Town of the Week: Austerlitz

  |  February 4, 2013

Steepletop, Main House, Austerlitz

When poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was 33 years old, she and her husband, Eugen Jan Boissevain, purchased a 635-acre property in eastern Columbia County in the rural community of Austerlitz. The property, called Steepletop, was  once a working blueberry farm, but to Millay, it was her permanent retreat away from the distractions of New York City, a place where she could tend her garden and work in her private writing cabin. Steepletop was where Millay penned some of her finest work, and after her death in 1950, her sister, Norma, turned Millay’s beloved haven into the home of the Millay Colony of the Arts until 1986. The Edna St. Vincent Millay Society is now Steepletop’s stewards, and the house and grounds are open to the public.

We can see why Millay might have done her most important work here at Steepletop. Austerlitz is bucolic to its core, a rural community far removed from hustle and bustle. Located between the Massachusetts border to the west and the Taconic Parkways to the east, Austerlitz’s residents treasure their privacy, independence, and leisurely way of life. Growth is slow in Austerlitz, and the people who live there wouldn’t have it any other way. Lush green hills and pastoral landscapes are preferred over development and construction.

The housing market reflects Austerlitz’s desire to keep its growth slow and rural character intact: Most of the houses are expensive, ranging from multi-million dollar country estates to more modest abodes in the $300,000-$500,000 ballpark. There’s lots of land for sale in Austerlitz, too, and perhaps you’ll even find your very own Steepletop in which to do your best work.

Austerlitz is located about 15 minutes from both Chatham and Ghent, and approximately 2.5 hours from NYC.

Town of Austerlitz Official Website

About Kandy Harris

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

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