Masonic Temple in Newburgh On Tap to be Sold to Catskill Hotelier

Posted in Historic Commercial Real Estate | Last Updated December 13, 2020

A view of the frieze of the Masonic Temple on Grand Street in Newburgh, N.Y. part of the parcel sold to FSH hotelier group

A view of the frieze of the Masonic Temple on Grand Street in Newburgh, N.Y. part of the parcel sold to the FSH hotelier group. Photo Credit: John Leighton

Masonic Temple in Newburgh clears hurdle on path to a sale.

The pace of development quickens in Newburgh, N.Y. with restaurateurs and hoteliers whose history of successful hospitality endeavors in New York City promises thoughtful and cutting edge developments as they invest in this Hudson Valley river city.

The latest potential sale is that of the beautiful Masonic Temple on Grand Street (and two adjacent buildings) in Newburgh.

According to the Orange County Government website “Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus has announced that the Legislature has unanimously approved for his proposal to sell three historically significant Grand Street properties in the City of Newburgh to Sullivan County-based Foster Supply Hospitality (FSH).

“We are excited to move forward with this project which will help to create significant commercial growth in the City of Newburgh and turn these properties into success stories,” Neuhaus said. “The Grand Street properties will provide economic development as well as job opportunities for Orange County residents. I’m pleased that the County will be putting this historic property on the tax rolls and to productive use.”

(See our article on Newburgh’s latest Mixed-Use Development featuring NYC restaurateur Sisha Ortuzar’s Wireworks at South William Street and Liberty here). 

A FSH Hotelier Property the DeBruce

An FSH property the DeBruce, in Sims Foster’s hometown, Livingston Manor. Photo Credit Lawrence Braun.

Catskill Hotelier group Foster Supply Hospitality brings a young vision.

Led by Livingston Manor, N.Y. native, Sims Foster, and his wife, Kirsten Harlow Foster, the FSH duo bring a young but thoroughly experienced point of view to the city of Newburgh based upon their successes in the hospitality business and finance sectors.

Their current FSH mix of properties is comprised of a unique group of small independent hotels and restaurants in the rural environs of the Catskill Mountains.

The group has distinguished itself by purchasing interesting, historic hotels located in unexpected places.

“Each property honors its past and is also keenly attuned to what today’s world and guest desires.

We accomplish this through design, intentional focus on experiential programming, and a lot of making sure the details are right.” their website emphasizes.

A room at the Debruce

A room at the DeBruce, a Conde Nast luxury property. Photo courtesy the DeBruce website.

Back to basics but with a little luxury.

“Our guest wants to get back to basics. To re-experience life’s simple pleasures and become recharged by them.

And they really like to be treated like family.

Simplicity, space to breathe and a moment or two of slowing down have become rare commodities.

And we happen to be really good at delivering it,” the site notes.

Hudson Valley farms within a fifteen or thirty minute drive of Newburgh, N.Y. underscore its urban proximity incredible pastoral views.

Hudson Valley farms within a fifteen or thirty-minute drive of Newburgh, N.Y. underscore an urban proximity to incredible pastoral views and in-nature experiences.

The buildings in the portfolio located at 48, 54 and 62 Grand Street include a former YMCA and an American Legion building in addition to the Masonic Temple.

They were purchased several years ago by Orange County with the idea of incorporating them into the campus of Orange County Community College, Newburgh.

SUNY Orange moves on from plan to develop the parcel.

The stately buildings were thought to be eligible for tax incentive opportunities within the Start-Up NY campaign designed to get businesses starting in NY state with tax-free incentives that last about 10 years, so long as they partner with a SUNY school.

View south to Bannerman's Island from Downing Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in honor of the mentor, Andrew Jackson Downing

View south to Bannerman’s Island from Downing Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in honor of their mentor, Andrew Jackson Downing. Photo Credit: John Leighton

The theory was businesses would support a school’s academic mission or curriculum, but in recent years activity in StartUp NY seems to have faded, at least in Newburgh.

SUNY Orange decided to withdraw from their plans to turn the buildings into job training sites, freeing Orange County Government to proceed with the sale.

But the current proposal will present an opportunity for SUNY Orange:

“The project, as proposed by FSH, will fortify SUNY Orange, which is located at that same location. Together, they will form an important conference center opportunity in eastern Orange County, along the Hudson River,” the Orange County Government explains.

A property with a lux cocktail lounge and a beautiful hotel  surrounded by historic architecture and the Hudson Rivier

FSH plans to create hotel rooms in the stately YMCA and American Legion buildings and faithfully restore the century-old Masonic lodge.

They will open a 100-seat restaurant and bar on the first floor, event spaces on the second and third floors, and a cocktail lounge on the fourth

They will also restore a bowling alley in the basement.

Partners Sims Foster and Kirsten Harlow Foster from an image on their company website

With the Newburgh Masonic Temple parcel, FSH adds a crown jewel from Newburgh, NY., to their properties portfolio.

By choosing the Grand Street parcel to do so, they join a street lined and surrounded by examples of some of the finest architecture in America created by some of the finest architects.

Andrew Jackson Downing and his proteges Calvert Vaux, Frederick Clark Withers, and Frederick Law Olmsted defined 19th-century architecture, landscape design, and a well lived lifestyle here.

Architect Downing, whose own estate once occupied four acres of what became Grand Street (allegedly a Ginko tree he planted still blooms there!) developed a uniquely American vernacular of architecture known informally as “Hudson River Bracketed.”

Andrew Jackson Downing's Estate on Grand Street, Newburgh

The original Andrew Jackson Downing Estate, Highland Gardens, now gone, was just a little north of the vicinity of the Masonic Temple on Grand Street, Newburgh, N.Y.

Hudson River Bracketed an indigenous style of architecture originating in Newburgh.

“Hudson River Bracketed?” he echoed. “What’s that?”

“Why, didn’t you know it was our indigenous style of architecture in this part of the world?”

Her smile of mockery had returned, but he did not mind for he saw it was not directed against himself.

“I perceive,” she continued, “that you are not familiar with the epoch-making work of A. J. Downing Esq. on Landscape Gardening in America.”

Excellent example of Hudson River Bracketed as embodied by the legendary Newburgh Architect Andrew Jackson Downing. In this case the building at 196 Montgomery Street was by his protege Calvert Vaux

196 Montgomery Street is a superb example of Hudson River Bracketed an architectural style made famous by Newburgh Architect Andrew Jackson Downing. In this case, the building is by his protege Calvert Vaux.

She turned to the bookcases, ran her hand along a shelf, and took down a volume bound in black cloth with the title in gilt Gothic lettering.

Her fingers flew from page to page, her short-sighted eyes following as swiftly.

“Here–here’s the place. It’s too long to read aloud; but the point is that Mr. Downing, who was the great authority of the period, sums up the principal architectural styles as the Grecian, the Chinese, the Gothic, the Tuscan or Italian villa, and–Hudson River Bracketed.'”

From Edith Wharton’s ‘Hudson River Bracketed.’

With Sims Foster’s potential Masonic Temple development, an important new anchor within Newburgh’s ongoing renaissance will continue the accelerating trajectory forward for economic development and health in this Hudson River City just sixty miles north of Manhattan.