Kripplebush Historic District

Marbletown Town, Ulster County, NY

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The Kripplebush Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]


The Kripplebush Historic District is a compact hamlet located near the southwestern boundary of the town of Marbletown, Ulster County, New York. It is about one and one-half miles west southwest of the hamlet of Stone Ridge, New York and approximately thirteen and one-half miles southwest of Kingston, New York. It lies on a terrace where the southern base of the Catskill Mountains meet a large alluvial flat area lying on a northeasterly-southwesterly axis between the Catskill and Shawangunk ranges. Although maps from 1875 through the present indicate "Kripple Bush" as a hamlet nestled at the base of the Catskill Mountains, the name historically applied to an agricultural and upland hamlet extending north and south from Schoonmaker Road the length of Pine Bush Road and Cooper Street to the southwesterly town line, and westerly into the hills. The Kripplebush Historic District boundary has been formulated to follow property lines of the sixteen dwellings in the hamlet.

Local terrain and agricultural usage governed Kripplebush hamlet land use patterns. Initially farmsteads were laid out at the westerly edge of the alluvial valley area and were served first with a roadway (now Kripplebush Road). The road crosses the alluvial flat and in the eighteenth century probably served as a private farm road between to major farm properties. At what is now the upper end of the hamlet this road forked, the southwesterly route (now Cooper Street) continuing along the edge of the alluvial flats to the town of Rochester and the northwesterly route leading upland to more isolated areas of settlement. Another road led westerly from Stone Ridge (the Pine Bush Road) and then angled southwest to Snake Hill, and ran along its base at the edge of the flat land until it met the Kripplebush Creek and, just beyond, Kripplebush Road. The hamlet evolved at this junction of roads, a place where the Kripplebush Creek winds across a terrace and then passes closely at the base of Snake Hill, a prominent hillside, and just before it reaches the alluvial flat land. The fork in the road was a convenient stopping place for local travellers, and the road and the creek circumscribed a small flat that lent itself to hamlet development.

Of four stone dwellings in the Kripplebush Historic District, all originally served as farmhouses, although through the nineteenth century subdivision of properties and the hamlet's development, they eventually served as dwellings for occupants of other trades. The houses are broadly related to other traditional one and one-half story Northern European house types in the Hudson Valley and more specifically related to stone structures in Ulster County. All of these stone dwellings (along with three others located outside the Kripplebush Historic District boundary) are oriented toward the southeast. This characteristic stands out today because several of the houses are sited at curious angles to the roads that now pass them. In her essay on historic Ulster County architecture, Helen Wilkinson Reynolds stressed the uniformity and persistence of form found in the region's stone dwellings.[] This is in part a fair characterization; yet, the native stone possesses rich textural variation and the houses themselves exhibit variety in fenestration patterns and size; a testament to vernacular independence. Variation is also found in cellar plans and use and in nineteenth century expansion — by dormers, cornice, or gable — into garret space.

Framed, clapboarded structures constitute the remainder of the Kripplebush Historic District's historic buildings — these include a school house, a lodge hall, a church, and several dwellings. Of the dwellings in the hamlet, six have commercial histories important to the Kripplebush neighborhood. Two of the properties contain structures that are associated with the neighborhood's cooperage enterprise. Most dwellings in the hamlet are modest in scale. The two larger houses have in the past been hotels, public meeting rooms, and had other commercial uses; thus size in Kripplebush indicated function rather than status. The dwellings are largely unornamented and perhaps even severe in their plainness. The Methodist Church alone has some ornamental treatment. The lodge hall has a distinctive roof over its entry that suggests a local design.

Outbuildings have had a prominent place in the rural Kripplebush district. In the hamlet, a significant number of outbuildings have been preserved, notably large barns as well as smaller barns and carriage barns. Various work places, sheds, privies, and other outbuildings are also preserved. The siting of the outbuildings in relation to the main dwelling and to the road is idiosyncratic. In the manner of conventional town planning, only the outbuildings at one property is located at the rear of a long narrow lot. At another property, the placement of outbuildings seems governed by the yard terrain and by the fact that the lot fronts on two roads. In the remainder of the hamlet, outbuildings tend to be located as the sides of dwellings and in closer proximity to the roadway.

The Kripplebush Historic District's structures and land-use patterns are extremely well-preserved. Most dwellings and outbuildings are well-maintained. Several of the dwellings now have modern siding, but this has usually been applied in a non-intrusive manner and is likely to be a reversible alteration.

Kripplebush Historic District is architecturally and historically significant as a complete and unusually well-preserved agricultural/industrial hamlet, representative of rural development in Ulster County between ca.1772 and ca.1922. Located at the base of the Catskill Mountains, the somewhat isolated agricultural settlement in the town of Marbletown evolved into a small but self-contained center to a rural and woodland hinterland that fed both agricultural and wood-driven economies. In its surviving architecture, Kripplebush Historic District embodies distinctive characteristics of types and methods of construction in its early stone dwellings, which are related to the region's distinctive vernacular form; while its nineteenth and early twentieth century framed community institutions, rural domestic, manufacturing and commercial buildings embody the neighborhoods' expansive involvement in the manufacture of wood products harvested from the local landscape and produced at home or in small manufactories. These frame structures exhibit the mild influence of nationally significant styles. Additionally, a number of rural and hamlet outbuildings, and work spaces survive. Its built environment genuinely preserves this rural neighborhood's historic growth and accompanying changes in land ownership and new construction through a range of domestic commercial, and institutional structures.

Sometime between ca.1653 and 1663, the name "Yeaugh Kripple Bush" was first applied to this hamlet. "Yeaugh" is a corrupt spelling of the Dutch word jagh, "hunting," and creupelbosch, a term which means "thicket" and is sometimes associated with a swampy or wetland area. Thus, an English rendering of this place name is "the hunting thicket," suggesting a place that seventeenth century Dutch settlers first perceived as a habitat for game.

The Yeaugh Kripple Bush was apparently early identified by Dutch settlers and remained a locality well-known enough to retain its early, descriptive Dutch name. The first record of its settlement turns up October 16, 1704, when Marbletown trustees first mention it in conveyances. The trustees' minute book contains much information about the development of the early Kripple Bush neighborhood. Their deeds to Isaac Davis and William Nottingham for tracts of 200 acres each and to John Beatty for 100 acres are the first of record. It should be noted that the earliest landowners were British. Over the next few years time this trend continued and the Yeaugh Kripple Bush hamlet began to develop.

In 1836, Gordon's Gazetteer first described the Kripple Bush hamlet as: "Yaughcripple Bush 12 miles from Kingston, near the southwest line is small hamlet."

By the mid-nineteenth century, hoop making became the hamlet's principal industry, furnishing wooden hoops for binding kegs, casks, and barrels. At Kripplebush, Theodore Wilklow distributed on the average of fifteen to eighteen million hoops a year. The hoops shavers were usually paid about $2.50 per 1000 hoops. Some of his hoops traveled to the great flour mills of Minneapolis, as well as our local markets for cement on the Delaware and Hudson Canal.

By the early twentieth century, stave and barrel-hoop manufacture declined. In the early part of the century, the Kripplebush neighborhood lapsed into a kind of depression similar to that experienced by other Hudson Valley communities as industry moved to other parts of the country.

Architectural Overview and Existing Conditions

Kripplebush's built environment genuinely reflects the historic development of this rural hamlet through a range of domestic, commercial, and institutional structures. Included in the Kripplebush Historic District are early stone dwellings based on the region's distinctive vernacular form and a sampling of nineteenth and early twentieth century framed rural domestic and commercial buildings that exhibit the influence of nationally significant styles. Additionally rural outbuildings and work spaces are preserved.

Stone Construction

The most significant feature of Kripplebush's architectural landscape is its eight surviving stone dwellings (four of which are located within the boundary of the Kripplebush Historic District). Reynolds observed in her book: "The outstanding aspect of the architectural history of Ulster County is summed up in the word uniformity. Stone was the material that was used throughout the county, not only in the colonial period but after the Revolution and in the nineteenth century and the same general type of house was repeated over and over, varying but little here and there in detail."

After discussing factors of geography and demography that may have caused this uniformity, Reynolds points out that a greater number of pure examples of pre-Revolutionary architecture are now to be found in the interior of the county on the farms. She concludes that: "Ulster County thus makes a distinctive and individual contribution to the composite modern culture of the region of the Hudson. ...her people have been led to preserve much of the spirit of the past... and they form today a marked survival of native stock, living under native conditions."

Allowing for the sixty years that have elapsed since the publication of Wilkinson's work, there yet remain in the interior areas of Ulster County examples of this architectural conservatism. The Kripplebush neighborhood is an epitome of this well-preserved uniformity. Although the stone houses certainly share common basic characteristics — such as center entries, one and one-half stories, large roof spans, and the native stone — greater variation than Reynolds discussed is to be found in their proportions, window sizes and arrangements, and roof angles. This suggests a lively, independent vernacular spirit.

These houses are commonly associated with the Dutch settlement of the Hudson Valley and it is appropriate to look at their regional development.

First, stone construction would have been visually familiar to many of the region's settlers. Even though brick construction predominated in The Netherlands, stone construction was the form familiar to the many New Netherland denizens who came from central Europe, where stone construction prevailed in the area running from Cologne to Magdeburg including nearly all the Westphalian and Saxon cities as well as parts of Great Britain and France. Furthermore, many of Marbletown's first English settlers, as Cheshire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire — all areas of England well-known for stone dwellings.

Secondly, the use of stone or brick results in structures that differ in proportion even though the basic Dutch house form remained the same. Stone masonry employs massive unframed walls that average 22-24 inch thickness, while framed brick masonry walls are about half that dimension. Stone masonry depends for strength upon its own mass, while brick construction is more readily manipulated into varying forms by virtue of its internal framing system. New Netherlanders and their cultural heirs usually built brick houses that were proportionally taller and somewhat narrower in the gable walls than stone dwellings could be contrived. Brick lent itself to height and to narrow town lots. The requirements of stone construction resulted in a squatter proportioned gable end and lower ceilings than those executed in brick. However, cultural preferences may also have influenced this shape, for rural houses in northeastern France and parts of Britain frequently exhibit this more near squared proportion. Rural stone houses at Kripplebush all exhibit the massy features.

The treatment of upper gable ends is a construction feature that distinguishes Dutch dwellings prevalent in colonial Albany County (modern Albany, Rensselaer, Greene, and Columbia counties) from those in Ulster County. In colonial Albany County, brick masonry was usually carried to the ridge line, while in Ulster, most of the upper gables are constructed with framing and sheathed in clapboard. In some cases this upper clapboarded portion fills the entire triangle formed by the upper gable; in other instances, the masonry and wall is carried into a portion of the lower part of the triangle (typically about a third) and its upper portion is finished in clapboard. All Kripplebush examples exhibit this form.

In terms of their use, stone houses at Kripplebush and in Marbletown are today aptly described as one and one-half storied dwellings, since their garrets were functional storage and work space and since the mid- and later nineteenth century were adapted for dwelling space. In some Kripplebush examples, masonry side walls rise above the level of the ceiling beams and continue upward to form partial or half-height walls in the garret; this is accomplished by shaping interior ledges in the stone masonry to support vertical and roof framing in the masonry. In other cases, later additional height was gained by adding either Greek Revival wood cornices or Gothic Revival inspired framed gables across the front and back of the long facades. Dormers, usually of twentieth century origin, have also been used to expand this space.

Frame Structures

Frame structures at Kripplebush are concentrated in the hamlet cluster and show somewhat more diversity of form than the stone dwellings. In general, these structures are nineteenth and early twentieth century vernacular buildings. The majority of the frame buildings in the hamlet had their origins in the economic developments that occurred in the nineteenth century. While the hamlet is now entirely residential, the appearance of its past commercial importance has been well-preserved.

Three public, institutional buildings are frame constructions: the Methodist Church and school (both built in 1857) and the Junior Mechanics Lodge of the early twentieth century. These structures have retained their original public and community cultural functions — although the school house is now served as a community historical museum. The choice of wood as a building material reflects the availability skills of the community which during the nineteenth century was largely engaged in wood-related manufacturing.

Three of the frame dwellings were originally built as dwellings; a fifth one likely served as a store before being expanded in the 1850s into a dwelling; a sixth was probably a dwelling before it was used as a manufactory.

The remainder of the dwellings originally had commercial or manufactory purposes. Of these, six were originally built for commercial or manufactory use — a hotel, 3 stores, and the cooper/wagon/carriage shop. These structures have been considerably influenced by the traditional one-and-a-half story form of the stone houses. Further, following customary rural siting, most of these frame buildings are situated with their gable ends at their sides and the long walls fronting the roadway. It is of note that these buildings have been successfully adapted to residential use, resulting in the preservation of the hamlet area.

With the exception of a few, the frame structures are strongly vernacular in their lack of stylistic detail.


In the hamlet, a significant number of outbuildings have been preserved. Notably large barns are found at three properties while smaller barns and carriage barns are found at others. Various work places sheds, privies, and other outbuildings are also preserved.

The siting of the outbuildings in relation to the main dwelling and to the road is idiosyncratic. In the manner of conventional town planning, only the outbuilding at the J.H. Eckert House is located at the rear of long narrow lots. At the Hornbeck House, the placement of outbuildings seems governed by the yard terrain and by the fact that the lot fronts on two roads. In the remainder of the hamlet, outbuildings tend to be located as the sides of dwellings and in closer proximity to the roadway.


[‡]Helen Wilkinson Reynolds, Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776. (1929), pp.177-81.


County Atlas of Ulster, N.Y. Walker & Jewett, N.Y., 1875.

Early Architecture in Ulster County. Kingston, N.Y.: Junior League of Kingston, 1974.

Map of Marbletown, 1797, from Dorothy Pratt, Town Historian.

Map of Ulster County, N.Y., P.H. Brink & O.J. Tilson Pub., 1853.

Reynolds, Helen Wilkinson. Dutch Houses in the Hudson Valley Before 1776. New York: Payson and Clarke, 1929: reprint ed., New York: Dover Publications, 1965.

Sylvester, Nathaniel B. A History of Ulster County, New York. Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1880.

  1. Ruth Piwonks, Consultant and John H. Bonafide, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Kripplebush Historic District, nomination document, 1994, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Kripplebush Road • Pine Bush Road

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