Don’t let the peaceful landscape fool you. Columbia County is currently the most “happening” of those we cover. Yes, there’s the hipness of Hudson (a phenomenon we’ll get to in a minute). But the county at large has become a magnet for home buyers seeking the rural with a twist.
Not quite as gentrified as Dutchess, more “discovered” than Greene, Columbia County has a charm and panache all its own. Names like Claverack, Livingston and Germantown attest to the area’s centuries-old Dutch, English, and German roots (Palatine German refugees, aka indentured servants to the landholders of the day, settled here in 1710). Travel down a winding road through the countryside, and you’ll happen upon early stone houses on old Dutch farmsteads. Meander past stately Georgian, Federal, and Greek Revival homes that conjure up the county’s past. In fact, just about every village and hamlet is on the National Register of Historic Places. Things river-related (including the views) are a constant presence to the west, with the Catskill Mountains looming beyond. These panoramas inspired the Hudson River School of Art and one of its earliest proponents, Frederic Church, whose remarkable, Moorish-style estate, Olana, is a world-famous destination in the county. To the the east, the Taconics and Berkshires are a contrast to the gently rolling countryside. And if your idea of heaven is living on a picturesque creek (or kill, as the Dutch would say), you’re never far from one in Columbia County.
Design, interior and otherwise, is a homeowner’s delight here; antiques shops and yard sales are a major pastime (hint: the Friday night “Exposition” auctions at Stair in Hudson are like a party). The arts are celebrated throughout the county, with destinations like Art Omi, Helsinki Hudson, Edna St. Vincents Millay’s Steepletop in Austerlitz, and ”The School,” a fabulous new gallery in Kinderhook. “Farm-to-table” is the emphasis in area restaurants, and you won’t have to dress up to partake of top-notch cuisine by celebrity chefs. Or, stop in at a farmstand and local winery, and do dinner with friends at home, just like we do.