Town of the Week: Ancram

  |  August 5, 2013
simons general store ancram ny

Simons General Store in Ancram, via Wikipedia

It’s no exaggeration to say that the town of Ancram, located in southeastern corner of Columbia County, is rural. After all, it has but one stop light. Unlike some of the other towns in Columbia County, you mostly likely won’t be compelled to park your car and take a walk around to explore, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t possess a certain unencumbered, rough-hewn beauty that lives in the old houses around the area. The old Simons General Store is one such structure, built in the late 19th century and currently for sale (more on that later in the week). The surrounding countryside consists of the rolling hills and green pastures that we’ve come to love about Columbia County, which provide a pretty backdrop to community.

Back in the old days, Ancram was an iron mill town and eventually played an integral part in the Revolutionary War by manufacturing the cannon balls that the Continental Army used to attack the British. These days, the iron mills have long gone, but Ancram is still the location of one of the oldest continuously-operating  paper mills in the state and provides Columbia County with its biggest employer.

The town itself has few retail businesses: There are a couple of restaurants and a store here and there, but what Ancram does have is plenty of farms. It’s home to Ronnybrook Dairy Farm, which you may be familiar with if you’ve ever stepped inside a specialty grocery or farmers market anywhere in the state. If you haven’t had the pleasure of sipping Ronnybrook chocolate milk or delving into a pint of their ice cream, drop what you’re doing and go find some right now. There are also pick-your-own orchards, and you can find fresh antibiotic-free grass-fed beef and pasture raised pork, chicken, and lamb at Herondale Farm. Furthermore, there’s a town pool. Rural though it may be, the area isn’t without a dose of culture. The Ancram Opera House, once the Ancram Grange Hall, has been providing the countryside with some of the best theater around since the 1970s and continues to be wildly popular season after season. It’s also the best (and only) place to find a yoga and Pilates class for miles around.

ancram opera house

Ancram Opera House

We were surprised at the amount of stunning properties available in Ancram and its hamlets. There are a healthy handful of million dollar farms and estates, but there are some inexpensive old farmhouses as well as some very cool modern homes that tickled our fancy. Several gorgeous swaths of land are for sale, as well, some of them going for as much as two, three, and nearly four million smackers, which just goes to show you that even in a place without a walkable village center with adorable boutiques and a locavore restaurant around every corner, people who long for the country want to live there badly enough to pay millions of dollars just for the dirt, without even a single existing structure in place.

Ancram is located about a half-hour east of Hudson, an hour south of Albany, and a little less than two hours from NYC.

ancram capture


About Kandy Harris

Kandy is a writer and musician/music teacher living in Saugerties, NY.

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