The Legacy of the Erie Canal exhibition

Friends of Hudson Valley Ruins will be interested in this exhibit of watercolors by artist and architect Tom Leytham, which chronicles ruins along the Erie Canal. We’ve been a fan of Tom’s work, often focused on ruins and old industrial structures in Vermont, for a long time and we are excited to see his paintings of New York State ruins.

Tom Leytham: The Legacy of the Erie Canal – The Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, NY
Tom Leytham’s watercolor paintings of hand-built structures along the Erie Canal and Mohawk River Valley depict overlooked or forgotten sites of the manufacturing age. Tom is a registered architect whose work has been exhibited at the Vermont Governor’s Gallery, Bennington Museum, and Southern Vermont Arts Center and included in many publications.

(Click here for full version of image)

2017 is the 200th anniversary of the beginning of construction of the Erie Canal – America’s first super highway. It opened the western United States for trade and settlement. A hand dug ditch – 4’-0” x 8’-0”, 365 miles through the wildness was started in 1817 with pick, shovel and horses. It became a part of a network of canals unifying the northeast.

During the 200 years, technology and invention has changed the canal and the Mohawk Valley. The original can al was beside the Mohawk River because the technology to control the river was primitive. Now the river has been controlled and the canal has become the New York State Barge Canal. The remnants of the Erie Canal have become the route for the adjacent railroad lines and the New York Thruway is in the bed of the canal.

The development along the canal flourished in the 19th and into the middle of the 20th century. This trade route grew industry along its banks but much of the industry has moved on. Many historic and inventive structures remain – hiding in plain sight. The remains of the aqueducts and locks remain as a memorial to the vision of a few developers and politicians. Originally called Clinton’s Ditch by the nay sayers – it made New York the “Empire State.”

On display through August 16

The Arkell Museum
2 Erie Blvd, Canajoharie, NY 13317
Open March – December
Tuesday through Friday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday and Sunday: noon – 5:00 PM
Closed Monday

“Things reveal themselves passing away”. William Butler Yeats
Since 2004, Tom Leytham has been documenting remnants of 19th and 20th century industrial buildings in the northeast–from New Brunswick to Vermont to the Hudson River Valley. He is fascinated by this architecture of necessity and invention; many of the sites show the evolution of the structures to accommodate the needs of the manufacturers and the land. Despite their massiveness, these unadorned structures also have a hand built character and speak of a time when craftsmanship and resourcefulness were basic values.

These are places of entropic beauty. Some of the buildings have been restored, some repurposed and some are being consumed by the landscape, but usually these former local landmarks are “hiding in plain sight”.

Just as the ruins in their incompleteness invite visual exploration, through the use of partial views, negative space, dramatic perspectives, and rich textures, I seek to create complex, pictorial environments that will engage the viewer’s imagination and focus attention on elements of detail and construction. The duality of density and emptiness—a motif of my work—lends an air of mystery and elegy to the landscape images.

Posted in New York State, Tours Lectures and Events | 1 Comment

Upcoming Events – June 9 and 10

Friday June 9, 7:00pm.
D&H Canal Historical Society and Museum
23 Mohonk Road, High Falls, NY 12440
$5 admission.
Rob Yasinsac will present Hudson Valley Ruins at the D&H Canal Museum in High Falls. Come early and check out the nearby ruins of the D&H Canal, which was built for the delivery of anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to the Hudson River at Kingston. The canal operated between 1828 and 1898.


Saturday June 10, 2017, 10:00am
Cornish Estate Hike with Thom Johnson & Rob Yasinsac
Cold Spring, NY.
$5 admission
Join Rob Yasinsac and Thom Johnson for a hike to the Northgate Ruins, known locally as the Cornish Estate, on Saturday, June 10 at 10am. Rob and Thom will share information about the history of the estate and its original owners, the Stern and Cornish families, in this program for the Putnam History Museum. To guarantee a spot, please register through Eventbrite. $5 fee, free for members of the Putnam History Museum. For further information please contact or call (845) 265-4010 with questions, or visit

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Wyndclyffe Update – April 2017

Local rumor has it that Wyndclyffe is under contract to a buyer who wishes to demolish the ruins. An application for a “Certificate of Removal or Demolition under Town Code Chapter 125, Zoning, Section 125-62, Historic Buildings, in the matter of the proposed demolition of the circa 1853 “Wyndclyffe Mansion” ” was filed with the Town of Rhinebeck Planning Board this past winter. This application seems to have slipped under the radar of many persons who would have been interested; the comment period ended February 6, 2017.

Thanks to one of our readers for passing on the link.

Here are some recent photographs.

Posted in Demolition Alert, Dutchess County | 1 Comment

Abandoned Estate Buildings at Trump State Park

Donald J. Trump State Park – not an April Fool’s joke – contains some old estate buildings slated for demolition. More photos and information at this new entry on HVR.

Posted in Demolition Alert, Westchester County | 4 Comments

Upcoming Presentations

Hudson Valley Ruins
April 5, 2017 at 7:30pm
Ferry Sloops meeting at Shattemuc Yacht Club, Ossining

In an effort to raise awareness for the plight of neglected historic sites, Hudson Valley Ruins authors and photographers, Robert Yasinsac and Thomas Rinaldi, will offer a glimpse at some of the region’s forgotten cultural treasures on Wednesday, April 5 at 7:30pm, Shattemuc Yacht Club in Ossining.

Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historical Places, and a few are even National Historical Landmarks. But in spite of their significance, these structures have been allowed to decay, and in some cases, to disappear altogether. In addition to great river estates, this presentation profiles sites more meaningful to everyday life in the Valley: Churches and hotels, commercial and civic buildings, mills and train stations. Included in the presentation will be a series of images of Ossining-area ruins.

Thomas Rinaldi and Robert Yasinsac have been photographing the Hudson Valley since 1994. Their book “Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landscape of America” was published in 2006 by the University Press of New England. An exhibition of their work is on display at the New York State Museum through December 31, 2017.

This event is presented by Ferry Sloops and will be held at the Shattemuc Yacht Club, Westerly Road, Ossining, NY 10562. Free admission, public are welcome.

Pictured: LCI (L) 766 / Circle Line IX (demolished)
Built in 1944, this Landing Craft Infantry vessel served at Iwo Jima and Okinawa to ferry troops from sea to the beach.
It later served as a Day Line, and then Circle Line, sight-seeing boat. Purchased for scrap, it was relocated to the Shattemuc Yacht Club where it became part of the club’s rebuilt breakwater and auxiliary clubhouse. It has since been razed to the waterline.


Hudson Valley Ruins
Sunday April 9, at 2:00pm
Friends of Historic Kingston Annual Meeting
Old Dutch Church, Kingston

The Friends of Historic Kingston invite you to attend its annual meeting in the Old Dutch Church’s Bethany Hall on Sunday, April 9th, 2017 at 2 pm. Please use the Wall Street entrance. Free admission, public are welcome.

After the annual meeting, Thomas Rinaldi and Robert Yasinsac will present a lecture entitled, “Hudson Valley Ruins.” The pair have authored a book, Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape, which studies the region’s forgotten cultural treasures. In addition to great river estates, the book profiles sites more meaningful to everyday life in the Valley: churches and hotels, commercial and civic buildings, mills and train stations. Included are works by some of the most important names in American architectural history, such as Alexander Jackson Davis and Calvert Vaux. Mr. Yasinsac and Mr. Rinaldi will be available after the lecture to sign copies of their book.

Questions? 845.339.0720 –

Pictured: Pieter-Corneliessen Louw House, Kingston.
Also known as the Louw-Bogardus House, or the “Frog Alley ruin,” the Louw house may be the oldest substantial ruin in the Hudson Valley. The eastern section of the house was likely built about 1676, while the western portion was probably added in the eighteenth century.The house burned in the early 1960s and was subsequently threatened with demolition by the Kingston Urban Renewal Agency. The Friends of Historic Kingston acquired the property and at times various steps have been taken to stabilize the ruin. Further work is necessary to ensure the long-term preservation of this important ruin.


Friendly reminder that our exhibition “Hudson Valley Ruins” remains on display at the New York State Museum through December 31, 2017. It has been on display for six months, with eight months to go. Don’t miss it!

New York State Museum
Cultural Education Center
222 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12230

Museum Hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 9:30 AM – 5 PM
Closed Mondays
Closed Independence Day, Thanksgiving,
Christmas, and New Year’s Day

Posted in Albany County, Tours Lectures and Events, Ulster County, Westchester County | Leave a comment

“A View Of Northgate” – Original Works by Thom Johnson

Announcing “A View Of Northgate” – Original Works by Thom Johnson

A collection of ink washes by Hudson River Artist Thom Johnson, based on the ruins of Northgate (the old Cornish Estate) located in Hudson Highlands State Park near Cold Spring, N.Y.

On Display April 20th – May 20th
Opening Reception April 27th 6:30 – 9pm

H-Art Gallery
1 South Division Street
Peekskill, NY, 10566


I’ve seen many of these images already, as works-in-progress, and I eagerly await viewing the completed works. The ink washes, directly based on actual photographs, depict the ruins of the Northgate estate among altered landscapes that are devoid of the vines and old-age trees that obscure and intrude into photographic views of the ruins while presenting other features that may be interpreted by the viewer. The images present a unique visual survey that will be of interest to those who have hiked to Northgate or who appreciate Hudson Valley ruins in general. I’ll be at the opening reception – I hope you can attend too!


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HVR 2016

A few representative images from this past year. Many more photos from 2016 can be found on our instagram account (no account needed to browse those photos).

01. January

Sunset in an industrial space, before its conversion to residential. Beacon, NY.

02. February

Hat-making machinery removed from the c. 1811 cotton mill (demolished in April) and discarded as scrap. Beacon, NY.

03. March

Farmhouse, Albany County, NY.

04. April

Hudson River State Hospital, Poughkeepsie, NY. The Administration Building, shown here, is one of several buildings that were secured professionally for potential preservation and reuse.

05. May

RIP, Brandreth Pill Factory. Ossining, NY.

06. June

St. John’s Catholic Church, Albany, NY.

07. July

General Motors factory, Sleepy Hollow, NY. Redevelopment of this site is underway as of the end of 2016, as demolition of the GM factory floor and foundation has begun, twenty years after the factory closed and seventeen years after the buildings were demolished.

08. August

Rensselaer Iron Works/Ludlow Valve/Scolite International. Troy, NY.

09. September

Hutton Company Brick Works, Kingston, NY. Publicly-accessible this summer and slated for preservation as Smorgasburg Upstate. A nice turnaround for a site that, not long ago, that was largely slated for demolition and redevelopment. Fingers crossed for the preservation of the kiln sheds, pictured here – the last of their kind in the Hudson Valley.

10. October

Hop-O-Nose Knitting Mill, Catskill, NY. I lucked out to have a day off and to be in Catskill on a peak fall day. I camped out the night before at North-South Lake on one of the warmest October days that I can ever recall.

11. November

Albany, NY.

12. December

Wyndclyffe, Rhinebeck, NY. Sold and up for sale again, its future as secure as that one barely-hanging-on staircase.

Happy Holidays (belatedly) and Happy New Year.

PS. See you January 14, 2017 at the New York State Museum! Tom Rinaldi and I will lead gallery tours of “Hudson Valley Ruins” at 1pm and 3pm! Many thanks to all who have come to our events or who have seen the exhibit on your own. And if you have not yet seen the exhibit, there are precisely 367 (minus closed Mondays) days left to see it!

Posted in HVR Annual Calendar, Tours Lectures and Events | 8 Comments

Review of “Hudson Valley Ruins”

Tom Rinaldi and I have really enjoyed our first few gallery talks and lecture presentation at the New York State Museum, making new friends and seeing familiar faces, and receiving feedback on our Hudson Valley Ruins exhibit. One review in particular (linked below) is very flattering and provides a detailed visual interpretation of our images and of the gallery space, which includes architectural fragments, interpretive text, and ephemera from the featured sites. You may enjoy reading one artist’s tour of the exhibit:

Geography and Loss: Hudson Valley Ruins at the New York State Museum – By Sarah Sutro, for the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies Center. November 2016.

Our photographs are interspersed with artifact displays, including a wall of 40 Hudson River bricks.

Now “long-lost” ruins such as Briarcliff Lodge are included in the exhibit. Photographs span the time frame of 1994-2016.

The fates of ruins such as the Yonkers Power Station and the original 1825 Cellblock at Sing Sing Prison remain to be determined.

Our book “Hudson Valley Ruins: Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape” is for sale in the museum shop! Come to one our our events and we will personalize it for you. The next event will be Gallery Tours on Saturday January 14, 2017, at 1:00pm and 3:00pm. Join one or the other!

Additional information and links related to the exhibit can be found on the Hudson Valley Ruins website.

Posted in Publications and Reviews, Tours Lectures and Events | 6 Comments

Halloween 2016

Happy Halloween. Here’s a Jack O’Lantern of a house for you.

This Ulster County house burned three years ago. Local newspaper articles said it was a multi-family home, “newly renovated” from an 1800s house, and was vacant for a week, or a month depending on which article, when it burned. Needless to add, on that note, the fire was officially regarded as “suspicious.”

I didn’t see anything inside that looked “old house” but likely it was one of those stripped-to-the-studs-complete-rebuild “renovation” jobs that skirts by a hair new home construction permits. Maybe one piece of original wall survives somewhere. Despite its obvious ill-proportioned additions and vinyl siding, the siting and general appearance of the house present an historical contrast with the new McMansions across the street.

A neighbor who saw me getting in my car to leave told me that the house was tied up in litigation but that the surrounding farmland, including on orchard, was for sale. He wondered if I was interested in it or buying it. He’s probably sick of looking at this burned-out modern ruin by now. Even I’d be hard-pressed to look at this particular house every day. Maybe some pumpkins in the windows would spruce it up a bit, at least for the season.

Posted in Ulster County | 6 Comments

NYWBRy, East Third Street Station Demolition

Mount Vernon’s East Third Street station of the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway is undergoing demolition. The railway operated between 1912 and 1937 and the White Plains terminus of this branch was located at the present-day site of the Westchester Mall. A 249-unit apartment project will be constructed at and near the site of the long-abandoned East Third Street station.

In his encyclopedic survey American Architecture, Westchester County, New York, (1977) Frank Sanchis wrote:

“The “classical” station at East Third Street still stands and looks much the same as when it was constructed, except for the fact that the center section, under the pediment has been enclosed. Originally, it was an open arcade, defining a glass roofed courtyard that gave access to the train station, which was at the rear of the building. Shops opened onto the courtyard, which was ornamented with marble columns featuring capitals of Mercury heads and wings; most other columns in the station were of cast concrete, with simple Doric capitals.”

Bonus photo of an interesting building one block east of the station. I don’t know what it was built as, but today it houses an auto-repair business.

Terminus of the White Plains branch of the NYWBRy.

Photographs October 13, 2016.

Follow these links for more information about the New York, Westchester, and Boston Railway and its various remains and ruins.

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