Town of the Week: Monroe

  |  June 10, 2013

Smith’s Mill Dam, Monroe Historic District via Wikipedia

In case you haven’t noticed, walking trails are a big deal in upstate New York. It vastly improves the nature of a town if you can get from Point A to Point B using a means of transportation other than a car. If those trails surround bodies of water with small parks, even better. The village of Monroe, located in town of Monroe in the southeastern portion of Orange County, has walkways and small parks, which is one of the reasons we made it our Town of the Week.

Monroe village is situated around the Monroe Ponds, two water bodies plopped right in the center of town, and Orange-Rockland Lake in the northern portion of the village. A walking trail encircles the two ponds, while the Orange County Heritage Trail, which extends from Goshen to Monroe, provides access to the lake and the Mill Dam. Round Lake and Walton lake are located just outside the village to the west.

Formerly the nation’s Velveeta capital (true story: The infamous cheese food-like product company used to have a factory right in the village), the town of Monroe consists of two other villages aside from Monroe: Harriman and Kiryas Joel. The area is known for its strong ties to the Hasidic Jewish community in Orange County, but it’s also known for its history as a mill town, cheese-making stronghold, and center of harness racing. The village contains an historic district on the national registry, the designation of which apparently met with considerable opposition from the residents of Monroe. The district is centralized in the village, mostly around the Stage Road area, where lots of Federals, Queen Anne Victorians, Greek Revivals, and Gothics were located. While some of those are still standing, a devastating fire in the late 19th century wiped out a good portion of the village, including, we imagine, some fairly impressive old architecture.

town and village halls monroe

The Town of Village Halls, right next door to each other, via Wikipedia

Walking trails notwithstanding, the village of Monroe’s Main Street and Stage Road area businesses are a bit too spread out and residential to be stroll-worthy in terms of exploration of shops and the like, but you’ll find what you need: Restaurants (lots of good Chinese places, or so we’ve been told), groceries, schools, banks, the public library, and all the essentials. There are lots of little parks and green places around Monroe’s ponds, accessible via trails.

Real estate market inventory is abundant in the town of Monroe right now, with a good portion of them foreclosed properties. You’ll find plenty of houses priced in the mid-range with quite a few five-figure properties thrown into the mix. Lake houses are available, too, thanks to Round Lake, Walton Lake, and a few other lakes and ponds that dot the area.

Monroe is located approximately one hour from NYC.

monroe capture



About Kandy Harris

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

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