Durham Boarding Houses, Resorts and Hotels


Extracted from Beers, History of Greene County, by Annette Campbell

The keeping of summer boarders is becoming a business of increasing importance in this town.  A few are  mentioned as representatives of the many who are engaged in the business.

 
The Grand View Mountain House is located on the northern declivity of High Peak, and as its name indicates, the view from the porch and from the roof is grand, embracing portions of four states---New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont, also the Capitol of Albany and the Hudson River.  It is six miles from Windham, ten miles from Hunter, twelve miles from South Cairo, and nine miles from Mount Pisgah.  The house was built by E. Dickerman in 1872, and accommodates from 85-90 guests. A. B. Chichester is the manager.
 
The Butts House is in the immediate neighborhood of  Grand View and was built in 1879 by Isaac Butts, the present proprietor. Capacity, 35 guests. It is easy of access, being on the Windham Turnpike, which is an excellent road and abounds in many charming views of nature.
 
The Summit House, as its name indicates, is at the top of the mountain. It was built in 1848 by Barney Butts, who was the most famous hunter in this section of the mountains. He possessed remarkable courage and powers of endurance, and it was a special delight to hunt bears, and his guests were often gratified not only in hearing him rehearse the many intensely interesting incidents of bear hunting, but they were permitted to form a personal acquaintance with bruin himself, tamed and subdued by Mr. Butt's skill.  The house itself has been enlarged and improved since its construction, and will accommodate 90 guests.  Abbot Lamereaux, a son-in-law of Barney Butts, is the proprietor.
 
The Curtis House  is on the same turnpike, and on the eastern declivity of the same mountain. Opened in 1842 as a hotel, since 1856 the principal business has been summer boarding. It will accommodate 40 guests.  A farm of 500 acres is attached.  Gilbert Curtis is the proprietor. He has carried on an extensive business in lumbering and in coopering. He is the son of Silas Curtis, and a native of Connecticut. He was born in 1808, and came to Durham in 1825. He has been prominent in town affairs.
 
The Lawrence House at Cornwallsville is a unique structure of cottages, connected by broad verandas, which gives it an inviting look to the heated denizens of the city. It has a capacity for 25 guests.
 
H.H. Hough is a farmer and boarding house keeper, near Cornwallsville. He is one of twelve children, was born in 1815 of Connecticut parentage, and is much respected. His father, Theron, reached 90 years of age, and was an estimable man.
 
The France House is conducted by Mr. France. He is a native of Albany county, and is of Holland-German descent. The location is sheltered and sightly, with an abundance of fruit and a fine spring of water.
 
The Wetmore Family have been very influential for the last 50 years. Caleb Wetmore was a native of Canada and was a cattle dealer. About the year 1823 he came to Cornwallsville and engaged in business, managing a farm, keeping hotel, etc.  He had a large family of children.
Hiram was the eldest; his wife was a daughter of Christopher Waterous who was drowned in the Katskill Creek. Three of their sons live in town, viz: Clark, who is extensively engaged in the boarding business, and who married Julia Utter, of Oak Hill; Charles, a hard-working farmer; and Ferris; the latter of whom occupies his father's homestead.
Caleb Wetmore's youngest son, Charles, was a long time resident of the place, but now resides in Catskill. Armenus Smith, who married his daughter Elizabeth, occupies his former house, the Judge Austin place, while William, the son, is a farmer, living near East Durham.
 
Mrs. Leah Snyder, a daughter of James Ransom, and the widow of James Snyder, both belonging to ancient families in the town, is also engaged in the boarding business. She and her son, William are respected by all. Her daughter, Mrs. Strong and son Wilbur, also keep boarders.
 
Ezra Brown and Son are engaged in keeping summer boarders. Mr. Brown is a native of Schoharie county, although the family formerly lived in Coxsackie town. He is very active for a man born in the last century, and retains his mental faculties remarkably. He reared a family of nine children, four of whom reside in Durham.
 
The Shady Glen House stands on an eminence from which an extensive view of the mountains is obtained. Its proximity to the glen adds materially to its advantages as a boarding house.  It has a good farm attached.  E. D. Elliott is the proprietor.  Mr. Elliott and James, his brother, who died in 1882, greatly respected, belong to a family of eleven children, descended from Nathan Elliott, who was their great-great grandfather, and who was born in Guilford, Connecticut, about the year 1740. He became a Baptist preacher and located in Orange county, N.Y.  He was an ardent patriot, in his sphere, did what he could for his country in her time of need.  His only son Nathan, located at Albany county, from whom descend James, the father of this family of eleven. The mother was Abigail Ramsdell of Greenville. Theodore, another brother, was an enterprising farmer. He died in 1880.
 
These three brothers forcibly illustrate the maxim that, "where there's a will, there's a way."  Having few of the advantages which wealth brings, they, by intense energy, pushed their way upward to independence.
 
The Mace House is conducted by Henry S. Mace. The location is central and of easy access, being about equally distant between the villages of Oak Hill, Durham and East Durham, in a pleasant neighborhood, and abounding in attractive rural scenery. Mr. Mace and his neighbor, Mr. Haskins, are Schoharie men; they are good farmers and are valuable men.
 
The Summer Home, Francis DeFrate, proprietor, is a deservedly popular house, located near Eagle Bridge. Mr. DeFrate was born in New York city in 1811, and is of French descent. The house and its surroundings are very pleasant. It was the early home of Hon. Lyman Tremain, the great lawyer, judge and statesman.
 
The Patroon Place, S. Hedges, proprietor, is the former home of Patroon Barker; large farm, fine house and quiet neighborhood. The family is connected with some of the most ancient and honored families in town.
 
The village of East Durham is a charming place for boarders; bright, clean and new. Some of the city people own and occupy houses there.
 
The Rockefeller Family is an ancient and highly respected family and quite numerous. Amos, Harry, Jacob, and others keep summer boarders.
 
The Van Tassel Family originally consisted of 15 children. The father, Theodore Van Tassell, was a native of Germany, and located at East Durham about the year 1800. Reuben, his son, married Elizabeth, daughter of Cyrus French, and has a fine boarding house and farm. Allen lives near the Carter Bridge, and is a fine man. Luke, the youngest, occupies a good farm. His wife was a daughter of Deacon R.R. Post, of the Baptist church.

     
Crystal Falls House, Paul Lawler, Prop, East Durham, NY Catskill Mts
Contributed by Don Howard

Boarding House Rules
A letter to our guests
Dear Friends,

We appreciate the consideration given us by our patrons in the past and welcome all new guests.  To all, we wish a pleasant vacation at our home.

This friendly letter is a reminder of some boarding house etiquette and rules which we expect of our guests; has been written in good faith to do away with necessary signs.  We know that opinions differ regarding vacations, it therefore seems only fair that you should understand our policy.

Rising Belló7:30            Breakfast--8:00            Dinner--12:00 noon                 Supper-5:30
Mass--
Freehold Congregational Christian Church--10:30.                        Evening Service--
 

Financial settlements and any other business transactions will be appreciated between 6:45 and 9:00 P.M. at the desk.

Our efficiency and service will not be impaired if our routine is not interrupted.  You can greatly help by leaving the table when finished and being tidy around the premises. Park cars quietly in rear of garage. Keep barn doors, gates and roadways clear. Don't park in front of them.  Don't play with dog. No smoking, shorts or bathing suits at table. Proper attire is requested on lawn.  Sunbathers are requested to find places away from house and lawns when such persons are scantily dressed.  No Smoking in farm buildings.  Ash tray's and baskets are provided for chewing gum, candy wrappers, burnt matches, cigarets and any other rubbish.  It will be appreciated if they are used instead of throwing them on the porch, lawn or road.  Fires are destructive to forest or buildings, therefore use extra caution in dry weather.  Return books, magazines, chairs, tables, canes, tennis balls, rackets, etc.  Swing seats must not be thrown on the ground.  Keep the seats clean.  Books may be retained until finished but please don't leave them on the porch or lawn exposed to the weather.  There are places for drinking parties, we don't approve of them here.  We don't furnish ice. 

WHEN THE ELECTRIC IS OFF we do not have any pressure, therefore donít flush toilets or draw water from faucets.  Fun is enjoyed by everyone but noise carries, and no one likes to be disturbed at night, therefore consider others.  Donít waste water at any time.  It is a waste when hot water is run continuously with trap open.  Use cold water when possible.  Leave lavatory doors open when not in use and donít tie up lavatories by shaving in them.  There is no hot water on Saturdays for tub baths.  Avoid putting anything in toilets that is not soluable.  Tubs are provided on back porch for washing clothes and ironing, wiring isnít adequate in the rooms.  Return clothes pins, donít throw them on the ground.  Silver and glasses must not be taken from the table, each room has some, if more are needed ask for them. 

Children are welcome but a few simple rules are to be obeyed.  Instruct children they are not to handle ornamental objects about the house.  Children are not allowed to play with the drinking water; mark up premises with crayons; play with dog; or bring cats to the house; play around barns or machinery or animals.  When watching the cows being milked quiet is demanded or they cannot stay.  They are not allowed in any of the barns alone; and must not open closed doors.  They are to walk into the house and to the table, and close screen doors.  Children are requested to wait until food is passed to them by an older person and stay at the table until finished eating.

Hand in written orders for farm produce in advance (by Thursday) if wanted.

We appreciate your recommendations bearing in mind those who desire a well governed home and willing to observe the rules of the house for the rights of all our guests and ourselves.

The reputation of a boarding house is based upon the conduct of its guests as well as the management, and our aim has always been to make sure our home is ďA Home Away From HomeĒ.  With your cooperation we can maintain our reputation and are sure everyone will enjoy a pleasant vacation at CRYSTAL FALLS FARM HOUSE.  


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