Claverack is a town in Columbia County, New York, United States. The population was 6,021 at the 2010 census. The town name is a corruption for the Dutch word for “Clover Fields” or “Clover Reach”.
Claverack is centrally located in the county, east of the City of Hudson.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 48.0 square miles (124 km2), of which 47.7 square miles (124 km2) is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) (0.63%) is water.
The Claverack Creek runs through the township starting out in the Hamlet of Mellenville running southwest before turning north and going into Stockport Township. The Taconic State Parkway passes through the town.
Communities and locations in Claverack
Brick Tavern – A hamlet in the northwest corner of the town.
Churchtown – A hamlet on the south town line.
Claverack – The hamlet of Claverack is in the western part of the town.
Hollowville – A hamlet southeast of Claverack hamlet.
Martindale – A hamlet close to the east town line, at the Taconic State Parkway.
Mellenville – A hamlet in the northeast part of the town, west of Philmont. The Mellenville Railroad Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000.
Philmont – The Village of Philmont in the northeast part of the town.
Red Mills – Once, a hamlet east of Claverack hamlet; now a former mill building at a waterfall.
Red Mills and Claverack Creek
The town was formed in 1778 from the older “District of Claverack.” In 1782, the town lost some of its land to the new Town of Hillsdale. The town was reduced again in 1785 to form the City of Hudson. In 1779 Washington Seminary was founded in the town by the local Dutch Reformed pastor. Prominent former students at the school include U.S. President Martin Van Buren. In the nineteenth century the school was renamed in Claverack College, and it closed in 1902.
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,021 people in the town. In 2000, there were 6,401 people, 2,485 households, and 1,669 families. The population density was 134.3 people per square mile (51.9/km²). There were 2,839 housing units at an average density of 59.6 per square mile (23.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.95% White, 3.31% African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.78% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.47% of the population.
There were 2,485 households out of which 29.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 26.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.96.
In the town the population was spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 25.3% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 100.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $41,647, and the median income for a family was $50,175. Males had a median income of $32,896 versus $23,925 for females. The per capita income for the town was $19,848. About 3.8% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.8% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
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Economy and employment
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Shaw Bridge on Van Wyck Lane
Places of interest
Won Dharma Center on Route 23
Brookbound, 6109 Route 9H/23
Brookbound, 6109 Route 9H/23 – Following the Civil War, Americans began designing in what is called the Second French Empire style, for both residential and commercial purposes. The style is most distinguished by the mansard roofs that top these structures, named for the 17th century French architect François Mansart, who typically capped buildings with an attic story which was part roof and part residence. For those who made money in the Civil War, or in mills, it was a way to create servants’ quarters within the house. Brookbound is an exceptional example of this style of home, its many features delineated with appropriate colors of the period. Designed by architect John McClure for Harmon Miller of Claverack, it was completed in 1878, and its exterior has remained unchanged except for a front porch evident in an 1890 photograph.
Cornelius Miller House, Route 23B – Most Dutch colonial houses in the Claverack area were weatherboarded and painted, usually red, but those have entirely disappeared to fashion, fire or rot. The New Netherlands Dutch also adopted stone for building, and where stratified limestone was available—primarily on the west side of the Hudson River—most houses were built of this durable material and have survived in large numbers. By the 1760s, however, Dutch style was displaced by a hybrid influenced by a New England innovation, the gambrel roof house, built from the end of the last French and Indian war to the Revolution. The gambrel roof had a function—it allowed for a deeper house, without having to raise a pitch roof to extreme heights. The Cornelius Miller House is just such an Anglo-Dutch house, with its gambrel roof, Dutch-style understructure, panel wall and English fireplace in one room and Dutch open fireplace in another. The walls are thick, load-bearing brick, yet iron wall anchors are still used, in this case to show the date of erection, 1767.
Harder House, Maple Avenue, Philmont – The Harder House is one of the grander examples in Columbia County of the Colonial Revival style, a loose adaptation of the Palladian villas of northern Italy, which is entirely unrelated to true colonial period architecture. In fact, “Colonial” is a much overused and misused term in architecture, basically designating anything that is neither “Victorian” (equally misused) or modern.
Jacob van Rensselaer House, Route 23 and Patroon Street – Jacob Rutsen van Rensselaer’s Federal-style house of ca. 1810 appears to resemble no other, but that which is unique often reveals the most. Van Rensselaer had inherited the Lower Manor (the central third of Columbia County) in 1803, and wanted a proper manor house. Likely influenced by Henry Walter Livingston’s 1790s great villa, The Hill at Bells Pond (burned in the 1970s), Van Rensselaer commissioned the same architect, Pierre Pharoux, to do a simpler version. Pharoux was a talented émigré architect from the Terror who had worked for the Livingstons and others on various projects, including the city plan for Esperanza (now the more modest Athens). The distinguishing features of the Claverack house are a pair of connected octagonal rooms in front, creating unusual canted corners, and French windows extending to the floor. In later years the front façade was crowned by a triangular pediment and solid balustrade.
Jan van Hoesen House, Route 66 at Dutch Village – Most likely built by its owners, Jan van Hoesen and Tanneke Wittbeck (whose initials are worked into the masonry in black clinker brick headers), in the second decade of the 18th century, the van Hoesen House is one of only seven parapet gabled houses surviving in the US. The distinctive fleur-de-lis wrought iron wall anchors are designed to secure a veneer of brick to the timber structure, a distinctive Dutch building feature designed to lighten houses in the Netherlands, where homes often stood on peat bogs. The chimney is original, but the tin roof and much of the fenestration were added later. The building, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now the object of preservation efforts by the Van Hoesen House Foundation.
John Bay home, Route 23B – Attorney John Bay’s second home was built in 1785 in the Georgian style but so thoroughly upgraded about 1830–40 in the Greek Revival, that it is often assumed to be exclusively of that period. The windows were narrowed, the front portico added, a deep Greek Revival entablature inserted around the house under the eaves, windows inserted on the gable ends and front window headers painted white to match. Voila! A house transformed for eternity. Curiously, not all of the interior was upgraded..
Late Gothic house, Maple Avenue, Philmont – In the 1840s Gothic houses began to be built in Columbia County. The first were festooned with gingerbread eaves and finials on steep pitched roofs and gables. Over decades Gothic-influenced houses continued to be built, but more often, only two stories high, with less elaborate detail. Variously termed Carpenter Gothic, Late Gothic or High Gothic, depending on their features, quite a few were built and survive, such as this one in Philmont.
Milton Martin House, 538 Route 23B – Milton Martin was an early weekender, a substantial stockholder in the Haarlem River Navigation Company. In addition to his house, a large steamboat was named for him. The house is a remarkably well-preserved Italianate structure—overhanging eaves, supporting brackets and shallow roofline. The development of tighter roofing materials in the mid-19th century allowed for nearly flat roofs, which resulted in getting outside the box, so to speak. Houses could be other than squares or rectangles, by pushing rooms out in various directions. When I was last inside, nearly all the house’s features, including an ancient heating system, were original.
St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church, Churchtown
St. Thomas Evangelical Lutheran Church, Churchtown – Elegant and beautifully maintained, this 1836 structure—smack in the center of the sleepy hamlet of Churchtown—was designed in Greek Revival style, with Romanesque detailing, exhibiting the serenity of classic proportions.
Harriet Phillips Bungalow, 438 Route 23B
Harriet Phillips Bungalow, 438 Route 23B – Bungalows—small houses with broad, sloping roofs—first became popular in California. A stucco-sided frame building dating from the 1920s, and a strong example of American Craftsman Bungalow, it is possible that this house was built as a catalogue home, sold, not by Sears—as one would expect—but by the Gorden-Van Tine Company of Davenport, Iowa, which preceded Sears in offering full kits that included materials and designs. In 1997, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wide overhanging eaves, supported by occasional paired brackets, mark the line of the side-gabled roof, pierced by large dormer windows in the front and rear. The façade has a full-length porch with an arched support. Many original finishes remain, most reflecting the Arts and Crafts styles of the era, particularly the leaded glass in the window panes and the clear slash grain Douglas fir woodwork.
Shaw Bridge, Van Wyck Lane – Named for William Shaw, who owned the land on the south side of Claverack Creek, built by John D. Hutchinson of Troy, whose name is cast into segments of the top chord of the bridge, and based on the patented designs of Squire Whipple, the railroad and canal engineer often called the father of American bridge building, whose 1847 opus A Work on Bridge Building is generally acknowledged the first serious effort to analyze stress at work in bridges, the 162-foot long Shaw Bridge on Van Wyck Lane, constructed in 1870, is the oldest metal truss bridge in the county and the only known double-span Whipple bowstring truss bridge. Until 1931, the bridge supported the road between New York and Albany where it crossed the creek, but now it is overgrown and permanently closed to traffic. Despite an offer in 1990 of a $147,000 grant from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation to replace deficient members in this bridge, neither the Town of Claverack nor the County has agreed to appropriate further matching funds for restoration.
Summit Knitting Mill, Summit Street, Philmont – Built at the top of High Falls, the Summit is one of the best-preserved textile mills in the county. The earliest portion of the present structure was built in 1876 by George W. Philip, whose grandfather had dammed the creek at this point and built a fulling mill there. The three-story building, with its gabled roof and five-story brick tower (originally containing a 500,000 gallon water tank) was progressively extended, its elegant façade featuring paired, double-hung sash windows beneath ornately cut window heads. The single-story stone shop at the rear, now as ruined as a Norman castle keep, was added in 1898, but while the main body of the structure is surprisingly intact, sadly the mill also remains unoccupied.
William Ludlow House, Route 23B – William Henry Ludlow was a New York merchant who came to Claverack to escape the British occupation of the city during the Revolution. He was acquainted with progressive house styles, and in 1786 completed a pure Georgian house, but in the New England manner that might be described as Country Georgian: gambrel roof, two rooms deep on either side of the central hall, high ceilings, plaster moldings, English style fireplaces, English brick bonding (every prior brick house and many after used the Dutch bond pattern). The Ludlow House was a precursor to what became known as the Federal style of American architecture. It is in the final stages of restoration by its current owners, who are recreating its original configuration with precision and impeccable taste.
Won Dharma Center USA, Route 23 – Finally, an institutional building in Columbia County which isn’t a dumbed-down, low-cost plastic vernacular cliché (another, though far less aesthetically ambitious, is the fine new library in Hillsdale). In fact, the Won Center might just be a mini masterpiece. Designed by the Manhattan firm Hanrahan Meyers Architects, the center (currently under construction) is located within a 500-acre property on a gently sloping hill with panoramic views west to the Hudson River valley and the Catskill Mountains. The buildings for the Center, including permanent and guest residences, dining spaces, an administration building and a meditation hall, are sited as far as possible from the road, and are oriented toward the west and south to maximize views and light. The symbol of the Won movement is an open circle, suggesting both a void without absence and infinite return. The buildings are organized around these dual concepts. The 3,000-square foot meditation hall is conceived as a simple rectangular void and a lightweight frame to the natural surroundings. Its wooden structure is exposed on three sides to form entrance and viewing porches, while the interior offers views of the mountains from the meditation space itself. The only interior intervention in this extremely pure structure is a cubic volume housing public facilities, closets and mechanical spaces. The designs for all five buildings draw upon the grass-roofed buildings of a traditional Korean village, loosely clustered and organized internally around a single central void. The roof shapes of the buildings transform in section around a spiral organization, from a simple slope to a complex triangulated geometry at the entrance porches. The internal organization of each of the buildings allows silent walking meditation around the courtyard. The courtyards also act as a passive cooling system, allowing cross ventilation for the public spaces and open guest rooms. The entire complex is constructed completely of wood and is deeply shaded to the west and south to allow natural daylighting without excessive heat gain.
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Shopping and dining
Local 111 on Main Street, Philmont
OURTOWN is a quarterly community magazine serving Columbia County and slightly beyond. It has been published in Claverack since 2004.
imby.com is based in Claverack.
Ismail Merchant and James Ivory bought an 1804 mansion in Red Mills in 1976.
Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton tried cases in the local courthouse.
Mihail Chemiakin, Russian artist, lived and worked in the center of the hamlet.
Martin Van Buren was admitted to the bar in Claverack.
Margaret Sanger attended the former Claverack College (closed 1902) for two years.
Daniela Bertol, Italian-born architect, designer and artist, owns a house on Snydertown Road.
Peter Spears, actor, writer and director, and Brian Swardstrom, film actors’ agent, own the 1786 Ludlow House.
John J. Tallmadge was born here.
Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman was born here.