Wallkill Valley Land Trust house tour allows for rare stop at Riverby

John Burroughs, photographed in front of his bark-covered study at Riverby with his son Julian and Julian’s family in the summer of 1908.

John Burroughs’ famous roughhewn cabin Slabsides is on the must-see list of many mid-Hudsonites, so we make a point of knowing which two weekends each year its door is unlocked to the general public. And even those who have not yet gotten to the site on the right date for an Open House may have had a chance to tromp the grounds and peer in the windows. But how many of us have visited Riverby, the house overlooking the Hudson in West Park that was the great naturalist’s primary residence?

Very few, I’d wager, even though Riverby is a designated National Historic Landmark. According to Wikipedia, “The home is maintained by the Burroughs Society,” but “the collection of buildings on the estate has been split among the heirs, and they discourage visiting the site.” So a rare opportunity to tour the grounds of the historic home by itself constitutes ample reason to sign up for the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (WVLT)’s Esopus-centric third annual Historic House Tour, happening on Saturday, June 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Although you won’t be able to enter the house, the visit to the Riverby estate will include a viewing of the great naturalist’s bark-covered study, a precursor to Slabsides. It’s just one stop on a grand circuit with the theme of “River to River: The Town of Esopus from the Rondout and Wallkill to the Hudson.” The self-guided house tour features a rich variety of homes highlighting the Town’s distinctive terrain. It will include early stone houses bordering the Rondout Creek and Wallkill River; glimpses of Rifton’s Civil War-era industrial past; a Quaker farmhouse on the “Old Post Road” between the Black Creek and Swartekill watersheds – the same area that sheltered Sojourner Truth as she crossed the Shaupeneak Ridge fleeing her slaveowners – and several stylish examples of 19th-century country-house architecture with majestic views of the Hudson.

Riverby is the final stop of the day, to be followed by a reception at the Global Palate restaurant in West Park. The cost of the tour and reception is $25 if paid in advance, and $30 on the day of the event; proceeds will benefit WVLT’s land preservation efforts. You can download a registration form at https://wallkillvalleylt.org/images/Documents/Advance%20Registration%20Form%20FINAL2013.pdf and mail it to the Wallkill Valley Land Trust, PO Box 208, New Paltz, NY 12561, or hand-deliver it to WVLT’s offices at 64 Huguenot Street in New Paltz before 4 p.m. on Friday, May 31.

From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the day of the tour, you’ll be able to pick up your tickets, map and program at the Dutch Reformed Church on Main Street in St. Remy, between Decker Avenue and Greenkill Road. For more information, e-mail WVLT at [email protected] or call (845) 255-2761.

Wallkill Valley Land Trust’s historic house tour of Esopus, Saturday, June 1, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., $25/$30, leaving from Dutch Reformed Church, Main Street, St. Remy; (845) 255-2761, https://wallkillvalleylt.org/index.php/events/house-tour-2013.

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