Discover Newburgh’s East End Historic District

Posted in Historical Newburgh | Last Updated March 10, 2018

Gifford Beal's view toward the Newburgh Waterfront much of it destroyed during Urban Renewal. The East End Historic District preserves over 2000 buildings in Newburgh so that such a debacle will not occur again.

Puff of Smoke, by Gifford Beal, hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago. It depicts Newburgh with a view east to the Hudson River

Beal’s family had a country home in Newburgh, known as Wilellyn, where he and his brother, Reynolds Beal spent time.  Gifford was a student of William Merritt Chase, and one of his classmates was Edward Hopper.

Note the background buildings along the Hudson River waterfront which were destroyed in the 1960’s by  Urban Renewal. Fortunately, the  Nomination of The East End Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places helps guard against future loss by encouraging active preservation. 


Newburgh, N.Y., is an historic Hudson River city located about 60 miles due north of that other historic Hudson River city, Manhattan.

Like Manhattan, Newburgh is defined by its location on one of the world’s great rivers and the significant role it has played in both the growth of American economic fortunes and her military history.

Both cities share the prestige of having served as headquarters for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Both cities also share New York state’s top historic district designations.

Manhattan easily takes first place with nearly 5,000 designated buildings (including thousands in Park Slope, Brooklyn) and Newburgh to stakes claim to second place with 2,217 buildings, including Washington’s Headquarters.


Washington's Headquarters, located in the historic East End District of Newburgh NY

Jonathan Hasbrouck House; Newburgh’s oldest building and site of Washington’s Headquarters

Manhattan easily takes first place with nearly 5,000 designated buildings (including thousands in Park Slope, Brooklyn) and Newburgh to stakes claim to second place with 2,217 buildings, including Washington’s Headquarters.


Birdseye View Lower Manhattan Kimmel & Forster 1865

Birdseye View Lower Manhattan Kimmel & Forster 1865; Fraunces Tavern location


The year prior, 1782, saw Washington stationed in Newburgh, a safe spot up river from Fraunces Tavern’s promontory on Manhattan’s upper bay, where British Navy ships posed a constant threat.

While in Newburgh, Washington quelled internal rebellions and litigated the successful retreat and ensuing victory over Britain’s military as leader of the Continental Army.


Birdseye view of Newburgh N.Y. T.J. Hughes

Birdseye view of Newburgh, N.Y. T.J. Hughes

Since that time until today, Newburgh has seen numerous boom and bust economic periods from which she has always recovered, usually gracefully, each successive period leaving its mark on her visage.

The city derives its shape and architectural development from a post-revolutionary wartime during which, literally, captains of industry – the shipping merchant class helped shape the city.

Freight shipping was a growing industry after the war, providing wheat to a hungry nation and world

Population growth at home, a food shortage in Europe, and the growth of farming in Orange County, N.Y. meant a ready crop of wheat and other foodstuffs was able to be shipped wherever necessary.

New England farmers and whalers and shipping magnates headed to Newburgh recognizing her position as strategic, given her port, her emerging rail lines, and her proximity to the fertile soil farmers were using to grow wheat for baked goods, and barley and rye for beverages of choice.

Eventually the Erie canal connected by the west shore railroad, emanating from Hoboken, connected New York ports and Canal street in Lower Manhattan with Newburgh and points west, effectively extending downtown New York to Newburgh and making a connection which is being revived in our day, as Newburgh is rediscovered.

Orange County, N.Y. was once the U.S.A.’s main wheat and grain producer and Newburgh the supplier via its freight ships and shipping industry 

As the west opened up, Orange County no longer was the center for wheat growing. Farms in the west could do the job on a larger scale and more cheaply, and so other agricultural crops were popularized.

Lumber from surrounding forests powered forges and provided material for the buildings in New York and village homes that were springing up everywhere, all shipping from Newburgh by freighter or rail.

Image Courtesy: from an article by Neil Maher

One economy fed the other, and eventually textiles, shoes, and dry goods were heavily traded out of Newburgh for points anywhere across the country and the world.

Pioneering artists like Andrew Jackson Downing, a son of Newburgh, changed the way Americans designed homes and gardens.

Artists, like the musicians and dancers of the Alsdorf Family of Newburgh influenced the way we performed music and danced to the music being played.

Through boom and bust times, Newburgh, like Blanche Dubois, increasingly relied on the kindness of strangers to maintain her beautiful buildings, parks, and public spaces, as natives moved on to other parts of the country and newcomers discovered her charms.

Fortunately, these appreciative newcomers as well as long time residents recognized and valued the varied historic architecture found throughout nearly all of the city, with the area of most dense concentration in the East End Historic District.


A map outlining the East End District of Newburgh NY

Official Map of the East End Historic District of Newburgh, N.Y.

Spanning 445 acres, this East End Historic District of Newburgh has been a part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1985.

In fact, this area is home to the city’s oldest building:  Jonathan Hasbrouck’s 1750 stone house the site of the aforementioned Washington Headquarters.

Hasbrouck House is the nation’s first publicly-owned historic site. Located on Liberty Street (in Washington’s Day, King’s Highway)  near the Hudson River, it is open to the public year-round for tours.

Those with an interest in pre Civil War architecture can discover literally hundreds of buildings in the East End that have been standing since at least the mid 19th century


Federal Style Building Near Downing Park Newburgh, N.Y. in Newburgh's East End Historic District

Federal style home near Downing Park


Two and three story townhouses abound in areas on or near Liberty Street and Grand Street. In the southeast region of the district, the scenery opens up, and properties offer beautiful views of the Hudson River. In this area you’re sure to see some larger Victorian style houses circa the late 1800s mixed in with Craftsman style bungalows and Italianate villas.

Craftsman Bungalow Newburgh NY in Newburgh's East End Historic District Photo by John Leighton

Craftsman Bungalow amidst victorians and italianate villas on one of Newburgh’s streets in the East End District Photo Credit: John Leighton


Architecturally significant

Residential buildings, though, are not the only properties of architectural significance. The East End District is home to hundreds of local businesses and of course throughout the District, historic commercial real estate where goods were manufactured.

Broadway has historically been Newburgh’s main drag for commerce, dating to the days when farmers brought their wares along from farms across the nearby countryside via the turnpike  that ended at the waterfront.

Now Broadway is dotted with restaurants, markets, and family-owned, small businesses in very affordable mixed use retail space.

We recently detailed a successful retail business on Liberty, Cream, and a planned retail use for old firehouse building on Broadway that has a yet to be decided future on Broadway.

Most of the buildings on Broadway are perfect candidates for the kind of retail experience described in the Liberty Street story about Cream.

They are also perfect for mixed use, especially in light of Newburgh’s recent zoning changes, with its emphasis on Live Work. Many are available to rent or buy

Broadway Space Typifies Commercial Property on Broadway in Newburgh

Typical Commercial Retail Space on Broadway in Newburgh

Newburgh’s Architectural Review Commission  (ARC) is dedicated to maintaining the historical integrity of these older buildings. In their own words, the East End is a “Virtual open air museum of outstanding examples of architectural styles that date back to the 1850s.”

The commission even has a handy guide for residents advising how they may play a role in preserving classic architecture. ARC is a certified agent of New York’s State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) in charge of protecting and promoting the enhancement Newburgh’s wealth of culturally significant architecture and public spaces.

First and Foremost ARC emphasizes repairs not replacements when working on homes or commercial buildings. By keeping the original materials, the commission contends, you preserve the original character of the homes as well its aesthetics.

Historic commercial real estate is found throughout Newburgh. This building pictured below feels like it’s in the middle of the English Countryside. In reality this classic, historic commercial real estate building  faces the Hudson River and is in the thick of the city. It’s home to the Newburgh Brewing Company, a popular purveyor of ales and beers.


Newburgh Brewing Company as seen from The Foundry. Many Historic Commercial Real Estate Buildings like this are located in Newburgh's East End Historic District

Th Newburgh Brewing Company. Newburgh Has Dozens of Similar Commercial Spaces


Financial incentives: preservation in Newburgh

According to ARC’s  website guide  “Beyond the personal pride of completing a beautiful improvement and contributing to the revitalization of your neighborhood, New York State now offers a 20% tax credit (up to a maximum of $25,000) for historically appropriate rehabilitation of certain residential properties. Most but not all properties in the East End Historic District will qualify. Projects must meet the following criteria: ƒ the house must be owner occupied; ƒ at least $5000 must be spent on the project. ƒ The plans must be approved by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as well as the ARC. In addition, both residential and income producing properties located in the City’s East End Historic district may be eligible for a 20% federal income tax credit for the substantial rehabilitation (both interior and exterior) of historic properties.  For income producing properties, the final dollar amount is based on the cost of the rehabilitation; in effect, 20% of the rehab costs will be borne by the federal government.  The credit for rehabilitation work on historic residential structures will cover 20% of qualified rehabilitation costs of structures, up to a credit value of $50,000.00. Houses must be owner-occupied.  At least $5,000.00 must be expended on qualifying work, and at least 5% of the total project must be spent on the exterior of the building.  For both income producing and residential structures, the work performed must meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, and be approved by the Newburgh Architectural Review Commission.” For more information, click here for the NY State Historic Preservation Office.




This building received tax credit and financial incentives and conformed to the ARC’s specifications regarding historic restoration and renovation. Read about it here

East End District preservation efforts 2018

Currently, the city and state are making efforts to preserve and rejuvenate the historic architecture of the East End because the history of the East End Historic District is important to locals as well as the nation.

City of Newburgh is making strides to preserve its cultural significance while offering housing opportunity to middle income families, artists, and veterans.The most recent effort is the Newburgh Core Revitalization Project from development non-profit, RUPCO. This program will turn 15 vacant East End buildings into 45 apartments for rent. “People are moving here, there’s interest again here and all of the river cities in the Hudson Valley have to come back,” RUPCO CEO, Kevin O’Connor, told Spectrum News. “Anytime we have the opportunity to re-purpose abandoned buildings, to treat things with historic respect, to create affordable mixed housing, then that’s our mission.”



The Sweet Orr Factory, Newburgh, N.Y.

The Sweet Orr Factory rendering from the book Newburgh Her Institutions, Industries, and Leading Citizens, author: John Nutt


Affordable apartment units in East End Historic District available in February 2018

RUPCO’s website says the units are beginning to rent now: “The first series of apartments are coming online February 1 in Newburgh’s historic East End. Be the first to live in these newly renovated rentals in a five-block radius. They are just off Broadway on Lander, First, South Miller, Dubois and Johnson. We’re bring 44 apartments to life and Safe Harbors is managing the resident end on our behalf. Complete your application through Safe Harbors of the Hudson’s website here or  call (845) 562-6940 ext. 141 for more information. You can also stop by their offices at  111 Broadway, Newburgh and fill out the paper application right there.  Apartments include a space for every sized household.”