HAVERSTRAW, N.Y. - When detailing how his and Andrea Caccuro’s home in Haverstraw came to be, Nelson Diaz offered an anecdote about Pablo Picasso, how the famous artist knew the potential of a canvas when he felt it.
“When you see that something has so much potential and it’s emptiness--for what it is, that’s what I saw here,” he said.
That blank canvas was a nineteenth century home in disrepair that was renovated and transformed into an AirBnB, Casa Hudson Penzione on Front Street in Haverstraw.
The Italian Renaissance-style villa that Caccuro and Diaz have brought back to life will be featured alongside the Bricktown Inn, the Garner Arts Center, and the Rockland Print Works Historic District in the “Historic Homes & Landmarks Tour.” The tour is presented by the Historical Society of Rockland County and the town of Haverstraw.
The couple closed on the home in 2009 and undertook a complete restoration, completed in 2015. Since then over 100 visitors have bedded down in the home which has sweeping views of the Hudson River.
Before the renovation the 19th century home was a former school that had fallen into disrepair. Diaz recounted being able to pull a brick from the exterior of the home and being able to see inside where Caccuro was cooking.
The couple put it lightly: the house was ready to collapse.
“Our vision was to respect the architecture,” and by doing that honor the area’s history, Caccuro said.
During the renovation process, Caccuro and Diaz would short-term rent out their place in Manhattan. They enjoyed hosting and entertaining, so they decided to offer up Casa Hudson as an AirBnB .
“When you see that something has so much potential and it’s emptiness, for what it is, that’s what I saw here."
The location affords visitors from the city and beyond the chance to experience the Hudson Valley and become acquainted with the 400-year-old village without spending hours traveling on a weekend.
And AirBnb attracts a unique demographic of people looking to explore the area and enjoy some of the ethnic offerings at restaurants like Union, La Cascada, and Empanada Monumental to name just a few.
“You get people on AirBnB that will never ever look for you on Trip Advisor or go to a traditional bed and breakfast,” Caccuro said.
Caccuro is a former fashion executive, who worked as the general merchandise manager for Liz Claiborne and ran the Isaac Mizrahi for Target line. Lessons she learned about branding and maintaining a pure and clean vision have been applied at Casa Hudson.
The house itself draws in people who want to "go back to page one." For example, there are no televisions in the house.
It was conceived by Diaz as a place for personal isolation and reinvention. A vanguard of South Beach, Miami in the ‘80s, Diaz felt a little bit of South Beach when he came to Haverstraw--a place for expression.
Diaz has a passion for history and specializes in Italian Renaissance art. When the couple bought the house, it fell into his lap that it was an Italian Renaissance-style villa--a modern interpretation in Haverstraw rather than a home that would be found in 16th century Rome.
The ochre-colored exterior of the home is reminiscent of Tuscany. (Diaz applied ochre oil pastels by hand to the bricks on the outside of the home.) Wood columns that were formerly painted white to look like marble are a deep brown, honoring and extracting the naturalness.
“The level of details he was able to bring out in materials was very different than what anyone else has done,” Caccuro said.
Inside, granite and grey colors, modern furniture evoke SoHo. Diaz’s artwork adorns just about every room, even the bathrooms.
Events like pasta making and tomato canning are offered while the couple experiments with the concept of “agriturismo.”