Newburgh Again: The Palatine, While Passing Up or Down the Hudson

While passing up or down the Hudson you should stop a few days at
“The Palatine”
“The Model Hotel of the Hudson Valley.”


The handsome lawns of the Orange County Court House on the front, and of the American Reformed Church on the North, afford a pleasant outlook, while its rear rooms and piazza command an unobstructed view of river and mountains for twenty miles.
Only five blocks from Steamboat Landing, Ferry and Union Passenger Station. Free bus from all boats and trains.
Elevator, Private Baths, Telegraph Office.
Rates, $3.00 to $4.00 per Day.
Newburgh passengers will have time to dine at The Palatine, visit Washington’s Headquarters and return on south-bound boat.
H. N. BAIN & Co., Proprietors.

Newburgh Again: Palatine Hotel presenting Bell Long Distance Telephones

Kingston Daily Freeman, 1911

The Palatine Hotel



October 2nd. 1911.
New York Telephone Company, 
               Albany, N. Y.
Gentlemen: Responding to your invitation to express ourselves on the value to a first-class hotel of the Bell Telephone Service from each room, I would say that in my opinion the day has arrived when a hotel cannot be designated as first-class and up-to-date unless it has a Bell Telephone in each room.
The traveling public has acquired the habit of using the Long Distance Service which the Bell system alone furnishes, and I believe a lack of connections from the guests’ room with the large cities of this country and Canada would seriously handicap the hotel that relies, as does the- Palatine, upon the better class of trade.
The contract we signed with your Company recently for equipping our Hotel with Bell Telephone Service must be convincing evidence of our opinion on the subject.
Yours very truly,                                                 
The management of the Palatine Hotel is now presenting over seventy-five Bell Long Distance Telephones — the Universal Bell Telephone Service — for the convenience of its guests. What is best for this up-to-date hotel is best for any large enterprise.

Newburgh Again: The Palatial Palatine

By Helen Ver Nooy Gearn, Newburgh Historian, as printed in The Orange County Free Press; Tuesday, December 19, 1972

In 1972 the south east corner of Grand and Third Streets is a below-the-street black-topped parking lot, ugly if utilitarian. A far cry from the proud hotel envisioned in 1892 by Newburgh’s Board of Trade as an “ornament to their city.” Nor does it relate to the tall white house, 132 Grand St., owned by Mrs. Hector Craig whose husband had been a member of Congress. Mrs. Craig sold the house in 1889 to John J. Moore. By 1891 when John J. Nutt published his history “Newburgh” his picture of this nice house was titled “the Home of the Hon. and Judge H. M. Hirschberg.” At the left in this picture the rectory of the Dutch Reformed Church can be glimpsed.
Unfortunately the building situated on the south of this house cannot be seen. The home of Dr. W.A.M. Culbert had been designed by Andrew Jackson Downing and his youthful partner, Calvert Vaux, in the Downing architectural studio in Highland Gardens. This fine house is still in existence. Its late vandalizing is a comment and a comparison, no doubt, of the cultures of its time (circa 1852 and 1857) and of today.
“The Palatine Hotel, Newburgh, N.Y., H. N. Bain & Co. Proprietors”, “The Model Hotel of the Hudson Valley,” “Finest Hotel on the Hudson between New York and Albany,” and the “Largest Hotel in Newburgh in the Heart of the City” were some of the early advertisements to be found in old books and magazines. Quite early the hotel was “catering to automobile motoring parties and tourists.”
The hotel was opened In1893. In 1895, there were only 30 automobiles in the United States. In 1905 they were still thought to be a rich man’s toy although they had increased to about 77,888.
For the wealthy middle class the 60 mile drive from New York City to Newburgh soon made the hotel a fine location. Newburgh came to be about a nice day’s outing from the metropolis. After an overnight or more stay in a well-run inn with good cuisine and amidst scenic surroundings the guests spread the fame of “mine host” and of his inn.
A porch crossed the entire width of the hotel’s top floor on the river side. From this and from all of the rooms on that east side stretched the panorama of the jeweled Hudson and its enclosing mountains.
In the block across Grand St. on the south side of Second St. was the quaint and venerable St. George’s Episcopal Church, the oldest parish in Newburgh, its stone had been quarried in stone cuffing bees at the Gardner’s quarries just to the west of the community.
North of Second St, Newburgh’s Orange County Courthouse centered in its block of green grass and great trees its classic columned portico.
John Schoonmaker, Newburgh’s leading merchandizer, had his well proportioned white clapboard house, 135 Grand St., on the north west corner of Third and Grand Streets. One block west of this rose the delicate spires of Trinity Methodist Church. To finish the square, The Dutch Reformed Church (now on the National Register) raised its two-story Ionic Columns in the simple purity of line of its facade. It had been designed by A.J. Davis for the Warren firm in 1835. Trinity Church whose architect was Rembrandt Lockwood (also the designer of St. Patrick’s) was begun in 1860. The Courthouse was the plan of Thornton MacNess Niven of 1841 and Arnout Cannan became the architect of the Palatine Hotel.
The busy Hudson and its steam boat docks and the railroad stations were only 4 or 5 blocks away. The hotel’s free carriage later bus, met the boats and trains.
In the spring of 1892 the ten member Newburgh Board of Trade had acquired an additional 17 members. Perhaps it was due to this infusion of new blood but at any rate the Board decided that what Newburgh then needed was a fine hotel. The forceful imaginative Col. Wm. D. Dickey suggested that a hotel should be erected under the auspices of the Board. When another member asked dryly if he would give money toward such an experiment the Colonel immediately pledged $1,000. (Col. Dickey was one of those responsible for the opening up of Washington Heights). The Board’s decision that the structure should be such that it would be an ornament to their city resulted in an imposing and handsome edifice.
Stock to the amount of $80,000 was solicited by the Board. The Palatine Hotel Co. was formed with a $65,000 stock subscription. Later $60,000 worth of bonds due in ten years was sold. Those first trustees were: J. M. Wentz, John Schoonmaker, B. B. Odell, Jr. (later Governor of New York), Col. Wm. D. Dickey, and W. H. Weston with E.T. Skidmore as President.
Those hardy European settlers of the Parish by the Quassaick, as the early community was called, refugees from the
Palatinate of the Valley of the Rhine was honored by the inn’s name, The Palatine Hotel.
In Poughkeepsie two brothers Francis N, and Horace N. Bain had been successfully running the Nelson House. It was they who were given the lease of the Palatine. Francis N. Bain was to personally supervise at the Palatine and Horace N. was to remain in charge of the Nelson House.
Is it likely that in 1892 the Newburgh Board of Trade was looking forward to 1909 when the tremendous Hudson –Fulton Celebration was to occur? However the hotel’s accommodations were being spoken for well in advance of that five-day event, the commemoration of the two men, who had been each in his time so important to the Hudson Valley. (And by the way Newburgh and its Area Neighbors should be planning now for the 1976 celebration of the success of the struggle for American Independence that ended in this area in 1783.)
Hotel rates were set at $3.00 and $5.00 a day. Was this with food? Later they dropped into the European plan with the hotel charging only for rooms and the patron able to go about seeking other eating places. A much better plan for the tourists but probably hard on the restaurant part of the hostelry.
In the Metropolis physicians recommended patients come to the Palatine for rest and a change of scene in healthful surroundings and the American Automobile Association added its sanction on the hotel’s noteworthiness.
Of its 116 rooms half of them could be turned into suites with private baths. The cafe was a dream of Flemish oak and marble and the firm of W. J. Sloane & Co., of New York loaned their prestige in decorating and furnishing of the hotel.
Perhaps it was not the “Grand Hotel” but the Palatine not only wined and dined Newburgh’s first family’s but many of the country’s famous passed through its door and under its Tiffany-type glass tympanum. Fairly extensive research through the offices of the Urban Renewal Agency, those of the several realtors and of the lawyers who were Involved in some way In its various sales has left the old registers of the hostelry still undiscovered, Thus It has been hard to authenticate with dates and documents the elite visitors.
Some of the great that have been turned up in the news articles are: “Fiorelle La Guardia
Lillian Russell, Alfred E. Smith, Thomas E. Dewey, Averill Harriman, Harry K. Thaw, Thomas A. Edison, Charles Evans Hughes, Benjamin B. Odell, Jr. and others.”
Several interesting visitors have been orally authenticated by Mrs. J. Townsend Cassedy. Her father, Benjamin Barker Odell, Governor of New York State, had refused to run as Vice President on the ticket with William McKinley only to see Theodore Roosevelt who did accept that nomination become President on the death of President McKinley. Apparently no ill feeling existed between the two important figures for Mrs. Cassedy tells of the meetings of B. B. Odell and Theodore Roosevelt at the Palatine to plan political strategy.
The story of Margaret Leech the prize winning author and her connection with the hotel is another of Mrs. Cassedy’s contributions. In 1960 Margaret Leech’s biography “In the Days of McKinley” was awarded the Bancroft Prize for historical writing. However this was not the author’s first opus on this subject. She and her family were living at the Palatine in Newburgh when In 1901 President McKinley was assassinated (shot Sept. 6 died Sept. 14, 1901). His death aroused so great a sorrow in the heart of the seven year old Margaret that she wrote a short article and poem about the slain President whom she had respected and revered. Her youthful work was much admired by guests in the hotel and her family’s Newburgh friends.
Margaret Leech had already written in 1940 the Pulitzer Prize winning “Reveille in Washington,” the fascinating story of the Civil War Years (1860-1865) in the Capitol, “The Back of the Book,” “Tin Wedding” and collaborating with Heywood Broun the “Anthony Comstock: Roundsman of the Lord” all of which were works of note.
From the daughter of Francis N. Bain, 1st proprietor, we have the following authentication: Mrs. John Nolle (Francis Bain Nolle) reminds us that the early Opera House on 2nd Street, just east of the hotel and the Academy of Music, on Broadway, west of Grand Street, supported interesting plays and singers. In fact, many of the plays that were to run on Broadway in New York City had try-outs in Newburgh. Also, Newburgh on the circuit of the early producers tours.
Of the “greats” who trod the boards of the two Newburgh houses John Drew Barrymore and his daughter, Ethel Barrymore, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., his first wife and little son, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Chauncey Olcott, the splendid singer, all stayed at the hotel when their plays were being shown at the theater.
Burr Mackintosh, a famous photographer, was another of the hotel’s guests. Henry Miller, theatrical producer, brought his plays for try-outs and also the plays he ran on the regular tour circuit.
Laura Creuse was one of his discoveries and spent her time at the Palatine between her hours in the theater.
Of the tale of the years when the Palatine and its owners began to lose heart—well many Newburghers regretfully watched this happening. Newer hotels and then motels brought in competition. Hostelries could no longer depend on just the elite to stay economically healthy. The city like all cities began to deteriorate though even before signs of this became acute the hotel’s illness did.
Various schemes were planned. One of them consisted of the turning It into a club for the elderly.
After the retirement (1920) and later death (1936) of Francis N. Bain at his charming home, 77 Third St., Carl Willmsen became the owner and manager. It was he who put the hotel in 1929 on the European Plan. On his death in 1944 his wife took over the ownership. When she died in 1949, 27 employees were left legacies but Leo Dunn, manager at the time received all of the stock in the hotel.
The Levinson and Copans firm of Newburgh realtors bought the property in 1952 and leased it to Glenn M. Lovejoy and his mother, Viola K. Lovejoy.
Renovations in 1950 added a fire escape to the rear of the building, in 1952 a colonial cocktail lounge and in 1957 $60,000 more was spent in a renovation on the north side of the main floor that added another cocktail room and dining rooms. The tide of failure made these of little value. Perhaps had they spent that on more elevators- but who knows.
On December 19, 1957 Augustus W. Bennet filed the petition for bankruptcy for the Lovejoys.
In December of 1970 the razing was begun of the “ornament to their city” of the Newburgh Board of Trade of 1892. Could it have been saved? If so to what use could it have been put?
Now preservationists hope that the concept of the Newburgh Courthouse Plaza will come to pass. For it the City Club of Downing and Vaux, the Courthouse of Thornton M. Niven and A. J. Davis’ Dutch Reformed Church will be part of a handsome pattern that includes the fine building now owned by Beatrice D. Griffin and those excellent houses from Third St. south to the Post Office on Liberty Street’s west side.

Why did New York City folks drive 60 miles to visit this site in the early 1900s?

From the Sound and Story Project , a narrative by Warren Boyd

The mission of the Sound and Story Project of the Hudson Valley is to strengthen community through the power of listening. We believe by sharing the stories of ordinary people we can help each other become more aware of our own history and more connected to each other and the place where we live.



Newburgh Again: Hotel Marked Era Of Splendor in Newburgh

By Ruth Valenti, Evening News Correspondent, as printed in The Evening News; April 3, 1987

   The Palatine Hotel at the corner of Grand and Third streets in Newburgh had its gala opening on July 6, 1893. It was hailed as the “queen of hotels” and had electric lights!
   The five story, red brick structure featured a porch crossing the width of the top floor, providing guests with a spectacular view of the Hudson River and the surrounding area.
   The proposal for a fine hotel was made by the Newburgh Board if Trade in 1892. Col. William Dickey pledged $1,000; $60,000 was the original projected cost and $80,000 in stock was solicited by the board. Some legal action was needed to get the funds and the eventual cost was $150,000. (It seems estimated costs are never the final figure!)
   The Palatine Hotel Co. was formed and the first trustees were J.M. Wentz, John Schoonmaker, Benjamin B. Odell Jr. (who later became governor of the state), Col. Dickey, W.H. Weston and E.T. Skidmore, president.
   Francis N. Bain was to supervise the Newburgh facility, while his brother, Horatio, remained in charge of the Nelson House in Poughkeepsie.
   At the gala opening hotel men came from far and wide, including the well-known Oscar TschirkyOscar of the Waldorf“!
   People came by horse and wagon, carriage, bicycle, and a few noisy automobiles, according to contemporary reports. There were only 300 automobiles in the U.S. in 1895, and hotel proprietors wisely said the Palatine would “cater to automobile motoring parties and tourists.”
   The 60-mile trip from the metropolitan area provided a fine outing and overnight stay at the new hotel. Even physicians recommended a visit to the Palatine where weary patients could rest and recuperate, and the American Automobile Association added its sanction to the splendid facility.
   There were 116 rooms and half could be turned into suites with bath. There was a cafe of Flemish Oak and one writer described “the huge old dining room, adorned by palms, with gleaming white tableclothes, sparkling glassware, lustrous silverware and a baby grand piano in one corner.”
   A brochure issued in the late 1930’s listed the tariff schedule: a single room with running water, bath adjacent – $2.25 to $2.50; double room with running water, bath adjacent, $3.50 to $4. For another 50 cents, occupants could have a private bath.
   Ample parking facilities and golf privileges on several courses were included and the Palatine Hotel was the site of weekly luncheon meetings of the Lions, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs.
   The rich and famous who visited the Palatine included New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Gov. Alfred E. Smith and actress Lillian Russell. Theodore Roosevelt and Benjamin Odell met there to plan political strategy.
   Bain retired in 1920 and died in 1936. Carl Wilmsen, later his wife, and then Leo Dunn were successive managers of the elegant hotel. Levinson and Copans, realtors, bought the property in 1952 and leased it to Glenn M. Lovejoy and his mother, Viola.

The Palatine: Model Hotel of the Hudson Valley

Model Hotel of the Hudson Valley
Ownership Management Carl Willmsen
American Plan, Open all Year
At the North End of the Storm King Highway and only 18 miles from Bear Mountain Bridge.
A most natural stop between New York and Albany or New England and Pennsylvania points.


 HARKING back to the historical associations of the city resulted in the choice of the word “Palatine” as the name for the leading hotel of the Hudson Valley, for in the beginnings of the city the name had its origin. In the winter of 1708-09, a little party of 53 persons, all in abject poverty came hither under a grant from Queen Anne of England. They were in search of freedom, having been driven from their homes on the Palatinate of the Rhine. They were called the Palatines. Others of their kindred started to join them, but finally took another course, passing over the Mohawk Trail and settling in Utica.
The name was somewhat prophetic, for the Palatine from its inception became more than a mere temporary abode or refuge for a traveler. Your traveler’s first impression of it will be that of a comfortable, well equipped hotel serving its guests admirably and he will soon sense that it is at once a home and a community center.
The hotel is most fortunately situated. Withdrawn from the haunts of business and the noise, at a point where the outlook is one of pleasant green lawns, it is yet within easy walking distance of the city’s activities. From the veranda and rear rooms is a commanding view of the Hudson as it sweeps majestically on, an unobstructed vista of 20 miles or river, flanked by mountain scenery.