New Windsor, Washingtonville, and Chester are Hudson Valley communities that have picturesque scenery, a deep history, and an old time sensibility.
The New Windsor summer concert series has a “Leave It to Beaver” feel—kids play in the back as parents watch the concert and the parks and recreation department gives out free hot dogs and popcorn, along with other snacks and drinks. In Chester, residents say the historic downtown seems in some ways like it has been untouched by the passage of time since the 1800s. And Washingtonville is home to the nation’s oldest winery, the Brotherhood Winery, which helped launch vineyard tourism when it started offering tours of its facilities after Prohibition. NEW WINDSOR
New Windsor played a key role in the Revolutionary War. It was here that the Continental Army under General George Washington spent the last winter and spring of the war in 1782 and 1783 and Washington made his headquarters a few miles away in Newburgh. It was at the New Windsor Cantonment that the cease-fire orders were issued by Washington, ending the eight-year War of Independence.
Today, the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site
at 374 Temple Hill Road is a must for history buffs. The park is over 150 acres and offers hiking in addition to historic exhibits. From mid-April through October there are reenactors demonstrating musket drills, blacksmithing, military medicine and other 18th-century skills. The park is also home to several historic structures including the reconstructed Temple of Virtue, which served as a chapel and office, and the Mountainville Hut, which may be the only surviving example of original timber construction by the Continental Army.
In addition to its link to the Revolutionary War, New Windsor also has a connection to show business history. Legendary crooner Tony Bennett got one of his earliest singing gigs performing at the Meadowbrook
, a catering facility that was then a resort. “I gave Tony Bennett his first singing job and he wasn’t Tony Bennett, at the time he performed as Joe Bari,” recalls Frank Cavalari, who has owned the Meadowbrook with his family since the 1930s. He adds that Bennett “worked for me for a whole summer when we had the resort and he sang for my guests, then he went on to become very famous and the rest is history.” Bennett is not the only famous face who has been spotted at the Meadowbrook over its long history. “We’ve catered to many celebrities,” says Cavalari. “Gerald Ford was here one time. We’ve had three cardinals and also three New York governors.” The picturesque facilities at Meadowbrook are now used for weddings and other gatherings and celebrations.
At the Mid-Hudson School of Yoga
, a unique system of yoga called traditional yoga is taught. The style was developed by the school’s founder and director James Caruso. On the website, Caruso explains that in most yoga systems there is “too much competition, perfection, and potential for injury without enough fundamentals, fitness, safety, and recognition of progress.” He also writes that he “learned that most yoga systems do not teach the complete science of yoga, which was originally designed to guide people to reach their highest levels of health and happiness, not to bend and twist themselves into human pretzels.” Good Old Days Florist
is an eco-green florist in New Windsor. The company offers eco-friendly flowers, green gifts, green wedding flowers, event flowers, chemical-free floral arrangements, and a preserved flowers service.
New Windsor is home to Stewart International Airport
(a portion of the airport also falls within Newburgh’s boundaries). Stewart Airport was built in the 1930s by the US Military Academy at West Point for cadet aviation. Today it’s a major passenger airport.
Visitors heading to New Windsor will also want to check out Moroney’s Cycle
at 833 Union Avenue. This motorcycle super-store is one of the country’s oldest Harley-Davidson dealerships and was opened in the 1950s. The store now sells a variety of different motorcycle brands in addition to Harleys. Although the store’s founder, Jim Moroney, has retired, he can still be found at the store on most days. Moroney’s son, Patrick, now owns the place and Moroney’s grandson works there as well. Mariel Platas, the director of marketing and advertising for the store, says the place has a long history with the community and the staff works hard to cater to customers. “We have very highly trained technicians and we cater to all of our clients as if they were family,” she says. “We do a lot of charities and we donate to a lot of different causes.”
At the Sportsplex
at 2902 Route 9W, visitors to New Windsor can enjoy a 120,000-square-foot multi-sport health and fitness complex. “We have seven tennis courts, an aquatic center, a fitness center, and classrooms for our pre-school program,” says Cathy Vaughn, who is the general manager of the complex. She adds, “We really gear our business to families. Our summer camp program is going on now, and there are 800 kids enrolled between the ages of six and fifteen. We also have a swim team. Families are a very important component for us.” WASHINGTONVILLE
If you head from New Windsor to Washingtonville, some new adventures await. Washingtonville is home to the Kokopelli Cookie Company
, which sells mouthwatering cookies to retailers and has a storefront in town. Fran Fumo, the owner and baker for the company, says that in addition to cookies she also bakes cupcakes and even wedding cakes. She says that no matter what she bakes, she tries to create something like the old timers in your family used to make. “We have Italian cookies, Greek cookies, things that your grandma made. A lot of my recipes are from my grandparents,” she says.
In the heart of Washingtonville, the Corner Candle Store
is located at the intersection of route 94 and 208. The store has been in business for more than 35 years and features an assortment of crafts and hand-picked gifts beautifully displayed on antique furniture. There are bath and soap products, stationery and frames, jewelry, decorative and personal accessories, and a baby and toy section.
At Shop Around Insurance
, at 25 South Street, owner John Luongo says his roots in the area make it easier to do his job. “It’s a tightknit community, we do a lot of business on referral,” he says. “I’m from here, so I know the houses, I know the market, I know the neighborhoods, I know the streets, so it makes it nice and easy.”
The New York Performing Arts Center
in Washingtonville is one of the largest dance studios in Orange County. It was founded and is run by cousins Cyara Kamp and Jacquelyn Planker, who are celebrating their company’s fifth anniversary this year. Kamp says that when she and her cousin opened the studio they were in their early twenties and were surprised by the way the place’s popularity spread. “We started out in a small one-room studio and in two years we had grown so much that we bought the building that we’re in right now,” she recalls.
Today, the studio has more than 500 students that range from two-year-olds to high school students. The school has a performance group that has appeared at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In addition to dancing, acting and singing are also taught at the school. Kamp says they choose Washingtonville for the studio because they live in nearby Warwick and thought Washingtonville would be a great location. “It has a really great arts program in the school, which really helps to support the dance program. It all goes hand in hand with what we do,” she says. CHESTER
Outdoors lovers will want to check out the Orange Heritage Trailway, which is a 12.4-mile rail trail that runs through Chester and surrounding towns. It’s a great destination for walkers, bikers, and skaters. Barry Adelman has owned Outdoors
, a footwear and clothing store at 6 Howland Street, since the 1970s and says there is something unique and special about Chester. “The downtown area in general will give you the feel of going a hundred years back in time,” he says. He adds this is thanks to the historic “buildings and just the way it feels down here.”
Adelman is also the co-founder of Music for Humanity, a nonprofit organization based in Chester. The website for the organization states that the goal is to use “the international language of music and its emotional and spiritual power to bring together musicians, music enthusiasts, and music professionals to positively impact the world.”
This year, the organization gave out close to $10,000 in scholarships to musicians attending music schools. Musicians who are attending college next year and studying music can apply for a scholarship by visiting Musicforhumanity.org
Husband and wife Linda and Alan Ross both have their own businesses in Chester. Linda Ross is the owner of Linda Ross Realty
and her husband owns AJ Ross Creative Media
, an advertising agency. Linda Ross says her customers are very loyal. “Many of my costumers go back 20 years. They’ve bought and sold multiple times. Their children are buying now,” she says. She and her husband originally moved to the area from New York because they wanted a quieter environment.
“We wanted to leave New York City. Our son at the time was three years old and was hailing cabs on West End Avenue,” she says. “That’s why I think the majority of the buyers move here, for their children,” Ross adds. “They want a swingset, they want a pool, they want good schools, they want to see some trees and then still work in the city.” Alan Ross adds that the area “is just a beautiful place to live.”