On the Water, Away From the Tracks
STAND on the banks of the Hudson River and it is easy to envision Henry Hudson and his crew sailing its waters for the first time; the battles and gunfire of the Revolutionary War; and Thomas Cole, along with the rest of the Hudson River School painters, easels nearby and paintbrushes in hand. New York state history doesn’t get a lot more palpable than this.
So, at what price, this history? Often, in the millions — even in Greene County, on the west side of the Hudson River, where prices, on average, tend to be significantly lower than in Columbia County just across the water (and lower still than in riverfront counties that are closer to New York City).
But from time to time there’s a find: a modest home or cottage on a riverfront lot that has remained in a family for decades and is finally up for sale. “People think of the grand estates, but around here, there was a time when it wasn’t unusual for people without means to own houses on the river,” said JoAnne Adamo-Conway, who grew up in Greene County and has been an agent with Century 21 Heart Land Realty for 13 years. Last year, a house in New Baltimore sold for $260,000.
Since modest houses like these are passed down from generation to generation, turnover is rare. But this doesn’t stop insistent prospective buyers from calling. “People want us to contact them the minute something comes up,” Ms. Adamo-Conway said.
In short, there are only a few riverfront properties to choose from, and all, no matter the price or quality, sell quickly. This past month, an unremarkable house on 90 acres closed for close to $2.75 million, and another in New Baltimore closed for $1.5 million.
This historic house is on 2.6 acres in a rural area north of Athens and south of Coxsackie, about two and a half hours from New York City. The property, surrounded by a conservation area, is on a dead-end road and on a private cove with an island that can be reached by rowboat. The 3,368-square-foot house is the last remaining building of what was once a Dutch hamlet. The house consists of three parts: the stone section in the middle was built in 1670 and is a fine example of early Dutch architecture; the brick section was built in 1804; and the wood portion to the north was added in 1862. The stone portion has 22-inch-thick walls. A winding wood staircase in the brick section leads up to the second level, where one of three small rooms is currently used as a study. The original Dutch-style door remains on the main level. Interior details include southern pine ceiling beams, original paneling and wide-plank floors. The house has four fireplaces and three and a half bathrooms. Throughout the house, which has been restored over the years, there are windows with river views. Also on the property is a 150-year-old carriage barn, now used as a workshop, and a mid-1800s wooden lighthouse, which is being renovated. Broker: Heather Croner, Heather Croner Real Estate – Sotheby’s International Realty; (845) 677-9822; www.heathercronerrealestate.com.
This 1940s house sits on a full acre lot looking over the Hudson River. Main Street is not in a commercial district as its name implies; it is a quiet residential road close to two marinas. The 1,286-square-foot house has been in the seller’s family for more than 40 years and has been very well maintained. Almost every room in the house looks over the river. There is a fireplace in the open living-dining area, an eat-in kitchen with a view of the water, and throughout the house there are hardwood floors. There is one bathroom. A walk-out basement provides direct access to a large lawn that slopes toward the riverbank. A “summer house” with windows all around sits closer to the river’s bank. There is a detached one-car garage. There are no local restrictions on building out from, or up on, the original house. New Baltimore has 3,417 residents, and much of its housing stock is historic. Across the street from this house, for instance, is a 1790 Federal house without river views for $399,000. The town is about 15 minutes from Albany, 25 minutes from Hudson, and about two and a half hours from Manhattan. Broker: Audrey G. Schoenfeld, Schoenfeld, French, & Lull Realty; (518) 392-7701; www.sflrealty.com.