April 18, 2024


Body and Interior

New development in Ellenville pays homage to denim brand

When Jeff Rosenstock heard that the former factory at 23 Market St. in Ellenville was going to be revitalized, he was thrilled. The building is full of family history.

Rosenstock is the grandson of Louis Rosenstock, a World War I vet who in 1927 founded General Sportswear in Ellenville. Jeans and apparel were sewn at 23 Market St. “It’s a third-generation family business,” said Rosenstock, the company’s current president. Though he grew up in New York City, he has many fond childhood memories of summers and weekends in the Catskills.

In 1948, Louis Rosenstock launched Devil-Dog Dungarees. The name is a reference to the Marines. “He was feeling very patriotic and wanted to come out with a line of jeans that would really stand for durability and performance and value,” said his grandson.

World War I veteran Louis Rosenstock founded General Sportswear in 1927. The company later became Devil Dog Manufacturing.

World War I veteran Louis Rosenstock founded General Sportswear in 1927. The company later became Devil Dog Manufacturing.

Courtesy of Devil-Dog Dungarees archive

In 1952, the company expanded to North Carolina, where Devil Dog Manufacturing was established. But Ellenville remained corporate headquarters for many years. Many Rosenstock family members lived there, including Louis Rosenstock, and some descendants remain to this day.

As a kid, Jeff Rosenstock was in Ellenville frequently. He would ride his bike from his grandmother’s place to 23 Market St. “I remember seeing all the people working there — a lot of action watching my dad and his brothers at the time.”

Herb and Stanley Rosenstock, founder Louis Rosenstock’s sons, outside the factory at 23 Market St. circa 1977.

Herb and Stanley Rosenstock, founder Louis Rosenstock’s sons, outside the factory at 23 Market St. circa 1977.

Courtesy of Devil-Dog Dungarees archive

Devil-Dog’s sales and design operations were eventually relocated to New York City. Today, while the company continues to operate an office in Ellenville for employees working in the HR and accounts payable and receivable departments, the Rosenstock family sold 23 Market St. in 2013.

At the time, they believed the buyer was going to do many wonderful things with the space. Instead, nothing happened, and the building fell into disrepair. “We sold it with the hopes that what is taking place now was supposed to take place back then,” Rosenstock said. 

When they learned the building changed hands again in June 2021 and that the new owners — architect Scott Dutton and Kevin O’Connor, CEO of the nonprofit housing organization RUPCO — planned to create a 13-unit apartment complex with professional offices and other spaces, they were delighted.

“It has been the backbone of our business,” Rosenstock said. “It’s a beautiful building and an important part of our history where we founded and did original production, where our family grew up.”

When Dutton came across the Devil-Dog building, he was equally delighted. “Ellenville is about to explode — it seemed like it was the right time,” he said. Dutton has made a name for himself in the Hudson Valley buying and renovating old buildings like the Lace Mills loft (which had been boarded up for 25 years before he took it on in 2012) and the Fuller Shirt Company building, both in Kingston. 

“That has been our track record: buying buildings that were underutilized, neglected, not obvious, and with some architectural vision and a little bit of risk turning that around and making something,” Dutton said. 

Tenants won’t be able to move in for several years. First, the proposed plans need to get through Ellenville’s planning board, which so far has seemed receptive to the project. The new owners are also in the lengthy process of getting the building listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. “It opens up historic tax credits and you can use them as part of the financing package,” Dutton explained. Whenever the space is ready, he expects the apartments will fill quickly. “I don’t think there is any inventory that will be of this quality,” he said.

Devil-Dog’s name will remain attached to the building, just as Fuller Shirt Company’s did in Kingston. Dutton has yet to connect with the Rosenstocks but intends to. “I got in touch with the members of the Fuller family and when one of the last people who had worked in the building passed away, they had their service [there]. It’s a nice throughline.”

The Devil-Dog sewing floor at 23 Market St. in 1952.

The Devil-Dog sewing floor at 23 Market St. in 1952.

Courtesy of Devil-Dog Dungarees archive

The purchase of 23 Market St. included a small lot across from the building where Dutton anticipates making an additional two-story structure with a commercial ground floor and a residential upper floor. “We will work on that this winter and bring that as a separate application,” he said.

Rosenstock is excited to see whatever Dutton comes up with. “It’s a big space. The façade in front looks like an old-school brick two-story building, but it runs all the way back behind it where we had selling and warehouses. It’s a pretty big footprint.”

He marvels at how fully his grandfather lived the American dream. “He came over from Austria, started a business, served in the army, and then launched a brand to honor the military community.”

For many years after moving to North Carolina and then to New York City, the Devil Dog brand concentrated on private-label business. Then, in 2019, his grandsons relaunched Devil-Dog Dungarees, primarily as a jeans brand. In spring 2022, they expanded the collection with crew necks, hoodies, polos, and jean jackets. They sell online and at 150 stores, including Nordstroms and Dillard’s. Jeans are $79 and are not sold anywhere around Ellenville — yet. 

Even with so much change, Rosenstock, who grew up fishing and enjoying local spots like Nevele Falls and Shadowland Stages, says the company’s Catskills roots remain foundational. “The brand still tells the history of our presence in Ellenville. We are really proud of it.”