Eyebrows in the Snow


A FREAK PRE-HALLOWEEN SNOWSTORM befell the mid-Hudson Valley last night, dropping more than a foot on top of trees in full autumnal leaf. Very odd. Today was more seasonal — mild, with a blue sky, and snow rapidly melting. I went out to take some pictures of a couple of my favorite local buildings against the snow.


The 18th century eyebrow colonial, top and above (so called because of the two fixed windows in the upper story, just below the eaves), is on the market. Again. Or perhaps still. I remember it listed at 519K a couple of years back; today’s new, improved price is 439K. What that says about the market is nothing good.


The house itself is wonderful, updated but with original details like wide plank floors and a big fireplace. It’s on five acres in Milan, northern Dutchess County, with a pond right across the (quiet) road. Downside? High taxes, ten grand a year. That could be a deal-breaker for many.


Not two houses away is a modernist statement, above, that went up a few years ago. Even though I’m an old-house person at heart, this place could change my mind. It’s beautifully sited, with a view toward that same pond, and sits unobtrusively in the landscape. It must be sun-drenched inside. I like it a lot.


Another fave, above, is a mustard yellow eyebrow, impeccably restored.



Wonder what it means to have two front doors right next to each other? A two-family house, most likely.


Down the road apiece: rolling hills and a herd of Black Angus cows, below, as well as two fine red barns.



I Get Around


Fine row of 19th century storefronts, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia

I’VE BEEN MOVING AROUND SO MUCH LATELY, my head is spinning. Hence the random assortment of images in this post.

A few days after moving into my new apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I took off for a week in Maui. I was back in New York all of two days before heading down to Philadelphia to meet a new tenant and a painter.


Federal-era corner building in Northern Liberties, Philly, now a popular brewpub

Got to hang out in Brooklyn another couple of days…


Flatbush Avenue’s own Flatiron building, near Bergen Street

where I did much of my Thanksgiving food shopping at Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue it Brooklyn Heights. It has become a full-service Middle Eastern grocery in recent years. I went there primarily because Sahadi’s, the old standby, was mobbed, but I’ve since decided I much prefer the offerings (below) from Damascus anyway — all tops.


Meanwhile, Sahadi’s opened a pop-up holiday gift store, below, on the same block, for those food gifts (pistachios, dried fruit, candies, sticky baklava…) everyone likes.


Then I high-tailed it to Ancram, N.Y., in Columbia County, for a high-spirited Thanksgiving weekend with cousins.


Impeccable three-story eyebrow colonial, Ancram


Quintessential Hudson Valley dairy barn, late 18th c.

Hope you all spent a satisfying Thanksgiving with people you love.

Undiscovered Milan: Oldies, Acreage from 519K

COMING TO YOU TONIGHT FROM MILAN, not to be confused with the Italian fashion capital. This Milan is pronounced MY-lan, and it’s in northern Dutchess County, N.Y. In the 19th century, there was a crossroads around here called Milanville, with a post office. Now Milan doesn’t have even that. A few miles northeast of Rhinebeck, completely lacking in useful amenities of its own like stores and gas stations, Milan shares a ZIP code and a school district with Red Hook.

What Milan does have are old farmhouses, Catskill views from many spots, long country roads, a few remaining sheep farms and apple orchards, and unspoiled rural character, which is good enough for me.

Today I checked out a few recent for-sale listings here in Milan. Instead of capping my search at 500K or 600K, as I normally do for blogging purposes (doesn’t it say ‘Affordable Real Estate’ in the header?), I threw caution to the winds and didn’t set an upper limit. As a result, I saw three very appealing historic houses with lots of acreage, all on secluded sites off Academy Hill Road (exit at Rt. 199 off the Taconic State Parkway, just under 2 hours from NYC). Click the links on the descriptions below for the realtors’ listings, with full details.

  • A vintage farmhouse on a huge pond, top, on 53 acres for $1.25million

Xmas in Orient


THE OYSTERPONDS HISTORICAL SOCIETY lucked out yesterday. The annual holiday house tour of Orient, N.Y., easternmost town on Long Island’s North Fork, took place Saturday afternoon, before the Big Snow.

I was there, enjoying hot cider and cookies in eyebrow Colonials, Greek Revivals, and Victorians, all decked out in wreaths and garlands. My favorite was the colonnaded Webb House, below, a onetime tavern built in the mid-18th century and twice moved from other locations before ending up in Orient in 1955.




Scroll down to see more of what Orient and the nearby towns of East Marion and Greenport have to offer in the way of old houses.











End-of-year bargain$ in Columbia County CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP!!!

“Recessions create opportunities” – Warren Buffet

Today I scouted properties in Columbia County, ranging from 145K all the way up to 265K (laughable prices for New Yorkers).

Horrendous weather.  Nothing made my heart sing, personally.  But man (and woman), there are deals up here, especially with some cash.  Camera malfunction prevents me from posting pictures, but click on live links below for more info.

–    Best investment. COPAKE LAKE, asking 199K. A PAIR of houses near the lake, with winter view (good enough!) of said lake from deck of one and front porch of the other. Could bring 42K/year in rental income, with a little fixing and maybe a Domino-magazine rehab (one is a ‘70s-looking brown chalet, the other a white-painted 1940s cottage).  Yes – that’s right – in a few years, you could make back your investment.  And you could use them once in a while.  Wonderful with kids.  Downside? Jet skis and near neighbors could be annoying in summer.

–    Most attractive.  ANCRAM.  265K.  Stone’s throw from the Ancram Opera House (that’s what the sign says).  Solidly built, super well-maintained, 1930s bungalow, loads of windows, parquet floors, huge kitchen with pre-war built-ins.  Perfectly livable as-is.  4 acres, gorgeous backyard going down to a ravine and up a hill; not a house in sight (in back).  Old shed and garage in good shape.  Clean dry basement.  All painted a cheerful ochre yellow.  What’s bad? Well, 82’s a little busy for some. And there’s a manufactured home next door, but it’s a super fancy one.

–    Most historic. ANCRAM 169K.  Adorable, fixed-up eyebrow Colonial (early 19th c.) with columned portico. You can see why they perched it, 200 years ago, at the top of a hill, looking west – it’s still the same Berkshire mountain view.  PROS: Damn cute. Great kitchen with farmhouse sink, wood stove, finished attic loft bedroom, v clean.  CONS: Only ½ acre, near the intersection of 82 and Doodletown Road (which, despite its name, can be fairly busy.

–   Most secluded. 145K. HILLSDALE/AUSTERLITZ. At the end of a long, wind-y, muddy road. A tiny, rough cabin, painted turquoise. 4×4 porch kind of falling down.  Listing says 1920 but doesn’t look that old. Those are the cons.  The PLUSES: it’s FOUR wooded acres on the Green River – which is more of a trout stream.  Wooded.  Ya want privacy?  Ya got privacy.  Rt. 22 is up above the property, not far away, but you’re not aware of it.