Saturday afternoon June 28 at 3 pm–sharing some tips on how I approach my photography, especially my work in the Hudson Valley and Catskills, and perhaps whipping up your enthusiasm to get out and take your own photographs of this beautiful region. Also, we’ll have our book Historic Hudson Valley: A Photographic Tour available for sale, and I’ll be glad to sign the book for you as well! I look forward to meeting you there.
The Tannersville Antique and Artisan Center is open year-round Thursday through Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. Like them on Facebook to get the latest news.
While you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to enjoy a meal in one of Tannersville’s fabulous restaurants. My personal favorite? The Last Chance, which also sells cheese and other irresistible food items (such as chocolate!!!) for you to take home.
On a recent Sunday afternoon I drove up to the Mountaintop region of Greene County—the villages along Route 23A—to check out what was happening, especially since some interesting art events were available. My first stop: XTreme Barns and Beyond, an exhibition of photographs by Richard Schepper at the Kaaterskill Fine Arts Gallery in Hunter. Be prepared to be surprised; intrigued; to wish the photographer were there so you could ask, “But how … ? Why … ?” Whatever — you will definitely not be bored. A gifted photographer of nature scenes both stunning and serene, Richard Schepper pushes the envelope when it comes to walking (or blurring) the lines between photography and painting. Don’t miss his show; it closes October 28. Kudos to the gallery and director Carolyn Bennett for hosting this challenging exhibition.
My next “art” destination was Catskill and Thomas Cole’s House, but first I stopped in Tannersville to enjoy the colorful buildings on Route 23A. Tannersville is the mountaintop place for restaurants. This picture shows Susan Kleinfelder’s Rip van Winkle “Breast Cancer Awareness” statue outside the Tannersville General Store, one of many artistic renditions of ol’ Rip in “Rip Lives 2012,” the third annual such event sponsored by local Mountaintop businesses.
The Thomas Cole Historic Site was holding its annual open house, always a good time to enjoy free admission to Cole’s house and studio (including the special exhibition of the year) and a variety of entertainment and other activities for all ages. I interviewed Thomas Cole himself (a.k.a. Catskill Mayor Vincent Seeley), who was gratified to see such an enthusiastic turnout and amazed to learn that he had such a thing as a Website. The 2012 special exhibition features landscape paintings by 19th-century artist Louis Rémy Mignot. Mignot produced a variety of masterpieces in his tragically short life; having just seen Richard Schepper’s daring exhibit in which several of the photos looked more like paintings (Braque came to mind), I was now face to face with a painting—Mignot’s View Across the Valley of Pierstown —that could well have been mistaken for a photograph. Art is amazing. And here are some photos from the event: