Location: Kingston, NY
Note: The photos below are keyed into the directory of the remaining abandoned Brick Works Buildings. Not shown are the buildings that have been removed in recent years.
At one time there was a thriving brick industry made up of one hundred and thirty companies along the Hudson River. Those companies employed seven to eight thousand workers. Due to expanding access to outside manufacturing markets and more stringent environmental regulations, the Hudson Valley brick industry went into decline. Most brick manufacturing on the Hudson died out in the second half of the 20th century with the last vestige of the industry closing in 2002. Today, little remains of the once thriving manufacturing plants. The Hutton Company Brick Works buildings are some of the last remaining structures of their kind to survive.
The Hutton Company Brick works was started in 1865 by William Hutton and John H. Cordts. Lumber production was Hutton’s primary business, so the daily operations of the brick works were left to Cordts. The Cordts Mansion, an enduring symbol of Cordts’ role in the brick works can still be seen overlooking the former company’s holdings. By 1870 the Hutton Brick Works was one of the highest volume brick manufacturers on the Hudson, having turned out approximately ten and one half million bricks. Cordts retired in 1887. After John Cordts death in 1891 Hutton became the sole owner of the brick works, presiding over the company until his death in 1897. The business was incorporated and run by six family stockholders, included Hutton’s two sons, until it was sold to the Jova Manufacturing Company. The Company was sold once more to Terry Staples in 1970. Ten years later the plant closed.
The Hutton Company bricks were used in construction throughout the Hudson Valley and in New York City. Many notable structures like Yankees Stadium were built with the company’s bricks. Today, the most obvious remains of the Hutton clay products is the brick beach of Kingston Point.
The Hutton Brick Works is a weird place. There are signs of modernity like sheet rock interior walls and pre-fab structures. However, there are also Victorian era factory office buildings, as well as historic sheds that are nothing more than steel skeletons. When I was there, it looked like the current owner or possibly the city, was in the process of fencing off all of the buildings with chain link and barbed wire. I’m not sure why, there isn’t much left to protect. There are plans to redevelop the area as part of The Hudson Landing project but looking at an early draft of the construction plans, the development appears to end just north of the Hutton Brick Works buildings. Regardless, if you want to see this little piece of history, there is no time like the present. Like almost every other abandoned site these days, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before it is wiped from the face of the earth in the name “progress”.
Addendum: Shortly after posting this, Rob from Hudson Valley Ruins left a comment indicating that the Hutton Brick Works buildings are being prepared for the arrival of Smorgasburg, an artisanal food market. So, starting in June you can visit the site without having to trespass, and you can score some delicious treats while you’re there.