- B E A C O N -

STEPPED down along the falls of the Fishkill Creek through the city of Beacon, a series of abandoned mills and factories stands forgotten by the revitalization that brought this old river town back to life in the 1990s. Perhaps nowhere in the Hudson Valley is there a more vivid illustration of North America's industrial decline than this.

THE SCENE HERE is picturesque and destitute, evocative and lonely. The buildings themselves range in age from 50 to 200 years, and include fine examples of industrial architecture from the early 1800s through the middle twentieth century, from fieldstone to brick, wood frame to concrete block.

PROBABLY each of these mills has been slated for some form of reuse over the years, but somehow every proposal thus far has fallen by the wayside, and the mills continue to lie abandoned. Left to decay, their chances for survival grow dimmer. One of the most appealing of the old mills, the former New York Rubber Company on Tioronda Avenue, which dated to 1848, was gutted by a fire of undetermined origin in the summer of 2005. Its ruins were quickly demolished.

THERE IS SOMETHING about these old mills that has always had a particular hold over me. Architecturally they never aspired to much: their construction is vernacular, functional. Yet their facades have an undeniable appeal, in their arched windows, their weathered brick, their rambling additions, panneled doors and crooked wood window frames . . . they don the patina of their age with a grace that befits their historical importance. Often these are the buildings that drove the development of the towns around them.



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© T.E. Rinaldi, 2006