Hobart- a small historic gem
The Catskills are known for their beautiful mountains, amazing food and spirits, and great entertainment. And while these experiences all measure among the Nation’s highest rated, it is the small towns and villages that dot the landscape that attract some of the most noteworthy attention. Historical settlements with a rich past, and an active present can be found throughout the region.
The village of Hobart is one of the highlights among these top-spots. Nestled in the northern part of Delaware County, in the town of Stamford, Hobart sits quaintly along the upper reaches of the West Branch of the Delaware River. It is located on New York Route 10, which can be reached from the south and east via state Routes 28, 23 and 42, and from the north and west via Interstate 88 and Route 10. During its long history, which dates back to the Revolutionary War, it has been a regional mill center and is currently home to one of the County’s largest employers.
Hobart straddles the Delaware River and is framed by two bridges connecting the north and south sides of the village. Though the village is tiny, it has a big impact with its picturesque river setting which includes an historic stone bridge, Old Mill pond, and two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Complex and the Hobart Masonic Hall.
An English-style “book village”
In addition to being visually and historically rich, the village offers many diversions. With six bookstores, an art gallery, a coffee spot that serves breakfast and lunch, and a newly opened proper English pub, the town has undergone an unlikely transformation into something akin to an English village.
Hobart has been known as “Payne’s Mills,” “Waterville,” and “Tinkertown,” but for more than half a decade now it’s been known as the Book Village of the Catskills.
In 2005, Don Dales, a local entrepreneur and musician, established the only book village east of the Mississippi in Hobart. Today, there are six bookstores in the village with over 20 other established booksellers within a 50-mile radius making the Hobart Book Village a not-to-be-missed destination for book lovers everywhere. Hobart, still very much an agricultural community, is also becoming known as a center for the book arts, hosting businesses that print, publish, and restore books.
Hobart hosts cultural events regularly, including art shows, authors’ readings, a Private Book Seller Day, and the Winter Respite Lecture Series. There’s an annual Festival of Women Writers in September and a short story contest with only one rule: you must mention the town of Hobart at least once. Two huge semi-annual sales, on Memorial Day and Thanksgiving weekends, draw hundreds of local residents, vacationers, and collectors.
Culture, Cuisine, Community and More
From its humble beginnings, Hobart is now its own eclectic community of passionate bookshop owners, unique shops selling a variety of wares, and dining establishments offering a range of delicious menus. And nature lovers take note, the 26 mile Catskill Scenic Rail Trail runs along the southern side of the river and can be accessed via Railroad Avenue, just past the lush well-maintained park. The trail begins in Bloomville and continues onto and through South Kortright, Hobart, Stamford, Grand Gorge, Roxbury and finally terminating at Margaretville, NY. It is open all year round for hiking, horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling & cross-country skiing.
One would be forgiven for assuming that Hobart is an island of cultural activity in a rural sea of quiet country living. But Hobart sits within a vibrant region comprised of an eclectic mix of people with deep roots in the community and new transplants escaping urban lives, featuring a diversity of occupations including farming, manufacturing, artists, health-care, technology, education, and more. For instance, just 3 miles North of Hobart on State Route 10 is Stamford, with offerings of variety of dining, art and entertainment options. In the opposite direction on 10, and just minutes away, is Bloomville, home to Table On Ten, a highly rated eatery and inn where locals and tourists come from miles around to stay and dine. Sixteen miles further southwest on 10, sits Delhi, the political and cultural center of Delaware County, New York and home to Suny Delhi, part of the renowned State University of NY system for higher education.
At one time, Delaware county was the largest producer of dairy products of any county in the U.S. Today, in Delhi and the neighboring towns like Hobart, Hamden and Walton, the number of working dairy farms is much less, but the verdant valleys and pastures that fueled the industry still exist and are powerful attractions for both tourists and new transplants, looking to get away from the more congested urban areas. People are drawn to the area’s year-round outdoor beauty and recreational activities, as well as its rich arts and culture offerings. Whether it is live, original music, world-class theater or thought-provoking and inspiring fine art, it is within arms-reach. Because of all of this, and the fact that the area is within relatively easy reach of New York City, many New Yorkers see it as an attractive location for second homes.