“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.

Posted in Demolition Alert, Westchester County | 2 Comments

HVR Opening Reception & Sale of Wyndclyffe


Many thanks to all who attended the opening reception and gallery tour on September 24! Tom Rinaldi and I had a lot of fun leading the tour and we hope you enjoyed it too. Next up is a powerpoint lecture & book-signing on November 12, and then another gallery tour on January 14, 2017. Details here and here.

Be sure to visit the other great exhibits at the New York State Museum!

Three days prior to the opening reception Tom and I traveled to the Albany studio of WAMC Northeast Public Radio for an interview with Joe Donahue. You can listen to the archived interview at wamc.org/post/hudson-valley-ruins-nys-museum. Upon leaving the studio we immediately realized that we neglected to take an in-studio photograph to chronicle the moment but, unbeknownst to us, the WAMC website aired a live studio webcam from which my mom took this picture. Ha!


The auction and sale of Wyndclyffe, located in Rhinebeck, NY, was widely reported in September. I may be late to the party in posting that info, but I was actually interviewed by the Wall Street Journal for Keiko Morris’s September 14 article about Wyndclyffe. At present the identity of the new owner, and his/her intentions for the house, have not been announced. From a visit earlier in the summer, I have posted a new set of photographs of Wyndclyffe.

Posted in Demolition Alert, Dutchess County, Tours Lectures and Events | 2 Comments

Opening Reception & Gallery Tour Tomorrow!

Our opening reception & gallery talk is tomorrow! Other events will follow on November 12, and January 14, 2017. See you at the New York State Museum!

Hudson Valley Ruins
Saturday September 24
1:00-2:00pm – Meet & greet and light refreshments with Robert Yasinsac and Thomas Rinaldi
2:00-3:00pm – Exhibit tour led by Thomas Rinaldi and Robert Yasinsac
3:00-4:00pm – Book-signing

Further information:

Getting there/Museum info:
New York State Museum
Cultural Education Center
222 Madison Avenue
Albany, NY 12230
Parking is next to the museum, between the museum and a church. Entrance to museum is at street level, under a big overpass. Don’t bother with the underground parking garages, as they are less conveniently located to the museum. Parking is free on weekends.

Directions (as an alternate to GPS, which I am told doesn’t work out too well):
If you are coming from 787 northbound, get off at exit 2. Take the left at end of exit ramp, going under I-787, and then immediately turn right onto Route 32 (Green Street). At Rensselear Street, Route 32 makes a left turn. Then immediately right turn onto South Pearl Street (continuation of Route 32). If you keep going on Green Street that is OK too, both Green and South Pearl meet Madison Avenue where you will turn left – it just may be a tad easier to make that turn from South Pearl. Go uphill (west) on Madison. The road will split but the opposite way is one-way only, so veer to the right of the church anyway, and turn (left) into the parking lot immediately after the church. Museum is the Modernist building next door. Front entrance is on Madison.

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Upcoming Hike to the Northgate Ruins (Cornish Estate)

Upcoming event sponsored by the Putnam History Museum:

“Join Rob Yasinsac & Thom Johnson for a hike to the Northgate Ruins, known locally as the Cornish Estate, on Saturday, September 10 at 10am.

Rob & Thom will guide us on a hike through the Northgate Ruins and discuss the property’s history. Please be sure to bring water, tick repellent, and wear hiking boots or sneakers.

This is a free event but we ask that you please RSVP to Rachel at rachel@putnamhistorymusuem.org or call 845-265-4010.

Hope to see you there!”


Posted in Putnam County, Tours Lectures and Events | 1 Comment

Photography Exhibit Opens Today!!

Our Hudson Valley Ruins photography exhibit at the New York State Museum opens today! We are very excited, and we will remain completely grateful and honored that the New York State Museum has chosen to display our work through the end of 2017.

Sneak-peek from last week’s installation.

Several gallery events will be held over the fall and winter, with the official opening reception and gallery talk to take place on September 24. If you happen to be in the Albany area this afternoon, Tom Rinaldi and I will also be present from about 2m to 4pm if you’d like to be among the first to see this exhibit with us.

In addition to over 80 photographs, the exhibit will feature historical artifacts, architectural fragments, and ephemera associated with pictured sites and long-vanished buildings from the Hudson Valley.

I plan future blog posts around this exhibit. For those of you not familiar with Albany, or looking for more reasons than one to make the long drive, I’ll be posting some recommendations of things to do and places to eat nearby, etc. Stay tuned!

For more information about the exhibit, please visit the following links:
New York State Museum
Press Release & Press Kit Images
Hudson Valley Ruins

We look forward to seeing you at our exhibit!

Posted in Tours Lectures and Events | 4 Comments

General Motors Redevelopment, Sleepy Hollow

Redevelopment of the General Motors property in Sleepy Hollow (North Tarrytown) is about to begin, twenty years after the factory closed and was subsequently demolished. Nearly 1,200 residential units, a hotel, and retail space will be constructed on 67 acres of the 96-acre site, to be rechristened “Edge-on-Hudson.” To be covered up will be all traces of the vast automotive factory known simply to locals as “the G. M. site.” Entrepreneur John Brisben Walker constructed one of the earliest factories for the production of steam cars here in 1899 and, over the years, the site was expanded through landfill and new construction. The concrete pad that remains visible dates to GM’s last expansion in the mid-20th century. I sent some current photos of the site to my uncle, Arthur See, who worked there, and he had this to say:

“As you moved to the final assembly area which at that time was the “Chevrolet” side, the pits you photographed were the outline of a “flat topconveyor which was used in the final assembly. The wide end was where the drive for the system was located.
I was part of the team which laid out and designed the actual pits which you captured.”

My uncle also told me that before worked at G.M. his father was a test driver for the Maxwell-Briscoe company, one of the early entities that built cars at the North Tarrytown factory. I found a newspaper article which references his father driving Governor Smith’s Maxwell from New York to Jacksonville, FL, in 1911!

How about that! I knew that my uncle worked there, but I did not realize how much of a hand he played in re-building the site, and that evidence of his work can still be seen today, and that our family’s connection went back to the early days of automotive history! Oh, and my uncle also met and married my Aunt Patricia (my dad’s sister) while they both worked at General Motors. Funny how this connection has come around to a site that I photographed.

One of Tom Rinaldi’s photographs of the G.M. factory demolition will appear in our upcoming photography exhibit at the New York State Museum, which opens next weekend!

More Information:
Hudson Valley Ruins by Tom Rinaldi

Edge On Hudson Groundbreaking

Posted in Westchester County | 7 Comments