I was blessed this week when I received some vintage photos of a fine establishment and restaurant that graced our Town for decades. Perhaps a few of you, of the older genre, will remember it. Yes, there are people older than me. The name? The Elm Brook Inn. I’m going to let that sink in for the moment and delve into its history.
Going back to about 1940, around the end of the “big one” as Archie Bunker would say, heading north out of Newburgh, on State Route 9W, just past the City Line was a watering hole, Jim’s Elm Grove Restaurant, owned and operated by James Handley. The dining was rather simple, by the standards of that time, in the beginning. With the rationing of everything ending and the lean times on the wane, people were beginning to get out more and enjoy life again. And, what better way than a stop at a cozy family-friendly place out in the country. Yes, in those years, everything was more or less country as you left the city limits, passing the City Line. The urban sprawl was yet to come.
Jim’s Elm Grove offered American and Chinese food, sandwiches, and similar fare, catering to a community that yearned for a return to normalcy. As the business flourished, it was subsequently passed on to new owners and run by 9W Restaurant, Inc., with Edward L. Gertsner, as President. According to what I’ve read, the operation was under the management of Mr. C. Freer and Mr. B. Williams as proprietors.
The business thrived and the customer base grew. A more upscale menu was developed with business lunches, and event diners and the doors opened to bridal and wedding showers, banquets, and parties. Life was good. Interestingly, when I was researching this, I discovered an article about a wedding reception held there and the participants were the parents of family friends I grew up with! I passed a copy of the article on to them.
By the early 1950s, about 1954, ownership passed on to John F. Lanspery and Edward Wiest. My heartfelt thanks go out to the Lanspery family for sharing these photographs of the Elm Brook Inn with us. They took the venue to the next level. How could anyone go wrong with this location? Just on the northern fringe of the city limits, 500 ft. from the City Line, on a major highway with a substantial flow of traffic, and great food! Well, something beyond their control brought the dream to an end.
As the 1950’s came to a close, and the new interstate highway system was being implemented nationwide, it was decided to replace the decades old ferry line, transporting residents across the Hudson, with a bridge! This bridge and the proposed new Interstate Route 84 would be a major part of the new highway system. And, where would it be constructed? You guessed it, passing right through the Elm Brook Inn and surrounding property.
Just a few days ago, I was chatting with an individual new to the area and explained how the North Plank Road originally ran due west from the intersection at State Route 9W, not heading north for about 500 ft. and then west on State Route 32. There was no Mid Valley Mall. This entire area was transformed, reconfigured, and repurposed to accommodate the new interstate highway plans.
So, just where was the Elm Brook Inn? As you drive north from the City Line on State Route 9W, just about where you pass beneath the Interstate Route 84 overpass, you are driving through where it stood. This area is no longer the country setting of days gone by nor is it a scenic place where people once paused for refreshments on their travels. It is now only a grid-locked traffic jam during peak hours, without any of the drivers even knowing what has been lost to the ages. Thanks again to the Lansperys for the photos and memories.