Copake, New York
Local culture | Local living | Soft news
24 November 2020 11:16AM
Lauren Letellier


A pentimento, in painting, is “the presence or emergence of earlier images, forms, or strokes that have been changed and painted over.” Even the greats, like Rembrandt, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, and Titian, revised their paintings to eliminate figures, reposition compositional elements, or change backgrounds. The original elements, the pentimenti, survive in the paintings like ghosts, hidden and detectible only by modern X-rays and infrared reflectography.

Pentimenti can also be detected in buildings, notably in older structures that have been expanded when space needs demanded or building fashions changed. A good local example is the 1797 Hillsdale House, where a later expansion of the original brick building is quite visible on its eastern gable end.

But newer buildings can also have pentimento histories. Take the building at 9245 State Route 22. Even if you’ve lived in Hillsdale for 25 years, you’ve probably never thought of it as anything other than the US Post Office.

That’s what we thought, too, until the building’s air conditioners gave up the ghost this past summer. We were surprised to learn that the structure’s electrical wiring was so old it wouldn’t work with a modern AC unit and had to be replaced. (So that’s what took so long!)

Just how old is this building, we wondered? And what was it before became the Post Office? We decided to investigate…

See link to full story with photos at the top of this post.

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