Saving the Nut House- Wawarsing Committee Seeks to Protect More of Yama Farms

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WAWARSING – Things are looking up for Yama Farms, the historical treasure in Napanoch. Members of the Town of Wawarsing Historic Preservation Committee are seeking designation of the Yama Trout Hatchery as an historic landmark, as well as the Nut House (named for the abundant walnut trees growing around it). The committee has already helped preserve eight other structures at the former Yama Farms, including the Tea House, stables, and the Hut, where the original owners of Yama Farms lived almost a century ago.

All this marks a major improvement in the outlook for Yama Farms. A year ago the last vestiges of this once glorious mountain house were threatened with extinction. A fire had heavily damaged the lodge at the entrance, and the owner, Ireneuz Kalinowski, planned to “erase all traces of Yama Farms.” This dismal prospect has been avoided, and the landmark structures will be preserved.

Yama Farms Inn was built in 1913 by Frank Seaman and his wife Olivia Sarre, who visited Japan for years at a time to plan for their hideaway in the Catskills. The resort was built with many features of Japanese style, right down to the way that structural beams were cut and fitted together. The resort was popular with many notable people of that era, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and the author, John Burroughs, who loved Yama for its tranquil gardens, Asian architecture and golf course.

Along with Yama Farms, the Historic Preservation Committee has helped designate several other notable landmarks in the Town of Wawarsing. They include the Hunt Memorial Building, which was built in 1917 as the local headquarters for the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Recently, the committee helped preserve the Quaker Meeting House and Cemetery, a meeting place for the first settlers of Greenfield that dates back to 1807, and the Greenfield School, a one room schoolhouse that dates back to circa 1836, and was in use for more than a century.

The committee also recently promoted member Linda Geiselhart as the new Commissioner for Public Relations. The all-volunteer group recently talked about possibly setting a plaque at the Stony Brae Pub in Cragsmoor, which, according to Mrs. Geiselhart, was one of the original buildings brought down from the land that was flooded from the Rondout Resevoir.

Soon, Mrs. Geiselhart will share photos and fun facts about some of the committee’s projects like this one in the upcoming issues of the Journal.

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