The Sawkill Creek - Preserving & Enhancing Nature’s Beauty

The Sawkill Creek

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Preserving & Enhancing Nature’s Beauty

The mid-19th-century’s romantic spirit even pervaded the portion of the Sawkill located miles upstream from the Lower Falls.

There, factory owners had established grist, saw, and woolen mills during the 19th century in an area called Cedar Hill, which one traveler termed “by no means beautiful.”

In an attempt to improve the looks of the neighborhood, Cora and Thomas Barton, then owners of Montgomery Place and of a woolen mill in Cedar Hill, commissioned the architect A. J. Davis to design a farmhouse, mill, and workers’ housing. In 1867, Davis created plans for a “factory lodge” in the Swiss style for workers.   

The choice of this style for this structure was deliberate. During the mid-19th century, the image of the alpine cottage, with its connotations of the healthy, clean, simple life led by shepherds and woodcutters, was extremely popular.

The alpine style of the Swiss Cottage suited the steep hillside into which it was built, created a picturesque vignette for those passing by, and epitomized a design thought to be morally uplifting. In a twist typical of the romantic movement, factory laborers resided in a sort of fairy tale cottage on the banks of the Sawkill.

The Swiss Cottage. Photo: Historic Hudson Valley.

A Farm House in the Swiss Manner from The Architecture of Country Houses, by Alexander Jackson Downing (1850).

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