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The Clarksville Plank Road Hotel

  The story begins with Henry L. Meed and his wife Huldah of Bethlehem (Clarksville after April 16, 1833) who, on September 7, 1830, sold about 131 acres of land to Levi Lamphar of Bethlehem. The land was on the south side of the Albany and Delaware Turnpike Road (the turnpike/ SR 443), opposite the Henry L. Meed House (Arthur and Julianne VanPraag’s house). Levi paid $1,000.00 for the land, including several outbuildings and an old barn. He received a quitclaim deed from Henry L. Meed.

  Levi Lamphar, then living in the city of Albany, sold 20 acres of the above land to Christian Houck, of Bethlehem. The land, known and distinguished as the Henry L. Meed farm in Bethlehem, was sold on February 28, 1832….

  Levi kept all of the outbuildings, except the old barn. He had the privilege of removing them for four months. Christian Houck and his wife Jane, of Bethlehem (Clarksville), sold two half acre lots for $65.00 each. The first lot was sold on March 15, 1833 to Rushmore Bennett. The second lot was sold three days later to Peter L. Houck and included the old barn. On April 1, 1835, Christian and his wife, of the Town of New Scotland, Village of Clarksville, as it was then known, sold 19 acres of the original 20 acres to Lewis Houck. A profitable venture considering he paid $900.00 and sold the 20 acres for $1,130.00.

  On February 13, 1845, Peter L. Houck sold half of his half acre lot as a 15 feet wide road (Tarrytown Road), leading from the turnpike to James Murphy’s future mill site. This was part of the 2 1/10 acres Peter sold to James for his mill site. Peter purchased the additional land from Robert Dunlop on December 2, 1844.

  The old barn, that Peter L. Houck purchased, was now on a ¼ acre triangle shaped lot. The northwest corner of the barn was about seven feet from the northwest corner of the lot (SR 443 and Tarrytown Road). The barn was about 40 feet wide along the turnpike and about 30 feet deep and two stories high.

  Around 1847, Peter converted the barn into a tavern, known and distinguished
as Peter L. Houck’s Tavern. The Saloon was in the northwest corner of the “old barn” and the door faced the turnpike.

  The Albany and Clarksville Plank Road Company was authorized to construct a plank road with a single plank track from the Albany and Delaware Turnpike Road, Clarksville, to the Albany and Bethlehem Turnpike Road (SR 9W), at Babcock’s Corners (Glenmont-Feura Bush Road), on May 17, 1850….

  Peter L. Houck built the Clarksville Plank Road Hotel c. 1851. The hotel was built
against the “old barn’s” south wall and was trapezoid shaped. There was a doorway connecting it with the tavern. The two story hotel was about 31 feet long against the barn wall and the east wall was about 44 feet, including the south porch. The west side (Tarrytown Road side) was about 31 feet long. The south side was about 33 feet wide and had a six feet deep porch the width of the building, with a two story high ceiling.

  There were four square columns supporting the ceiling. Two doorways entered the hotel from the porch, which was the front of the hotel. The six feet wide one story
porch on the west side was added at a later date and was the length of the hotel.  The two story drive through wagon shed was built against the “old barn’s” east wall and contained a large ballroom on the second floor. This shed was also built at a later date. At some point in time, a two story porch was added to the front of the tavern (the turnpike side). There were three sets of double doors leading from the first floor porch into the tavern. The fourth doorway was most likely the private residence of the owner.

  As time went on, a second one story wagon shed was attached to the first wagon shed at a right angle, forming a courtyard. The two story drive through wagon shed was about 54 ½ feet long by 25 feet deep and the other wagon shed was about 50 feet long by 21 feet deep.

  The next building added to the hotel complex was a two story icehouse. The icehouse measured about 44 feet long by 19 feet deep. Most of the ice came from Lawson Lake.

  The last building to the south was a two story barn, which would have been built at an earlier date. The barn was about 33 feet, north to south and 31 feet deep. The barn opened onto the Plank Road (Tarrytown Road).

  (This story is an excerpt from Clarksville Plank Road Hotel by Joseph T. Hogan which appeared in the 2008 Clarksville Heritage Day booklet. To read the rest of the story, copies of this booklet are available for purchase.)

 July 2024