Binnewater Historic District
The Binnewater Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. Portions of the text, below, were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documentation.  Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
Binnewater is located in east-central Ulster County, two miles north of the village of Rosendale in the town of Rosendale. The surface of the town is that of a rolling and broken upland with occasional summits attaining elevations of 500 feet. One of the distinctive features of the local landscape is a chain of five small lakes known as Binnewater, numbered one through five, north to south. Directly south of the fifth lake, the community of Binnewater is centered around a former Wallkill Valley Railroad (Conrail) Depot at the intersection of Breezy Hill Road and Ulster County Route 7.
The Binnewater Historic District consists of nine frame structures built during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: a railroad depot and privy, a general store/post office, a livery stable, two houses, a wagon shed, and two barns. As a district, it is separate and visually distinct from modern structures to the north and west. Despite some deterioration, the Binnewater Historic District retains a strong sense of historic integrity.
Specific descriptions follow:
Binnewater Depot — Central to the Binnewater Historic District, the depot was built soon after the Wallkill Valley Railroad's incorporation in 1872. The one-story long rectangular building is dominated stylistically by a large low pitch hipped slate roof. It is divided into passenger and freight sections with the passenger section distinguished by extensive fenestration and a projecting bay and dormer on the east or track side. Horizontal bands divide the building's exterior wall into three parts. The heavier band on the lower portion of the wall, running just below the structure's window sills, served to protect the wall from the impact of freight and baggage carts. The lower sections of the station are clapboarded. Much of the upper, shingled section is in the shadow of the deep overhang of the roof. Large scrolled brackets support the overhang. The exposed roof rafters are decoratively cut at their ends. Baggage doors are sheathed with narrow boards in a diagonal pattern adding to the complexity of texture characterizing the building. The interior is intact with a wainscotted waiting room and benches.
Privy — Just north of the Binnewater Depot is the station's privy, constructed at the same time as the depot. The small building is covered with novelty siding and a vertical seam metal roof. Lattice panels are attached to the front of the privy to screen the entrance.
Binnewater Store — Northwest of the depot, across the railroad tracks and Binnewater Lane, is a two-story frame structure known as the Binnewater post office and grocery store. The simple, clapboard building, constructed at the turn of the century, has a gable roof and one-story west side wing. The wing is decorated with a bracketed cornice and mitered arch window surrounds. The interior of the store consists of built-in counter tables, drawers, and cupboards. Narrow wainscotting in various patterns appears throughout on walls and appurtenances. A patterned, sheet metal ceiling completes the intact interior.
Byrnes House — Originally built as a boarding house; the two-story frame house is situated directly east of and across the railroad tracks and Binnewater Lane from the railroad depot. Constructed at the turn of the century, the vernacular clapboard residence features turned porch posts, plain frieze, and simple brackets. Six-over-six double-hung windows with simple surrounds appear centrally grouped on the second story and flanking the entrance on the first story. The left door of the once paired entrance has been removed.
Barn I — Situated northwest of the Binnewater Depot across Ulster Country Road #7, this frame two-story barn is one of a cluster of buildings which were part of the Keator Farm. Though associated with the activity around the railroad, the clapboarded vernacular structure was built around the turn of the century. Two sliding wagon doors are located on the first floor south facade and a hay door and windows are symmetrically placed on the second.
Wagon Shed — This frame one-story, open shed stands opposite the railroad depot, across Ulster County Road #7 and just south of the storage building described above. Walled on three sides, the fourth consists of three open bays. It is also one of the cluster of buildings associated with the Keator Farm.
Barn II — This two-story storage building stands opposite the railroad depot, across Ulster County Road #7. The vernacular building, part of the Keator Farm, was constructed around the turn of the century. It has a carriage or wagon door and a smaller door at ground level and a hay door above.
Keator Cottage — Situated in the Keator Farm cluster on the west side of Ulster County Road #7, this two-story, three-bay frame vernacular house has a porch with turned posts sheltering a central door. The fenestration consists of 2/2 double-hung windows with simple surrounds. The second story central window has been removed.
Keator Livery Stable — At the southern end of the complex, the two-story livery stable is the largest structure in the Binnewater Historic District. The vernacular building has a stone foundation, horizontal board siding and variously placed and sized openings indicating interior spaces such as horse stalls, tack rooms, wagon bays and hay storage.
Grouped and visually contained around the area originally known as Keator's Corners, the nine buildings of the Binnewater Historic District are significant because of their close historical association with the development of the nationally recognized cement industry in the Rosendale region. For over two centuries the region's cement industry provided a base to the regional economy. The industry sustained the area's population which in turn brought the railroad through the area and sponsored the creation of "company stores." Later in the nineteenth century, the railroad also brought vacationers in large numbers as the prosperity of the cement industry slowed. Focused around the only remaining railroad depot on the old Wallkill Valley line, the tightly grouped collection of structures in the Binnewater Historic District retains a distinct physical association to the cement and tourist industry in Ulster County.
Cement rock was first discovered in the region in 1825 at High Falls by engineers working on the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Prior to this time hydraulic cement used in the construction of the canal had been imported from Madison County, New York. Found to be a more high quality grade, High Falls cement was quarried and burned for use in the canal. Other quarrying sites, at Lawrenceville, Hickory Bush, Whitepoint, and Rosendale, opened in ensuing years. The Rosendale Cement Works near Binnewater employed 5,000 workers and produced 4,000,000 barrels of cement a year at the peak of its activity at the turn of the century. Rosendale cement was used in the Brooklyn Bridge, the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, the U.S. Treasury Building, as well as in many other structures around the country. Rosendale cement was found in the engineering specifications of many public works projects of the period. The company was owned by F.O. Norten who also owned the cement mills at High Falls.
Rosendale quarrying pits and cement kilns were located just north of the Rosendale railroad station and south of the Fifth Binnewater Lake. Within the Binnewater Historic District, the Binnewater general store was originally a company store of the F.O. Norten Cement Works. The residence adjacent to the store was initially a boarding house, most likely housing employees of the company.
The Binnewater Historic District was part of the Keator Farm established in the eighteenth century. The area was then known as Keator's Corners and the farm has been retained to the present day by successive generations of the Keator family. Within the Binnewater Historic District, Keator property constructed from 1890 to 1910 to capitalize on the railroad traffic accounts for five of the Binnewater Historic District's nine structures.
In the 1870's the Keator family donated a lot to the Wallkill Valley Railroad upon which the train company constructed a railroad terminal and privy. The railroad was built from the south, first terminating in New Paltz, then in Rosendale, and finally in Kingston. Stations in Binnewater and Rosendale were points of embarkation for cement quarried in the region. The Binnewater depot serves as the visual anchor of the Binnewater Historic District. Distinguished by a deeply overhanging slate roof, extensive fenestration, prominent brackets and an intact interior, the station is architecturally as well as historically significant. Of the number of stations built in the surrounding region, only the Binnewater depot survives.
The development of Portland cement in 1920 marked the decline of the Rosendale Cement Works. Population of the region dwindled by the 1940's and rail service was reduced. The natural appeal of rustic, Catskill Mountain environment, however, contributed to the rise of a modest tourism industry around the Binnewater Lakes. Although some deterioration from neglect marks its structures, the Binnewater Historic District remains visually cohesive and retains its historical character.
Gildrist, Ann. Footsteps Across Cement, A History of the Town of Rosendale. New York: Lithart, 1976.
Sylvester, Nathaniel B. History of Ulster County, New York. 1880; report, Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1977.