A Guide to Coxsackie, NY

  |  August 16, 2022

Reed Street Historic District. Photo by Doug Kerr

Sitting in a little crook of the river, 20 miles south of Albany, Coxsackie was originally settled in the mid-17th century and incorporated as a town in 1788. While those not from the area probably mostly know it for the eponymous virus  first isolated here, locals know it as a vibrant if quiet town, encompassing a lively waterfront village of the same name and several hamlets. The name, pronounced “cook-sock-ie,” is adapted from an Indian word; the most commonly accepted translation being “Owl’s Hoot.”

Along Route 9W, you’ll find the two correctional facilities that have long been the economic mainstay of this part of Greene County, along with a few cool features lost to the changing times in more gentrified places: a drive-in theater, a 500-acre produce farm, a couple of soft-serve ice cream stands, an antique art warehouse. But head either east, into the village or west, toward the hamlet of Climax, and you’ll find a fresh story unfolding.

Steve’s Clothes is a vintage shop in downtown Coxsackie

Coxsackie’s village mayor of 14 years, Mark Evans, spent his childhood on the waterfront splashing in the Hudson and exploring vacant 19th-century brick buildings. “Growing up, we all always thought somebody would come along and buy those places and fix them up,” he says. “For years it kept not happening.”

Now though, it’s definitely happening. Former Saveur editor Sara Miller’s genre-defying Coxsackie storefront shoehorns two disparate concepts into one 1870s firehouse, steps away from the Hudson. Up front, UnQuiet displays Miller’s aesthetic and zeal for oddities with a curated selection of furniture, art, and decor. In the back, Ravish Liquors, “a speakeasy with a Southern accent,” is a small, cozy space with dark wallpaper and a rotating menu of small Dixie-inflected bites, plus live music on the weekends.

There’s a specialty grocer, Mansion + Reed General Store; Shipwrecked News, Books & Café; and the wine and liquor store Reed Street Bottle Shop. The Yellow Deli, a beloved breakfast and lunch stop right by the water, stays open late on farmers’ market evenings each Wednesday, when people bring lawn chairs to the revamped pavilion and lawn to picnic and enjoy the live music.

Courtesy of the Town of Coxsackie

In recent years, the New York State Parks Department funded major improvements to the waterfront park, and the state’s Main Street program awarded the Coxsackie Reed Street Historic District $347,000 for protection and preservation of its numerous classic facades. Thanks to a $3.2 million grant, improvements were designed to increase river access and include a state boat and kayak launch, expanded docks, and even a boat washing station, plus a playground, basketball court, bathrooms, and EV charging station.

Evans is thrilled to be refreshing the riverfront. But one of his favorite projects will always be the big new playground up the street at McQuade Park, planned Coxsackie style. “Before the pandemic, I took catalogs to the second grade classes and asked the kids for input,” he says. Civic engagement was strong in the youth population. “Two weeks later, I had a letter from every student, and we got them the top seven or eight items on the wish list.”

A new playground for the grownups, the James R. Newbury Hotel and the adjacent event center The Wire, made waves in the local community before finally opening to the public. The boutique hotel, with its concierge desk and bellhops, offers a high-end, luxury experience with riverfront guest rooms and, soon, a spa.

The Yellow Deli in Coxsackie, NY

As part of his $15 million project, developer Aaron Flach also refurbished the beloved Patrick Henry’s Tavern, which reopened in April 2023 to long lines of excited diners. Rehab work included preserving and restoring the tin walls and ceilings and the original bar of the early 20th-century building. Under Capitol Region restaurateur Dominick Purnomo, the eatery serves pub fare and wood-fired pizza. In addition to indoor seating, the outdoor patio seats close to 50 along with a second-floor deck overlooking the Hudson.

Flach’s new event center isn’t the only space catering to weddings and events. Three miles inland in West Coxsackie, Kerri Corrigan’s Owls Hoot Barn opened in 2014 after a painstaking two-year renovation. A wedding planner in Hudson for 15 years, she fell in love with a wildly overgrown 10-acre property that had been farmed for generations by the Broncks, Coxsackie’s original settlers. (The Bronck House, believed to be the second-oldest home in Upstate New York, was built in 1663 and is maintained as a lively museum by the Greene County Historical Society.) Now, along with Gather Green and Windrift Hall, Owl’s Hoot is a showplace helping drive the area’s new hospitality economy.

Reed Street Bottle Shop co-owners Susan Baldaserini and Shai Kessler.

“We have multiple Airbnbs and cabins that offer sustainable, friendly lodging and bring quite a few dollars into town,” Corrigan says. “I get a lot of people from afar, Europeans and Californians, often with some kind of Hudson Valley roots that draw them back, and the area still has that old-world, old-school feel. Then you find things you wouldn’t expect— did you know Coxsackie has a giant antique barn with 60 or 70 vendors? It’s a picker’s dream; normal people can still afford treasures.”

Corrigan hopes that Coxsackie can keep its balance, the “old Coxackie”  collaborating with newer residents on projects that restore and renew more than they gentrify. “People are jazzed, excited, and hopeful, and there’s definitely investment happening, yet it seems intelligent. Measured,” she says. “People care greatly about this place. I had some strange, out-of-town investors contact me during the pandemic boom, and I said ‘no thanks’ and kept my head down. I’m home.”

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