November 2, 2011

Sorting papers reveals forgotten stories

You never know what you're going to find when you clean a closet that hasn't seen a friendly face for years.

This task has taken over my "free" time for the past two weeks. Like Christmas morning, my anticipation is high with each box I open.

Among my "collections," I found a 1975 newspaper clipping about the old Robinson Tavern that stands on the Military Turnpike, now a ghostly icon of previous beauty. When I drive by that tumbling structure, my imagination conjures up pictures of ladies with hoop skirts stepping from stage coaches.

Though a shambles now, it is beautifully framed by lilac bushes in the spring and deep red vine in the fall, subjects of many photographs I have taken over the years.

Written by then-Rouses Point Historian Andrew S. Broadwell, the clipping relates that the original Robinson's Tavern, which stood on the southwest side of the turnpike, was probably built before 1810 by Daniel Robinson and was a log structure. Robinson is thought to have settled in Plattsburgh before 1790.

Broadwell states: "When it was rumored, about 1805, that a road leading northwest from Plattsburgh was to be built to connect Judge William Bailey's settlement at Chateaugay and the iron ore bed at Williamstown, with the lake, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Robinson decided to sell their home at the south end of Margaret Street and locate in this area and operate a tavern."

A 1964 sketch by Patrick Bradley shows that the road passed underneath the second story.

Broadwell also reports that the second tavern, the stone one that stands now, was built in 1823 by Lewis S. Robinson, one of 12 children of Daniel and wife Thankful (Sage) Robinson. The present structure was built on the opposite side of the road due to a change in the surveying lines. In its heyday, imagine the giant fireplaces ablaze with large pots hanging over a roaring fire, the smell of pipe tobacco in the dining room and a chorus of snorers on the coldest of nights.

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