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The Evolution of Country Chic



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Dawn Shapiro stretches as Kate Fleck intructs at Rhienbeck Pilates. - THOMAS SMITH
  • Thomas Smith
  • Dawn Shapiro stretches as Kate Fleck intructs at Rhienbeck Pilates.

Sleeping Arrangements

Because of Rhinebeck's increasing tourist draw there is more demand for facilities like Old Stone Farm. To meet this demand there are several new hotel projects currently under way in Rhinebeck. Jonathan Mensch hopes to develop his family's historic Grasmere Farm property on Mill Road just outside the village as a boutique hotel, spa, restaurant, and catering event space. The property encompasses about 500 acres and includes a 1600-square-foot 1700s estate house and two historic stone barns. Mensch plans to convert the estate house into a hotel and the barns into a restaurant, and build additional standalone cabins. Ultimately, the facility will be able to accommodate 110 guests. The hotel complex will take up about 40 acres, and much of the remainder of the property will be restored as farmland.

Mensch's father, Steven Mensch, first moved to Rhinebeck over 20 years ago and assembled the property piece by piece. Mensch says his father began purchasing the land to ensure the area was not subdivided into housing units. Mensch believes the current plans, which call for construction to begin next year, will honor the spirit of the land and bring more people to Rhinebeck.

"There's a lack of places to stay, not just in Rhinebeck, but in Dutchess County," he says. "Hopefully we'll be able to create something that is reflective of what is attracting people to the area now, in terms of the adaptive reuse component, the historic preservation of old property, and the open space preservation. And it will be beneficial in terms of bringing more people to the area and letting people experience Rhinebeck."

Once built, the facility will join longtime Rhinebeck attractions like the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies. Founded in 1977, the Omega Institute is a nonprofit educational retreat center located in Rhinebeck that offers a variety of educational workshops on its 190-acre campus.

Country Chic Living

Many of Rhinebeck's boutique shops cater to a high-end clientele and the options for consumers are expanding. Hundred Mile Home, a lifestyle showroom, opened its doors last July. Owned by husband and wife Kristina Albaugh and Josh Ingmire, the showroom offers a curated selection of furniture, fashion, lighting, design objects, fragrance, jewelry, and art. In addition to furniture from design manufactures like Fritz Hansen, Anna Torfs, and many other celebrated designers, the showroom features art from New York City artist Roberto Dutesco as well as the French sculptor Emmanuelle Piquart. Ingmire and Albaugh opened Hundred Mile Home in part to spend more time in Rhinebeck.

"Years ago, we bought an old farmhouse in Rhinebeck as a respite from Manhattan," explains Ingmire. "Originally intended for weekends, it quickly became much more. We completely fell in love with the charms of Rhinebeck and the Hudson Valley. Before long, we were seeking a way to become full-time residents. After 19 years together, it has been our longtime dream to be able to work side-by-side in design. So we decided to take a leap of faith and open Hundred Mile."

The town also supports a thriving arts scene. It is home to Upstate Films, a nonprofit, member-supported movie theater. The theater (which also has a location in Woodstock), shows first-run art house films, has a classic film series, and hosts independent film screenings and guest speakers.

Live-performance fans can stop by the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. The intimate theater, which is housed inside a red barn, has a busy performance schedule. February's offerings include productions of "Next to Normal" and "A Streetcar Named Desire." Cocoon Theater, right downtown, hosts theatrical and dance performances, as well as classes and workshops for all ages.

Rhinebeck is also home to a variety of talented artists and performance groups, including Solas An Lae, a professional Irish Dance Company. Formed in 2006, Solas An Lae Dance Company is directed by Deirdre Lowry and Patrick Brown. The dance company has performed at many notable dance competitions and theaters throughout the northeast.

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