Getting to Know Northeast Dutchess County | Millerton | Hudson Valley | Hudson Valley; Chronogram
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Getting to Know Northeast Dutchess County 

Rural Refinement in Milerton, Amenia, Millbrook

click to enlarge Samantha Bea at The Music Cellar in Millerton. - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Samantha Bea at The Music Cellar in Millerton.

Northeast Dutchess County is home to a lot more than gorgeous fall foliage and rolling hills. Farmers tend to their livestock and horses graze, but New York City (under two hours away) also ushers in scores of weekend visitors seeking rural respite amongst a charming trio of small towns: Millerton, Amenia, and Millbrook. Connected by Route 44, these three communities offer farm-to-table delicacies, unique shopping opportunities, and indie theaters to rival what you might find in a big city—without any traffic jams. Parks, golf clubs, and a recreational rail trail round out an endless slate of outdoor activities, and new businesses spring up often as the towns continue to swell in size and popularity.

click to enlarge Taconic Distillery Founder Paul Coughlin in Stanfordville. - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Taconic Distillery Founder Paul Coughlin in Stanfordville.

Millerton

With less than 1,000 permanent residents, Millerton was once a junction where three railroads converged; when the trains departed in 1980, the local economy faltered and many farms shut down. Eventually, moneyed second-home owners began to move in, as well as those who considered Millerton a convenient alternative to the pricier Connecticut. The hamlet was revived.

Should you crave a caffeinated pick-me-up, Irving Farm Coffee House, on Main Street, is the place to go. The coffee comes fresh from a roastery in town, and over the past year, Irving Farms has grown considerably; the Millerton location is now one of nine stores, but still the only choice outside Manhattan. New on their menu is cold brew (in addition to iced coffee), both a classic and seasonal blend. Those who prefer tea can head over to Harney & Sons, another outlet with a sister site in New York. They offer 250 varieties of tea in their tasting room, plus a lunch menu in the back lounge. Good grub can be found at Main Street eateries like 52 Main, a tapas restaurant, and Oakhurst Diner, a retro boxcar-style joint dating back to the 1940s.

click to enlarge Kayla Agostini and Catherine Bauer at The Moviehouse in Millerton. - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Kayla Agostini and Catherine Bauer at The Moviehouse in Millerton.

On the shopping front, Gilmor Glass is a Millerton staple, now in its 21st year of business. Pop into the gallery to marvel at delicate stemware, bowls, vases, and other pieces made by hand using mouth-blown and pressed-glass techniques; or stop by the factory space next door to learn the complex art of glassmaking yourself via demonstrations and workshops. Directly across the street is PLACE Gallery, a brand-new space showcasing custom furniture, commissioned fine art, handcrafted ceramics, and wood sculpture.

For a culture fix, try The Moviehouse, residing inside a building crowned by an old clock tower. The Moviehouse doesn't stick to mainstream programming; it also screens indies, foreign films, and documentaries handpicked from festivals. It even livestreams ballets from Russia and operas at the Met, making it possible to witness international genius without spending a fortune on plane tickets.

Outdoor options abound, especially on the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, a route of over 15 paved miles through tranquil woods and a favorite of devoted bikers. Another 13 miles of abandoned rail bed are currently in development stages, plus 18 more have been acquired and will take the trail north into the Village of Chatham. "This will change the volume of people coming into town dramatically, which is a good thing," says Kathy Shapiro, manager at Irving Farms. "As of now, the trail crosses Main but only on one side; once the last leg is built, the trail will connect from Wassaic to Chatham, leading straight through Millerton."

click to enlarge Redheads in love, James Smith and Megan Mooney at Harney and Sons’ Millerton shop. - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Redheads in love, James Smith and Megan Mooney at Harney and Sons’ Millerton shop.

For more Millerton information, check out Main Street magazine, a hyperlocal publication celebrating its fifth anniversary this March. Main Street covers everything from real estate to gardening to hiking to local businesses. The magazine's editor and owner, Thorunn Kristjansdottir, was recruited by Millerton's Merchants Association this past year to design and manage a website, which they hope will guide visitors and old hands alike in finding spots to eat, shop, stay, and luxuriate while in town. "There's so much to do here—you're just limited by your imagination," Kristjansdottir says.

Amenia

Roughly nine miles south of Millerton lies Amenia, another tiny village with a big influx of wealthy homeowners on the way. Four years ago, Amenia was left struggling and quiet when its largest employer—an institution for the developmentally disabled—closed down. But the times they are a-changin', as an enormous luxury development hopes to draw movie stars and businessmen away from their Hamptons retreats and into a new sort of decadence.
click to enlarge Sonne Hernandez with her artwork at PLACE gallery in Millerton. - JOHN GARAY
  • John Garay
  • Sonne Hernandez with her artwork at PLACE gallery in Millerton.
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