Cheap Old Houses — new HGTV show debuts with upstate New York roots

by Sandra Hutchinson

As seen on HGTV’s Cheap Old Houses, hosts Ethan and Elizabeth at a historic home in Gasport, NY.

Elizabeth Finkelstein says that “even as a two-year-old I understood the magic of old houses.”

Her parents, Dr. Joel and Gail Solomon, raised their family in one of the most historic homes in Queensbury, New York, on Chestnut Ridge Road. Called the Nehemiah Wing house, it was named after one of the 19th century owners, a descendant of Abraham Wing, a founder of nearby Glens Falls. The original clapboard part of the home is believed to date to the 18th century. The brick addition was constructed in 1852.

Ms. Finkelstein’s appreciation of old homes has turned into a lifelong passion for her and her husband Ethan; an Instagram account with 1.6-million followers; and now a TV show Cheap Old Houses that will debut on Monday, Aug. 9, on HGTV and Discovery Plus.

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A holiday visit to Gardenworks, Salem, NY

by Sandra Hutchinson

Last Sunday, we headed out to Gardenworks Farm, in Salem, NY, to visit with our good friends and the farm’s owners, Meg and Rob Southerland, and to select our Christmas tree. It was just like old times, piling into the car with our two sons, worried about whether our younger son would feel car sick on the drive over hill and dale to get to the farm. Surprise — our “boys” are now in their mid-twenties, having returned home during the pandemic to work from our home, yet both were enthusiastic about accompanying my husband and me on our tree venture — and no one got car sick! Indeed, I had hoped to go to the farm a few days earlier, but my sons complained that their work schedules didn’t allow them to go then, and how could I even consider not including them in such a classic family tradition?

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Stay-at-home report from northern New York State

By Sandra Hutchinson

I know there’s no shortage of people ruminating on the Web about being stuck at home and the various ways they are trying to cope during the Covid-19 shutdown. I am intensely grateful that I can do my work for our business from home, I don’t often have to venture into public places, and I don’t have young children at home who need help with schoolwork! Above all, I am thankful that most of my friends and family seem to be healthy and weathering the storm.

The line up on our kitchen counter. Grateful to have a can of Lysol spray.

But since we can’t physically travel, and are pretty much confined at home, I haven’t published an article on my blog since January, when I wrote about our visit to Frida Kahlo’s home in Mexico City. So even though I can’t share some wonderful destination, I can share what’s been happening in my house in northern New York State.

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Nifty items in new exhibit at Old Fort House Museum, Fort Edward

By Sandra Hutchinson

A newly-opened exhibit at the Old Fort House in Fort Edward highlights significant objects and paintings in the collection, and reveals some surprising information tied to those objects. Click here for the museum’s Web site.

“A Century of Collecting: Treasures from the Old Fort House” was researched by guest curator Jillian Mulder, who serves as curator of the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls.

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Tea Island, Lake George, circa 1882-1892. Helena Dewey Little

“I’m hoping that people recognize that Fort Edward has this terrific collection,” says Ms. Mulder. “Go see it. Take some pride in it. It’s worth valuing.”

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Our Eli Terry, Jr. Pillar & Scroll clock

By Sandra Hutchinson

Early this spring, I attended an auction in Washington County, New York, with the intention of bidding on a Federal mahogany console table for my front hall. While at the preview, I noticed a shelf with several clocks that were to be included in the auction later that evening.

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Thanksgiving dinner: the mother of all menus

By Sandra Hutchinson

I’d bet that nearly everyone reading this can recite, item by item, every single dish served at their family’s Thanksgiving table while growing up. The Thanksgiving menu is pretty much inviolate. Even the slightest change is noticed by all. I think I still remember the year my mother started adding apples to her stuffing.

Getting the place cards ready—Pilgrims ready to be labeled, along with their flock! The turkey cards are from Caspari. (See my post from 8/16/16 about Caspari.)

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Fear of falling firs

By Sandra Hutchinson

By this time, less than a week before Christmas, most people who are going to have a Christmas tree in their home have already set it up and decorated it. But if you are one of those folks who follow the Old World tradition of not putting the tree up until Christmas Eve, or if you’ve had a disaster befall you similar to the one I’m about to describe, I would like to offer some hard-earned advice on the importance of an extra-sturdy, heavy-duty tree stand.

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2016 Christmas tree at New York Public Library’s main branch, Fifth Avenue, NYC—undoubtedly securely anchored!

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Thanksgiving dinner: the mother of all menus

By Sandra Hutchinson

I’d bet that nearly everyone reading this can recite, item by item, every single dish served at their family’s Thanksgiving table while growing up. The Thanksgiving menu is pretty much inviolate. Even the slightest change is noticed by all. I think I still remember the year my mother started adding apples to her stuffing.

A flock of place cards! The turkey cards are from Caspari (see my post from 8/16/16 about Caspari).

Getting the place cards ready—Pilgrims ready to be labeled, along with their flock! The turkey cards are from Caspari. (See my post from 8/16/16 about Caspari.)

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Chronicle Classic Photos: 1980-2016

By Sandra J. Hutchinson

I may be just a tad biased, but I think the current exhibit at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls is a MUST SEE.

The exhibit, which opened October 27, features nearly 100 photos from The Chronicle’s over 36 years of publication — images that illustrate intriguing human interest stories and community events that have defined recent decades. There are many familiar faces and photos of major events that have taken place in our region. The exhibit also includes some of the infamous April Fools front pages (remember the bridge across Lake George?).

Here’s one of the signature photos, taken by me, while aloft at the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The dragon's view. Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival

The dragon’s view at the Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival

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When your dream home is an old house

By Sandra Hutchinson

A version of this essay was published in The Chronicle newspaper, on September 29, 2016.


My dream home is an old house.

I grew up primarily in New York’s northern Westchester County, in several different mid-20th century houses. My father died when I was 14, and two years later, after my mother remarried, she decided to buy a rambling historic house and nearly 200 acres upstate, in rural Montgomery County, near my grandparents’ farm, where she had been born and raised.

So she and my new stepfather and my 16-year-old self moved from Chappaqua, New York to an isolated 18th century home with six working fireplaces, drafty single pane windows, only an oil-fueled generator for electrical power, a big Dutch door, and ghosts. To say that the move necessitated some adjustment on my part would be a gross understatement.

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