Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town | Saugerties | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
“Nowhere in the Empire State is there a prettier spot than Saugerties. Located in the northeastern part of Ulster County at the foot of the famous Catskill Mountains, where the gentle Esopus Creek empties itself into the lordly Hudson River, and lying on an eminence commanding a fine prospect of all the surrounding country, a more charming place can scarcely be imagined.” —The Saugerties Post, November 1898

Early on, savvy business folk recognized that the flow of the Esopus was liquid gold. Lumber and bluestone, paper and paint and brick have fed generations of Saugerties families here in what was recently proclaimed “One of America’s Ten Coolest Small Towns.” Possibilities elegantly realized are a Saugerties trademark—and it’s those possibilities that have turned into plenty of good reasons to celebrate.

Shine On Saugerties
The historic lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek in Saugerties—the oldest one on the Hudson— has been continuously shining since it was built in 1869. Open to the public, today, the Saugerties Lighthouse is a working beacon, a charming bread-and-breakfast maintained by the Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, and the luminous inspiration for the current Shine on Saugerties outdoor public art installation presented by the Saugerties Area Chamber of Commerce and Saugerties Town/Village Economic Development Committee. Thanks to local artists, woodworker Marcus Arthur, and Native Lumber in Saugerties, dozens of uniquely designed and decorated wooden lighthouses, with operating solar lights, are illuminating the streets of the historic village business district as part of this bicentennial celebration year marking the town’s 1811 incorporation. October 1, the lighthouses go to the highest bidders at the “Shine On Saugerties” gala and benefit auction held at the Kiersted House on Main Street.

Table Talk
“Saugerties has always had oddly high-end organic,” muses Daisy Kramer-Bolle, who recently served up fresh homemade pizza on the grill from her deck overlooking the Esopus during the fourth annual Decks and Docks Tour, a popular summer fund-raiser put on by the Esopus Creek Conservancy that welcomes visitors to select waterfront homes where food and drink are served, along with the chance to see some of the town’s hidden treasures. “It started with Tamayo, “ she continues. “Now it’s really popping. You have Moroccan and Mediterranean at Fez. Love Bites is just fabulous. That’s where Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig ate when they came to town.”
The foodie scene is riding a rising tide of taste: The proprietors of Miss Lucy’s Kitchen—the farmhouse restaurant and bar that features a daily market menu with local meats and produce—have just opened Cue, an open-air barbecue and live music venue. There’s fresh seafood at Mirabella and at Stella’s, signature chicken potpie at Hudson Valley Dessert Company, live music and Mexican fare at Main Street Restaurant, and award-winning bacon, egg and cheeseburgers at the Dutch Ale House. High end organic to traditional fare, it’s all here: You can alternate your noveau cuisine with pizza at the historic Exchange Hotel, dogs with everything from Dallas Hot Weiners, or a classic diner meal at the newly expanded and renovated Main Street Diner.
In food, as in other areas, Saugerties makes new friends and keeps the old with style. “I absolutely love Lucky Chocolates,” says Kramer-Bolle. “When they first opened, I knew it would be great. I didn’t find out until later that they’re the same people that ran my favorite shop in LA.”

Riviera Redux
“I used to live in St. Tropez,” says Daisy Kramer Bolle, the proprietor of Dig, a trend-setting fashionista’s paradise on Partition Street, “and my personal nickname for Saugerties is ‘The New Riviera.’” Bolle made a name for herself as a stylist in Los Angeles, dressing the likes of Jessica Alba and Hilary Duff, before returning to her Hudson Valley home turf to raise a family and open what she thought would be a small shop in Saugerties with her husband, Van Bolle. “I pictured this really laid-back scene, but it took me by surprise. People were shopping! Plus, there’s a young, hip crowd that’s tech-savvy, blasting the Saugerties message from the rooftops.”

“What’s neat is the way the business community here works together,” she explains. “And we’re symbiotic, not that weird competitive junk. There are other clothing stores, but we’re all so unique. We have vintage and plus-size vintage at Sugartown, old-fashioned jewelry stores, batik, and original designs by Juda Leah. Then there’s Rock Star Rodeo [owner William Yosh]—he’s good friends with Jimmy Fallon, so we’re always getting these great shout outs for Saugerties.” Rock Star Rodeo advertises “vintage eccentricities,” home design items, and creative consulting for businesses.
Historic, friendly Saugerties, as the welcome-to-town signs proclaim, has been a destination of note for antique lovers for years, with the eclectic cuisine of Cafe Tamayo and the classic lines of businesses like the Orpheum Theatre—built in 1890 as a vaudeville house and now a movie theater—and Montano’s Shoe Store helping define the historic downtown experience. The antique emporiums, too, partake of the benefits of entrepreneurial symbiosis that has energized the town. In Saugerties, along with a bevy of broad-spectrum purveyors of the old and fine, you’ll find niche antiquaries like Fed-On Lights, specializing in refurbished lighting pieces, and From Europe To You , an international concern handling unique pieces from Europe and Asia. Saugerties has the antique thing down cold but its prestigious reputation gets constantly bolstered by new growth like Green, a fanciful emporium of mid-century modern that blends vintage with new items made entirely from recycled materials.

Green in Saugerties isn’t just about one store. In its bicentennial year, the town can point proudly to a thriving farmers’ market, a right-to-farm law, a completed open space plan, and a handful of cleantech firms. And recycling isn’t just about sorting cans and bottles. Kid Around Consignment is an exchange point for clothes, toys, and furniture that even offers a personal shopping service. Three playgrounds, a skate park, an ice rink, a sports auditorium, a sandy beach on the Esopus, and community celebrations are just a partial list of many kid-friendly offerings, including parental stress relievers like Shakti Yoga, where you can just walk in and take a class for $5.

Art Smart and Events Happy

Art, too, nourishes the citizenry. The annual Saugerties Artists Studio Tour features works by an eclectic mix of sculptors, photographers, illustrators, potters, painters, furniture designers, and others, with new openings and shows going on in galleries and studios throughout the year. Each summer, the whole historic village becomes a gallery for public art. This year, the “Shine on Saugerties” theme celebrates the town’s classic lighthouse, one of literally hundreds of historic examples of the  builder’s art that make up the town’s classic bone structure. Artlab, founded in 2004 by four local moms and their families, is dedicated to bringing high-quality arts to the children of Saugerties.

In many towns, a car dealership is a rather workaday concern, but in Saugerties, Sawyer Motors turns the entire village into a giant classic car show once a year—just one of the many special events that run the gamut. Kids and Family Day September 10 at Cantine Field and the Mum Festival, an incredible collection of flowers planted in the public gardens of Seamon Park that has drawn thousands each weekend in the fall since the mid 1960’s, are community based. Then there are the gigantic magnet festivals that attract visitors from everywhere. The 2011 Hudson Valley Garlic Festival September 24-25 brings some 50,000 people to Cantine Field. From May to September, Saugerties hosts HITS (Horse Shows In The Sun), a world-class equestrian gathering that draws thousands of horsemen and riders to town. Success builds success, and the Saugerties that has won the hearts of equestrians will welcome a state-of-the-art hotel and conference center this fall, the Diamond Street Project.
A recent collaboration between the Dominican Sisters, the Esopus Creek Conservancy, and Scenic Hudson has opened Falling Waters—a tranquil and ecologically important property blessed with rare Hudson River views and two sparkling waterfalls on a 192-acre preserve with more than a mile of riverfront—to the public. It’s yet another draw for a town that already welcomes visitors to its 1869 lighthouse, 1727 Kiersted House (home of the Saugerties Historical Society), and Opus 40—a quirky and wonderful sculptural extravaganza and nationally known earthworks built on six acres of abandoned bluestone quarry, a spectacular achievement and a fitting eulogy to what was once a major industry in Saugerties.

Harvey Fite, the sculptor who spent 37 years crafting the magnificent Opus 40, might be amazed to hear his historic, friendly hometown described as the “New Riviera.” But Bolle is utterly serious. “How many towns have a place where the biker crowd hangs with the families eating ice cream? That would be Stella’s,” she says. “I love this town. We have everything. You don’t even need to go near a big-box for hardware; we’ve got Smith Hardware for that. Europeans who are traveling come here and they say it feels like home.”


The Cahill Classic

The Commons at Saugerties

89 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY

Dr. Rhoney Stanley
107 Fish Creek Road, Saugerties, NY
845.246.2729 and 212.912.1212

Dutch Ale House
253 Main Street, Saugerties, NY

EmUrgent care

Esopus Creek Yoga & Movement Arts
144 West Bridge Street, Saugerties, NY 845.810.2742


Fed On lights
Corner of Market & Livingston Streets, Saugerties, NY

92 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY

Lucky Chocolates
115 Partition Street, Saugerties, NY

Saugerties Chamber of Commerce

Sawyers Savings Bank
87 Market Street, Saugerties, NY

Town and Country Liquor
Route 212, Saugerties, NY
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Carol Zaloom’s River Reflections, part of the “Shine on Saugerties” public art exhibition that will be displayed around town through October.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
The Saugerties Lighthouse at the mouth of the Esopus Creek in Saugerties.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Rae Stang at Lucky Chocolates.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Love Bites Cafe.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Tori Campbell, Alex Lamb, and Lisa Maher at Dutch Ale House.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
The Great Saugerties Bed Race, Partition Street, August 6.
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Saugerties Antiques Gallery
click to enlarge Saugerties: Bright Light, Cool Town
David Cunningham
Michelle Silver at Miss Lucy's Kitchen in Saugerties.

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