the powelton club    
built 1882

n e w b u r g h ~ n e w y o r k

     Head north on Grand Street just beyond the city limits, and you'll enter a hamlet in the Town of Newburgh called Balmville. Its elegant bungalows resting on sweeping lawns, in addition to its classy country club, give Balmville an old school feel.

     Balmville is named after a historic tree called The Balmville Tree. The Balmville Tree is the oldest Eastern Cottonwood on record in the United States. The Balmville Tree is one of 3 trees listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's more than 85 feet tall and has a circumference of 25 feet. The people who lived around Newburgh in those days mistakenly thought that it was a Balm of Gilead, an exotic hybrid poplar related to cottonwoods. Hence, it was called the "Balm Tree," and the settlement that grew up around it "Balmville." The hamlet of Balmville began to appear on maps in the late 18th century. Born in approximately 1699, the Balmville Tree is at least 300 years old. And it's a miracle that it's survived that long; Eastern Cottonwoods normally last about 75 to 100 years.

     Today, the tree looks secure behind its stone wall. It is also as healthy as a 300 year-old can be: plenty of air, moisture and fertilizer reaches its roots, thanks to a tree feeding system in the pavement at its base. Also, it no longer has to fight the wind; its crown is guyed to a steel support column, rising from the ground beside the tree like a child protecting its aging parent. The tree's history, which spans three centuries, helped save it from the whine of chainsaws that threatened to claim it in 1994. Six consulting arborists had been asked to inspect the tree and make recommendations for its future. All recommended removal of the tree due to its advanced age and the presence of decay. One consultant did write that unusual measures could, possibly, prolong its life. The Newburgh town council had voted to remove the tree. However, a group of citizens led by Richard Severo, whose house looks straight out at the tree, asked the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to seek still another opinion. Since 1976, the DEC has had a permanent easement for the preservation and maintenance of the tree, and it was the DEC that retained ACRT. They visited the tree and prepared recommendations. There was substantial decay, but they also noted that the 83 foot tall tree continues to add sufficient wood each year, and has enough foliage to sustain itself When last measured, the circumference was more than 26'.

Information on the Balmville Tree is from the Web sites of the Society of Municipal Arborists and TERRA.


the sweeping lawns and elegant homes along Grand Street in Balmville
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old school elegance: the powelton club

     The Powelton Club is a full service private country club. Among its many facilities are golf, tennis, swimming pools and full service restaurants. The Powelton Club considers itself the physical and social centerpiece of this community. The property developed slowly and incrementally beginning with the site of the Powelton House, a rambling resort hotel that had burned in 1870, and gradually taking land from the surrounding Powelton Farms as the golf course was expanded. The Powelton Lawn Tennis Club of Newburgh, New York was formally organized on March 29,1882 by Homer Ramsdell, one of Newburgh’s leading businessmen, and three of his associates. Today, vestiges of its past remain, including the architecture of the clubhouse as well as a dress code that requires all-white attire on its tennis courts. For more information on The Powelton Club, visit its Web site at