Wooden barn at Springhill Farm
The Dispatch

Journey To Springhill Farm

An Interview with artist and proprietor Mark Holthusen

This year, to ring in the launch of our Wildwood Collection (and snap some epic pics in the process), we took a trip out to the beautiful Hudson Valley in Upstate NY.

While the bucolic landscape and wabi-sabi country structures may have attracted us to Springhill Farm, what we discovered there was a legacy of artistic expression, and an enigmatic creator, conservationist, and steward of the land in Mark Holthusen. Sure, it was the perfect place to showcase our fall collection, but the stories and experiences shared there may rival the images we walked away with.

Mark Holthusen standing in a wooden barn at Springhill Farm

As an accomplished visual artist with a deep respect for history and natural beauty, Mark Holthusen seems ordained by fate to take ownership of the storied Springhill Farm. Once a music school and concert hall, the property had lain empty for years, allowing the surrounding wilds to reclaim much of the land, house, and barn on the property.

Wooden chairs stacked at Springhill Farm The exterior of a wooden barn at Springhill Farm

Since taking over in 2017, Mark has worked tirelessly to restore Springhill Farm to its former glory. Intrigued and inspired, we sat down with Mark to get a deeper look into his motivations, passions, and purpose.

Here’s what he had to say.

Mark Holthusen walking on the deck of the wooden and glass barn at Springhill Farm

Mark Holthusen holding old curtains in a barn at Springhill Farm

What brought you to Hudson Valley?

After spending a few years in a tiny apartment in New York City, I needed more space for my installations, sculpture and projection work and began looking for a workspace in the country. I drew a 2-hour circle around NYC and explored south and west before landing on my spot, north of New York—the Hudson Valley.

Old wooden barn at Springhill Farm Green chair and Springhill Farm sign

What inspired you to take on the project of renovating Springhill Farm?

I didn’t set out to renovate, but I found Springhill and fell in love with the property and its barn as a potential workspace. The barn is a central point here—I found out it was used as a theater and performance space by a music school from the 1920s to 1940s. The school was run at Springhill by a conductor and his wife, who was a cellist and a pianist.

Frosted glass windows from inside the barn An Eames Chair Exterior of the wooden and glass barn

What was your vision for updating the property?

The first time I saw the property, it looked a complete wreck. The years had taken their toll on many of the buildings, as it had been passed down for generations since the school had closed. I always imagined the barn as a workspace and studio, and a destination for clients like Taylor Stitch to use for outdoor shoots and content creation. To be honest, the first two years were a huge clean up job which meant filling endless dumpsters just to get it to a habitable state. In that time, I cleaned up a small apartment that I found under the barn so I had a place to stay.

Mark Holthusen sitting on an Eames chair

It felt really good to live up to my promise, adding a space for creatives to bring their work to life.

Mark Holthusen climbing down a ladder in the barn

Can you share the importance of community, and bringing back music and performance to the property?

I got into a bidding war and I heard that the other couple’s plan was to raze Springhill to the ground and start again. I made a deal with the previous owners to bring back concerts and performances to the barn as that was their family’s legacy. Last summer was the first time I was able to do that, after 5 years of the renovation and then the pandemic. It felt really good to live up to my promise, adding a space for creatives to bring their work to life. There is a pretty large creative community here so there is no shortage of amazing artists and musicians who are looking for space to showcase their work.

Mark Holthusen walking into a wooden barn

What’s next for you?

There is an old Dutch house from 1780 that is the final and biggest renovation job on the property. I have been removing centuries worth of additions to pare it back to its original hand hewn post and beam frame. The next step is to slowly restore it to its original form, which is painstaking work but I hope will be stunning when completed. I continue to book the barn for shoots and client projects, while I am working on an installation sculpture called The Heirloom that will premiere in Stockholm in September.

While the landscape of thick pine forests and sweeping meadows struck a harmonious chord with the vibes of our Wildwood Collection, meeting with Mark made our trip so much more than a quick getaway. It was a chance to get back in touch with our own creative drives, and a pertinent reminder to follow those passions, wherever they may lead. And hey, if they lead you somewhere long neglected, it’s just a fresh opportunity to roll up those shirt sleeves. Because when you find what makes you happy, you’ve found something worth working for.

Hat’s off to you, Mark.

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