The Hudson Valley is dotted with small towns and hamlets. One such village is Millbrook, which was settled by Quakers in the middle eighteenth century. If you’ve never been, Millbrook is as picturesque as they come; and a state of mind for its residents. There is polo and hunting. And huge estates. Once best known for the Hitchcock estate that was lent to Timothy Leary in the ’60s, it is still trippy but in a different way — with its rolling hills, sprawling, well groomed farms, and the who’s who that has summered and lived here for ages. The village has seemingly always had a horsey, preppy vibe.
There were a handful of new restaurants before the pandemic, but as the population surged over the last year and a half some terribly chic new stores have opened. The locals are loving them, and they are hoping more will follow. And don’t forget about polo. Mashomack Polo Club welcomes spectators to come and tailgate for free.
Tree-lined Franklin Avenue is the backbone of Millbrook. Most of the shops and restaurants in town are there. The Kieselstein-Cord gallery space is at the eastern end of Franklin, right after the Tribute Gardens. Barry Kieselstein-Cord, the well known and multi-talented jewelry designer and artist, has lived in Millbrook for decades.
The Gallery space is newly redecorated, and features a Kieselstein-Cord chosen industrial table topped with some of his signature bags. New merchandise is always being added to the mix.
Interesting bronzes by the artist reflect the themes of the jewelry. There is also a collection of vintage cameras in the front of the gallery.
Barry Kieselstein-Cord mixes mediums. Even while he was designing jewelry, and bags, he was always taking photographs; and publishing them. The photographs informed the accessories and the sculptural pieces informed the artistic photos. These pieces line the walls and floor of the gallery.
There is a collection of superb buckles, rings, necklaces and other jewelry, along with more bags. One of his pieces, a necklace, was worn by Cannes jury head Spike Lee at last week’s film festival.
Photographic subjects include friends, family, objects, sculptural pieces, still lives and imaginary objects.
Kieselstein-Cord Gallery, 3264 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Right next store to the Gallery is Canoe Hill. Pre-pandemic, it was a crowded oyster bar and restaurant, with packed tables in the small space. Obviously, that had to change. It is now a full service market and grocery, serving specialty cocktails, a small menu, and more. There are a few tables out front and out back if you want to purchase things to eat at the store.
There is a large board with the days’ cocktails, and prepared food, pastries, etc. Shelves have been installed, and are full of all sorts of products for the home and table.
Country kitchen supplies mix with shelves replete with wines and other packaged foods. What used to be full of tables is now full of baskets of fresh bread and shelves with food from around the world.
This nook at the back of the store sells totes, blankets and tee shirts along with more foodstuff. The door to the left leads to the back yard terrace. An interesting pivot to a new hybrid type of business.
Canoe Hill, 3264 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Of course Millbrook has its own diner. This one specializes in Greek cuisine.
Millbrook Diner, 3266 Franklin Street, Millbrook
A few blocks away one comes across some antique marketplaces. Located in a woodframe house, one space houses 35 dealers. There were several featuring vintage kitchen and dining items. We had left our moka pot back in the city and had been unable to find a new one in the villages we visited. We did come upon an old Neapolitan espresso pot that looked nothing like a moka, but it made excellent espresso.
Most of the pieces here were smaller, and there were a lot of unusual lighting fixtures.
The booths displayed many things that complement a country lifestyle. I found the old tools and instruments repurposed as hanging art to be intriguing. Vintage jewelry and clothing were well represented.
Millbrook Antique Center, 3283 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Another take on tools and instruments was in a three story “mall” nearby. There was a good selection of paintings and art, many in intricate original frames. Rare books and vintage clothing were in the mix.
Over 30 dealers have a variety of offerings. Several dealers specialize in tabletop goods from different periods. Lamps were also plentiful, along with some furniture. You can also search for family portraits.
I had not seen a collection of vintage dolls and plush animals in this country before. Clothing and toys rounded out the eclectic collection. There is lots to see in these spaces.
Millbrook Antiques Mall, 3301 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Franklin Avenue on a mid-summer afternoon. Don’t forget to visit The Merritt Bookstore at 55-57 Front street. I think there are as many independent booksellers up here than there now are in New York.
Several extremely chic new stores have just opened in the village. The Millbrook Home is one of them. The owners, Ford Skoglund and Jeremy Wallace, are an interior designer and the ex-Global SVP of design for Calvin Klein respectively. They bring oodles of taste to their store.
Home accessories are everywhere. Clothing is found in some rooms at the back of the shop. Slippers are dropped around the boutique. Good product and impeccable display enliven the boutique.
Casual clothing is rounded out with loungey clothing and home and personal fragrances.
A good range of glasses and table top joins fun rugs, pillows and other wonderful touches to make daily living better. It is cheeky chic. The store brings 21st century newness to this neck of the woods. Especially clothing with the clothing, which is non-prep.
The Millbrook Home, 3300 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Creel & Gow is relatively new to the area as well. At the very end of Franklin Street. If you don’t know their store on 70th Street in New York, go take a look. The new store is so much larger and airier, and offers a wider range of pieces. Everything has the Jamie Creel touch, but countrified, with light colors and larger pieces. Animals still abound as does good taste.
The wide open space lets him add pieces, like the white peacock, and the fantasy wicker. Columns, birdcages and dollhouses mix with vintage globes and small taxidermy.
Louis XVI furniture sits amidst country tables and straw pieces. The mixture works just fine. At the end of the next room is a door that leads to more wonderful finds.
19th century architectural models sit on a partners’ desk, mixed with a globe hanging lamp, and various embroidered textiles. The fun Jamie must have finding all these pieces in his travels is made tangible.
Creel & Gow, 3424 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
When you walk through the door at the end of the Creel and Gow space, you are in Orangerie. The shop is a celebration of garden life. If you are after a chic garden, or winter garden, start here. The main room is full of vases and planters, as well as cut flowers.
Of course there are a variety of plants and outdoor planters of all periods. Statuary and seating, too.
A greenhouse is full of all types and sizes of plants and flowers. Along with more planters and stands.
There is a nice selection of decorative items for the table, and on and around the table. Elevate your entertaining, out in the garden or inside. Vintage or new, it is all special.
Orangerie, 3424 Franklin Avenue, Millbrook
Creel & Gow and Orangerie are across the street from the gatehouse of the Hitchcock Estate. Turn right on to NY 44, and head to Amenia, just down the road.
Amenia is a spit of a hamlet where Route 44 and Route 22 cross. There had always been some interesting shopping here, along with the small Four Brothers Drive-In. The drive-in existed before Covid, but it is even more popular now. With live music events, restaurants, miniature golf, and camping and lodging, it is a one-stop venue for safe fun and entertainment.
RiverTown Trade opened its Amenia branch over Labor Day. Conceived by Samuel Gold and his creative collaborator Aimee Rabinowitz, it offers an interesting curation of many different products. Aimee created a series of Covid accessories taking off after the Chanel No. 19 logo. The products flew off the shelves at their other store. The trend is continuing.
There is a selection of paparazzi photos by Ron Galella and Sixties Classic Rock photos by Elliott Landy. If it looks familiar, Mr. Gold used to operate all the stores in Ian Schrager, Mandarin Oriental and other hotels.
Casual caftans and bags are located at the back of the store. There is a real sprinkling of products. Most are produced by artisans and artists. All are unique.
Amusing stationery and many books are arranged on the tables. Bath and beauty products too, along with lots of one-of-a-kind handbags. There is even a photo of a long-ago Madonna for sale.
Rivertown Trade, 3300 Route 343, Amenia
Tent has also just opened. Owned by a decorator who makes his home in Millbrook, it is located in a vintage wooden gas station that had housed other, funkier, antique shops in the past.
You will find lots of bespoke furniture at one end of the shop. Along with rugs and textiles.
Along with amusing decor from around the world, there is a nice selection of items for entertaining and for the table. From a red lacquer bar set, to tumblers and teapots, you can pick your look.
Tent, 4950 Route 22, Amenia
On the way home we passed some wineries, and saw a sign for barbecue. BBQ in upstate New York? Why not? There were a few tables outside where you could eat, but we decided to do takeaway and eat it sitting overlooking the majestic Hudson River. The ribs and pulled pork were good, but the grilled eggplant BBQ with cheddar was epic.
‘Cue 2 Go, 230 County Rte 6, Germantown
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.