Different phases of development in the village can be seen in the feel of the architecture, in the varying lot sizes, and in the width of the streets and amount of lawn and sidewalk. These trends allows differentation in the flavor of individual neighborhoods.
Land that Henry Barclay owned from his Livingston purchases that had been the Persen Farm, shown on the Barclay and Livingston 1827 survey west of Partition Street and south from Montrose Street, have been locally linked with the shore line of the mill pond and its bathing beaches and called the Clarkson Grounds.
This has long influenced its identity and its look. The Clarkson name gets extended to the whole lower creek front neighborhood because Robert L. Livingston built a house there in 1831 when his daughter Adelaide married William Clarkson. The Clarksons inherited most of the lots in the Livingston share of the Barclay and Livingston allotment after 1846, and the grounds associated with their home remained open for a long time even as the smaller village lots filled up. This was enough to attach that name to the entire Lower Partition Street neighborhood.
The Clarkson house is assumed to have been the stone house used for offices at the Cantine mill on Ripley Street. The house once stood at the overlook for the falls at the Diamond Inn. It is shown as a feature in all pictures of the Cantine mill and was intact right up to its destruction with the mill fire of 1978.
Ripley Street is named after Charles Ripley, who expanded the mill at the bottom of the falls and made it the lead mill. Since he died before 1835, his name is more a testimonial to the early industrialists. There is no Clarkson Street.
Early on, areas along the creek banks were marked as pasturage. The feeling of more openness associated with the Clarkson house, compared to the more developed village up the hill, left the impression that Ripley Street was an estate drive. When the foundations were being prepared for Diamond Mills a few tears ago, a cobblestone roadbed was uncovered where Ripley Street met Dock Street.
Ripley Street went from the bridge tollhouse to Montgomery Street. On its east side were the estate grounds beginning at the Clarkson house, and on its west were the backs of the lots fronting on McCarthy Street. Named for the owner of a merchant business, McCarthy Street was what Partition Street below the dogleg was called in the 19th century.
This street name is representative of Henry Barclay’s desire to have a commercial area centered on his first bridge, built in 1831. On the west side of the bridge, Col. Edmund McCarthy built a store. On the east side was the Barrell and Ashley store.
Montrose Street, McDonald Street and Allen Street were the names of the streets, as was Doyle (for lower West Bridge Street). Both McCarthy and Doyle are no longer used as names and are long gone from memory. Doyle was, like Montrose, an early purchaser of a Barclay lot, as were likely Allen and McDonald. Doyle’s lot was in a line with where Montgomery Street meets the lower dogleg of West Bridge, not fronting on West Bridge but connected by a drive that extended Montgomery into it.
From the moment it became an address, West Bridge Street hosted the homes of important personages of the village. Judges, financiers, manufacturers and merchandise moguls used the seclusion of the deep lots into this area’s wooded hollows as their retreat, only a stone’s throw from their daily businesses. Two brooks watered these hollows — the First Brook, with its source at Jane and Partition streets, and Second Brook, which formed the border between properties on the west side and Oakledge, the estate of George W. Washburn, the brick manufacturer and operator of the second largest number of tugboats on the Hudson.
A feel for the size of these circa-1850 lots on the west side of West Bridge Street can be experienced at Hilton Place, where a subdivision has comfortably situated ten lots with post-war ranch houses and lawns.
The entire west side of West Bridge Street was one lot from Main down to the creek and of interest to two of the unsung early industrialists in Saugerties’ formative years.
Before the village was founded, it had passed from Mynderse ownership by way of Robert R. Livingston to Thomas Barclay Livingston. This was all connected to a brewery using the spring water from both the First and Second brooks. The quality of the water must have been very high at the time.
Thomas Barclay Livingston sold this land to Edward Clark in 1831. In the earliest minutes of the village trustees we see Clark trying to get the village to support building a street down to the location on the creek where he was planning to put a dam and his white lead mill. By 1832, Clark had deeded this site to his Great Falls Manufacturing Company to secure a mortgage for building his mill instead at Glenerie. A mortgage foreclosure auction in 1842 led to the first division of the land in 1845.
Twelve building lots fronting along the east side of West Bridge Street and the south side of Main Street, and two lots following the slope of the hill on the east of West Bridge Street were sold between 1846 and 1850 as the first residential expansion into this farmland.
On the west side of West Bridge Street the earliest division of the land was made for Blaise Lorrilard, who had a large estate planned that looked out over the pond and creek. After this, the lots remained large, with the one where the medical center is now being the home of Edmund McCarthy, William Russell’s business partner, and later H. Dwight Laflin of the powder mill family. The estate lot next to this was that of William McCollough, then owner of the lead mill. Between his and Lorrilard’s, just where the hill begins, was the home of William C. DeWitt the doctor in 1851 and Carroll Whitaker, the judge, in 1874.
Sharing this same hillside orientation as the West Bridge Street lots were the compact blocks of Allen and McDonald streets to the east. Their small-scaled single-family houses are excellent examples of pre-1850 style, materials and detailing. The positioning of these streets, as if aisles in an amphitheater, creates a certain visibility from the south side, where the first house was built. These homes are each a small stand-alone jewel.
The views and closeness to nature this neighborhood offers is the flavor identified with the Clarkson Grounds. With the recent addition of the Diamond Inn, the scale of the setting this neighborhood held for nearly a century has once again returned to a familiar balance.
The final installment in this series of articles on streets will cover the entire south side from the waterfront up through the estates of the Barclay Heights.