Updated: Aug 15
Town of Blooming Grove - Blooming Grove has no shortage of historic homes, including Round Hill House, Old Dominion, Roe's Orhards, Pine Hill Farm, and many homes of the Civil War era with hiding places and tunnels for escaping slaves from the South seeking freedom in Upstate New York and Canada's North Country. With freedom and the end of the war these places became places of cherished history.
Stone House Farm was and is a significant part of that history, and it is about to enter a new era. This is just a taste of what it will offer, as described by its new owners, the Schofield and Mace Families. More details will be coming soon after a promised tour and review of some of its many plans. Here is what we know now:
Currently there are plans for a Restaurant named "Sugarhouse" with Farm to Table Dining, Wedding Venue, Agricultural and Community Special Events like Maple-Sugaring. With Schofields being longtime residents on Whitetail Run they are familiar with the farm as is his co-owner and cousin Doug Mace, who also holds the important position of Head Chef. They made a formal site plan and architectural review application to the Blooming Grove Planning Board last week of their plans for a project that will be in a position to offer guests and the greater Blooming Grove and Orange Community, future visitors and tourists something special, along with something else that is incredible. That is, its sigificance in being located precisely adjacent to the former Camp LaGuardia/Orange Development property, which the county is expecting to develop as a new County Park similar to Thomas Bull Park in Montgomery. Just this month County Executive Steve Neuhas said he is eager to push the official change to parkland forward and has the support of both the Legislature and Open Space Institute. Stone House Farm will become the first link, connecting the Heritage Trail and the new Schunnemunk Rail Trail now in the finishing stages of design and early stages of construction. The SRT will then pass right through Stonehouse Farm and its 250 managed acres. Combined with the County's additional over 250 acres of the LaGuardia site divided between Chester and Blooming Grove (with it's own amazing history) the area, and especially the beginning of the new Schunnemunk Rail Trail will hold a wealth of opportunities to educate and share the area's actual and natural history, beauty, and exploring opportunities. It will offer the beginning of the current 4 enticing stops along the way of the Trail from Chester, through Blooming Grove, the Village of Washingtonville, following the Moodna Creek to the Hamlet of Salisbury Mills and to Cornwall at the historic and rather famous gem of Eastern Orange County, the Moodna Viaduct. or "The Trestle" as it is more commonly known. Not done yet? The Trestle Valley is also where the Trailhead proper leads hikers up the Mountain to the Schunnemunk Ridge and its breathtaking views, and connects with Black Rock and numerous significant trails including the Long Path and the Appalachian Trail.
Plans for this sprawling property of 250 acres which include the main historic house, two huge barns (one of which will be remodeled for Weddings and other Ceremonial Events, Sugarhouse Restaurant and a plethora of additional exciting offerings in the future). There are still numerous planning and approval sessions to go, but they are clearly happy to be officially in the public process. The owners emphasized that every effort will be made to maintain the rural, agricultural and historic nature of the farm.
This has the potential of raising the Eastern Quadrant of the County from trying to become a tourism area to being a full-fledged Tourism Region and of a status to bring visitors from, well, just about everywhere.
We note that none of this would have been possible without Fred & Christie Mackerodt, now retired, who purchased the property and Stone House, built the barns, restored and kept the fields, and worked tirelessly for approximately the past 25 years to bring the site back to its original 250 acreage, restore the historic house as well as a second house on the property and filled the land with horses and cattle such that you might think you were driving up to the original farm built in 1854. Many in the area remember the GRAND birthday party held there to commemorate its 160th birthday nearly 10 years ago with visitors, and officials from all over the area, along with Sean Giery giving visitors rides with his stunning team of black Percherons.
Editor's Note: I personally want to thank Fred and Christie for being wonderful friends and neighbors for 20 years, and Fred for sharing a packet of historic documents about the house and property (which will be part of what I expect to be a long future of stories about this addition to our greater community). As an example of what kind of guy Fred was and is....when I first moved to my small 5-acre farm on Prospect Road and we chatted about our horses, I mentioned how I was struggling to keep up with the gangly fields in front. "No worries", he said, "I'll be over tomorrow". Not one to break his word he drove up Prospect Road in his big tractor, and 1, 2, 3 took care of the fields..IN the pouring rain with a big farm hat and smile.
Fred Mackerodt's contribution to our local history is significant beyond words, and we need to thank the Schofield and Mace Families for carrying it on.
Stonehouse Farm's 160th Birthday Party
Sean Giery, his Team of Percherons and Sidekick
giving tours to the lbirthday partygoers