by Alix Adams (Credit: The Warwick Development Coalition The Village of Warwick, New York)
Welcome to “You Should Visit…”, in which we travel the country scoping out beautiful, under-the-radar old house towns where big charm can be had for little cost. Have a city, town or neighborhood to recommend? Send it along to [email protected]!
Warwick, NY; Fall Foilage.
With fall foliage in full swing, take a short ride up to the historic Village of Warwick, New York, a gem of the Lower Hudson Valley. Not only does it have great history, it also has wonderful restaurants, shopping and places to see.
Approximately 55 miles northwest of New York City, the Village of Warwick is an easy day trip from the New York City metro area. The Village was first settled in 1764, officially became a town with its own separate government in 1788 and was incorporated in 1867. It was during these pre-Revolutionary years that many of Warwick’s historic landmark buildings were built. Primarily a farming community, the population was virtually self-sufficient, with a diverse set of industries, including a booming applejack distillery business. By the end of the 18th century, the Village became a commercial, religious and social center for the surrounding rural community. The construction of the Warwick Valley Railroad in 1860 propelled Warwick into becoming a prosperous commercial and banking hub. Although it has had its ups and downs over its over 250-year history, Warwick is definitely a destination that any historic house junkie shouldn’t miss! Known as Orange county’s “Queen Village,” the Village of Warwick has something for everyone: history, wineries/distilleries, apple orchards, shops and restaurants, a farmer’s market, antiques and more. Also, with year round cultural events, including the Warwick Summer Arts Festival, Summer Concert Series on the Railroad Green, and Warwick’s annual Applefest, the village is a must-visit destination!
Warwick is a natural draw for anyone who appreciates a good historic property. The Warwick Village Historic District, designated on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, is comprised of most of the older portions of the Village (primarily around the Main Street area) and boasts 208 structures. The integrity of the buildings is quite remarkable…with some even maintained in virtually original condition. Although there is plenty of history to absorb with this many properties to view, the Warwick Historical Society maintains twelve of these properties (ten buildings, a cemetery and a park) which encompass the overall history of the Village.
The 1927 A.W. Buckbee Center houses The Warwick Historical Society, and is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9am to 1pm. Formerly the public library, the Buckbee Center now holds the Historical Society’s archives and vast collection of artifacts, which includes 1000 items of clothing!
The Old School Baptist Meeting House.
Dating to 1819, the Old School Baptist Meeting House is located at the center of the Village and its spire can be seen from everywhere in town. Threatened with demolition in the 1950s due to plummeting membership (only 2 members existed by 1951), the Historical Society acquired it in 1952 and began its restoration. “Washington Day” festivities are held at the Meeting House. Concerts, plays and an annual Village Christmas program are held at the venue. The location is open to all and is also available for weddings.
The Shingle House.
Dating to 1764, the Shingle House is the oldest structure in the Village of Warwick. Built by Daniel Burt it is maintained as a historic house museum by the Warwick Historical Society. The house features period furniture and artifacts and secret hiding places. Although currently it is undergoing a restoration project and closed to the public, it is certainly something to come back for when the renovations are complete. Located on Forester Avenue, the Shingle House has always been a treasure of the Historical Society and should prove to be even more so when it comes back to life.
The c. 1825 Sly Barn and the 1890 Lehigh and Hudson River Railway Caboose No. 81 were installed on the Shingle House property in 1965 and 1979, respectively. The Sly Barn, complete with its original stone foundation, was saved and moved piece-by-piece from a local farm close by. It stands behind the Shingle house as a testament to Warwick’s agricultural past and houses period agricultural tools from local farms and household appliances, including what is supposedly Warwick’s first real bathtub! It is also home to two horse-drawn carriages and antique sleighs.
The Caboose, which is an original car from the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway, was used as a home base for repair crews and stands as a testament to the industry that boosted Warwick as a commercial and social hub of its day.
Built in 1766, Baird’s Tavern has been preserved to retain its 18th century appearance. Originally built as an Inn on the Kings Highway (a route which ran from Easton, Pennsylvania to Newburgh, New York), it was a popular watering hole and store for many Colonial era travelers, including George Washington, who visited the tavern in 1783 and, as recorded in his diary, enjoyed some grog! The Village is certainly proud of its “George Washington Slept Here” (well, “drank here”) association…in fact each year on the last Saturday of July, known in Warwick as “Washington Day,” the town commemorates Washington’s grog-drinking anniversary! Martha Washington was also a guest at the tavern in 1786 on her way to visit George at his headquarters in Newburgh. Tours are given and the Tavern can also be rented out for private parties so you, too, can say that you’ve joined the ranks of the Tavern’s illustrious patrons.
The Hasbrouck Carriage House at Baird’s Tavern.
Acquired in 2001, the c.1840 Hasbrouck Carriage House was moved to its current location behind Baird’s Tavern from the property next door. The lower level appears as it would have when it housed horse-drawn carriages, however, the upper floor has been curated as a country doctor’s office during the early 20th century. Many of the antique medical implements on display were owned by the founder of Warwick’s first hospital, Doctor Morris Bradner, Sr.
The 1810 House.
The 1810 house has had many lives, including a family home, a YMCA, the Warwick Village library (the front room only) in 1870, and the headquarters of the local chapter of the American Legion in the 1930s. Currently, it houses Bertolini & Co., an antiques and interior design shop.
The Azariah Ketchum House.
Built in 1810 by Azariah Ketchum, a master carpenter who served in the Revolutionary War and helped build the Old School Baptist Meeting House, this small Federal house is the home of the Warwick Historical Society’s curator. Tours of the house and formal gardens can be arranged by appointment.
After you’ve worked up an appetite touring the Historic District, make your way downtown to check out some of the great antique shops, boutiques, bakeries, galleries, restaurants, tea room and much more!
Main Street, Warwick, New York.
Main Street, Warwick, New York.
Main Street, Warwick, New York.
If you happen to be in town on a Sunday, visit The Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market, which is held every Sunday rain or shine from May through November in the South Street Parking lot in the Village. Ranked as one of the finest in the country, the Farmers’ Market showcases local produce, wines, cheese, baked goods and much more!
The Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery.
If you plan stay in the area through the evening or overnight, enjoy a movie under the stars at the Warwick Drive-In Theater. Built in 1950, the 3-screen digital theater shows first-run double features nightly from mid-March through October. Be sure to bring cash (only payment method accepted) chairs, blankets, a portable radio and a lot of bug spray! Overnight accommodations are plentiful and charming. Choose from a variety of lovely Bed and Breakfasts to enhance your experience in “The Queen Village.”
Warwick also offers many recreational opportunities for year-round enjoyment including downhill ski areas, golf courses, hiking, and lakes. The Appalachian Trail also runs through Warwick, a portion which features a hawk watching area where you can see their migration in the spring and fall.
And, if you find that you’ve enjoyed yourself enough to make Warwick a permanent destination, maybe this c.1860 Italianate gem known as the Dunning Estate, located within the Warwick Historic District, will interest you!
Whether it’s for a day, weekend or a permanent move, Warwick, New York offers something for everyone…why not plan a visit?
AUTHOR LISA LEVIN