“Rich History in Rensselaerville”
The Palmer House Café is at the site of some of the richest history in the hamlet of Rensselaerville. The first building at this site was built about 1801 by brothers John and Peter Frisbee. Early deeds called it the Frisbee dwelling house. Later this small dwelling was moved back from the highway and the front was added to make an inn. The building continued to expand when a store and ballroom were attached to the main house. Joshua Aley was the next owner of the house, followed by Asa Palmer, who turned the house into an inn. Palmer sold the property to John Rice in 1862 and he opened a store. For the next 100 years the Rice family ran a general store from this location.In 1850 a young daguerreotypist, John Loring Rice, came from Concord, Massachusetts with horse and covered wagon that carried his camera and developing equipment. By 1862 John was the proprietor of a store at this location. During the Civil War there was a shortage of hard cash and John L. Rice had to issue lithographed exchange notes called “shin-plasters”, to give customers credit to shop in his store. In 1883 the first telephone came to Rensselaerville, it was installed in the store. John guaranteed the Old Hudson River Telephone Company $60 a year in tolls to bring the telephone line into the village. As more customers got telephones a switchboard was put into the store, at one time six separate lines came into the building. John L. Rice’s son Frank worked with his dad and changed the name of the store to J.L. Rice & Son. In 1920 William Rice Senior bought the store from his father Frank and owned in until 1965. One of his jobs was to push a button in the store that rang the fire alarm in Conkling Hall at noon every day, except Sunday. During the next twenty years the store had three owners including Robert & Edith Lansing, who ran it under the name Village Market.In 1986 the building changed hands again when Bill Benson and Susan Lenane opened The Palmer House Café. The Café was named after the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago. Even though Potter Palmer the founder of the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago never lived in the hamlet of Rensselaerville, he was a born in Potter Hollow. Potter Hollow is a small community in the southwestern corner of Rensselaerville and he lived there until he was 17 years old.The Palmer House Cafe is located in the 150 year old store front. The main dining room is where the store was located and kitchen area was where the butcher worked. The tavern is situated in the dining room of the main house. Bill and Susan have been collaborating from the beginning to create unique menus and weekly specials from local produce. This tradition continues with Chef Micah Kuhar in the kitchen creating original dishes and hosting special events.
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- Sun, Thu - Sat: 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm
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