Tavern lore: Gilded Otter helped usher New Paltz into craft beer age

Pictured are some of the staff at the Gilded Otter: Juan, Danielle, Joe, Reshma, Andrew, Ryan, Bernard and Darren the brew master. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Pictured are some of the staff at the Gilded Otter: Juan, Danielle, Joe, Reshma, Andrew, Ryan, Bernard and Darren the brew master. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

While The Gilded Otter Brewery might be one of New Paltz’s youngest taverns, it holds a pretty interesting place in the town’s history.

It’s our first brewpub — built during craft brewing’s first wave in America — and the Gilded Otter lot also has deep historical roots.


Here’s a look back at what came before the Otter.


Hotel, motel, Riverside Inn

Much like what you can still see on Historic Huguenot Street, the first building at 3 Main Street happened to be an old stone house built in 1773. It was owned by the Wurts family.

Roughly 100 years after that, and just more than a decade after the Civil War ended, a second building went up on the lot overlooking the Wallkill River. Built by John F. Stokes, the stately 26-room mansion known as the “Locust Grove House” sat right by the Wallkill Valley Railroad Depot (what’s now the restaurant La Stazione).

An article from 1885 describes the house as being situated near a blacksmith shop and wagon maker. The mansion’s old name didn’t stick. By 1894, locals were calling it the “Riverside Cottage.”

According to a Jan. 9, 1895 New Paltz Times article, the mansion was briefly used as a dress-making shop, owned by Ms. Carrie B. Snyder.

Later that year, the Riverside Cottage became a boarding house. Rent was $6 to $9 per week, and it billed itself as “a first class summer boarding house,” according to the New Paltz Independent in 1903.

Apparently, the demand for lodging ended up transfiguring the site into a use it would enjoy for a long time. The “cottage” became redubbed the “Riverside Hotel.” It was run by a succession of owners.

In October of 1909, the Riverside Hotel was damaged slightly in a fire but was able to be repaired. And it got back up and running.

By 1935, trouble had struck the old hotel. County officials sold the property because the then-owners had not paid their taxes. They owed $106.68 in back taxes.

By 1940, a Mrs. James Kiernan, originally from New York City, had taken over the hotel and made improvements to the structure, according to a New Paltz Independent article from that same year.

Finally, in July 1960, the old hotel came to its end. Its furniture was put up for auction and the hotel was sold and the building demolished.

The third building built at 3 Main Street also had 26 rooms for rent, but it was a prefabricated, state-of-the-art “streamlined brick and aluminum motel.”

The Huguenot Motel was owned by Rober Prier and built in 1960. An ad for the hotel in that year brags about their “thrifty rates.”

By 1965 the Huguenot Motel had grown a bit. It was now 50 rooms in size, and its ads that year stressed the modernity of the motel rooms.

Like the hotel before it, the motel ended up sticking around. And it too suffered a fire.

In October 1987, the Huguenot Motel burned and six units were destroyed. According to a Huguenot Herald story from that year, the fire was caused by a “faulty electric teapot” left plugged in inside one of the rooms.

For the motel, while they did rebuild the rooms, the fire marked something of an end of an era. By 1990, the New Paltz Fire Department had been called in to demolish the motel in a controlled burn.


There is one comment

  1. butch

    I wonder if that John Stokes was the same Stokes family that sold the Stokes Tavern to the Smiley Brothers for Mohonk Mountain House ?
    The timing is right.


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