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Early Westfield taverns and inns — remembering the Old Stone Tavern

BeeLines

February 27, 2013
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian (westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net) , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Before Westfield became a Town or a Village by that name, the first settlement of homes and the first tavern - McHenry Tavern - were established in 1802 and 1803.

These were located just west of Chautauqua Creek, about when Gale Street crosses West Main Street, hence the name Crossroads. Shortly after this, the first tavern east of the creek, a log cabin, was built and run for several years by Thomas McClintock on the northeast corner of what are presently in 2013 East Main and North Portage Streets. This tavern was purchased by Jonathan Cass in 1811 and operated by him for a few more years.

The building at 35 East Main, where the buildings are set forward at the "jog" just east of Westfield Optical, is one of the oldest extant business buildings in Westfield. Originally built of fieldstones as the Stone Tavern, circa 1820, the structure then extended across both the 35 and 37 East Main Street addresses. A brick facing was added during the 1890s covering the stone walls visible in the photo which was taken some time during the 1880s. In the photo, a doorway is just barely visible at the right side, likely the original front door to the tavern. Also in the photo, on the west side, where stairs are visible next to the building at 33 East Main that is now Westfield Optical, there was a driveway to the courtyard and stable that was originally part of this historic structure. Billie Dibble wrote, in 1989, "The alley was used to reach the barns of one of the old stage companies in the rear of the Stone Tavern whose offices were located in the tavern."

Article Photos

Submitted photo
Albert E. Peirce, James Vollar and an unknown man stand in the doorway of the likely original front door to the Stone Tavern.

Paul Persons (1810-1872) ran the Stone Tavern at one time. L. Gale, who owned the Westfield House at the northwest corner of Main and Portage when it burned in 1884, operated The Stone Tavern in 1850. Another landlord and caterer was Alex Smith. When this photo was taken, A.E. Peirce owned building and ran a jewelry store there. Julia E. Lewis owned the building prior to Albert E. Peirce and sold it to him in 1884.

Peirce's daughter, Harlan L. Munson, who was 82 in 1962 when this photo was used in number 41 of a Westfield Republican series of articles called "Westfield Past and Present," identified the man on the right as her father, the man in the center as James Vollar and the man in the silk hat on the left as a judge whose name she could not recall.

In 1900, Peirce sold the building to C.J. Wiggins who opened the first newsroom of several over a period of 48 years. In 1903, Wiggins sold the business and building to William Frances Hopper and John G. Findley. Findley's daughter, Ethel, married W. F. Hopper, and she owned the building until 1948 when she sold it to Walter Sack who ran a men's shop there until he retired in 1961 and Bob Shearer took it over. Prior to Sack's men's shop, Bob Franklin ran his newsroom in the space for many years. Others who operated the men's clothing store included Pete Jones and Marge Miller, as noted by former Westfield Historian, the late Billie Dibble.

Fact Box

The office of the Westfield Historian is located at 117 Union Street, in the small green building on the north side of driveway. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m., or by appointment. The Westfield Historian phone number is 326-2457, and the email mail address is westfieldhistorian@fairpoint.net.

According to Clara Trump, who wrote Part II 1955 to 1977 of the History of Westfield New York, in 1977 the space was occupied by June Waite's fabric shop, but by 1978 was newly occupied by The Bootery. Billie Dibble wrote in November 1989 that the most recent occupant at 35 East Main Street had been The Bootery. But the May 4, 1989, Dibble's Dabbles, "Why the jog in business row?" reads, "Why does the building occupied by the Body Shoppe at 35 East Main extend several feet toward the road more than the other stores to the west of it?" Dibble goes on to say the building was formerly known as the Hopper Building, when it was occupied by Bob Franklin's News Room and Seawright's meat market. In the spring of 1921, the building was remodeled to remove, "the last vestige of the old-time store fronts which were once the pride of Westfield's business section."

A pencil drawing of Main Street from about 1850, drawn by Hannah Patterson shows the same rounded corner of the Stone Tavern. In this pencil sketch that was modified in the 1930s by Clara Sacket, across Main Street from the Stone Tavern is another large tavern or inn known in 1825 as the Hawkins Tavern.

In Part III 1977 to 1997 of the History of Westfield, "The Malling of Main Street," Joyce and Robert Besch wrote the only shoe store then in town was replaced by Robert Ducato's New York Life Insurance office.

According to the Westfield Past and Present 1962 story about The Stone Tavern, "The fact that the Tavern building included both 35 and 37 Main Streets can be ascertained by a study of the structure, including the front view which shows a keystone centered exactly above the midline of Bob's Men's Shop and Ricketts' Market." Another history mystery question asks, "Can this keystone still be seen in 2013?"

 
 

 

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