History Finds a Contemporary Foothold in a New Paltz Farmhouse
New Paltz, NY
For Agnes Devereux, to live in a historic home is to be endowed with a certain responsibility, one that she gladly takes on with her early 19th century New Paltz farmhouse. “I feel that we’re just the caretakers of this house for this moment in time, and one day somebody else will probably live here. And we just hope that they’ll love it as much as we do.” It’s that notion that she is part of something larger than herself that has driven Agnes to take such loving care with the home’s design; and it’s that same respect for the past that stokes the graceful warmth radiating from every inch of this Upstate sanctuary.
The home, which shares a lot in the center of town with Agnes’ acclaimed restaurant, The Village TeaRoom, was originally built by Daniel Relyea in 1830 and purchased by John Vanderlyn in the late 1800s. Because of Vanderlyn’s prominent public role as Ulster County District Attorney, any work he did on the farmhouse was noted in the local paper, resulting in a well-documented paper trail of the home’s evolution. And for Agnes, being a part of that evolution was as much about highlighting the home’s past as it was about incorporating hers. From English wallpaper, to the “imperfect and speckled” glass of the kitchen cabinets, to the commanding AGA stove reminiscent of her childhood in Ireland, each aspect was carefully maintained, restored, or added. “I wanted to have the feeling in the house that I wasn’t trying to make it modern,” said Agnes. “I wanted it to feel like an elegant Irish farmhouse.”
Inspired by both her upbringing in the pastoral Irish village of Clogheen and a visit to Katharine Hepburn’s “a little worn, but lovely” New York City apartment years ago, she created an elegant and, most importantly, a comfortable family home. “When we sit by the fire at nighttime, we think we’re part of this whole continuum of people cozying up to a fire on a winter’s night.” And it’s these winter nights, and all the winter nights for the caretakers to come, that make it all worthwhile.