This magnificent building is the only freestanding structure remaining at the preserve from the foundry years, rising alone from the forest cover. Yet as the photo below shows, West Point Foundry was a massive complex of industrial shops, railways and offices that filled the entire ravine. Built in 1865 - at the height of the foundry's production - this symmetrical Victorian structure with its Renaissance architectural details replaced a smaller, one-story structure adjacent to the foundry's machine shop that had served as its offices since the 1820s.
Ironically, the foundry's prosperity, which allowed the office building to be constructed, began a long decline almost the moment it was built. With the Civil War at an end, government orders for ordinance dried up, yet West Point Foundry's management was reluctant to transition operations away from munitions production. That, and increasing national demand for steel, signaled the beginning of the end of the foundry's most productive years.
However, that decline also helped preserve the office building in the remarkable condition you see it in today. The structure would be in far worse shape had it been continually occupied and expanded over decades, like other buildings in the complex. Extensive work has been done to stabilize the building to preserve it for future use, but it is currently closed to the public.
All images, except where noted, from the collection of the Putnam History Museum.
( North Side Marker : )
The Tracks of Time
Almost from the beginning, rail transport played an important role at West Point Foundry. Though situated to afford easy access to the Hudson River's shipping lanes, from an early date the foundry had direct railway sidings running between facilities and its riverside docks, with horses and oxen initially providing the power to haul heavily laden carts along the tracks. It wasn't until 1870 that the first steam-powered engine began working at the ironworks. Brought from the Ninth Avenue elevated railroad in New York City, where it had been damaged in an accident, it was repaired at the foundry for use in the complex. These circa-1890 photos give some sense of the system of rails and exchanges at use in the foundry. The remains of tracks and track beds can be seen throughout the preserve. The recreated rail turntable evokes the complex network of transport that heavy industry began to utilize in the 19th century.