Monday, February 13, 2012

The Poolville Store / Then and Now

In 1835, a small store was built in the prosperous small town of Poolville, New York. It was located two and a half miles from then Baptist seminary, Colgate University. It catered mostly to the locals and supplied them hardware and groceries.

In 1848, there was a second story erected on the building and a huge wheel-and-gear pulley operated a grain elevator built on the side of the building. It became a grain and feed weighing station, as well as general store. It was also the site of the first town post office.

The building and business went through many owners, until the early 1960's when it was purchased by Colgate University, and operated through the Economics program as an exercise in running a small business. It became a popular destination and tourist stop - well known for it's eclectic stock and huge cheese refrigerators.

In 1982, Professor Farnsworth, the force of nature behind the economics project passed away, and the university auctioned off the contents of the building and the property itself. My business partner at the time, Dominic, and I purchased the building at the auction - which was really just a shell of a building, as everything from the wiring to the plumbing was ripped out and sold at the auction. 

The Poolville Store Restaurant and Bed and Breakfast was born!

After what seemed like decades - but was really only 9-11 months! - our restaurant (sans B&B) opened. The above photo was taken at our opening Christmas Eve open house, where we greeted and met our fellow residents in the small hamlet of Poolvile - our home for the next (almost) twenty years. It's a little hard to see in the photograph - but at the far left is a twenty foot wide by eight foot tall walk-in fireplace, complete with bake ovens and log storage. We managed to get some pretty big fires roaring in there!

I also took a small room off the dining room, and turned it into my art, craft and gift shop. It was a popular little shop in the area, and I had a lot of fun shopping for it ... it's always fun to shop with money that you can justify spending because it's "money to make money!"
I lived on the second floor of the building - it was a quite large open space and I enjoyed filling it up with a collection of hand-crafted tapestries and pottery and glass. 

I also turned part of my living space into a performing space, and my theatre company "Above Ground Productions" started here. Above is a photo of Mike Tefft and (then) Colleen Law - now Colleen Law-Tefft! They performed in the first ever production of "Above Ground," The Beard, a story of Jean Harlow and Billy the Kid - in Eternity. Not exactly run-of-the-mill fare!

About thirty feet from the store, there was a small building which served as the village butcher shop. The small building to the right was, apparently, a residence, but was long-gone by time we had made our way to Poolville.

The butcher shop became the first room of our bed and breakfast business. It was a self-contained one-room building with a bath and kitchen and a small bay breakfast nook we built to the side. Believe it or not, even way out in the boonies of upstate New York, the room was leased almost every evening. It led us to buy the residence on the other side of the store, and enlarge our lodging accommodations.
Behind-and-to-the-side of the restaurant, we had a gazebo built and a large koi pond (which I can't believe I don't have a picture of!). The gazebo was used by lodging guests to hang out for cocktails in the evening, and was often the site of small weddings.

So, what is the point of telling you all this? I just found out that the Poolville Store has been purchased (second owners since we sold) and they have done marvelous and exciting things with the space!

The dining room has become light and airy - and much larger. Notice my "shop" on the right has been broken through and enlarged the seating capacity greatly. It looks lovely and comfortable. I'm glad to see that the walk-in fireplace is still there!
And my second floor living space (and home to "Above Ground Productions!") has become a second floor dining room. I think it looks so inviting! And they left the large wheel gear mechanism for lowering and raising the grain elevator just where I left it! It is so nice to see it's still being appreciated. Even though the elevator is gone (we had a spiral staircase installed in the elevator shaft), it's nice that the apparatus is enjoyed by diners.

Although the gazebo is still there, they had the koi pond filled in, and now have large wedding receptions on the lawns ... I'm sure it's marvelous, as Spring and Summer (and Autumn) in Poolville is absolutely delightful (I have to admit, the Winter snow got to me after a few years!).

It's also nice that they're still using the sign we had painted for the building 25 years ago by our artist friend, Skeet Guenther.

If you find yourself in upstate New York - in the triangle of Syracuse, Utica and Binghamton, check out The Poolville Country Store ... you can check out their menu and B&B options by going to their website.

Now - go make something beautiful!
¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•´♥ Tristan ♥ 


Rebecca said...

I would SOOOO Love to visit that place. Just lovely!

Thanks for sharing Mr. T!


TheFairyyellowbugQueen said...

Tristan what a lovely story. Way better than a slide show of your holiday vacation. Remember those? Well actually, YOUR slide shows would have been arty no matter what, now that I think of it! HA!
This was a lovely romp. *smiles* Norma

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful story about a piece of history. I plan on telling DH about it & from here it would make a nice trek for a day in the summer time!!
You are certainly a man of many talents!!
Have a Great Day!

Marie Antionette said...

Tristan !!! Happy Valentine's Day Dear !!!
Such a wonderful story. The history is amazing.I bet it just about killed you to sell it. Thank you for sharing it with us.
I have not been on the blog in a long time and I'm glad I posted at least a little gretting.I burned up my kitchen in Oct and its been a mess here.Your story made my day.
All but the Koi pond being filled in...LOL. As you know I raise Koi.They are one of the joys of my life.
You have a wonderful day Hon,
XXOO Marie Antionette

Pam @ Frippery said...

Wow Tristan, you have led an interesting life. This was such a fun post. It is so nice that the property has been kept up and running too. Glad to see you back in the blogging saddle so to speak! I have not been out and about visiting lately but plan to get back to good old blog fun. Happy Valentines Day, Pam

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

Tristan this is an amazing story...your legacy. I want to visit there someday! I have missed you!!!! Mary helen fernandez stewart

Kaerie Faerie said...

WOW, thanks for sharing such a delightful story. Love B&Bs and this one is fabulous!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...


YOU have done so much in your lifetime! I had no idea that you did all of this. That takes a lot of money, time, planning, courage and determination to open up such an establishment!!! And now look at the is beautiful !!! THANK YOU for visiting today dear friend. We are all so busy, but it is always a delight to touch base with people who have left an impression, and you are one of those. I still have your beautiful tag attached to a cloche in my living room. I see it daily and think of YOU!!!


Georgianna said...

Hi Tristan, What a marvelous story! A place of dreams and memories, indeed. I'm glad to see you blogging again – your energy is infectious! Happy Valentine's Day.


Dollar Store Items said...

This is the kind of piece I will definitely be sharing my friends today:-)

Maggi said...

What a beautiful place! So glad it's been in good hands. Loved reading this history!!

Paul said...

This post brings back SO many memories!!! Thank you!

Ingrid Mida said...

Is there anything you haven't done? The place is charming - just like you.