Bellvale Community • Chester, NY

About Us:
Bellvale was established as a Bruderhof community over twenty years ago. It is similar to other large settlements in that it is made up of a mix of families and singles, young and old, who live, work, and worship together. Bruderhof children attend our elementary school and many adults work within the settlement. 

The Bellvale community is located in New York’s southern Orange County, near the New Jersey border. We are surrounded by forested hills and are lucky to have a scenic pond in the middle of our grounds. Most of our buildings were originally built as a home and school for troubled boys, established by a Catholic order in the late 1950s. The buildings now provide the Bruderhof with apartments, offices, an elementary school, a communal dining room, kitchen, and chapel.

Connecting with Neighbors:
We extend an open invitation to friends and neighbors to dine with us most Saturday evenings. Several times throughout the year we host seasonal events open to the public, such as a family fun day. We often combine efforts with area municipalities, churches, or community clubs to work on service projects, which helps build community in many directions. Our children also provide companionship at local nursing homes. And Bellvale members enjoy the events the region has to offer, such as the Warwick Applefest and Sugarloaf’s Fall Festival.

Point of Interest:
Only an hour’s drive from Manhattan, our property borders the Appalachian Trail, providing magnificent hikes right outside our back door.

Meet some of the people who live at Bellvale:

Tina: Hi, my name is Tina Wright. I am thirty-eight years old. I have lived here at Bellvale with my husband, Jeremy, and our three children for several years now. I am a Dental Hygienist so I spend most of my day in our dental clinic.

The best part about living here is the nature – we have a beautiful lake that attracts wildlife. Behind it is Snake Mountain. There is a beautiful path that encircles the lake with a scenic boardwalk that I venture on daily to gain strength from God’s nature. My two boys, Justin and Myron, love to fish in the lake with their dad. It is not a swimming lake – I found that out when I met a snapping turtle on one of my peaceful nature walks.

Bellvale is located in Orange County, about one hour north of New York City so even though it is rural, there are a lot of people in our neighborhood. Our children always look forward to inviting other elementary schools to come see our maple sapping operation in the early Spring; taking the winter hats they have knitted to a local migrant daycare; cheering up a local neighbor with a song or harmonica music; inviting folks to our Fall Open House, Christmas Carol sing; or best yet (for our boys) visiting the local Fire Department.

We have a small barn on our property that my three-year-old daughter Janina and I love to visit. There are several horses, milk cows, pigs, chickens and two cats. Jeremy sometimes gives Janina a ride on Captain, the smallest horse. There is great opportunity for children to help feed the animals, or do the daily chores in the barn. Since the members of our church communities have a common faith and have made life-time commitments to each other, we can trust each other. I know of no better place in the world to raise children!

Kevin Maendel

Kevin: Well, hello! My name is Kevin Maendel and I live at Bellvale. Most of the time I do maintenance and plumbing work here, but I also love to work in the woods or on the farm doing forest management and – come hay season – baling hay. About a year ago I joined the Chester Fire Department, volunteering in the local area as much as possible.

Our community is one of our smallest rural communities, and I hope it doesn’t get any bigger. There is a great balance of “community” with the personal space every individual needs. We are located in the township of Chester, known to many as the “heart” of Orange County. I grew up pretty close to here, so I know a few people around here and also where a lot of the good fishing and hunting spots are. We’d love to have you visit!

Brian Dunn

Brian: Hi! My name is Brian Dunn, and I’m a forty-six-year-old father of five children. I’ve been an elementary school teacher for twenty-six years. Currently I live at Bellvale, a Bruderhof in Chester, New York. Our property borders the Appalachian Trail so it goes without saying that we live in a rural setting.

What I really enjoy about Bellvale is the open woods, streams, and lakes that provide “real” entertainment for children and adults alike. This close connection to nature reflects the goal of our community: connection to the Creator. Oh, and did I mention the people who live here? Unique to say the least! Everyone, especially the parents of the children I teach, is so vibrantly creative in their own respective field of work that I find myself feeling like I’m in a blender of inspiration for my teaching. I have also appreciated getting to know our neighbors: caring, hard-working, and they all seem to “have each other’s back.”

In the two years that I’ve lived here, I’ve become an avid fisherman. I mean, have you ever felt the thrill of pulling in a thirty-eight inch catfish? Come visit us! We’ll take you fishing or for a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Berta Boller

Berta: “If we could consider each other a neighbor, a friend, or a brother; it could be a wonderful, wonderful world, it could be a wonderful world…” Hello, my name is Berta and I grew up hearing Pete Seeger singing this song about how basic consideration could create a world very different from the one we live in today. At Bellvale, I live with neighbors, friends, brothers, sisters, and a lot of children. We’re an odd assortment of folks committed to living together to make that wonderful world a possibility.

I’m a passionate music educator and have ample opportunity to work with children every day in both our daycare and our elementary school. I believe that every child has music inside them, and if that is nurtured throughout childhood they’ll grow into caring and thinking adults. We celebrate seasons, birthdays, weddings, new babies, and church festivals through song, dance, and drama; every voice is welcome, whether in-tune or not.

Bellvale is a rural community just an hour north of New York City; a perfect spot for folks from children to the elderly, with challenging hikes along the Appalachian Trail, or slower ambles around our fishing lake. With a couple of horses, pigs, cows, chickens, and plenty of dogs, it’s a child’s heaven. It’s great to interact with our neighborhood: we enjoy welcoming local friends to our meals and festivals, or joining them at theirs. Last year our church choir joined up with other choirs to sing Bach’s “Magnificat” in the local Presbyterian Church, a memorable experience where new friendships were forged.

My husband and teen-age son (youngest of eight children) just got the engine running on a 1984 Jaguar they’ve been fixing up, and I’m looking forward to cruising around the lovely Hudson Valley this summer. Come and cruise with us!

Contact Information

359 Gibson Hill Rd.
Chester, NY 10918
United States
Tel: 845-572-3400

Established: 2001

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