The SpaceAmazing Zen Retreat Home in the Mountains near Woodstock NY
"Be still like the rock in the stream, let everything flow around and past you" and that is how you will feel in this house.
In a fertile, protected river valley only 2 hrs from NY this home is in the shadow of some of the higher peaks in NY. Surrounded by mountains whose rock built cities and on a stream which feeds the NYC water supply you will feel and surrender to the power of nature and the abundance of wildlife. There is nothing to do here as nature is taking care of everything. Guests have all told me of the wonderful restorative power of the area so prepare to get very little work from the civilized world done here.
There are 2 nice sized bedrooms each with a Queen Bed with a sleeping Loft and comfy couch which Sleeps 6-7 and bathroom, kitchen dining room living room. There is a fireplace but it is not working at this time. Please note that the mountain well water has a naturally occuring sulphur odor, the water safe to drink but the water pressure is a bit Appalachian. All amenities including internet, cell phone, d/w, ac, downstairs there is an exercise room and 1/2 bath and laundry and garage. There is an above ground pool off the deck in the back.
I am a Yoga Instructor/Author and my dog Bogey is a pet Therapy dog so the house has some good chill energy. The park like property is divided by a quiet country lane with the loveliest cottages and nature to admire if you care for a quiet stroll down the block you can get the heart rate going as you ascend a 400 foot elevation gain up the base of Mt Tremper and probably see one of our resident bears along the way.
The 1.5 Acre property is divided up with 1/2 around the house are well manicured and park like, private, and with a view of the mountains and the streambed. On the other side of the road is the remaing 3/4 acre which I call Yoga Beach, Zen Beach, Zen Falls and Sycamore Island. Yoga Beach is some chairs I arranged on the side of the streambed. This area gets a shaded sun and is great for Yoga or meditation. Take a few steps down to the stream bed and follow the path of rocks out to Zen Beach. Lawn chairs are provided for your use. You can swim is the stream but please honor the fact that the stream is part of the NYC watershed and follow all rules regarding fishing licensing. Cross over onto Sycamore Island and lovely island created by the Beaverkill separating and rejoining.
You can't go anywhere on the property without hearing the rush of water that is draining from the pristine and protected mountains that feeds the NYC watershed. You also have wonderful water-views in LR and MBR. This home also borders the Zen Mountain Monastery.
The property sits within the southern bowl of Tremper Mountain, near the juncture of two of upstate New York's finest waterways, the Beaverkill and Esopus rivers. According to the ancient Chinese art of geomancy, this specific site—at the confluence of two rivers, with a mountain to the north—is an auspicious place for spiritual practice and renewal. A Baesan-imsu site is defined as "A lower altitude location backed by an auspicious mountain to the north and facing a river/stream running laterally across its southern border. This is an ideal location for habitation, where life will be prosperous and hereos, great scholars, religious, political leaders and defenders of the nation can be easily raised and educated".
In the summer there is swimming and tubing, in fall we are treated to beautiful colors, the winter offers skiing in nearby Bellyare and Hunter (20min). Spring rewards us with brilliant blossoms. Summer with a connection to the water
NYS Thruway to exit 19 to 28 West Pine Hill. Stay on 28 for about 20 miles you’ll see a sign for Mt Tremper Rte 212 and Zen Mtn Monastery after a farm stand. Make right ½ mile Left onto Plank Rd (Follow sign to Zen Mtn) Go over the bridge, make the first right onto Miller. Address is 25 Miller Rd Mt Tremper, NY 12457. (2 hrs 15 min from UWS)
The Adirondack Trailways bus goes from NYC's Port Authority right to Mount Tremper (an unlisted stop between Woodstock and Phoenicia). (URL HIDDEN)
Ask the bus driver to drop you off in Mount Tremper (sometimes its called the "4 Corners" stop).
This will leave you right at a small bridge over a river. Beyond the bridge you will see a sign for Zen Mountain Monastery. Go down the road towards the monastery make the first right over the bridge the house is the second house on the left #25.
Pics: See attached of house, stream, backyard, inside and hood
Budget Travel Mag Sept 2011 Issue:
About 20 minutes from Woodstock, Phoenicia and the adjacent hamlet of Mt. Tremper are whimsical and movie-set quaint, with a sense of time suspended. It’s impossible to walk or drive anywhere here without hitting stunning Esopus Creek and mountain views. It’s rugged all right, with the scent of campfires in the air, the romantic whistles of real trains, coyotes howling at night, and if you forget to lock your door, you might come back from a walk to see a black bear grazing through your fridge. You can also find cappuccinos and cool vintage clothing stores, and one of the area’s hottest art scenes plus more year-round sports than you can shake a ski pole at, from tubing down the Esopus to fishing, hiking, biking, and motorcycling.
The tight community has a global conscience; the innate charms of the area, along with the social networking of the proud residents—reaching out to friends around the world—is how Phoenicia—(technically a hamlet of Shandaken)—with only 400 full-time residents, was able to merit sixth place out of potentially thousands, in Budget Travel magazine’s online poll of “America’s Coolest Small Towns.” Phoenicia will be among the top 10 towns featured in the mag’s September issue.
Where to Shop
Main Street, Phoenicia is the place!
For such a diverse range of items, you feel an instant sense of harmony and integration at Tender Land Home. There’s an effortless quality to owner Dave Pillard’s Zen-meets-rustic sense of presentation, and each item beckons with its own tactile siren call—from delicate hand-crafted and locally inspired ceramic pieces, to regional picture books, summer silk scarves, and wry, just-shy-of-whimsical items.
You’ll find one-of-a-kind vintage items and fine tailoring and upholstery at Threads of Time and flip your pageboy at the vintage intensity of the Mystery Shop, the baby of rock `n’ roll photographer and illustrator Laura Levine. She also hosts beautiful little free porch concerts throughout the summer, featuring artists like Tommy Ramone and Ambrosia Parsley
Reading matters! Find good vacay reads at the Nest Egg, an old-fashioned country store where you can buy moccasins and cedarwood chests, slingshots, and penny candy. (“Try the walnut-chocolate handmade fudge, girls, and you’ll never need a boyfriend again,” one customer recently commented.) This place smells like your childhood should have.
For serious schmoozers, pull up a vintage comic or barely used book and gab as long as you like at the Bohemian-flavored 60 Main Street, which offers books and silk scarves, and clothing designed by the owner, as well as jewelry and togs by hot local designers. (The locally designed Karina dresses are affordable, make every body type look chic, and are totally versatile: Michelle Obama owns two.)
Three charmingly frozen-in-time spots are the Phoenicia Pharmacy (’40s-era music, sun-faded cards and old-timey items); Morne’s Imports (every bit of gear you need for your sports addiction, hunting, fishing, and camping, as well as plumbing, Sunday papers, and bus tickets), and Debra-Jo’s Unisex hairstyling—and the Ice Cream Station, my favorite soft ice cream in the universe.
What to Eat
Try the eggplant parm at Tiso’s in Mt. Tremper, with Sinatra playing and homemade good Italian food. Expect sophisticated dinners and a great bar at Ricciardella’s on Main Street in Phoenicia. There’s a nice grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and a relaxed atmosphere waiting for you at Russ’ Country Kitchen at Phoenicia Plaza on Route 28.
Brio’s Pizzeria and Restaurant and the adjacent Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina Tex-Mex Bar & Grill both have outdoor seating and are two of the big draws (besides the gorgeous and curvy mountain rides) to hordes of weekend bikers. Mama’s Boy Café & Espresso Bar is the new kid on the block and is superrelaxed and invitingly urbane without trying. Mama’s Boy offers Wi-Fi, an outdoor deck, cappuccinos, baked goods, ice cream, and a selection of fare for breakfast, light lunch or dinner.
I recommend the scrambled tofu with Spinach at Sunfrost in Woodstock. Sunfrost has a great breakfast lunch and is very resonably priced. For dinner try the Miso Salmon at Yum Yum's a great evening restaurant with outdoor seating and great food and great prices.
Zen Mountain Monastery founded by John Daido Loori, Roshi, and is one of the most respected Zen monasteries in the West. They provide lay practice, as well as environmental studies, full-time residencies, and retreats in intensive Zen training to Aikido, Zen visual arts, and healing workshops. Sunday morning sessions are open to everyone.
Operated by Tibet House, and visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Menla Mountain Retreat, a center for health and happiness, with the Mahasuka spa, is situated in Woodland Valley, on one of Phoencia’s prettiest roads. It offers a number of uplifting programs and workshops, as well as miles of hiking and swimming. Richard Freeman, Robert Thurman, and John Campbell will present “Buddha & the Yogis” June 6-12.
In Woodstock there is the Tibetan Temple across from the Overlook Mountain trail. You can take the vigorous hike up the 3700 foot mountain for views of the Hudson valley, river and Berkshires and when you come down from the mountain you can visit the KTD Monastery and meditate and rest your tired muscles. There was a recent article in the Times on how China is supporting the leadership of this temple in naming the next Dalai Lama.
Entertainment & the Arts
Events you want to plan around include The Shandaken Art Studio Tour, featuring more than 40 studios, gala openings, and special exhibitions in and around Phoenicia (July 16-17); The annual Rotary Rubber Duck Race (usually in August); and the Festival of the Voice, with everything from opera in the park to gospel and world music. The festival opens the evening of Friday, August 13, running through Sunday the 15th. This year’s main attraction is Elizabeth Futral, one of the world’s leading lyric, coloratura sopranos.
You can watch real movies—like Nosferatu, or Woody Allen faves—and live plays and musicals (“Into the Woods” is now in production for a June run) at the town’s charming theater, the Shandaken Theatrical Society, housed in a building that is seriously circa 1887.
Mount Tremper Arts offers artist residencies and top-quality solo and ensemble dance and music performances, as well as visual art exhibitions. Their summer arts festival runs July 9 through August 21, featuring performances by Tere O’Connor, Melinda Ring, Brian Rogers, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and Young Jean Lee, as well as visual artists.
The pioneers in the ever-evolving Phoenicia/Mt. Tremper arts scene were members of an artists’ cooperative who launched Arts Upstairs. Their monthly shows pack six rooms with local art and the art openings are big local social events, often coinciding with other openings around town, for an art block party atmosphere.
Every aspect of Wendy Drolma’s masks—featured in her studio/store on the boardwalk—are elegantly and wickedly handcrafted. If you’re going to a Venetian ball or just want something dark and gorgeous to commemorate your Phoenicia experience—no one leaves this place without being transformed—make it a stop.
If you want to go skin-deep, hit Skinflower Cosmic Arts, with resident tattoo artist Sunday Dawne-Marie. A delicate raven and a girl with feet of tree roots, a vivid samurai fighting lurid deities—these are just some of Dawne-Marie’s original designs that make her place pop.
Ride with the rushing tide when you get geared up for a tubing adventure, guaranteed to cool you off even in an epic heat wave. There are several places in town; Town Tinker Tube Rental offers a kayaking package and group discounts on the whole exhilarating tubing experience, outfitting you up in everything from wetsuits to tubes. If you’d rather hop a train, check out Phoenicia’s rich history at the Empire State Railway Museum and get on board for a leisurely ride through the Catskills.
For films try the Upstate Films in Woodstock and good concerts at the Bearsville Theatre. Great Chinese restaurant is also located at the Bearsville Theatre.
Nature & Hikes
Poke around for your favorite fishing hole (we won’t tell) and for hikers, there’s a big hike (Mt. Tremper Trailhead on Old Plank Road) and a satisying 20-minute hike tucked behind the post office at the far end of the park off Ave Maria, which will reward you with breathtaking views without leaving you breathless. This is called the Tanbark Trail and the elevation gain is only 500 ft so most can do this one. Overlook trail in Woodstock is more demanding at 1300 elevation gain this 3 hr r/t hike awards you with spectacular views of the Hudson Valley and a chance to visit KTD Monastery across the street. Bring plenty of water.
If you’re staying a bit and love animals, perhaps you can spend some time feeding a baby squirrel or wild bird, rescued by the efforts of one lovely woman on a quiet street, animal rehabber Joanne Rowley. Call to contribute, as she has anywhere from five to 40 critters surviving on donations and her 24/7 loving attention. ((PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN). Also the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary is 5 min away in Willow, Take 212 toward Woodstock.
Across the street, Hanover Farms on Route 28, open 24/7, is possibly the only place in the Hudson Valley where you can satisfy a 3 am craving for anything from local smoked trout to baked goodies and tons of fresh produce. 3/4 mi from House.
Woodstock (15 min away):
"The goal of the colony, inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, was to become self-sufficient by creating beautiful and useful objects which could be sold to support the community."
The Byrdcliffe Colony, also called the Byrdliffe Arts Colony or Byrdcliffe Historic District, was founded by Jane and Ralph Whitehead and colleagues, Bolton Brown (artist) and Hervey White (writer). The Arts and Crafts Movement arose in the late nineteenth century in reaction to the dehumanizing monotony and standardization of industrial production. It was created as an experiment in utopian living inspired by the arts and crafts movement. It remains focused on the development of artistic vision.
"Beneath the gentle slopes of Overlook Mountain lies the town of Woodstock, a thriving community of painters, musicians and craftsmen. The town's early history of wintry hardships, courageous settlers and rebellious farmers sets the stage for a saga of spirited and creative personalities. As this energetic individualism carried over into the twentieth century, the sounds of cow horns and tin pails gave way to the bacchanalian revelry of Maverick music festivals and the wailing guitar of Bob Dylan. The first hippie came to town in 1963, and within a few years this Colony of the Arts was swept up by the counterculture movement of the 60s." In this collection of essays from the Historical Society of Woodstock archives, Richard Heppner captures the unique spirit of Woodstock, where the individual is always welcome and new and creative beginnings are always possible.
(URL HIDDEN) (Empire State Railroad Museum)
(URL HIDDEN) (Zen Mountain Monastery)
Zen Mountain Monastery (Next Door)
Zen Mountain Monastery's main building is a striking and stately four-story structure constructed with bluestone and white oak from Tremper Mountain. With its large timber woodwork, exquisite stone masonry, and hand wrought metal artistry, it stands as a singular and beautiful example of Scandinavian Arts and Crafts Architecture. It was designated as a state and federal historical landmark in 1994.
Presently, the main building houses a 150-person meditation hall, retreat spaces, rooms for residents and guests, a dining hall, offices, library, and media center.
Elsewhere on the property, there is a traditional Japanese tea house, a cemetery, vegetable and flower gardens, and a number of cabins, A-frames.
Wikipedia: Mt Tremper
Among the cultural attractions in the area is Mount Tremper Arts, a non-profit organization that supports contemporary artists in the creation and presentation of new works of art. Founded by photographer Mathew Pokoik and choreographer Aynsley Vandenbroucke, MTA features performances, exhibitions, artist residencies, educational programming, and informal gatherings.
Mount Tremper is also the site of Zen Mountain Monastery, the main house of the Mountains and Rivers order of Zen Buddhism, founded by John Daido Loori, Roshi.
Among the businesses located in or near Mount Tremper is Kate's Lazy Meadow, a motel owned by Kate Pierson, one of the founding members of The B-52s.
Another prominent and famous attraction is the “Kaatskill Kaleidoscope”, the world’s largest kaleidoscope, measuring 60 feet (18m) tall. It is mounted inside a converted grain silo
Mount Tremper, officially known as Tremper Mountain and originally called Timothyberg, is one of the Catskill Mountains in the U.S. state of New York. It is located near the hamlet of Phoenicia, in the valley of Esopus Creek.
At 2,740 feet (840 m) in elevation, it is well below the higher peaks of the region. Its slopes were a source of two major local products during the 19th century: hemlock bark, a source of tannin, and bluestone used in construction. Later it was the site of Tremper House, one of the Catskills' earliest railroad resorts. Henry Ward Beecher and Oscar Wilde were among the guests there.
In the 20th century it was acquired by the state and became part of the Catskill Park Forest Preserve. Its location in the Esopus Valley between the northern and southern Catskills made it an ideal place for a fire lookout tower, which still stands on the mountain's summit. The Mount Tremper Fire Observation Station has been restored and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hikers often follow the old road to it from Phoenicia, also a section of the Long Path long-distance trail, to enjoy the views from the tower.
Tremper is a sprawling mountain at the south end of a range of low-elevation peaks between Warners Creek and Silver Hollow on the north, Stony Clove Creek on the west, Esopus Creek on the southwest and the Beaver Kill on the southeast. The latter three are closely paralleled by state highways 214, 28 and 212. Its summit dominates the view from westbound Route 28 at the small hamlet of Mount Tremper.
The mountain's lower slopes are gentle, becoming steep around 2,200 feet (670 m) and then leveling off again at the summit ridge. Unnamed tributaries of the surrounding creeks run down narrow valleys on the mountain's slopes. The summit ridge continues northeast to an unnamed summit and then Carl Mountain, both higher than Tremper at 2,820 feet (860 m) and 2,880 feet (880 m) respectively.
Map of Mount Tremper showing trails in their blaze colors and other facilities on mountain
Most of the mountain is within the Town of Shandaken, whose largest population center, the hamlet of Phoenicia, is at the southwest foot of the mountain. Another smaller settlement named after the mountain is to its south. A small portion of the mountain's lowest eastern slopes is within Woodstock. Most of the land on the mountain is part of the Phoenicia Wild Forest management unit of New York's Forest Preserve, part of the Catskill Park. The rest, including most of the slower slopes, is privately owned. The public land is managed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Like the Catskills as a whole, a dissected plateau, Tremper was formed not through the upthrust of rock layers but by the gradual erosion of stream valleys in an uplifted region about 350 mya. Its rock layers and bedrock are primarily Devonian and Silurian shale and sandstone. Bluestone is present in enough quantity that a quarry was once located on the south side of the mountain at an elevation of 1,495 feet (456 m). Its remains are still visible today from the old road to the fire tower, which passes it.
Flora and fauna
Because of its low elevation, the forests on Mount Tremper are dominated by a forest type referred to in the Catskills as southern hardwoods. This is dominated by oak, hickory and pine species, with some basswood and poplar scattered in lower elevations. Chestnut were once common as well, but most died off in the blight of the early 20th century. Some Eastern hemlocks, once more widespread before they were harvested for their tannin-rich bark, remain, primarily higher on the mountain where the barkpeelers never reached. The summit ridge has some areas of the northern hardwood forest (beech, birch and maple) more common on higher Catskill slopes. The more shade-tolerant northern hardwoods are slowly invading the southern hardwoods as an understory; due to the cessation of human intervention in the forest they will eventually displace the southern hardwoods.
Tremper has a typical assortment of animal life for the Catskills. Herbivores such as white-tailed deer, chipmunks and porcupines dominate the lower end of the food chain, with predators like fishers and black bear at the top. The ledges in the former quarry are one of the few rattlesnake habitats in the Catskills close to a hiking trail, with at least one confirmed den, and visitors should exercise caution if they wish to explore it.
Tremper's human history has two stages. For the century after the area's first settlement it was primarily an economic resource, sustaining several industries. Since the end of that period it has become a recreational resource.
(PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN): Barkpeeling, quarrying and hotels
The mountain was first known as Timothyberg, in the vernacular of the early Dutch settlers of the Catskills. The area was first settled in the 1780s. Its location near the creeks and valleys made it ideal for barkpeeling, the first major industry of the Catskills. Bark from the many Eastern hemlocks on its slopes was a rich source of tannin, and leather hides were often brought to the region to be tanned. The creek valley made it possible to easily transport them to and from the Hudson River at Kingston to the east, and the later development of the Ulster and Delaware Railroad (UDRR) made it even easier. The road up the south side of the mountain, which forest historian Michael Kudish calls the best example of an extant bark road in the Catskills, was built for this purpose. By the end of the century, since a synthetic process for creating tannin had made it less necessary to harvest large acres of forest, it was being used for quarrying instead.
The railroad made another industry possible at that time. In 1879, after hotelier Jacob Tremper opened the Tremper House, a resort on its slopes near Phoenicia, that part of the mountain became known by his name, He invited a number of prominent clergymen of the time to its dedication. Henry Ward Beecher, the main speaker, asked for God's blessing on the location and predicted a prosperous future. Another celebrity guest, Oscar Wilde, shocked the region during a lecture at the Tremper House in 1882 when he proclaimed its location at the foot of the mountain aesthetically preferable to those of hotels such as the Catskill Mountain House located on mountaintops since in valleys, "there the picturesque and beautiful is ever before you".
It remained in business until 1904, when the town, under pressure from UDRR magnate Samuel Coykendall, who owned several competing resorts, rescinded permission for it to become a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. Coykendall, and other hoteliers in the region, alleged that tourists would avoid the region if those patients were present anywhere within it. The vacant hotel buned down four years later, in 1908, and was never rebuilt.
A decade earlier, the legislation that created the state's Forest Preserve, with its "forever wild" clause, had been added to the state constitution. The state acquired Tremper's summit and some of the other land on its eastern slope in 1901, and established a plantation there for reforestation. A mix of eastern white pine, Norway spruce and Scots pine were planted. Unusually for the Catskills, the underlying land was not former pasture but forest that had been cut and burned repeatedly by barkpeelers. It did not establish itself although the land eventually reforested on its own.
1900–present: Hiking destination
The former fire tower
The Timothyberg side of the mountain was regularly burned over by blueberry pickers every year through 1916, the year the state built the 47-foot (14 m) fire lookout tower on the mountain and extended the old board road to make it accessible for observers coming by vehicle. It replaced another tower that had briefly stood on Slide Mountain, the Catskills' highest peak, a few years earlier. Tremper was chosen since it offered views of the lowlands that could not be seen so easily from the fire towers on Hunter and Belleayre mountain
Bruce's Essay Channeling Emerson on Overlook Mtn:
In the woods, we commune with our higher creative self. Within these forests of nature, I feel connected and in unity with the universe.
Negotiating the rocks with conscious footwork, I begin my ascent. Not thinking of the end of the journey I am enjoying each moment of this dance. As I ascend I breathe deeply, my lungs are bathed by the purified air focusing on the journey. I am present with each step connecting to the earth. My thoughts start to quiet as I am uplifted into the infinite, all egotism vanishes. I am not separate but connected and the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me and I realize I am a co-creator of this magnificent creation.
In the wilderness, I find I am the lover of unbounded and eternal beauty of nature. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the Hudson River illuminated in the Hudson Valley as the late afternoon sun shines on the water’s surface, I see my own nature.
I see my thoughts drift bye like the clouds that skirt the mountaintops. I let go of the ego mind that replays past drama, obsesses about failings, plans future conquests and I am at once present and all my senses are magnified. As my mind quiets all I can hear is the rustle of the leaves as I step on the ground, the breath as it flows into my nostrils and out again and the beating of my heart.
I reach out a touch a tree, I hug my dog Bogey and look out at the picture perfect view and all is well with the world. I am grateful for the awareness that created this natural setting and I remember that I am a co-creator.
Bruce Van Horn
Thoreau from Walden:
Sometimes in a summer morning I sat in my doorway from sunrise to noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines, hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness while the birds sang around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling on my west window or the noise of some traveller's wagon on a distant highway I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and forsaking of works. My days were not days of the week bearing a stamp, nor were they minced into hours fretted by the ticking of a clock. I lived like the Puri Indians who only have one word for yesterday, today and tommorow, the eternal present.
"DRINKING THE MOUNTAIN STREAM" Sogs from Tibet's Beloved Saint Milarepa
May you have the future of the Dharma Body when you transcend
Buddha speech in your speech
Buddha Mind in your mind
May you have the fortune of 3 bodies unified spontaneously, body speech mind
Sing auspicious songs of experience
In this auspicious mountain retreat
Consider, auspicious, fortune
Auspiciously assembled here
And a multitude of the forunate
Worshipping them with auspicious song
Oscar Wilde once stayed in the Phoenicia/Mt Tremper area.
It was the summer of 1883, when Oscar Wilde came here. The celebrated 27-year-old poet and playwright was on his second trip to America, and second trip to the Catskills. The year before, the Dublin-born, London-based, spokesman for the Aesthete Movement had delivered a lecture on the Decorative Arts at the Hotel Katterskill, up on the Pine Orchard, above Haines Falls.
“Life had to be
lived intensely, with an ideal of beauty,” was the core ideal of Aestheticism, an artistic and literary movement, mostly of the young, that valued beauty of form and manner – “art for art’s sake” – and rejected any idea of social, political, or moral utility for art and literature.
The aesthetes were the rebellious young of their day. Intense commitment to beauty was expressed, yes, in finely-crafted poems, insightful plays, and witty lyrics, but also in luxurious clothes, sensuous interior design, and beautiful dishes. “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china,” Oscar Wilde was frequently quoted as saying.
Wilde, early, became a major celebrity throughout the English-speaking world, celebrated for his caustic wit, charming manner, witty conversation, and utter disregard of the norms of a Victorian gentleman.
His stay at the Tremper House was a coup for Hudson River steamboat owner and hotelier Jacob Tremper, who had opened the Tremper House five years earlier. The building of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad opened up the Esopus Valley to the resort business, a business that had once been exclusive to the Pine Orchard, the Mountaintop above Haines Falls, where the Catskill Mountain House was newly challenged by the Hotel Katterskill, built around the same time as Phoenicia’s Tremper House.
The Tremper House was a gamble because it was situated at the base of the mountain rather than on its summit. This was a break with mountain-resort tradition, a tradition, then, only 60 years in the making. Ripe time to try something new, Jacob Tremper must have figured. See, the cool thing about Catskill Mountain resort history is that it all goes back to one place: the Catskill Mountain House.
The Catskill Mountain House was built in 1824 on the precipice of the Catskill escarpment, on a cliff 2,000 feet about Palenville, overlooking the Hudson Valley. Renovations in the 1840s added a long open portico, facing the view, framed by 13 two-story Corinthian columns, open to the valley below. The Mountain House defined the mountain resort: high elevation, big view, long porch, elegant architectural details.
So when George Harding built the 600-room Hotel Kaaterskill to compete with the Catskill Mountain House, he followed that formula, putting his hotel up on the top of South Mountain. The story went around that Mr. Harding built his challenge to the Mountain House over a dispute in the dining room.
George Harding was a wealthy Philadelphia patent attorney fortunate enough to have represented Samuel F. B. Morse in securing the patent for the telegraph. (Wonder if he got a share of the profits?) The Harding family vacationed yearly at the Catskill Mountain House, so Mr. Harding thought reasonable his daughter’s request for fried chicken rather than the prime rib the dining room featured. “If you don’t like what we offer, why don’t you build your own hotel?” the owner of the Mountain House supposedly told him. So, Harding did.
I think the coming of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad had more to do with George Harding’s investment in hotel building, than did the “Fried Chicken War” of local legend. The U & D built a branch through Stony Clove, connecting the main line at Phoenicia through Chichester and Tannersville to the Pine Orchard. The railroad would deliver vacationers to the Hotel Katterskill through the back door. The hotel’s long veranda, however, would still face the view.
Getting Oscar Wilde to the Hotel Katterskill in 1882 was a big deal. A hotel is only as stylish and fashionable as is its clientele. Oscar Wilde’s lecture would draw a younger, hipper crowd, lend the place an air of refinement, give the new hotel a shot of the current, make it modern. At least that’s what George Harding hoped.
Jacob Tremper was looking for the same thing when the fabulous Oscar Wilde visited his Phoenicia hotel those late-summer days of 1883. It was the height of the season, and the celebrated Anglo-Irish writer’s mere presence at the Tremper House meant fashion, style, and taste had come to the new resort along the railroad, so much easier to reach than the Pine Orchard, with an elegant veranda and a gentle walk to the village.
By all reports, Oscar Wilde enjoyed his time in Phoenicia. After a couple of days, he took the train through Stoney Clove to the Catskill Mountain House. There, a young, stage-struck couple, teen-aged children of Mountain House regulars, suggested an amateur theatrical, a light musical they would write, a pair of 16-year-olds, if Mr. Wilde would help. Help he did, turning the Mountain House summer theatrical of 1883 into a “sparkling” entertainment – a gilded age Glee - remembered for decades. Guest AccessThe Pool Will Be Closed From Oct 1- Apr 30
Fireplace needs a repair please do not use smoke backs up into house