The property was established by Captain William Patterson in the 1850s. Patterson was a Mississippi boat captain, and he built his new summer home in the Catskills because his first mate was from Roxbury (he actually lived in the house next door).
Patterson first built the small house on the corner with Scott Green Road, right next to the current property. Then, as he gained fortune, he built the current residence, The Captain’s House, with its three story bank barn.
The house and barn sat on 50 acres of land, with panoramic views of the valley. The house is a Center Hall Colonial, but the Captain built in some southern style architectural details. One of those details is the Widows Walk, the wrought iron rooftop platform. A popular romantic myth holds that platforms like these were used to observe vessels at sea. The wives of mariners would watch for their spouses’ return, often in vain as the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women as widows. Obviously, this house isn’t anywhere near the sea. But it definitely makes it the Captain’s House.
Apparently there is a sister house, identical to this one, in Mississippi, on the Mississippi river.
Around the turn of the century the property became a cauliflower farm. Then the barn, which had originally been built as a horse carriage barn, was converted into a chicken coop. Twenty five windows were installed on the south-east side of the barn, as chickens need daylight.
However, the chicken business didn’t last very long, as gas rationing during World War II made the transportation costs of the eggs from Roxbury to New York City way too expensive. The chickens left, but the twenty five windows that gave the barn its new, distinct look, stayed.
Our Carriage Barn is what is called a bank barn, getting its name from a simple but clever construction technique: the barn is built into the side of a cliff, thus permitting two levels to be entered from the ground.
The lower level of bank barns often housed animals, the upper levels served as threshing floor and storage. The hillside entrance gave easy access to wagons – and that is what the Roxbury Barn was built for originally – to serve as a horse carriage barn.
Nowadays, the lower level is where caterers have their prep area. The floor above, with it’s main entrance through the big barn doors, forms the main event space, together with the ballistered top floor.
Soon after, admiral Schreiber took one look at the house and the barn and fell in love with it.
Like Patterson, Earl Schreiber was captain of a ship: he served as a Rear Admiral on the USS Cassin Young during World War II, in the South Pacific. His ship had been hit by a torpedo and sank, but admiral Schreiber had survived and now retired a captain. He settled in occupied Japan, where he shipped lavish furnitures from Japan to Roxbury. The Captain’s House quickly filled up with his Japanese antiques. Schreiber then moved back to Roxbury and started a family. His wife was a débutante. Together they raised two kids at the house.
Admiral Schreiber became quite obsessive about the property, and kept everything in and around the house and the barn in tact. He also wouldn’t allow anyone on the property, which actually helped to preserve it all very well. Indeed, very little has changed ever since Captain Patterson built the house and the barn. And when Admiral Schreiber passed away in 1996, there were still a horse carriage and a Ford Model T in the barn.
Just before one of the current two owners, an Oscar winning documentary filmmaker, bought the property, the movie You Can Count on Me was shot at our place. The main characters, played by Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo, lived at The Captain’s House.
The film was nominated for two Oscars at the 2001 Academy Awards: Best Actress for Laura Linney and Best Original Screenplay. When Laura Linney walked the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre, Joan Rivers asked her about the shoot in the Catskills. Linney entrusted her that her dressing room was, in fact, a barn…