Mind Your Manors
A driving tour of historic homes
Before the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers built their grand mansions in the Hudson Valley, the landed gentry resided in their own luxurious comfort on a slightly smaller scale. A collection of these manor houses can be found throughout the scenic countryside of Orange County. Charming in their décor, the historic homesteads of Dutch traders, farmers and Revolutionary patriots have left their own architectural legacy for visitors to experience.
Take the NY State Thruway (I-87) exit 17 to I-84 Exit 10, Newburgh/Route 9W. Heading south on Route 9W, turn left at the traffic light onto North Plank Road. There will be a sign for the Historic Newburgh Waterfront. North Plank will become Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard / Water Street. At the stop sign, turn right on Washington St. and left at the top of the hill onto Liberty. On the left is the 1727 Hasbrouck House which proudly served as Washington's Headquarters during the Revolutionary War. The home shows how George and Martha lived during those tumultuous years. There are magnificent Hudson River views and a museum containing an extensive collection of historic artifact. Along with the museum on the grounds, 845-562-1195
Proceed back down the hill toward the Hudson River and turn left on Water Street. Just a few blocks ahead, turn left on Montgomery Street to view Crawford House, a Greek Revival mansion with Federal elements built in 1830. This former home of shipping magnate Captain David Crawford is filled with collections of art, period furnishings, books and historical records. The Newburgh Historical Society opens the home for tours on Sunday afternoon from May through October and by appointment.
Gomez Mill House
Head back down the hill and turn left on Water Street / Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. At the intersection with Route 9W, turn right and go north for 5.2 miles. Slow down as you pass the Mill Creek Golf Course; turn right on Mill House Road. On your left stands the magnificent 1714 Gomez Mill House, the oldest surviving Jewish homestead in North America. Continuously inhabited for almost 300 years, the 1722 Dutch-style brick upper story and a restored mill bring special aesthetics to this grand structure, once home to merchants, patriots, farmers, craftsmen, and statesmen.
Depart via Route 9W heading south. Continue for approximately 9 miles. Turn right at the light just past Anthony's Pier 9 onto Forge Hill Road toward Vail's Gate. Ahead on the left you'll find the elegant 1754 fieldstone Ellison House (Knox's Headquarters). An addition to the original 1734 wooden structure resulted in an especially attractive but curious mixture of Georgian, Dutch and English architecture. The home is carefully furnished in period style, including a slave quarters and several unique "hands on" rooms where guests may handle reproductions of original furnishings and clothing.
Leaving Ellison House, turn left then left again onto Route 94. At the 5 Corners intersection in Vails Gate, turn right onto Route 300 North. At the point where Route 300 makes a sharp right turn, continue straight ahead onto Route 207, traveling west. Approximately 3 miles past Stewart International Airport, turn right on State Route 747 (Drury Lane). Follow this all the way to the end and turn left on Route 17K toward Montgomery. Approximately 2½ miles ahead on the right you'll see Brick House. The elegant 18th century estate featuring Colonial and Victorian furniture was home to seven generations of the Nathaniel Hill family. It sits prominently in front of the Orange County Farmers Museum where vintage farm equipment, blacksmith shop, and saw mill pair nicely with the manor house.
Turn right onto Route 17K and continue about 3 miles to the historic Village of Montgomery. At the intersection with Route 211, turn left. Approximately 2 miles ahead, turn left at the junction with Route 416. Just past the main entrance to Thomas Bull Memorial Park, watch for Hill-Hold on the left. This 1769 stone farmhouse with a one room schoolhouse, summer kitchen and smoke house is located on the grounds of a historic working farm.
The route encompassing these historic homes is just over 40 miles. There are scheduled events on special weekends for each one, allowing you to linger even longer. To really experience each site, allow about 2 ½ hours per home.
Note: Although not included in this driving tour, country manor buffs will also want to be sure to visit Fort Decker off of I-84 Exit One in Port Jervis, about 25 miles from Hill-Hold. This 18th century historic stone house near the Delaware River was the residence of Dutch descendants who arrived from Holland in the late 1600's. The site served as a home, a military post, and a trading store.
For more suggestions of things to do or places to stay, call Orange County Tourism at 845-615-3860 between 9am-5pm Monday through Friday.
Hasbrouck House at Washington's Headquarters. 84 Liberty Street, Newburgh 12550. 845-562-1195, www.palisadesconservancy.org
Crawford House. 189 Montgomery Street, Newburgh 12550. 845-561-2595, www.newburghhistoricalsociety.com
Gomez Mill House. 11 Mill House Road, Marlboro 12542. 845-236-3126, www.gomez.org
Ellison House. 289 Forge Hill Road, Vails Gate 12584. 845-561-5073, www.palisadesconservancy.org
Brick House. 850 Route 17K, Montgomery 12549. 845-457-4921, www.hillholdandbrickhouse.org
Hill-Hold. 128 Route 416, Campbell Hall 10916. 845-291-2404, www.hillholdandbrickhouse.org
Fort Decker. 127 Main Street, Port Jervis 12771. 845-856-2375, www.minisink.org