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BELLEFIELD MANOR FARM The Manorkill Valley in the northern Catskill Mountains is one of New York’s most remote and beautiful mountain valleys. The long, winding road that follows the Manorkill Creek was once a narrow Indian trail, before it became the busy Susquehanna Turnpike. Just past a general store and an old cemetery we find the farmhouse of Annick de Bellefeuille, a writer, and Dr. Rhodes Adler. Originally constructed in 1790 for one George Humphrey, the house was a tavern that sheltered farmers coming from overcrowded parts of New England on their search for new lands to farm. It also provided a gathering place for local farmers to meet, discuss business, trade, and imbibe, as well as a stopover for drovers bringing their flocks or herds down the mountain to market in the town of Catskill on the Hudson River. For more than 150 years, the fields in the valley provided crops such as buckwheat, rye, and corn. The handsome barn, which sits directly across the road from the house, was restored by a local craftsman using early barn-building techniques and materials recycled from other old farm structures. The couple now holds potluck dinners there, where neighbors gather and enjoy the views of Huntersfield Mountain through barn doors thrown wide open. The couple purchased the farm in 1987 and sought to reveal the original character that lurked beneath multiple layers of remodeling. “We wanted rooms with the huge 12 

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Heated by a wood­ stove, the kitchen is ornamented with a frieze of Mexican folk pottery, the colorful accents enhanced by the bright blue of the shelf and the green of the kitchen set. A common trait of these homeowners is their love of the eclectic, which epitomizes the farmhouse aesthetic. Wooden cutting boards are set to dry on a stone bench.


B OT TO M R I G H T

The interiors of the house were remodeled TO P R I G H T

in 1908 when Bill

The Emmonses’ dining

Emmons’s grandfather

room, features a dining

purchased the farm.

set with rush­seated

The parlor’s woodwork

chairs and stenciling

was added with

on the walls rendered

high, raised­panel

in the house’s original

wainscoting and built­

style. The wood trim in

in window benches

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this room is composed

and bookshelves.

The staircase in the

of bull’s­eye corner

The Emmonses have

front entry hall still

blocks and fluted

furnished the house

follows the turns of

casings. The portrait

over time with some

the early nineteenth–

on the wall is of Bill’s

eighteenth century–

century Cape that

mother, and along the

style pieces such as

comprised the original

mantel are a series

bow­back Windsor

house. In Cape Cod

of graduated pewter

chairs, a comfortable

houses, the vestibule

mugs. Pewter vessels,

sofa, needlepoint

is a buffer to keep cold

plain and sturdy, were

pillows, and a neo­

air from the rest of the

often sold door­to­

Colonial coffee table.

house. A cloakroom

door by peddlers

Geraniums bloom

off the hall is used for

and tinkers in rural

on stands in the bay

hats, coats, umbrellas,

America.

window.

and walking sticks.

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C LO U D L A N D FA R M

C LO U D L A N D FA R M  

57


TO P L E F T

In a corner of the living room, a chestnut country desk serves its time­honored function of keeping current matters readily at hand while securing paperwork and records behind its doors. Surrounding the desk are eighteenth­ and nineteenth­century paintings and drawings. B OT TO M L E F T

In a work shed, a cabinet with glass doors, originally an office piece, presently displays an intriguing collection OPPOSITE

of nineteenth­century

In the second­story

regalia such as lamp

hall, Ivan and Marilynn

parts, advertising

have mounted

ashtrays, canning­

fascinating and

jar lids, folded flags,

instructive early maps

pictorial cigar boxes,

of the United States

medals, gameboards,

and New York. The

and, as Ivan puts it,

bedrooms are accessed

“odd bits too poetic to

through this gallery.

be discarded.”

80  

T H E KA R PS ’ FA R M H O US E

T H E KA R PS ’ FA R M H O US E  

81


B OT TO M L E F T

Reading was traditionally and continues to be an important rural pastime. Some farmhouses keep well­ thumbed copies of the classics on corner tables and bedroom shelves. This is not the case with Norman and Graham, whose commodious library shelves are stacked with books on gardens, antiques, and local

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history. The wing chair

With walls painted

TO P R I G H T

was selected for its

a dramatic crimson,

Attic bedrooms,

reading comfort, and

this corner of the

formerly occupied by

an oriental taboret is

big kitchen features

servants, were often

close at hand.

antiques from many

repositories for odd or

eras, like an old brass

mismatched furniture

B OT TO M R I G H T

and iron daybed and

that had fallen from

A roundheaded

a primitive desk. A

current fashion or

Palladian window

tiny wooden corner

become worn from use

overlooks the parterre

cabinet is suspended

but were not discarded

garden, which is

from the paneling,

outright. This chamber,

enclosed within a

and the fireplace

now used as a guest

weathered picket

mantel is ornamented

room, is built into the

fence and gates.

with assorted brass

eaves of the hipped

Popular in the late

items such as an old

roof and combines a

eighteenth and early

push­up candlestick.

variety of antiques, a

nineteenth centuries,

Within easy reach

rug, and a patchwork

this architectural

are an assortment of

quilt into a vignette

element was often the

fly swatters, a much­

that seems unchanged

focal point of Georgian

used implement of the

in a century.

facades.

farmhouse kitchen.

110  

HUDSON BUSH

HUDSON BUSH 

111


SYLVESTER MANOR There are, at best, a handful of farming estates in North America whose history may be traced back, through eleven generations of a single family, to the year that it was first settled by colonists. Sylvester Manor, situated on Shelter Island, New York, is such a place; additionally impressive is the fact that it remains a working farm today. Now encompassing 243 acres, the property originally spanned all of this entire 8,000 acre land mass, which is located between the eastern forks of Long Island. The manor house, constructed in 1735, has several outbuildings; one of the most notable is a wind-powered gristmill that was built in 1810 and moved by barge to the island in 1839. As the manor’s landscape was described in a 1923 address to a historical society, “It was like a Southern estate with its row of outbuildings—the granary, the woodshed, the ice house, the smoke house, the corncrib, the stable, the henhouse and poultry yards, the carriage house and piggery.” Today, there is a privy, still standing, constructed in the same Georgian style as the house. Sylvester Manor has a storied agrarian past. Before its European owners started farming it in 1652, the land was a Native American encampment, where it is believed that corn, squash, and beans were grown and stored in grasslined pits. The first European settlers developed the land as a provisioning plantation; during the Enlightenment, it became a farm, and then later was the home of one of the first 164 

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The grand Georgian residence known as Sylvester Manor, with its distinctive overhanging roof and symmetrically winged porches, was constructed in 1735. Today, it remains the center of a working farm that encompasses 243 acres of fields, forests, gardens, and estuaries and dates back to 1651, when Nathaniel Sylvester and his family first arrived. Over the course of more than 350 years, the manor has transitioned from a slaveholding plantation to a nonprofit educational farm.

Farmhouse Revival by Steve Gross and Susan Daley - Abrams  

Photographers Steve Gross and Susan Daley document 20 farmhouses on America’s east coast through more than 200 stunning photographs and text...

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