by Mike Hays
For 80 years, Nyack Village Hall was located at 134 Main Street. The building which is now home to the Hudson House restaurant was one of the first multi-story brick structures on its block. It straddles the Nyack Brook, which can still be seen from one side of the building.
The Village of Nyack purchased the 1891 building to house the Jackson Engine and Hose fire companies. Two arched doors provided access for the fire engines on the high-ceiling ground floor. The village government was located on the second floor.
A fire, started by a disgruntled fireman, gutted the building on July 19, 1909. The blaze destroyed the elaborately decorated parade fire carriage along with other fire equipment. The fire department then moved to Park Street–escaping bad fire karma and possibly bad publicity, too.
The fire doors were replaced by two new doors when the building was renovated after the fire. They flank an odd stone central panel with a window. A triangular frieze with the words “Village Hall” still appears above the second floor cornice. A very tall flagpole is mounted just behind the frieze. Inside, wainscoting was replaced with pressed tin that is still in place. A “his-and-hers” jail was built onto the back of the building repurposed today as the Hudson House’s wine cellar.
The original building was also home to the village’s police department and justice system. A courtroom was located on the first floor. A bank vault is still visible on the second floor. (Ask the current owners, Matt Hudson and Amy Lehman, for the combination.)
According to an oral history included in Nyack in the 20th Century, local village government was mostly a man’s world. On the second floor, the mayor sat in the middle of a long Mission-style table on a raised dais with two trustees on each side. They smoked cigars. Spittoons were everywhere. In 1947, women from the Women’s Civic League convinced the mayor to get rid of the spittoons. They were replaced by large ashtrays.
The village goverment moved to the former Orange and Rockland building on North Broadway in 1971.
Michael Hays is a 30-year resident of the Nyacks. He grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. He is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.
Nyack People & Places features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY. Sponsored by Weld Realty.
Photo Credit: Mike Hays
Historical photos courtesy of the Nyack Library
Source: Nyack in the 20th Century, Nyack Historical Society, 2000