Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how much history surrounds us everyday. We wake up, commute to work or school, drive down roads and pass by places that have become so familiar to us that they seem to only exist in our present. The truth is, however, the area we call home is so steeped in the history of our country that it becomes truly hard to comprehend. Every town, road, and building bleeds the history of the early American way of life. Many people look back on the history of a place and its former inhabitants and instinctively conjure up images of the ghosts of the past in their minds, people and experiences that stand still in the temporal. Many of these local landmarks stand today as they did in yesteryear, preserving the history of those experiences and breathing life into what was once past’s present, breaking the bonds of time in the process. The ghosts of our past do not haunt our present with photos and stories, no, the people who built and lived in the places we drive by today helped pour the foundation for the very character of the area we call home today. Here are a few places that have helped define our history and still stand tall in our present courtesy of our friends at the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society in Copake Falls NY.
Then- The Barton and Hoysdrat Store, Ancramdale NY. ca.1913
Now- The Farmer’s Wife
The rustic general store has been the aesthetic symbol for both Ancramdale NY and small town industry for more than a century. Originally purchased in 1902 by Fredrick C. Barton and Lewis M. Hoysradt, the store was then passed down through the family in 1913. Under the new management of Floyd and Fred Barton, as well as Lewis Hoysradt, the general store offered specialty items including a complete line of local goods as well as fresh meats. The store also offered Premier Brand canned fruits and vegetables, as well as Reynolds & Co. mayonnaise imported from Poughkeepsie NY. For many years the Barton and Hoydsradt family were the heart of their community taking grocery orders over the phone and delivering to their neighbors’ homes. Interestingly, The Barton & Hoysradt store was also the local post office, and those same postal boxes are now housed in the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society.
Today, the charming storefront has been well maintained and now houses The Farmer’s Wife, an eatery that offers up locally sourced breakfast and lunch as well as take-out dinners. With the most local of ingredients, The Farmer’s Wife remains a hotspot for locals and travellers alike. With suppliers like Eger Brothers, Herondale Farm, Ronnybrook, and Sky Farm, this cafe has maintained its ties to the area where the Barton and Hoysdrat general store first started serving the community. Second generation owners Emilie Sommerhoff and Job Yacubian also host weddings, parties, and events.
Then- The Taconic Inn, Copake Falls NY, est.1899
Now- The Taconic Wayside Inn
There are few places in our area that exemplify what a living photograph of history might look like. Formerly the Taconic Inn in Copake Falls NY and now the Taconic Wayside Inn (known as the TI to locals) serves as a living monument to the past and remains the business focal point for the small Hudson Valley hamlet. The inn was originally owned from 1899 to 1946 by Fred Holsapple. Fred’s brother, Lewis, owned the Holsapple House in the center of the nearby town of Copake NY. Also a hotel, the Taconic Inn catered to tourists and travelling salesmen or “drummers”, the nineteenth century term for door-to-door salesmen who travelled by horse-drawn carriage to rural towns carrying trunks or “drums” of small goods. This life has often been described as lonely and somewhat isolated, so places like the Taconic Inn provided welcome company and respite. During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the Taconic Inn was also frequented by famed baseball legend, Babe Ruth. Today, the local landmark is still serving up hearty and delicious meals for the weary traveller and remains a summertime weekend gathering spot for those locals who have come to know and love it so well.
Then- Copake Iron Works, Copake Falls NY. est. 1845
Now- Copake Iron Works Historic Site
Locals across the region have come to know what it was that kept early twentieth century residents near the top of the Northeastern steel industry in the visage of the Copake Iron Works Historic Site located in Copake Falls NY. Established in 1845 at the base of the Taconic Ridge, this legendary Iron Works operated from 1848 until 1903. During its heyday, it produced at least 2,500 tons of hot blast iron annually, and was the lifeblood of the area. Eventually, unable to compete with the iron industry of Pittsburgh, the Copake Iron Works closed down. New York State acquired the abandoned Iron Works in 1926, when the Taconic State Park was formed. In 2007, the Iron Works, as well as the 18 acres surrounding the site were listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Copake Iron works has become a restored museum that is open for visitors to explore what makes industrial history such an integral part of our area’s legacy. The museum is open weekend days from 2pm to 4pm from Memorial Day weekend through mid-November while the diorama room is open year-round during daylight hours.
Then- The Mount Washington House, Hillsdale NY, est. 1881
Now & Still- The Mount Washington House
“Original. Authentic. Local.” The Mount Washington House’s tagline couldn’t be more representative of how locals feel about this venerated local landmark in Hillsdale NY that residents affectionately refer to as “The Mount”. Built in 1881, the Mount Washington House has been in continuous use, and still thrives today as a popular restaurant. Originally a tavern and hotel, it was once a favorite summer destination for New Yorkers escaping the steaming streets of the city. But, during the early 1930s, numerous local schools were closed in anticipation of a large and consolidated school system. In need of temporary classroom space, “…there were classes at the Mount Washington House in Hillsdale, before the Roeliff Jansen Central School opened in 1933.” (Quoted from The Fagan Sisters, A History of Life in New York Country Village, by Elinore Mettler, Arcadia Publishing, 2000, p.33) The Mount, nestled in the heart of main street Hillsdale, reminds us that what is past, if allowed to live on through hard work and integrity formed within the hearts of those of us who have become a part of the fabric of our area, will never cease to be remembered. The memories and ghosts of the Hudson Valley do not haunt us, nor do they stand idly by with each year that passes, rather they continue to provide us with the context of our daily lives and for that, our past remains ever present.
A very special thank you for the generous contributions from Lesley Doyel and the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society of both photos and content. Please visit roeliffjansenhs.org to see the Society’s upcoming Fall and Winter Programs held at the RJHS Museum, 8 Miles Road, Copake Falls, NY. Visitors to the website can also sign up for the online mailing list.