The Elmendorph Inn began its colorful history as a farmhouse at the intersection of Albany Post Road and the road to Connecticut. By the Revolutionary War it had become a tavern and a gathering place for local patriots.
FOR SALE "...an ELEGANT HOUSE either for a store-keeper
or tavern on the public road to Albany..."
New York Packet 1783
In 1785, the Inn became a regular stop on the new stagecoach line operating between New York City and Albany. Mail was delivered, passengers refreshed and townspeople, farmers and travelers exchanged news of the day, discussed community affairs and relaxed in convivial fellowship. To accommodate the increased activity, two large rooms were added by 1830, and later, a new kitchen with a giant brick bake oven.
After 1813, the Inn hosted meetings of the newly incorporated Town of Red Hook and local courts of law. In 1817, the first Dutchess and Columbia County Agricultural fair was held on the grounds.
But by the mid-19th century, competition from steamboats and railroads diminished activity on the Post Road and by 1854, the Elmendorph Inn had become a two-family house. Between 1887 and 1894, it housed the area’s first kindergarten and later, a country store and antique shop.
Abandoned in the 1960s, the Inn was slated for demolition when the Friends of Elmendorph, Inc. purchased the historic structure in 1977. A year later, the Inn’s significance earned it a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, after years of research, planning and careful restoration, the Elmendorph Inn once again functions as a center for community life, hosting meetings, exhibitions and celebrations as well as local history programs for school children.
Thanks to broad-based community support, State and Federal grants and fund raising activities the building is structurally sound, centrally heated, electrified and handicap accessible. The exterior of the Inn and the gracious Federal interiors have been restored to their appearance in the 1820’s.
The second floor of the inn now houses a Gallery, the Rosemary Coons Archive Center for Historic Red Hook, and a work room.