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The Silkmill

A few weeks ago there was a dedication ceremony in my hometown and all of the towns folk got together on a small bridge by the waterfall. The historical society was dedicating a plaque at the bridge and all of the surrounding houses that were historic opened their doors for a little house tour. My parents participated and opened the doors of the Silkmill in Piermont, which is an old silk factory that they purchased in the 1970’s and spent the next many years restoring, mostly themselves. Even though the Silkmill is now five loft apartments, it was once full of commerce and most people that lived in the town worked there. The top floor has 40 ft ceilings, and you can still see the oil stains on the wooden floors from the old ribbon machines. I learned how to ride my bicycle inside and used to play basketball with my friends inside too. It was a little unusual but rather delightful.

It rained a bit at the ceremony, but people persevered.

Speeches were made.

Applause was resounding.

And everyone dispersed to start the house tour.

This is what the little waterfall looks like.

And this is its new plaque. They are hoping to get the funding to restore the bridge so that people can drive over it. Now it is just for foot traffic and one way cars occasionally.

This is my mama watching from the Silkmill.

And this is the Silkmill!

On the wall of the street level entrance was all of the pictures of what it has looked like through the years. It was originally called “Haddock’s Hall” after Roger Haddock, the man who built it. The street level was a department store at one point.

There’s Michael Shapiro on his tour.

My mama played tour guide for folks.

I heart red geraniums.

In case someone ever asks you what kind of flowers I like. Now you know.

Here is my little bro and one of the fellas who lives in the Silkmill.

Here’s a view from the doorway of one of the apartments.

And here is a view from the doorway of one of the other apartments.

And here is a view from the stairs of the top floor which spans the width of the entire building.

That’s Gordo reminiscing about all of the roller blading we did on those floors.

And this is the entrance to the top floor.

This is the bottom floor loft. I’ve always loved the cobble stone steps that lead to it.


And this is the other side where the cobble stone patio and yard is. There is a rock along the creek there that I used to catch trout from and then I’d eat them for breakfast.

Across the road is this beautiful building called Ferdon Hall. It was once owned by an old bachelor from the south named Jimmy Rico and it was always a bit mysterious when I visited. He used to serve us tomato juice in the kitchen. And I think he had bats.

It was recently restored by the new owners and they did an amazing job. Even the grass is the nicest grass I’ve ever stepped on.

There are lovely details. The back is a garden with hedges and busts of various sorts.

  And charming little pathways to walk around.

The inside is polished and glossy, with old wood and interesting art.

Across the creek from the Silkmill is a brick house that used to be very very simple. Old Agusta and Ed used to live in that house and my brother and I would walk over and visit her and she’d ask us if we wanted a “knuckle sandwich.” We thought it was just hilarious.

This has been restored too and is now a Bed & Breakfast.

I went inside and was flooded with memories. It was just like yesterday that I was standing on Agusta’s linoleum kitchen floor and she was making me laugh.

The creek runs below and it sounds like music.

That’s the town pastor, peering out the balcony.

From outside you can see the Silkmill from another angle and the window of the other bottom floor apartment.

And the lawn above the creek.

The Bed & Breakfast has a nice outdoor area too…

And then, across from it, there is this building which is one of the oldest structures around. Sony and Elise Gaston used to live there and I just loved them. He would inspect my chubby ankles as a child because he was a doctor and assure my mother that I was going to have normal ankles one day.

Here is what it says about this building, it’s from 1785.

And the building next to it.

The one that this lady in the nice hat is standing in front of.


So that is my tour of the Silkmill, the buildings surrounding it and the cast of characters that have been a big part of my life. Hope you enjoyed! I’m off to sign and return a book to the fellas that own the deli next store. They requested that I sign their copy and since they used to feed my brother and I bologna and mayonnaise sandwiches stacked very high, it’s time I say thank you.



  • LeeNJ
    Posted June 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    “This is my mama watching from the Silkmill.” I now think we know from whence came your class! ;^)

    “From outside you can see the Silkmill from another angle and the window of the other bottom floor apartment.” Maybe, just maybe, you need a mason and/or building engineer to check out that wall! ;^(

    Thank you for that tour. There was a time when we would think nothing of the distance that separates us from Sparkill but alas, it now seems like a journey to the end of the earth. Such a short tether we’ve developed!

    • Post Author
      Posted July 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm

      Yes, the wall is being addressed… it’s over 100 years old so that part needs attention finally.

  • Kathlene
    Posted August 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    Thank you for the lovely tour. I always enjoy visiting these places that I shall never see with mine own eyes. I can only imagine the life then and now. A life so far from the one I have known. ( I have enjoyed the life I have known and have no regrets about any of it.) But to see actual pictures of the kinds of places I read about as a child is a wonderment. “Polished and glossy interiors’ and lush greens and ‘cobble stone steps’ outdoors, Oh, what contrasts.

  • Chastity
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Amazing! I love tours of these sorts.Such love and dedication went into these buildings….oh how I yearn for a time like this.THANK YOU for sharing!

  • liz stewart
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I was so happy to see this. You mentioned Elise Gaston. I knew her and her husband when I was a child. I have a painting that she gave me and I was thinking that perhaps I could locate her family and give this to them. I have traveled with this painting for over 35 years. They were very special people in my childhood. Would you by chance have any contact with their relatives? I am assuming they have both passed on, but I don’t know for sure. My parents who were there friends are diseased so I can’t ask them.


    liz stewart 720-406-3502

    • Post Author
      Posted September 3, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Yes, they’ve passed on and I don’t know their relatives unfortunately. You’re lucky to have their painting! How special.

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