A Livingston House with a Hudson River View
Tracing the Nearly 185 Year History of a Federal Style Home in Athens, New York
By Carol Robinson
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Anthony Livingston Federal Style House 2009

2009 Apfel Family
Emily Brunner recalls renting a basement room in the Anthony Rutgers Livingston 
                                   House at age six in 1930.

Emily Brunner Recalls
Basement Rental
1930 Livingston House
Anthony Livinston Federal Style House dated to between 1906 and 1930

Estimated 1906 - 1935
Charles Becker
River Front View
Anthony Livingston Federal Style House between 1875 and 1900

Estimated 1875-1900
Coffin Family
Anthony Livingston Federal Style House 1864

Nichols Family

contested a will which Livingston executed, landing the knife wielding man in jail. Although the judge dropped the charges, the extensive trial and negative publicity likely influenced Livingston's decision to move later that year to another town on the Hudson River closer to New York City 18 .

Ownership - Nathanial Berry, followed by Judge Sylvester Nichols

In 1838, Livingston sold the waterfront property to a Parisian named Nathaniel Berry. Documents offer little information about Berry other than by the time Judge Sylvester Nichols purchased the house in 1845, the Frenchman seemingly resided outside the area as an agent handled the transaction. Nichols, a respected judge and pillar of the Athens community, served as Town Supervisor in 1838 and Village Clerk from 1843 to 1849. Nichols also financed the development of local industries and infrastructures such as gravel yards and turnpikes to stimulate regional growth. Property owners until 1871, the Nichols are probably the family in the 1864 picture 19 .

Ownership - The Coffins, Lydia and Reuben

In 1871, Lydia and Reuben N. Coffin, purchased 12 South Water Street. The Coffins shared the same last name prior to marriage indicating that the couple may have been distant cousins. Lydia was the daughter of William Coffin (d. 1858), the founder of Athens’ largest shipyard, while Reuben held military title as a Captain in the 22nd Cavalry in the Civil War. Although the Coffin family struggled financially in later years, the community in 1935 remembered the Coffins as refined, holding the Federal style house "to the fine traditions of the past". That the Coffins meticulously and fashionably maintained the family's property is perhaps best demonstrated by Ms. Coffin’s willingness to hold a large wedding reception inside the home after her granddaughter married the nephew of President William McKinley in 1897. Additionally, a photograph of the dwelling in 1906, the year that Charles Becker purchased the estate from the Coffin children, shows the exterior of the building as white-washed and neat in appearance 20 .

Ownership - Charles Becker

Between approximately 1906 and 1935, the inside of the house deteriorated largely because Charles Becker converted the dwelling into a rental and, at least by 1930, hired a local agent to manage room leases. Besides not living in the house, Becker's disinterest in maintaining the building likely stemmed from a decline in value associated with a slowdown in the regional economy as well as the increasing desire for young adults to purchase efficiently built homes with modern conveniences 21 . At the time of Emily Brunner's residence in 1930, the house did not have running water, electricity, and centralized heat. In addition to the lack of modern


18.Beers, 158.
Livingston moved to Tarrytown, New York.
19.Athens: Its People and Industry, 14, 17.
Greene County Office of Records, Deeds: N. Berry from A. Livingston: Z pg 151.
Greene County Office of Records, Deeds: S. Nichols from N. Berry: 35 pg. 359. 20.Greene County Office of Records, Deeds: R. Coffin from S. Nichols estate: 76 pg. 245.
Local Genealogy records support Lydia as being William’s daughter.
Witt, Richard A. New York Soldiers in the Civil War. Vol. A – K. Bowie: Heritage Books, 1999: 131.
Catskill Daily Mail: September 14, 1935.
Greene County Office of Records, Deeds: C. Becker from L. Coffin estate: 173 pg. 384.
Although Lydia Coffin died in 1898, her will stipulated that her daughter, Beulah Coffin, could remain living on the property for six years. Sale of the property and division of the assets among the Coffin children presumably occurred thereafter.
21.Clark, Clifford Edward. The American Family Home, 1800-1960. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986). pg.163.

Judge Sylvester Nichols

Sylvester Nichols

Athens Dry Dock on Hudson River pre-1930

Athens Dock
Athens, New York Shipyard on Hudson River pre-1930

Athens Shipyard
Athens Ferry on Hudson River 1925

Athens Ferry ˜1925
Clark Pottery in Athens, New York Pre-1930

Clark Pottery

Dernell Ice Tool Company in Athens, New York Pre-1930

Dernell Tool