Flight of the phoenix

Proprietor Mike Ruger and assistant innkeeper Nicole Granas. (phot by Lauren Thomas)

Local entrepreneur Mike Ruger has turned a rundown 19th-century hotel on Main Street in Rosendale into a sublime blend of historical and architectural beauty. It boasts elegant new furniture, all the modern conveniences, and imported textiles that can transport guests and visitors through the best of the past.

Ruger, of High Falls, has completely renovated the three-story, 24-room structure formerly known as the Astoria Hotel (and many other names throughout its lifespan) and reopened it this past March as the 1850 House Inn & Tavern. Visitors can enjoy leaded-glass doors, mahogany banisters, slate floors, a bluestone entrance, dazzling stained glass, and poster-sized wall hangings of black-and-white photographs depicting cultural, historical and architectural vignettes of Rosendale’s past. And they can experience the comforts of mohair and leather couches, contemporary beds with delicately sewn pillowcases, flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, state-of-the-art air-conditioning and heating units, white-tiled bathrooms and bear-clawed bathtubs. The establishment has been transformed into a one-of-a-kind setting of luxury and comfort.

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“I travel a lot, and have been to so many hotels and inns and B&Bs and resorts,” said Ruger. “And, honestly, I wanted to renovate and design and build a place that I’d like to hang out at.”

Ruger felt that the hotel would be an asset to Rosendale and the surrounding area, offering visitors a mid-priced, elegant place to stay. “You can take a bus straight from Manhattan to Rosendale and walk to the hotel, or we’ll pick you up and you never have to get into a car,” he said enthusiastically. “You can walk out these doors, rent a bike, get on the rail-trail, bike to New Paltz or go visit the cement mines, head up to the Mohonk Preserve; come back, relax, have a drink at our tavern. And there are four restaurants within one block, each offering something different and special.”

Although he has owned the building for several years, Ruger took his time in developing the concept, learning about running a hotel and doing the real work of renovating the place from top to bottom. “The stained-glass panels were buried behind sheetrock,” he said. “The bluestone was covered up by old rugs. It was bizarre. But now those features are highlighted and can be enjoyed by our guests or someone dropping by the tavern.”

The 1850 House overlooks the Rondout Creek. Ruger wants to build a 30-by-60-foot deck off the back for his guests to enjoy the riverfront views. There are Rosendalian views from almost every room, including glimpses of the belltower, the old fire station turned into a glassblowing studio, and the railroad trestle bridge suspended above the creek and Main Street. The trestle is slated to be turned into a pedestrian-cycling crossing within the next year, allowing rail-trail users to travel by foot, bike, horse or skis from Kingston to Rosendale and southward to New Paltz, Gardiner and beyond without having to get into a vehicle.

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