This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 5

2024-04-05 TWIR Image-Palmer House`

April 4, 1874 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

[Image: Engraving of Palmer House, Nyack-on-the-Hudson, from the Rockland County Journal.]
       We present our readers this week with a fine engraving of the Palmer House, which was so deservedly popular with a host of summer boarders during last season.
       This elegant, commodious and first-class Hotel was opened for the first time, for the reception of transient and season guests, on the 18th of June, 1873, and during the summer months its utmost capacity was taxed to afford accommodations for all who desired and applied for them.
       Standing on a bold elevation some four or five hundred feet above the waters of the Hudson, and overlooking the beautiful village of Nyack nestling at its feet, the broad bosom of the “Tappan Zee,” and the undulating hills of Westchester County, it affords a view of unsurpassed scope and beauty not to be found within a like distance of the metropolis.
       The situation of this elegant house is entirely healthful and free from every species of annoyance. The house contains over one hundred finished and furnished rooms, the carpets and upholstery having been supplied from the establishment of A. T. Stewart. The dining room and public parlors are spacious and attractive, and a wide piazza surrounds the entire building which is furnished with all the modern improvements.
       The broad roads leading to and from the Hotel are of easy grade, and kept in good order at all times, and carriages are in readiness to convey parties to or from the cars, boats, or surrounding country which contains many beautiful spots and affords delightful drives to all who may desire to thus amuse themselves
       The easy means of access, by boats and cars, renders Nyack one of the most desirable summer resorts in the vicinity of New York, and gentlemen whose business requires them to spend the day in the city cannot fail to perceive the great advantages of this location.
       Seven trains are run daily each way on the Nyack and Northern Railroad, and in addition to three elegant steamboats leaving at 6.15, 7.05 and 8 o’clock, A.M., and returning in the evening, the ferry-boat makes eleven trips each way between Nyack and Tarrytown, daily.
       The above popular house is under the supervision of Mrs. R. Palmer, whose experience in catering to the wants of the public has been acquired by years of practice, and whose reputation as a hostess and a lady, has secured to her a large circle of friends and acquaintances.

April 1, 1924 100 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

$50,000 FIRE AT HAVERSTRAW — A Fire Starting in the Majestic Theatre Threatened to Wipe Out the Town
         The Majestic Theatre at Haverstraw went up in flames at three o’clock last Friday afternoon, March 28. The fire started in the chimney.
         The loss on theatre and other buildings and contents, foots about fifty thousand dollars.
Fire apparatus rushed to the scene of the conflagration from Nyack, Stony Point, Congers, Garnerville and Suffern.
         Telephone girls stuck to their posts until they fainted from the effects of the heat! All buildings in the neighborhood had the roofs wet down constantly, as the water supply permitted; but there was a sad lack of water and the power for its effective use.
         The Fred Bonnet House was seriously damaged by the flames which could not be checked. This building had been gutted by fire but a few weeks ago.
         There was very little insurance on buildings and supplies destroyed and ruined by heat, for a considerable distance from the Majestic Theatre, which of itself was a total loss.
        Haverstraw ought, by now, to be a good district in which to canvass fire insurance; and to talk “water supply systems.”

April 1, 1974 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       You do not walk around Tomkins Cove for very long without hearing about the Clark sisters.
       In fact, there are many who say you haven’t even been to Tomkins Cove if you haven’t visited the Clarks at their home up on Buckberg Hill.
       Questions about the Cove, the people, its history, life-style, are almost always answered with another question: “Well, have you been up to see the Clark sisters yet? They ARE Tomkins Cove ...”
       If that’s the case, then what we have here is a very charming place. Indeed, you will probably fall in love with May Clark, but do not get your hopes up, because she already has a boy friend.
       The Clark sisters are three, May, Ellen and Elizabeth, and with their brother Peter and cat “Inky,” they form perhaps the tightest, happiest, most joyful family in all of Tomkins Cove.
       They are spinster sisters, these three, May and Ellen being spinster schoolteachers to boot, but please do not let that give you any pre-conceived notions of stuffiness. The world has been their very own apple for 80 years or so—and they are looking forward to lots of exciting tomorrows.
       In fact, May has polished up her 1962 black convertible, getting ready for the summer, and there will be rides in the country for all of them.
       “We’re going to go out and have fun,” says May. “We’re going to play tennis and golf and go boating and all kinds of things ...”
       May is 82 years old. Ellen is 77. Elizabeth is 87. Peter, who will soon be 91, would probably go riding with them, but he has about a quarter-acre garden to take care of. That will keep him busy most of the summer.
       May is the family spokeswoman, keeper of the scrapbooks, chronicler of the family history, and all in all, the person you would come to see if you would want to know what has happened, what is happening, and what will probably happen in Tomkins Cove.
       She knows who is sick and who is well; who is on vacation and who has just come back; who sold what acre for how much money; details of the latest burglary and what was taken; and … well, just about anything else you would want to know.
       May taught school for 44 years in the ivy-covered school-house that Calvin Tomkins built for the community almost 100 years ago. And in doing that, she had a unique showcase, a profile, a literal parade of the people who would grow up here, live here, work here.
       Her students have gone to three wars, lived in both depression and prosperity, have made fortunes and lost them, raised families, built homes, started businesses, succeeded or failed in one venture or another.
       “I’ve seen lots of stuff, I can tell you that. Some of it has been sad, but most of it has been happy. I’ve had a good time ... we all have, and Dad always told us not to worry about yesterday. He always said live for today and plan for tomorrow. And that’s what we do.”
       The “good times” were sleigh rides and ice skating on the river in the winter; Christmas parties at the church down the hill; dances at the school; visits to the ice cream store across from school in the afternoons; swimming and fishing in the lazy days of summer; a ride to Haverstraw for the movies; exploring Buckberg Hill in crisp autumn afternoons.
       Later, Ellen and May would build a tennis court in their side yard and that’s where you could surely count on finding them every afternoon of the year—except when the snow was too deep.
       “Dad” was Peter Clark, a river captain, and according to May, he accomplished just about everything he set out to do—except for one thing.
       “He wanted to live to be 100, but he didn’t quite make it. He was never sick a day, just that day he died. He was only 96.”
       Peter Clark the river captain sailed his three-masted schooner, the Robert T. Graham, up the Hudson not long after Tomkins set up his quarry at the cove and for a half-century or more hauled brick to New York City.
       As his son Peter now remembers: “We hauled enough brick to build half of Brooklyn. Dad followed the river all his life. I did, too. It was a good life and the river was good to us.”
       Peter Clark built the family house on Buckberg Hill in 1883. He built it with good pine and made sure there was enough room for his five sons and three daughters and enough land around so they would never be crowded.
       He dug a deep well that produced then, as now, the sweetest water in all the area.
       Peter Clark would probably be disappointed that all his sons, save Peter, died early, none of them coming anywhere near 100.
       But he would be proud of his daughters; their zest for life; their fierce independence; and certainly he would laugh to see May and Ellen, their close-cropped gray hair ruffled by the wind, tooling up and down Buckberg Hill in that old black convertible.
       “Dad always wanted us to keep this home,” says May. “He didn’t want us to sell any of it or give any of it away. And we won’t. This is the Clarks’ place—and we’re always , going to keep it that way.”

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan for the Historical Society of Rockland County. © 2024 by The Historical Society of Rockland County. #FBF Flashback Friday may be reprinted only with written permission from the HSRC. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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