Snyder Estate Natural Cement Historic District | Accidentally Wes Anderson

Snyder Estate Natural Cement Historic District

Accidentally Wes Anderson - Ceramic Brick House Enlarge

Rosendale, New York | C.1887

Photo Credit: Accidentally Wes Anderson

Cement probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about iconic American monuments. But the Brooklyn Bridge, Washington Monument, the base of the Statue of Liberty, the wings of the U.S. Capitol, and thousands of other public works all share at least one feature. They’re made from Rosendale cement, first commercialized in Rosendale, New York. 

In Rosendale, the Snyder Estate Natural Cement Historic contains 122 contributing properties that are the remains of five plants that produced the famous cement. But before limestone was discovered there, the Snyder family had farmed the property as far back as 1755. In 1809, Christopher and Deborah Snyder commissioned a house for their newlywed son. Known today as the Century House, it is the oldest building in the district whose age is precisely known.

The Ceramic Brick House – seen here – was built in 1887 as a Second Empire-style mansion complete with mansard roof. In 1950, the windows and roof were renovated and it was refaced in polychrome glazed brick imported from Leeds.

By the end of the 19th century, the Rosendale district produced almost half the cement in America. Production peaked in 1899, at nearly 8.5 million barrels per year. But Rosendale cement eventually went out of fashion, replaced by quick-drying Portland cement. By 1920, only one factory still produced Rosendale cement: that of A.J. Snyder.

The Widow Jane Mine is the oldest, largest, and last standing mine on the property. While it is not clear how the Mine got its name, the Century House Historical Society has maintained the mine and the property for years and continues to share the 145-year history of cement manufacturing in Rosendale.

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