10 Top Towns

Settled by the Dutch, Quakers, or Huguenots, nestled in the Catskills or on the river’s banks — these 10 Valley communities all have one thing in common: They’re great places to call home



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moffat library washingtonvilleA national and state historic site, Washingtonville’s Moffat Library features Goshen brick, a clock tower, a grandiose fireplace, and Tiffany stained-glass windows

Photograph by Jason Hermann

Orange County

Washingtonville

Established in 1731 as Matthews Field, this village in the Town of Blooming Grove was known as Little York before changing its name in 1818 to honor the nation’s first president (Washington did not sleep here — but he did water his horse at a trough in the center of town).

With many residents making the daily commute into Manhattan or Rockland County, Washingtonville is a true bedroom community — recently built, single-family homes occupy the tree-lined streets. And for such a tiny burg, the village recreation department offers a wealth of activities for kids. Soccer and basketball leagues, a roller hockey rink, a skateboard park, and (just recently) two new playgrounds have been installed, according to Ronnie Cudmore, circulation supervisor at the Moffat Library (and a 23-year village resident). “And both the Boy and Girl Scouts are very big here,” she adds. “Our Memorial Day Parade is pretty well-packed for such a small town.”

There are seven churches in the village, all of which “are pretty active,” says Cudmore. And school sports events and other goings-on are well supported not just by parents, but by the whole community. “I always take my grandkids to see the high school play,” she adds.
The village has two distinctive landmarks. For architectural beauty, the circa-1887 Moffat Library, with its gorgeous Tiffany stained-glass windows, rivals any library of its size in the country. And America’s oldest winery, Brotherhood, offers tours, tastings, special events (and, of course, great vino). Its underground cellars were originally dug by its French Huguenot founder in 1839; they are still in use today.

Like many a small town, “it seems like everybody knows everybody” in Washingtonville, Cudmore says. “But this is nice. All the town comes out to help those in need.”

Town Facts:

Location: Central Orange County
Population: 6,100
Median Household Income: $63,000
Fun Fact: Brotherhood Winery is named after “The Brotherhood of New Life,” a 19th-century utopian commune in the Valley
Notable residents: Screenwriter/directors James Mangold and Tony Gilroy; NY Yankees GM Brian Cashman

» Next stop: Pearl River, Rockland County

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