Gimme Roots

Gimme roots, ivy creeping on brick walkwayShe opens the door to a Lace Mill gallery. She reminds me of every favorite Art and English teacher I’ve ever had. She’s an accomplished writer, poet and Mom. A part of Ulster County and its thriving artist community for her entire life, Holly is one of the people that makes our area the amazing place it is.

As we sit on soft leather couches in the gallery, other residents stop in and out, asking for an opinion on an art project or quick feedback on an inspiration. I ask her if she knows her neighbors, really knows her neighbors. Is The Lace Mill a social building? Her eyes light up.  Residents of The Lace Mill bond over everything: their families, growing up, religion, even politics. At this point in time, almost everyone in the building seems to love the Netflix show, The Adventures of Kimmy Schmidt.

“I do know my neighbors, and I love my neighbors!” extolls Holly. “I was thinking just today that it would be weird for me to move away and not see them anymore. And that’s after less than a year.”  In that time, Holly’s life has changed for the better. Within a place she calls Home, she embraces her true self: a comforting, welcoming, and happy woman. With great shoes.

Holly at The Lace Mill

Holly dressed as Queen Bee for Sinterklaas, outside The Lace Mill

“It’s been a hard few years in these parts,” Holly says.  “Because the apartments are subsidized, my rent is lower than average local rents, and that’s changed my life substantially.  I had been fighting for a while the idea of having to leave Ulster County, which has been home all my life, to find some place more affordable. Since being here, I’ve applied for artist residencies (where you go and just write for an entire month), and I am leading a poetry workshop in Missouri this summer, at an academic conference about Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote The Little House on the Prairie books, which are important historical documents about pioneer life.  Maybe even more exciting, I am going to have an article in the local paper, which I have wanted to do since High School. Lace Mill has let me focus on creating the life I want, rather than imagining it to be somewhere else, in some imaginary future.”


She’s realized what a role being safely housed plays in much mental illness, something she spoke about at a recent public hearing in support of Landmark Place. She’s seen first-hand how housing stability plays a huge role in productivity, and what a difference secure housing makes in a person’s life.

Because she’s got a solid place to live, Holly can now open herself to new writing opportunities and collaborations. She plans to hold poetry workshops and finish her new book. Since moving in to The Lace Mill, she’s coordinated several group shows, called Samplers, and gave a public reading of A Christmas Carol in December. Seeing people excited to create new work is what makes the time putting together things like The Spring Sampler worth it, and she loves brainstorming with other creative spirits in The Lace Mill.

She and I agree that having a secure place to live makes you a happier person. Life is hard enough. There are lots of people suffering from all sorts of different things. “I think that when you chronically don’t know where you’re going to live in a year, mental wellness suffers. Everybody needs a place to regroup and ‘just be.’ Moving around a lot, or not having a place to land — it definitely makes a hard situation worse.”

Holly knows what Home means to her. She happily and knowingly appreciates her neighbors, and newfound opportunities. Having roots for the first time, Holly thrives, more and more every day.

This interview has been updated, reflecting a few of Holly’s more current artistic activities.

Rachel Barnett headshotFreelance writer Rachel Barnett wrote this interview while serving as Editorial Assistant in RUPCO’s Communications Department (Fall 2016) as part of the SUNY-Ulster Internship Program. Rachel too knows the important connection between housing and mental wellness; her brother strives for mental wellness, too. Rachel has seen the benefits of stable housing and its affect on his life, and hers. A lover of all things avante garde, Rachel too appreciates fabulous glasses and great shoes.  



168 Applications Make Deadline for Lace Mill Lease-up Lottery

Lace-Mill-sheetrocking-IMG_3663As of the March 31 deadline, RUPCO has received 168 applications for The Lace Mill, a creative placemaking project in the artistic heart of midtown Kingston. RUPCO is preparing to lease 55 newly developed, live/work apartments preferenced for artists in Ulster County later this summer.

“We’ve had a terrific turnout from the artist community for this affordable housing opportunity,” notes Kevin O’Connor, CEO at RUPCO. “With 55 units and 168 interested parties, this 3-to-1 submission rate demonstrates the demand and need for affordable housing in the region. At RUPCO, we’re looking forward to screening applicants efficiently and expeditiously in the coming weeks. All 168 applications received through March 31 will now be entered into a lottery and processed for eligibility. To those who missed the deadline, you can still get your application in late, as we will continue to accept tenant applications.” Applications are available online at and can be submitted by mail or in person at 289 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401.

Since breaking ground last year, RUPCO has been steadily renovating The Lace Mill, a century-old lace curtain manufacturing facility, located at 165 Cornell Street, Kingston. “Over the next six months, our conservative lease-up schedule for The Lace Mill is for 14 residents to move in by June 15. Then, depending upon unit completion, seven tenants per month will take up residence at The Lace Mill. By December 15, 2015, the last six households should be in,” adds O’Connor. “If more units are available, we’ll invite residents to move in early. There’s going to be a lot of activity going on at The Lace Mill in the coming months and Midtown will bustle with creativity. We see The Lace Mill as an integral part in Kingston’s ongoing urban revitalization, in this case through affordable housing for artists.” Located within the City of Kingston’s Midtown Arts District, The Lace Mill joins art-focused business neighbors Bailey Pottery Equipment Corp., R&F Handmade Paints, American Made Monster Studios, ColorPage, Cornell Street Studios, and The Shirt Factory. The blossoming arts district connects the dots between established businesses and attractions like the Ulster Performing Arts Center on Broadway, Arts Society of Kingston in the Rondout, and citywide galleries. The Kingston Midtown Arts District designation is part of Mayor Shayne Gallo’s larger BEAT (Business, Education, Arts, Technology) Initiative.

RUPCO has been creating homes, impacting lives and building community since 1981.  A leader in homeownership, foreclosure counseling, energy-efficiency and rental assistance programs, RUPCO is expanding its programmatic offerings throughout the Hudson Valley with the recent RDAC affiliation and urban revitalization projects in Newburgh, Saugerties, and Kingston. For more information, visit

Released from Kingston, NY on April 1, 2015 by RUPCO Communications