Today, two views of the same Poughkeepsie block, Market Street between Main and Cannon. Click to enlarge each set.
Market Street from Main, South
You’ll note the Bardavon sign and marquis on the west side of the street in the 2011 image on the right. In the 1906 image, the theater was called the Collingwood Opera House until it became a movie theater in 1923, then renamed the Bardavon. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I don’t think I can do a better job than the Bardavon itself in describing its history, so for more information see their website – or better yet, October through June, the theater offers historic tours.
A structure which survives today (on the west side of the street a few doors up from the Bardavon with the peaked roof) still has evidence of a painted sign, clearly painted over at least once that read “Smith Brothers Restaurant”. The below entry can be found in the Illustrated and Descriptive Poughkeepsie, N.Y booklet, page 29. As it states, between the cough drop plant and the restaurant they provided almost 300 jobs for city residents which vaporized as time marched on. Another example of how different the world was at the turn of the 20th century lies in the fact that the most successful restaurant/caterer in Poughkeepsie didn’t serve a drop of alcohol.
“SMITH BROTHERS’ RESTAURANT AND SMITH BROTHERS’ COUGH DROPS – Nos. 13 and 15 Market Street. The name of Smith Brothers is well known all over the English speaking world as the manufacturers of the famous cough drops of that title. There is hardly a pharmacy or confectionery store, however small, that does not include this firm’s name in their stock in trade. The business is one of old establishment, having been founded in 1847. The cough drop business is the largest of its kind in the world. There are about two hundred persons employed in the manufacture of these drops; the capacity of the plant is between six and seven tons per day. In addition to this business, which has made their name so famous, they are better known locally by the fine restaurant they conduct and by the confectionery and bakery business, the latter being the largest and finest in the city, requiring five wagons to supply the patrons with goods; about ninety people are employed in these departments alone. The restaurant is the most modern and up to-date in the city and seats two hundred people. Also a large feature of their business is in catering, supplying parties, suppers, wedding spreads, dinners, etc., with every requisite, except in supplying or serving intoxicating drinks either in their own business or in the homes where they may be engaged to cater – a rule which has always been strictly adhered to. The kitchen is a model of perfection in cleanliness and sanitary equipment.”
Market Street from Cannon, North
There is no note or description about what’s going on in the 1906 image above, but there is a child with an American flag on the lower right. In the south view above you can also see a large American flag hanging in the middle of the Smith Brother’s Restaurant building. Chances are, the crowd is waiting for a parade. Also interesting are all the modes of transportation visible if you click to enlarge the set – from left to right are a horse and buggy, an early automobile, a trolley car and a bicycle. Structures that escaped urban renewal include the Collingwood/Bardavon and the bank building on the right. The building on the left is the 20th century expansion of the Nelson House hotel, abandoned since the 1980’s. There have been plans to demolish it and replace it with a parking lot. Sadly, the original historic hotel to the north of this was taken down in the 1960’s and the County office building (the white building with no windows on its south side) took its place.
d and DescriptivEnterprise Publishing Co, Pougkeepsi e Poughkeeps ie, N.Y., e NY 1906.
- Hudson Valley Ruins website
- Thomas E. Rinadi & Robert J. Yasinsac, Hudson Valley Ruins – Forgotten Landmarks of an American Landscape, University Press of New England, NH 2006 p.
- “A Time of Readjustment: Urban Renewal in Poughkeepsie 1955-75” by Harvey K. Flad from New Perspectives on Poughkeepsie’s Past – Essays to Honor Edmund Platt. Clyde Griffin ed. Dutchess County Historical Society 1987 P. 165
Next time, a Thanksgiving break! Then two more posts in this series.