After visiting Coxsackie recently, the Upstater blog found it seemingly abandoned, and posed these questions:
While the photos on the village’s website are indeed quite breathtaking, the village itself seemed oddly silent. As I wandered the streets [...] noting the spectacular architecture surrounding me, I couldn’t help by ask myself the same question over and over again: What’s going on here? Why is it so deserted?
[...] Is it the Coxsackie Correctional Facility? Is it the virus of the same name? Is it that Athens and Hudson, more active villages on the waterfront, are too close (one Upstater commenter speculated this might be the case)? Maybe it’s just that the right investor(s) hasn’t arrived on the scene yet?
It’s been a while since I’ve tramped around Coxsackie myself, but I do have a theory which might explain the empty buildings and desolate atmosphere encountered by Upstater.
In the previous decade, a bunch of prime “downtown” Coxsackie real estate was occupied by a large group—some consider it a Messainic cult—called the Twelve Tribes. Among other things, the group was known to recruit members outside concert venues in the area, and ran afoul of child labor laws circa 2001. If I recall correctly, their properties included some of the empty storefronts and boarded-up buildings depicted in Upstater’s post.
So is Twelve Tribes still present in Coxsackie? This 2009 article in The Daily Mail indicated that there was some movement of members away from Coxsackie, with their population having declined from roughly 100 to less than half that... and also that they observe the Sabbath, meaning they shut down on weekends. (On the other hand, Catskill also seems to be experiencing something of a decline, and they don’t have any such groups... that I know of.)
If any Greene County readers have some insight on Coxsackie’s fortunes, or the role of Twelve Tribes there today, please chime in with a comment, or send me a direct email.