Thursday, December 8, 2011

Existing Inns and Taverns

Commentary By Richard Palmer
After a period of two centuries has passed it's amazing how many structures that can be positively identified as either inns or wayside taverns still exist - especially since turnpike era ended in the 1820s with the opening of the Erie Canal. The stagecoach era, for the most part, ended when railroads were built. Although most have long since become private homes, a few still exist for their intended purpose of catering to travelers as well as discriminating vacationers. Some have been moved to museums. Owners who endeavor to properly maintain them are proud of the heritage these early American structures represent. However, many seem to like to use the word "colonial" which is erroneous because every one of them did not spring into existence until long after the colonial period was gone.

Finger Lakes Region


One of the finest examples of an early American hostelry is the Aurora Inn along Route 90 in Aurora, N.Y. Built in 1833 it carries on a long tradition of fine accommodations and dining.




Today's Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles was built about 1870 on the site of the original tavern which was erected about 1807 by Isaac Sherwood, a famous stagecoach proprietor. It carries on the tradition of stagecoach days of fine cuisine and overnight accommodations for travelers along Route 20.
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Rogues' Harbor Inn, at Lansing, was also known as the Elm Grove Inn and Central Exchange Hotel. It is a historic inn and tavern located at Lansing in Tompkins County, New York. It was built between 1830 and 1842 and is a three story brick building in the Greek Revival style. It is a 40 feet deep by 80 feet wide rectangular building on a stucco coated fieldstone foundation with a gable roof. It features a full width porch with a roof supported by turned posts. The authoress Grace Miller White (1868–1957) used it as the inspiration for the setting for her novel Judy of Rogues Harbor. It continues to operate as a bed and breakfast country inn and restaurant. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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The Crossman Tavern was built by Lemuel Crossman, a leading promoter of the Montezuma Turnpike, in the early 1800s. It is near the intersection of Routes 5 and 31C, about two miles west of the village of Elbridge.


Half Acre, a four corners just west of Auburn on the Genesee Road, had no less than three taverns in the heyday of early road travel - two of which still stand in a fine state of repair. Adjacent to this house was a carriage and blacksmith shop. The local post office was located in the house.



In the early days this was known as Partlow's Hotel at Half Acre.


Historic marker tells a bit of the background of Half Acre.





As the historical marker indicates this house, on Route 326, was built as a tavern by Peter Yawger in 1810.


The Yorkshire Inn on State Route 96 a half mile east of the village of Phelps, N.Y. is a bed and breakfast. It was built in 1796 and is one of the oldest and historic landmarks in the region. It was opened as a stagecoach tavern in 1819.


This tavern was opened by Nathan Leonard in 1798 and is located on Old Seneca Turnpike east of Auburn. During the stagecoach and turnpike era taverns sprang up frequently within sight of each other. Remarkably a number of these have survived as private residences. Located at 4195 Franklin Street Road in the town of Sennett is what was originally known as Nathan Leonard's Inn. It was established in the days when Old Seneca Turnpike was a major east-west thoroughfare.
Nathan Leonard, one of the first settlers in this area, purchased 500 acres of land that had originally been set aside as part of the original Military Tract. Leonard came here in1796 with his son, Joseph, cleared some land and eventually opened a tavern in a log house he had built. The original sign, "N. Leonard;s Inn. 1798," still exists. The tavern was moved into the present frame house, after 1800.



Erected in 1793, the recently restored Patrick Tavern is one of the oldest existing buildings in Cayuga County. Early courts were held here.

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Old Taverns Preserved at Museums



Bump Tavern began its history in the little settlement of Batavia serving drovers and travelers along the Schoharie Kill Bridge Turnpike (also known as the Windham Turnpike). The original portion of the building was built in the Federal Style, but later additions changed the look of the tavern. During the mid-1800s the tavern served as a single family home. Later it became a boarding house for summer visitors to the Catskills.





The tavern sign indicates two different owners. Jehiel Tuttle was the original proprietor, followed years later by Ephraim Bump.

Some Wayside Inns on the
Cherry Valley Turnpike



"Temperance House" on Route 92 between Cazenovia and Manlius.



Lincklaen House at 79 Albany Street in Cazenovia dates back to the days of the Third Great Western Turnpike. It has been in business continuously since1835, and many famous people have been guests here, including John D. Rockefeller and many famous entertainers.




Drovers tavern near the intersection of State Route 92 and Pompey Hollow Road was built in 1825 by Elisha Stanley, and catered to drovers who were driving their cattle or other livestock to market on the Great Western Turnpike. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Historical marker identifying the landmark is nearby.



The Landmark Tavern at Bouckville was designed and built about 1851 by James Coolidge as a commercial block. It faces both the Cherry Valley Turnpike and the long-abandoned Chenango Canal. Over the years it housed many businesses including a dry goods emporium and a grocery and dry goods store. The Hengst family remodeled and opened it as the Landmark Tavern in 1970. It offers fine dining and overnight lodging.


What is believed to be the oldest building in Bouckville is the what originally was the McClure Tavern, built in 1805 by Dr. Samuel McClure, his wife and eight children, who came here from Vermont. He was one of the first settlers of what was then called McClure's Settlement. It became Bouckville in 1837, named in honor of William C. Bouck, a canal commissioner involved in the development of the nearby Chenango Canal.



Possibly the oldest wayside tavern on the Cherry Valley Turnpike is this one built at Sangerfield in 1793 by a Colonel Norton who came from Connecticut. It has served many purposes over the years, having been an antique shop and an army surplus store. Its current occupant is Michael's Food and Spirits.



This old home at East Winfield is believed to originally have been one of the many taverns that once flanked the Cherry Valley Turnpike. Most of these structures were built in the 1820s or even earlier.


The home of the Ferris family for many years, this house just west of West Winfield on the Cherry Valley Turnpike was built in the early 1800s and was known as "Martin's."





The historic village of Cherry Valley has some of the most historic buildings in upstate New York. The Second and Third Great Western Turnpikes, commonly known as the Cherry Valley Turnpike, met here. In turnpike days nearly a dozen taverns were located here. This home, which also served as a tavern, was built by Joseph Phelon who came here from New York and was a prominent local businessman. It is now the museum of the Cherry Valley Historical Society.


One of the most famous inns between Albany and the west was the Storey Tavern in Cherry Valley, built in 1812. It is located on the corner of Main Street and Route 166, at the east end of the village. The Storey's were a prominent local family. At one time it was also called the "Bull's Head Tavern."





The American Hotel in Sharon Springs, about a mile north of the Cherry Valley Turnpike, was built about 1847 during the early days of the development of the community as a summer resort. It is a large, three and a half story wood frame structure and is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture. It features a recessed two-story porch with a colonnade of eight pillars with Doric order capitals supporting the roof. It is located within the Sharon Springs Historic District, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.


At night the American Hotel takes on a special charm charm reflective of the old days.




This house, just west of Duanesburg, was known as the Hoag Tavern in stagecoach days. It originally stood flush with Route 20, but was move atop a nearby hill after a 1995 fire destroyed the original 1765 portion of the structure built by the pioneer Vedder family. This portion of the house was later reconstructed. In the 1920s to the 1940s it was tourist home, operated by Karl and Marion Pepper.



Located at the intersection of Saddlemire Road and Route 20 west of Sloansville is this 1830-vintage wayside tavern features a second-floor Palladin window possibly imported from France. The porch, although built to look old, was added in recent years, along with vinyl siding.


This house, believed to have once been a wayside tavern long ago, stands at the corner of Route 20 and Dunnsville Road west of Guilderland.



Aaron Fuller built this house as a drover's tavern along the First Western Turnpike, (today's Route 20) at Guilderland in 1809. Barns and pastures were located here for cattle as well as roosts for turkeys being driven to market. It is one of the oldest homes in the area.
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Western New York


The Old Ball Tavern

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One of the oldest houses on Routes 5 and 20 between Geneva and Canandaigua is what is known as the Ball Tavern. It was here that the Geneva delegation met General Lafayette on his triumphal tour across Central New York in 1825.
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The following excerpt relating to the Ball Tavern is from an an article prepared by Miss Eleanor B. Densmore of Park Place, Geneva. It was published in the Geneva Daily Times on December 4, 1915. It was written as a historical sketch for the children of her family by which certain bits of tradition familiar to the author might be passed on. Only the portion pertaining directly to the Ball Tavern about seven miles west of Geneva near the settlement of Flint is included here.
The old landmark is familiar to everyone in this vicinity. It was originally built by the Ball family, but later became the property of the Bassett family, good old New England stock, and was long their home. Miss Densmore was a descendant of the Bassets. The road, now Routes 5 and 20, generally follows an old Indian trail between Geneva and Canandaigua.
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Marquis de LaFayette in 1825, the year he stopped at the Ball Tavern. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

Recalls Lafayette's Visit

(Geneva Gazette, August 10, 1877)






Geneva Advertiser, April 26, 1881










This old tavern in Canandaigua, built in 1838, was on the brink of extinction in the 1990s. But an abundance of neon beer signs cheapen its restored historical significance.
'MacGregor's' Rescued Old Tavern From Oblivion

By Richard Palmer
(Information provided by Dr. Preston Pierce, Ontario County Historian)
There are some enterprises that are historically minded and have actually saved old landmarks from extinction. One such organization is MacGregor's Grill and Tap Room that has five locations in western New York. One of the most significant of these is the former Colonial Inn at 759 S. Main St. in Canandaigua which, in the late 1990s, was in danger of becoming just another lakefront parking lot.
This fine example of an old wayside inn was built in 1838, but by who is a matter of conjecture. One account states it was built by William Taylor, who served as a general during the War of 1812. Another source credits Oliver Phelps, a wealthy landowner, as the original developer.
It was constructed of hand-hewn oak timbers and catered to both stagecoach and steamboat passengers. Its hand-carved door frames are evidence of the painstaking craftsmanship of the early builders, whose ingenuity and skill more than compensated for their lack of the modern construction tools. In 1848 it was called the Steamboat Inn and the proprietor was William Ranson. The Ontario Messenger of June 14, 1848 noted "I is kept in a manner calculated to gain the good will of all who once visit it."
The old inn is rich in history and tradition. Taylor's Inn figured prominently in the life of early Canandaigua and enjoyed excellent patronage of visitors to the lake. Other inns of this period were mostly built on the "coach road," later Niagara Street and West Avenue. Subsequent owner was George W. Combs. He sold it to Luke Greenhalgh in 1871, who kept it until 1880 when he sold it to Henry Richardson. Subsequent owners included Daniel O'Connor, Philander Mott and William Meyer. Over the years it was called the Lake Breeze House, Meyer Hotel, Lake Park Hotel, and Travelers Inn.
Noble C. Miller purchased it in 1938 and operated it as the Colonial Inn until 1955 when he sold it to Harlan H. Fisher. It was sold to Gus Thomas in 1960. In 1985, a new owner, William Quinn and his partners proposed building a 58-room, four-story hotel, retaining the Colonial Inn as a restaurant. But this plan fell through. The next owner was John Garnish, who in 1993 requested a permit to demolish the building. The city turned him down, citing its historical significance. Garnish said he felt the property would be more marketable minus the building. At one point he offered it to the Ontario County Historical Society. But repairs were estimated at between $25,000 and $270,000 in 1997.
The Colonial Inn was closed in January, 1994 and sat vacant for three years. Meanwhile, the structure fell into disrepair. Early in 1999 it was purchased by Richard Carvotta, and was subsequently opened as one of a chain of area restaurants known as MacGregor's Grill and Tap Room. Another one of the landmarks now a part of the chain is the 1850s-vintage New York Central Railroad Station in Gates.
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The "Brick Tavern"at 6525 Routes 5 and 20, about two miles east of the village of Bloomfield, was built about 1805 by Ashael Beach, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, when the road had just opened as the Ontario and Genesee Turnpike. It was also known as the "Homestead Farm" and has been meticulously restored, including the removal of a latter-day porch. It has several unusual features including a spring floor in the second-floor ballroom and a unique bin in the front entryway. The shallow recess in the front hall commands attention. Tradition says this once held a grain bin, handy for feeding horses while stagecoach passengers alighted for a meal.
The house is a treasure of the work of early American wall artistry. When wallpaper was removed from the parlor, lower and upper hallway and the second floor ballroom, the work of an itinerant painter or team of painters was uncovered. The design in the entry hall is busy, an all-over pattern with an orange-salmon background divided into segments by black and brown and solid and doted lines, and arches. The motif of major interest is a vermilion, ball-like blossom with brush-stroke foliage at each side.
The second floor ballroom has an overmantel similar to what is found in old New England houses. A portion of the wall in the ball room depicts the houses and streets of a village.
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More Than Two Centuries Old and Going Strong
By Ginny Schroeder, East Bloomfield Historian
The year was 1808, Thomas Jefferson was president, Regular stagecoach service was initiated between Batavia and Canandaigua. The New York State Legislature introduced a bill for a feasibility study for a canal. In Bloomfield Peter Holloway erected Holloway's Tavern, known today as the Holloway House.
Peter Holloway came to Bloomfield in the early 1800s. He was a blacksmith by trade and practiced his business on Main Street in the village before building the tavern. He married Sophia Seymour in 1805. He purchased the property for the tavern from John Hickox in 1806 fir $500. (Deed Book 11, Page 73, Ontario County).
Besides serving meals and offering lodging, many of Bloomfield's early organizations and church groups met at the tavern. It evidently was a warm place to meet, especially in the winter months, as many of the other local buildings in town were not well heated.
In 1808 Jonathan Child and his partner, Benjamin Gardner, rented a room in the tavern to use as a store while waiting their brick store on Main Street to be built. The brick store burned a few years after it was built but it was rebuilt quickly. The Farmer's Store, later known as the Trading Post, reportedly opened for business in 1808. Jonathan Child married Sophia, daughter of Nathaniel Rochester, the first mayor of Rochester, in 1808. Holloway's is believed to have been the first tavern within the village limits.
Holloway ran the tavern for six years. In 1814 he sold the business to Peter Bowen, another local early settler, who had been a cabinetmaker and house framer. He renamed the place the East Bloomfield Hotel, although it was commonly called Bowen's Tavern. But he only kept it for two years. He returned to his previous occupation, and then sold it to Harvey Hobart. The next owner was Cyprian Collins, who purchased it in 1816 for $2,500.
This was a typical wayside tavern in turnpike and stagecoach days. Meals were served, with the cooking done in the basement in a large open fireplace with a Dutch oven. This fireplace, complete with the original crane from the cellar, has been reconstructed of old handmade bricks from Ontario County.
Weary travelers could rest on wide benches near the four open fireplaces, and wait for the stage coach driver to change horses. Presently the floors are covered with rugs, but underneath are the original wide oak pegged floor boards. The sitting room floor had the outline of a circular bar.
The Holloway House has enjoyed many years of serving the public. After being owned for many years by the Munson family, it was operated by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Munson as "Locust Lawn" from 1910 to about 1929. Dinners were by reservation, and chauffeurs waited while their employers partook of an elegant squab dinner. The Seel family in 1939 renamed it the "Holloway House" and set it upon it's present course of serving fine food in an early 19th century atmosphere. However, it has been extensively remodeled over the years and is unrecognizable as an old stagecoach tavern.
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The old Johnson Tavern at 9111 Routes 5 and 20 was a stagecoach stop in the village of West Bloomfield.
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The Nathaniel Eggleston Tavern at 8044 Routes 5 and 20, west of West Bloomfield, was built in the early 1800s. There is a story that this house was haunted by an old peddler, who stopped for the night and was never seen again.




This brick house on Routes 5 and 20 was the first tavern built in Lima by Reuben Thayer in 1793. This was the first stagecoach stop in he village and horses were changed here. The bricks came from a nearby brickyard on Spring Creek owned by Thayer. The main doorway is of the Greek Revival design.
The Morgan Tavern
By Douglas Morgan, Historian of the Town of Lima (no relation)
Just west of the village of Lima on Routes 5 and 20 (the old Ontario & Genesee Turnpike) stands one of the oldest existing former taverns in western New York. It was built in 1793 by Captain John Morgan.
The bricks were made and fired in their own brickyard from clay taken out north of the house. There was also a ballroom with a spring floor, and the front entrance had a Colonial doorway. Water was conveyed to the house by pitch pine logs from a spring back of the barn across the road.
This inn was one of the most important stopping places on the stage coach route which started later, where they changed horses. The Morgan family occupied the farm continuously for about 140 years.


Morgan Tavern at 6983 Routes 5 and 20, Lima.

Remnants of brick oven from the days when the kitchen was in the basement.


Living room of the former Morgan Tavern.



Avon Inn, at 55 E. Main St., Avon, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in the 1840s as a residence, it was expanded and remodeled as a sanitarium in 1882. It became an inn and banquet hall in 1912. The original third floor was not restored after a bad fire in 1979 that heavily damaged the structure.
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A Little History
Local historians maintain that if the history of the Genesee valley had never been written it could have easily been recreated from the reflective history of the Avon Inn. The Avon Inn is embodied in the thoughts, beliefs, and aspirations of its time and people.
Built in 1820 this structure was initially the residence of Jonathan H. Gerry, a successful grower of broom corn. After 1866, the west wing became a bank. It was remodeled in 1882 and a third story and the west wing rebuilt, and it became "The Sanitarium. " It was the last hotel to be opened in Avon and became well known from Maine to Florida. Water from the sulfur springs was used to treat rheumatism, neuralgia, malaria and diseases of the liver, kidneys, stomach and blood.
Among many "firsts" what became the Avon Inn had the first central heating system in the Genesee Valley; the first elevator in upstate New York; and the first bank and Post Office.
The wealthy and famous were often guests at the Avon Inn. Some of these well-known personages were George Eastman, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Jonathan M. Wainwright, Corregidor hero of World War II, and Katherine Hepburn.
Beginning as early as 1883, the Avon Inn has been featured in many newspapers and magazine articles, both locally and nationally.
The Avon Inn was extensively damaged by a fire on Feb. 24, 1979. It was the third fire there in recent years. After two years of restoration work the restaurant, bar and lounge reopened as well as two parlor rooms for meetings or for private dining. On the second floor, 14 hotel rooms were redecorated. They are air conditioned, each with their own bathroom, cable televison and wifi access (throughout the entire Avon Inn building).






Old postcard view of Avon Inn when it was a sanitarium. The entire third story with its mansard roof was not restored after a fire in 1979.

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'Phoenix' is Remnant of Stagecoach Days






On this site at the four corners in the village of Pittsford there was a tavern as early as 1807. It burned and the present structure was built in 1814. It was built to be a tavern or an inn or a hotel. Pittsford was on the stagecoach line from Canandaigua to Rochesterville by 1816. The trip took two days and travelers needed a place to stay overnight. By 1825, the number of stage lines had increased and a 60 horse barn was built behind the Phoenix. (Too bad cars take up more space than horses!)
Architecturally, the building is of the Federal style with stepped gables, double chimney profile and elliptical arches over doors and windows. This style is very similar to the Augustus Elliott house now called the Manse at St. Louis church. We think these two may have been designed by the same architect.
The building has had a long history - mostly as an inn or hostelry, and has had many names.
It was known as Old Heidelberg and featured German food and a German band. When Germany became an adversary, it was not good business to retain the German atmosphere, so the name was changed to the Pittsford Inn. The building suffered a tragic fire in 1963 and it sat empty for over a year, before it was purchased by Andrew D. Wolfe, a newspaper publisher.
Within a week, restoration began and this fine old commercial building was saved. The third floor, a 27 by 46 foot ballroom with its elliptical concave ceiling was restored. It now houses several businesses. Fortunately the corner still retains what architectural historians call "a genuine monument of the earliest architecture of Western New York."
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The Frontier House in Lewiston


The Frontier House, built in 1824, is located at 460 Center Street in Lewiston. It was considered to be a premiere hotel in its day, and was hailed as the best hotel west of Albany. It was an enterprise of local businessmen Joshua Faibanks, Benjamin and Samuel Barton.
It was built from limestone brought in from Canada over a period of 18 months. At one time, it is said Lewiston attracted more people than nearby Buffalo. Dewitt Clinton, President William McKinley, Samuel Clemens, Charles Dickens, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John L. Sullivan and Jenny Lind were all honored guests of the Frontier House.
In the early 1800s up to 10 stagecoaches arrived and departed from the Frontier House. The structure when completed stood four stories high. Its rectangular shape, double parallel chimneys, oval windows, full width porch and hipped roof is characterized as the Federal style of architecture The first floor served as offices, the second was a luxurious ballroom.
The third floor included fourteen bedrooms with fireplaces and the fourth floor was used for meetings, famously for free masons. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic places on July 8, 1974. It became a McDonald's Restaurant in 1975, but they moved out in December, 2004. It has been vacant since then, but there's a proposal to restore it as a functional hotel.
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Richardson's Canal House in Bushnell's Basin, near Pittsford, was built about 1818 when this section of the original Erie Canal was opened. It served as a public house for more than 100 years. It was originally called Bushnell's Basin Hotel and primarily catered to canal travelers. Prohibition forced Mrs. John Kossow, the owner, to sell it to Charles Dobler of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Dobler made the hotel into a private home. It was abandoned in the 1960s. Andrew D. Wolfe and his wife Vivienne Tellier began restoring the building in 1978. On Valentine's Day, 1979, it was reopened as a restaurant named Richardson's Canal House.
The building has a brick lower level. Brick pillars support the second story, which extends beyond the lower floor at front and back. The central part of the second floor features a covered porch. Today, it is one of the most popular restaurants in the area.
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Former Clark Tavern in Scottsville































Thomson's Tavern and store was built in 1808, it came to the Genesee Country Village & Museum at Mumford, N.Y. from nearby Riga. It was built by Joseph Thomson who emigrated from Peru, Mass., along the well-traveled road to Braddock's Bay at what is now Riga Center. His partner David Tuttle, remained in Peru where he operated his own store. Drovers passing to and from the Niagara region found lodging for the night in one of the three upstairs bed chambers. A large arched ceiling meeting room or ballroom on the second floor could accommodate additional overnight guests when the place was crowded. A large brick oven in the basement baked bread for nearby settlers whose crude dwellings did not boast ovens. Thomson's old place which served as a store and post office, meeting place and bakery.




Pride of Genesee Country Village is Hosmer's Inn, a fine remnant of stagecoach days, originally located in the village of Caledonia. This Georgian-style structure was built in 1818 by Sylvester Hosmer along the Ontario & Genesee Turnpike (today's Route 5). There are seven fireplaces throughout the inn. The brick floored kitchen and storerooms are on the ground level. The first floor includes a taproom (reached through an entrance at the side), a public dining room, a ladies' dining room and a ladies' sitting room. On the second floor are the landlord's own quarters, four private sleeping rooms, and a combined meeting and ballroom. The old inn was occupied as a residence after the turnpike era ceased. It was being used as a granary when it as acquired and rescued by the museum. The yard behind contains a wagon shed and an old brick-lined ice house.
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Sign from Hosmer's Tavern has been preserved and is on display at the Big Springs Historical Society museum in Caledonia.
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Eastern New York State
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Located on Route 5 four miles west of Scotia near the intersection with Johnson Road is the old Swart Tavern, built in1792 This structure was built in 1792. It was a popular stop in stagecoach days. DeWitt Clinton stopped here in 1810 while exploring a route for the Erie Canal.his old tavern in Canandaigua, built in 1838, was on the brink of extinction in the 1990s. But an abundance of neon beer signs cheapen its restored historical significance.

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