Wagner House, Palatine Bridge, NY

Occasionally, but not often enough, I have reported here on my travels outside of the Hudson Valley. Last December I made a trip through Central New York (and I should probably do a post on that trip eventually) but for now I write of one ruin in particular that I believe is worth calling attention to.

A few years back Wint Aldrich told me to look for the Webster Wagner House in Palatine Bridge (Montgomery County) after I told him I was planning a trip across New York. I missed the house, somehow, on my way into Canajoharie, located on the opposite side of the New York State Thruway and the Mohawk River. In Canajoharie I had my sights set on the former Beech-Nut factory, an old school high on a hill above town, and one of the very few traffic “dummy lights” in the country. This time the Wagner House took priority.

The Wagner House is easily, and sadly, among the most photogenic ruins I have ever seen. With an unpainted finish, a sagging roofline, a half-collapsed porch, Gothic-arch windows and pointed roof dormers, abundant Victorian detailing, a missing exterior wall in the back, and a massive gnarly tree flanking its southeastern corner, it is the haunted house that every fictional version aspires to be.

The Wagner House is also condemned. Despite appearances, the house was occupied, partially at least, until fairly recently. The front porch completely collapsed this winter which, combined with the exposed rear addition, large hole in the roof, and bowed south wall, led the Palatine Bridge Code Enforcement Office to issue a demolition permit earlier this month. The current owner wishes to restore the house, but would need to address the obvious poor condition of the house quickly before the village could even consider renovation permits.

The house was built in 1876 for Palatine Bridge native Webster Wagner, a manufacturer of railroad sleeping cars, as a summer home. Its architect was Horatio Nelson White of Syracuse. The Webster Wagner House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

National Register Document – Text

National Register Document – Photographs

Photographs December 8-9, 2013.

This entry was posted in Demolition Alert, New York State. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Wagner House, Palatine Bridge, NY

  1. Rebecca Elise says:

    These are beautiful photos of this decaying home. I have been to Canajoharie several times as a kid (driving through) and can recall the old Beech Nut factory as seen out the window as we passed by. Anyway these photos are great, what a beautiful old home. Thanks for a great post.

  2. Bonnie says:

    I remember touring the Beechnut factory on a school field trip. The memory is very vague,but I am sure that’s where we went. Had to be late 60’s or very early 70’s. My father grew up in the Catskills and Albany, so our ‘Sunday’ drives were always in the HRV & the lovely back roads of his youth. Thank you for sharing your travels. I hope this beautiful piece of history and architecture has a chance to shine for more generations.

    • HV-Rob says:

      You’re welcome, and thanks for sharing your memories. Cool that they gave tours at Beech Nut. That’s great that your father took you on some awesome drives too.

  3. Richard P. Cunningham says:

    What a loss.

  4. M. Barry says:

    Beautiful photographs. It has been so sad to see them slowly tearing it down.

  5. Thomas R Engel says:

    It’s a shame you missed this until very recently (the Mohawk is a tributary of the Hudson and it’s not far away); I’ve been seeing the structures you mention in Canajoharie and they’re small potatoes and Canajoharie itself is much like the jaded Hudson Valley towns you cover (I check up on you every few months) .
    I have been watching this grand structure deteriorate alarmingly since at least 1990. Until 2004 I was travelling at leat annually to family in Rochester NY and Palatine Bridge is the halfway point between Boston and Rochester and Rt 5 follows the NYC RR closely at this point and as a railfan I knew who Wagner was.
    In November 1992 on one of my trips I met the then owner (he said he was) and talked with him. He told me there were no remaining furnishings from the Wagners inside and that even woodwork features had been looted; he felt there may have even been local “collusion” in looting the building while he was away. He lived in CT and had bought the place to use effectively as a weekend “hunting camp” and was living mostly in the rear addition when there. Much more recent newspaper stories say that a man and his son were living in the rear and were only evicted a few years ago (ca. 2011 or so). My most recent visit 24 August 2014 found the house in process of slow demolition for salvage. The newspaper stories state the roof caved in this past winter; by my previous visit in 2012 or 2013 I found the 3rd floor interior had caved into the second floor and the roof was sagging alarmingly. The current owner who’s doing the demolition says he found painted portraits of the Wagners in a closet inside.
    I am very much reminded of Wyndcliffe, which is crumbling away even worse.

    • HV-Rob says:

      Hi Thomas,

      Thank you for sharing your reminiscences it. It is only recently that I’ve been making an effort to really explore the rest of New York, and beyond. I wish I had seen the house earlier too, though I am glad I caught it in time. It must have been quite the place in its time. Indeed there are many cool sites along both Routes 5 and 20, and I look forward to visiting more of them. Thanks again.

  6. Kara says:

    They are tearing it down! So sad!

  7. Laura Kelly says:

    Such a shame that this place was not preserved. It was a beautiful, historic home!! Not many left anymore. Architecture back then had much more character and beauty.

  8. Jeff Hinkle says:

    My grandfather.., Jason Coppernoll.., owned and lived there from late 50s to late 70s.., people he sold it to let it go to , um, waste I guess is word. Have fond memories of playing hide and seek there. Sometimes I’ve daydreamed about being rich and turning house into a bed and breakfast.., too late now.

    • David Weinstein says:

      Jeff, I think my great aunt and uncle worked for and rented from your family. Care to email me at dsweinstein @ gamil? Last name was kachinsky. Just have some questions about the town, area etc. They are long passed away, but we were very close and I’ve always felt a need to visit the town.

  9. Gwen Amen says:

    I am planning a trip to the Mohawk River Valley around Palatine, perhaps next fall. My forefather was one of the Palatine Immigrants of 1709, and William Nellis and Hendrick Klock were also my forefathers. What remains in this area worth seeing today? My forefather settled in German Flats on the Mohawk.

  10. Laura Brown says:

    Amazing ! I’ve been in South Carolina for 10 years now. Originally from Monticello, NY Hudson Valley, Sullivan County all my life well, 39 years, you do the math ! LOL! Love to see more of your findings ! Please post anytime ! Best of luck to you.

    Yours Truly,

    Laura A. Brown

  11. SLW says:

    When a child my grandparents owned that house. The first time we saw it the night was dark and raining. Grandpa and Granma had a fire lit in the dining room fireplace. My sisters and I spent many summers helping Grandpa type out the lists for the old records and Edison players. When my dad and Grandpa would check out the gutters, they climbed out of the 3rd story window and walk around the roof in the gutters. That took a lot of nerve. When the home was sold, the person bought it had high hopes of it being another antique shop plus bed and breakfast. The town would never give him a permit, so he did nothing with the home from that point on. Finially it was sold at auction for $1000.00 and the man was trying to restore it but had to first clean floor by floor due to falling apart. I guess he did not do it fast enough because the town was going to fine him thousand of dollars a DAY until it was cleaned up. So, he turned it back to the county of Palentine Bridge and as of now they have done nothing with it at all. So much for them running off the only person that was going to clean it up and restore the first floor to original. I feel bad for this gentleman, he was going to do the town a huge favor and they ran him off. I hate how this happened to this home, I loved this place and hold dear all the wonderful memories close to my heart.

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