Dutch Reformed Church, Summer 2007.
the 1840s and 1850s, Newburgh was the playground of sorts of American
architecture, as leading American building designers started their careers there, worked there, and/or lived there. The most of famous of those taste-makers was Andrew Jackson Downing, the landscape architect. His home no longer
stands, but his memory is honored at Downing/Vaux Park. And the ruined City Club
(William Culbert House) is the only surviving example of a building designed by
Downing himself. Built as an urban dwelling, the house was enlarged by a social
club but remains an empty brick shell after a fire in 1981. . The City Club (William Culbert
The other AJD, the architect Alexander Jackson Davis, also produced some of his earliest works at Newburgh; the Dutch Reformed Church is one of Davis's crowning designs in the Greek Revival style. Built in 1835, the church shut its doors in 1965 amid urban decline. Today it is still not in use, but preservationists are bringing the building back to life. The columns have been restored and the windows are undergoing conservation treatment. Even in a state of semi-abandonment, the Dutch Reformed Church inspires civic pride; the image of the building is used on street-light banners throughout the city and appears in an idealized mural at the public waterfront.
Another building abandoned during the downward urban spiral of the mid-late 20th century is the West Shore Railroad Station. The architectural firm of Warren & Wetmore designed this building for the New York Central Railroad, parent company to the West Shore line. The last passengers disembarked here in 1958 and only freight trains rumble past the building today. Plans to restore and reuse the building have come to naught (supposedly, City Hall insiders wouldn't allow a new commercial eatery planned at the abandoned train station to compete with their friends down at the much-touted waterfront, one block away). Partly damaged by fire in the 1980s, the building has been stripped of nearly all interior architectural ornamentation, though interesting exterior details reminiscent of New York City's Grand Central Terminal survive.
Newburgh's industrial heritage survives in the form of light industrial concerns that occupy buildings vacated when major manufacturing jobs dried up. At least two major mills remain in use, the American Felt and Filter Company on the Quassaick Creek and the Regal Bag factory on the Hudson. Other factories have disappeared without a trace; one survives only in the form of a brick smokestack covered in ivy.
As manufacturing declined and new methods of transportation changed the way people moved in and around the cities, downtown businesses suffered and urban planners promoted misguided revitalization schemes. Quite often neighborhoods inhabited by minority groups were designated "blight" and targeted for destruction. Entire blocks of historic building stock, designed in human scale and in pedestrian-friendly-manner, were torn down for new-fangled civic centers and parking garages. Strip malls built outside town meant that people should no longer spend money in the heart of the city. Or sometimes, as in the case of Newburgh's Water Street, large swatch of buildings were simply not replaced at all. The loss of commercial buildings surely hurt as much as the loss of manufacturing jobs. More well-off residents fled downtown, and as crime rose and other social and civic problems proliferated, the once-grand houses, apartment buildings and mansions of Newburgh were left looking like a living haunted house display.
There are the occasional bright spots. In addition to the efforts underway at the Dutch Reformed Church, another community organization called Safe Harbors of the Hudson reclaimed the Hotel Newburgh and is now working to restore the famed Ritz Theater. Hopefully these projects will lead to other success stories of preservation, adaptive reuse, and revitalization in Newburgh.
Dutch Reformed Church, Summer 2007
Painting of Dutch Reformed Church, on the West Shore Railroad foundation wall at the waterfront.
The City Club (William Culbert
West Shore Railroad Station, Summer 2002.
New York Central Railroad Bridge, February 2008.
View of the Hudson River, past factory buildings on Renwick Street, May 2008.
Attractive and inhabited, South Miller Street, May 2008.
Gables and spires of Third Street, May 2008.
Chimney, Quassaick Creek, August 2005.
All that is left of a demolished factory.
Spotlights at Washington's Headquarters (Hasbrouck House), celebrating
the 225th Anniversary of the end of the Revolutionary War. November 25, 2008.
More photos of this illumination can be found at my other website.
MORE NEWBURGH PHOTOS:
North of Broadway
South of Broadway
Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.
E-mail Rob Yasinsac
Tom Rinaldi's Newburgh page - Hudson Valley Ruins.
Newburgh Revealed - Understanding Newburgh's past and revealing the both simple and complex sources of its problems.
Yaz’ Hudson Valley Ruins and Abandoned Buildings, etc.
E-mail Rob Yasinsac
This page copyright © 2008 by Robert J. Yasinsac.
Reproduction of these photos without the permission of Robert Yasinsac is prohibited.