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The Way It Was----------- A Story of Old Franklin Square

A Publication of the Ben Franklin Bicentennial Committee
written by Paul van Wie

Contributed by Gary Schroeher

The Beginnings (1852-1890)

Franklin Square continued as a crossroads point through the early 19th century. About 200 scattered people occupied the area. Few people actually stopped here though; there were as yet no inns. A wayward traveler often had to sleeping a barn, or if lucky, in a farmhouse. Even farmhouses were few and far between on the windswept plain that was to become Franklin Square.

Schroeher's Hotel

The earliest factor leading to the foundation of the Franklin Square settlement was the establishment call Schroeher's. Schroeher's was a hotel-inn, intimately tied to our earliest beginnings. Today Schroeher's is just a vague memory, forgotten by even most of our older residents. No doubt Schroeher's would have been completely forgotten if not for this written history.

The little hotel known as the Schroeher's, had a long history as part of Franklin Square. Indeed, it may have been the oldest structure in the village, predating the Kalb Hotel by some 11 years. Schroeher's Hotel was built around 1852. Louis Schroeher, the original owner, planned the structure. It was a simple country inn, an overnight stop, patronized by farmers and passing merchants. It was not a large building, but soon became a note Long Island landmark, standing at the southeast corner of Franklin Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike.

On the first floor of the old hotel was a public room, where meals could be had. Mrs. Louis Schroeher did the cooking for the little restaurant. Upstairs were overnight accommodations. A small attic topped the white frame building. A front porch provided shade. Needless to say, the ever-present hitching posts and stables rounded the building off. Mr. Schroeher owned many adjoining acres, and on these he did his farming.

Schroeher's quickly became a popular spot, reaching its heyday in the early 1880's. Many traveling businessmen made it their Long Island headquarters. Louis Cohen, who later established a department store on Main Street Hempstead was one. Another was Adolph Levy, who opened a men's store in Freeport. Schroeher's also had some political importance. As early as 1881, the people of Franklin Square voted at the inn.

Louis also had a daughter Catherine (also known as Katherina). Catherine married Jacob Hoffman in 1880. Miss Schroeher was instrumental in the growth of Franklin Square because it was she who helped bring the Hoffman family here.

The Hoffman family originated in southern Germany, and came to Long Island in the last century. Around 1850 Jacob Hoffman moved to Elmont from the older German settlement in Queens County. He was looking for a larger farm. He built his farmhouse on Foster's Meadow Road near Dutch Broadway. Foster's Meadow was renamed Elmont in 1866 as was the road, now Elmont Road. Joseph Hoffman was a prominent Catholic and the first mass ever said in Elmont took place in his farmhouse. It was Joseph Hoffman's son, Jacob who married Miss Schroeher, establishing the family in Franklin Square. Jacob Hoffman managed his father-in-law's inn starting in the early 1880's. He and his wife lived there and Schroeher's continued to prosper. Jacob Hoffman soon bought the hotel outright from Louis Schroeher, along with the acreage and this became the Hoffman farm. Hoffman, with and eye toward the future, tore down Schroeher's and erected a new hotel in its place. This was called the Hoffman hotel, built in the late 1880's.