|suffered disrespect there, they appropriated Sharon Springs and its elaborate Greek Revival water temples as their own.
Sharon Springs was still a refuge for spa devotees through the 1940's and into the 1950's. Former Mayor Edward I. Koch of New York worked as a 22-year-old busboy there in 1946. But in the 1960's, Sharon Springs succumbed to those notorious mass executioners of so many upstate retreats: the turnpike motel and the cheap jet fare. During subsequent, somnolent decades, the village imploded into a resort mirage, a place of abandoned, moldering wood- frame mansions, sagging porches and collapsing roofs.
Though local reanimation efforts were sometimes tried, it was not until the late 1980's that Ms. Spofford's family opened Clausen Farms, an 11-room bed-and-breakfast on Route 20. A few years later, Doug Plummer and Garth Roberts moved up from New York City to establish the Rockville Cafe and Bakery on Main Street, which became not only the hangout for townies, farmers and new residents, but also an incubator for resurrection.
To their astonishment, the cafe partners found themselves buying the 26-room American Hotel, built in 1847, for $18,000 in 1996 just to keep it from disintegrating. Then they wound up spending more than $400,000 in savings and loans during the next five years to prop it up, clean it out and bring it back. In June, the American Hotel began renting nine of its rooms, after having opened its 65-seat restaurant in May. Naturally, the village breakfast spot has migrated from the Rockville, now closed, to the 25-seat pub at the hotel.
The busy hotel "makes a tremendous statement there on Main Street," Senator Seward said. "We spoke very bravely that all this was going to happen, and it's exciting to see that it is actually happening. I can see so much difference between last summer and this summer."
And to the delight of Mr. Plummer and Mr. Roberts, the new hotel has suddenly benefited from a staple of the old hotel: the walk-in. How better to describe Winnie and Ken Caswell, from New Castle, N.H.
"We've been driving through the area and were charmed by the hotel," Mrs. Caswell said as they entered the lobby. "We thought, why not spend the night?"
Down the hill on Main Street, Dawne Belloise and her partner, Dennis Giacomo, have spent five years restoring the town's most imposing ruined grande dame, the 160- year-old, 130-room, four-story Roseboro Hotel. They bought the structure for $20,000 in 1996, defying all rational explanation, as they put it; they have found themselves spending $250,000 on the restoration so far.
The Roseboro's 90-seat restaurant, with its oak floors and saffron curtains, opened on July 13, and patrons were offered a new-American menu under the dining room's woven bamboo-blade fans and $3,000 Roman- inspired chandeliers. In September, Ms. Belloise and Mr. Giacomo plan to open
|New York Region
July 23, 2001
A Faded Resort Lumbers to Life
By Glenn Collins
SHARON SPRINGS, N.Y. For the old-timers in this historic mineral-spring village, it was more than a little startling when the white elephant came back to life.
Ruth Fremson/New York Times
|five new Main Street storefronts on the Roseboro's 75-foot-long front-porch extension, which was until recently a sagging protuberance requiring extensive reconstruction.
Over the last couple of years, more and more tourists have been seeking out the town's shabby chic. Thanks to the resuscitation efforts, visiting shoppers can work their way down the hill now past the Sharon Springs Village Hall and Free Library to Cobbler & Company, a 13-room, two- story gift-shop menagerie where the walls and halls have already been signed by a thousand visitors from 40 states and 30 countries.
After perusing the American Hotel opposite Main Street, they might encounter Finishing Touch, an apparel and home-decor shop, and then Gino's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, where the mozzarella is fresh and the pizza dough is whirled by Cipriano Loviglio, a pieman from Bari, Italy.
Pausing further to observe the restoration of the Roseboro, shoppers might then browse the Sharon Springs Emporium, an eclectic consignment and antiques store, and wander into the Sharon Historical Society. Just down the street, the Imperial Baths, the 73-year-old white-sulfur mineral baths, are still open to the public every day except Saturday. Massage is an option.
Main Street is also punctuated by lively historic markers recalling the mineral-spring past, all of it referenced on the village's elaborate Internet site, www.sharonsprings.com, created by Ms. Belloise, a Web designer.
The growing hubbub contrasts with the realities of a decade ago, "when most of Main Street was condemned and the place seemed totally eerie," said Ms. Belloise, who moved here in 1990, charmed by the crumbling five-block main drag and its possibility for renewal.
"This transformation was not ordered from on high," Mr. Barwick said, "it was a grass-roots effort by young, optimistic people who weren't scared away by the terrible decline that had occurred there."
In the village, there is "real momentum now," Senator Seward said.
But can so much promising activity be equated with unstoppable progress? Town veterans fret that the Sharon Springs revival "is still tentative," said Ms. Lauzon, the science teacher. "In the end, I think we'll have to work together as a village to keep all this going."
But Mr. Barwick said Sharon Springs had not been affected by recent economic problems "because there was no room for a further downturn," he said. "Sharon Springs had nowhere to go but up."