Hunter (population 2,500) is located in southeast New York within the Catskill Mountains and Catskill Park. Early records show that settlers established the first mills and farms in Hunter around 1780. The cliffs, cloves, and waterfalls of the area attracted writers, poets, and artists of the 19th century. James Fenimore Cooper and William Cullen Bryant are two writers whose work was influenced by their experiences in the region. The Hudson River School of Art developed in the region, with artists such as Thomas Cole and Frederic Edwin Church painting scenes from the area.
Wealthy tourists were also attracted to the mountains, resulting in the establishment of several grand hotels. The arrival of the railroad in 1882 sparked a tourism boom that lasted until World War I. Tourism then declined until the mid-20th century when the popularization of winter sports attracted a new generation of tourists.
The Mountain Top Historical Society is a non-profit organization that owns and operates several buildings on its 20-acre campus. The Ulster and Delaware Train Station, built in 1913 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is located within the campus in its original location. The campus sits at the top of the Kaaterskill Clove, home to one of New York state's highest waterfalls, which inspired many artists. The historical society also maintains an archive of local history materials.
Through a Department of Transportation grant, the town of Hunter received funding to relocate a building from the historical society campus to a more prominent position on the main highway. This allowed the historical society and the town of Hunter to open it as a visitors center to provide information and literature to visitors entering the region through Kaaterskill Clove.
The historical society presents information to students about local history through an educational outreach program called “A Sense of Place.” The program uses historical society archival materials as the basis for lesson plans in history classes.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2009.