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September 2012 Chatter

September 2012 Chatter

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Published by Carlos Stewart

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Published by: Carlos Stewart on Sep 05, 2012
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02/10/2014

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Vol. 2 . . . September 2012 . . . No. 9
August is a bittersweet month as the “Short Season” comes to an end, but the quieter and cooler days are oh,so sweet. Over the years I have come to feel a bit expectant wondering if the usual “Opera Birds” will behere and, they were. I must say this season's Glimmerglass Festival got rave reviews from everyone!
 
SAYING GOOD-BYE ISN'T EASY 
Putting The Chatter together every month has been an interesting adventure. It succeeded only because of the contributions of so many. Not only those who wrote articles but, also, those who volunteered their timeto proofread, give ideas and in general support this little paper. Block that metaphor, but it is time to turn anew page in my life. Not only will this be the last Chatter under my reign (if someone is interested incontinuing it – contact me) but it is also time to begin the process of stepping back from Village HallGallery. When we bought the building in 2008 it was with the attitude – to quote a Quaker expression,“Proceed as way opens” and open it did. The gallery has been successful beyond my wildest dreams. But,when one's soul is demanding attention we must listen. We aren't sure what the next story will be at 187Main, but we will, hopefully, turn it over to new caretakers that will love and nurture the building, too. Of course, we will keep you all posted through Facebook, emails and in person. The gallery will remain openuntil a buyer appears and the fat lady sings.
NOW WE KNOW !
Who knew that such a chatterious town could keep such a big secret. We knew Brent and Josh wereincommunicado for awhile but not even a hint of their whereabouts. Some thought facelifts . . . somethought an exotic vacation and others assumed they were simply taking a rest. But, the news has brokenthat they were participating in, The Amazing Race. It airs on CBS, September 30
th
. That's not all though,they are double dipping from the 15 minutes of fame bucket – The Fabulous Beekman Boys will be shownon The Cooking Channel beginning in September, too! What will they be up to next . . . ? Stay tuned!WELCOME TO: Roger Stout-Hazard and Chris Stout-Hazard! Roger was the producer/designer on theshow, “Sell This House.” Chris is the founder of Decades, a furniture & design company. They packed uptheir mule train in Texas and headed off for the bright lights of Sharon Springs. To follow their progress asthey renovate their new old Victorian house check them out on Facebook!
 
HER-STORIAN'S CORNER ~ THE AMERICAN HOTEL IN SHARON SPRINGS
Right in the middle of our little village sits a veritable GEM – the American Hotel, run by Doug Plummerand Garth Roberts with Heidi Meka as manager and Lee Wolver, chef extraordinaire! Often when I tellpeople I’m Sharon’s Town Historian, I love hearing them say, “Oh! I’ve eaten at the American Hotel – what afabulous place!”The hotel was built between 1847 and 1851 to accommodate a growing number of people then coming toenjoy the village’s mineral baths and the pastoral beauty of Schoharie County. The American Hotel becamethe village’s second Greek Revival hotel, joining the grand Pavilion, where famous guests like theVanderbilts, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens put Sharon Springs on the map. The American’s building and grounds today stand as a pleasant memorial to that genteel time.These lines from the 1904 Souvenir of Sharon Springs [published by Pierre Danforth, Middleburg] describea vibrant hotel: “ The American is directly under the personal supervision of the proprietors, whose aim is tofurnish superior accommodations at reasonable rates. The table is abundantly supplied with delicacies freshand in season. The well-known experience of the proprietors affords a guarantee that every effort will bemade to promote the comfort of all who patronize this house.” Much the same can be said today of the hotel.Historically we know that the two acres on which the hotel now sits were purchased in 1847 by Alonzo andTiffany Walradt from Henry and Betsy Moyer for $475. In September 1851, Nicholas LaRue from Esperance[an early explorer of Howe Caverns] purchased the same 2 acres for $4,000, the substantial increase inprice would indicate that some investment had been made, like a hotel! LaRue then purchased 7 more acressurrounding the hotel proper where he installed gardens and a fishpond. The LaRue family ran the hotel for40 plus years.Several other less successful entrepreneurs owned and operated the hotel during the 20th century includinga group of Hasidic Rabbis – I can well remember in the 1960’s walking past the hotel and seeing largenumbers of Hasidic men arguing together on the porch in their long dark coats and fur hats.Although the hotel had been standing vacant and neglected for several years, when Doug Plummer andGarth Roberts first drove through the Village in 1990 they were charmed [Doug describes it as “Love at firstsight”]. Almost immediately after they had opened the Rockville Café [where Adelphi Paper Hangings now operates], the American hotel sold for back taxes. This was only a temporary set back and in 1996, Dougand Garth purchased the American for $18,000. Grim reality set in when they realized part of the roof hadcollapsed, there were trees growing in the kitchen, many floors were actually missing, and mold was growing on the walls.Their first decision was to replace the roof and then start looking for grant money to complete therenovations because they were determined to save this piece of history!
 
AMERICAN HOTEL, CONTINUED . . .Success took several years to accomplish but by New Year’s Eve 2001, the renovations were nearly complete – Doug and Garth stopped by on their way home with a bottle of Dom Perignon on a 20 below zero night totoast their endeavor. Opening day, May 23rd, 2001, they both described as their second scariest day ever – the dining room was packed, so many things went wrong, but they survived – and it was Garth’s 40thbirthday!Today a warm welcome awaits guests who come to stay or for a meal in the charming dining room. Sittingon the porch in nice weather watching the world go by or gathering around the bar with friends, this hasbecome a destination for somany. Their Thanksgiving Feast has many people returning every year as well as the yearly Harvest FestivalDinners. Stop in and ask how many weddings they have hosted, including their own last September 10 [9-10-11]! I can honestly say, the American Hotel helped convince my husband and me to retire in Sharon!
Now, in a completely differently vein (bad pun, I know) we have the . . .
THE BUCKET OF BLOOD
Believe it or not, once upon a time there was actually a saloon in Sharon Springs named The Bucket of Blood! This was owned and operated by the Finkenstein family during the late 19th/ early 20th Centuriesand located on a lot across from the present day Library – if you look carefully the foundation can still beseen.In researching the family, I learned that in 1904 a big fight erupted in the Bucket of Blood saloon between a gang of imported Hop Pickers and some members of the local “hard cider quartet”! Beer bottles, glasses,stones, and razors were used with a commotion so loud the fight was heard a mile away. A few days laterthe body of one of the combatants was found along the railroad track between Sharon and Seward with hishead “stove”in, presumably fleeing the fight!THE HISTORIANS ARE COMING, THE HISTORIANS . . .September 22nd, District 7 Association of Public Historians of New York State [comprising 7 counties] willbe meeting in Sharon Springs. President of APHNYS, Gerry Smith will open the meeting followed by SandraManko who will give the welcome and talk about “Sharon Springs at a Glance”. The other speakers are DaveCornelius on “Indian Lifeways and European Influences in the 18th Century”, Emily Lang, “Jewish Era inSharon Springs”, and Dick Williams who will discuss the historian’s role. If you have any questions aboutthis event, please contact Nancy Pfau, Sharon Town Historian, and event organizer [284-2371 ornancypfau@yahoo.com]. Let’s extend a real Sharon Springs welcome to this group!NOTE: Unfortunately, the meeting isn't open to the public but, hopefully, Nancy will report back to us allthat was said! Thank you, Nancy Pfau Town Historian !

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