Tucked alongside the Rondout Creek, the tiny hamlet of Rosendale still makes a sizable mark on Ulster County. Known historically for its production of natural cement, Rosendale’s visual character comes in part from the remnants of its industrial glory days. The Delaware and Hudson Canal’s barges ferried anthracite coal from the mines of Northeastern Pennsylvania on its way to New York City through the town in the 19th century. The defunct Wallkill Valley Railroad trestle (now a breathtaking pedestrian walkway) arches far above Main Street. Below, old cement kilns and a silo can be spotted. In the southwestern corner of town, there are caves where ice persists year round. Musicians and poets often draw large crowds for events at the Widow Jane Mine on the Snyder Estate.
Thirty years ago, locals threw the first Rosendale Street Festival. It has since become an (almost) annual summertime event. In 2009, dozens of bands and scores of vendors will fill Main Street on July 18 and 19. Volunteer-run and free to the public, this colorful grassroots celebration has drawn up to 25,000 people in previous years. Any earnings are funneled back into the community through the support of local nonprofit organizations.
Downtown stores flood with customers during the street festival. Visitors enjoy melt-in-your-mouth lemon Bundt cakes at the Alternative Baker, where everything is made from scratch by the talented Essell Hoenshell-Watson, who will tell many a story to happy customers while they float in clouds of sweet scent. Across the street, Yuval and Lisa Sterer welcome people to the Big Cheese. Shoppers may choose from a varied assortment of cheeses, Mediterranean deli items, gourmet ice cream, and unique clothing the couple hand-selects in Israel. A few doors down, a full vegetarian meal may be appreciated at the comfortable Rosendale Café. The food is solid, healthy, and satisfying; work by local artists graces the walls; and its intimate performance space has hosted the world’s best musicians for over 15 years. There’s also live music at the Bywater Bistro on the weekends. With outdoor-deck seating along the Rondout Creek, it’s a pleasing choice for dinner and drinks on a hot summer night.
The café and bistro are common places to stop before heading to the Rosendale Movie Theater. A converted firehouse, the building was bought by the Cacchio family in 1949, who run the business to this day. Having just commemorated its 60th year of operation, the theater is a Hudson Valley favorite for its gilded, old-school charm. Moviegoers can admire old Cacchio family photos in the lobby and purchase candy from antique vending machines before taking in an independent or commercial film on the single silver screen.
Alongside this Rosendale relic, Canaltown Alley Arts and Learning Center is something new. Located behind the Big Cheese, the center offers yoga, reiki, and massage, as well as classes in voice, music, and theater. Also an intimate performance space, Canaltown Alley is committed to building community and creative networking, and to advancing economic growth through the arts.
Resident Ron Parenti and friends had a like purpose in mind when they founded the Rosendale Arts Squad this past spring. “We got together and had a similar vision,” Parenti says, “of building an environmentally conscious, art-friendly business environment in Rosendale.” The group is currently accepting applications from artists and craftspeople who are interested in selling their wares in the Belltower on Main Street. Every weekend throughout the summer, visitors may check out what treasures are up for sale in the majestic, old church.
Another Rosendale home for the visual arts is the Women’s Studio Workshop, a 35-year-old cultural powerhouse located a short distance from Main Street up Binnewater Road. The workshop features printmaking, hand papermaking, ceramics, letterpress printing, photography, and book arts studios. Fellowships, grants, residencies, internships, and workshops are made available to women artists, and exhibitions this summer showcase the works of Amanda Thackray and Kristen Von Hohen.
The healing arts are made available in the hamlet through the work of Kate Finley’s Rosendale Acupuncture, which is housed in a bright, welcoming space. Having received her masters degree from the Pacific College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Finley has a gentle, knowledgeable touch. And if one wishes to go inward for spiritual healing, the Blue Sky Lodge holds twice-weekly open meditation sessions. In a woodland setting away from town, the lodge offers retreat programs, Buddhist studies, Shambhala training, arts workshops, and group rentals. It is a wonderful respite from the stressors of urban life, and draws many from New York into Rosendale’s funky, comfortable, mountain-rimmed lap.
“Rosendale is a diverse place with a real little-town feel to it,” says Mark Morganstern, who co-owns the Rosendale Café with his wife, Susan Dorsey. Like the café’s wildly popular Japanese salad dressing, the small town of Rosendale is packed with zip.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Alternative Baker www.lemoncakes.com
Bywater Bistro www.bywaterbistro.com
Canaltown Alley www.canaltownalleyarts.com
Favata’s Table Rock Tours www.trtbicycles.org
Rosendale Acupuncture www.rosendaleacupuncture.com
Rosendale Arts Squad www.rosendaleartssquad.com
Rosendale Cafe www.rosendalecafe.com
Rosendale Chamber of Commerce www.rosendalechamber.com
Rosendale Street Festival www.rosendalestreetfestival.com
Town of Rosendale www.townofrosendale.com
Victoria Gardens www.victoriagardens.biz
Women’s Studio Workshop www.wsworkshop.org
- Roy Gumpel
- Market Market on Rt. 32 is a community hub in Rosendale.
- Roy Gumpel
- Inside Favataâ€™s Table Rock tours.