the second half of the 19th century the little town of Rosendale was
undergoing yet another transition. Traffic on the Delaware &
Hudson Canal, which ran parallel to Main Street, was slowly being
overshadowed by the railroads but it was still the
For Rosendale was (and is) the home of world-famous Rosendale natural cement, a rock-like product which, as a component of concrete, was used to support the Brooklyn Bridge (1883) and the Statue of Liberty (1886). Nearly three billion pounds of natural cement were produced each year and half of it came from Rosendale, thanks to the blood, sweat and, no doubt, tears of the more than 5,000 men who worked in the mines and related facilities.That kind of hard, dusty work builds a powerful thirst and Main Street was said to host no fewer than eighteen bars along its one-mile length.
Less than ten years later, on Sunday, August 26, 1895, a fire started in a barn behind the building just west of LeFever's, a fire that is still referred to as the "Big Fire".
And a big fire it was. Rosendale was without its own fire company at the time so help had to come from Kingston, about seven miles to the north. When the smoke cleared, 27 buildings had been destroyed.
At LeFever's, 450 tons of coal continued to burn into the next day, long after the fire itself had been brought under control, though, as a local newspaper reported at the time, "R. & C. I. Lefever’s safe stood on a specially built foundation and therefore did not fall down."
Only heroic efforts, and a
favorable wind, kept the fire from leaping the
thirty feet across to the south side of Main Street.
Photo Courtesy Century House Historical Society
Lefever's losses totaled about $30,000 -- over half a million dollars today! Total losses in the town reached 1.5 million in today's dollars, only about a fourth of which was covered by insurance.
there was water directly behind all these buildings, in the Delaware
& Hudson Canal, and there was water behind the buildings across the
street, in the Rondout Creek. There was just no way to get the water to
the fire (other than bucket brigades) as political wrangling had blocked the creation of a fire
company for many years.
The building that houses the Red Brick Tavern rose from the ashes of that fire.
Photo Courtesy Ann LeFevre Gilchrist
In the years that followed, the cement industry collapsed and the population of Rosendale plummeted from over 6,250 in 1900 to less than 2,000 just twenty years later.
In the 1920s the business was operated by Albert Jeghers.
In the 1930s it became Schryver's Lumber [need info here]
A long-time resident, describing the 1940s of his childhood, remembered that "Mr. Schryver . . . was very bald but had a thin mustache like movie star Ronald Coleman. [He] was always dressed meticulously in white shirt, tie, pressed slacks and brown loafers."
On another Sunday, sixty years later, it wasn't fire but water that threatened the town. The Rondout Creek, which, as noted, runs just south of, and parallel to Main Street, was prone to flooding and in 1955 a flood occurred that rivaled the Big Fire in its destructive power.
The river crested at its all-time high of 26.5 feet on Sunday, October 16.
Then the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed a flood-control system and, though the natural character of the creek was forever changed, the town was spared future submersion. (Real-time water levels, courtesy of the USGS, can be found here.)
On January 2, 1969, fire destroyed the building that housed Reid's Hotel and Ray Ritter's tavern. Displaying the resiliency that has characterized Rosendale for decades, Ray moved across the street into our building and opened Ray's Village Inn.
Ray's later became Roy's, [need info here]
Roy's became Flanagan's, [need info here]
Flanagans's became Zachary's Place, [need info here]
Then, on May 5th, 2005 (Cinco de Mayo) The Alamo ("Mexican food worth fightin' for") opened its doors. New owners Scott Stewart and Bruce Littlefield "peeled back years of added surfaces (and nicotine) to reveal the brick walls and huge timbers of a historic Rosendale lumber yard."
Two years later The Alamo had made its last stand and Michelle and Billy Loughlin were looking to get back into the restaurant business. From 1997 to 2004 they had owned and operated "The Loft" in New Paltz but, following the birth of their son, Trevor, they needed a break.for some quality family time.
A few years later it was time to return to the work they loved and, though they searched as far as Florida for the right place, in the end they found it in their own back yard and, in January 2007, the Red Brick Tavern was born.
And so, more than 100 years after its construction, this historic building is still serving the needs of a changing community..Come and visit us in Rosendale and make a little history yourself!
Michelle, Billy, and Trevor Loughlin
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