According the the Sharon Springs Chamber of Commerce website, Sharon Springs began its interesting history as mineral water spa destination in 1825. Several large hotels and boarding houses were built between 1836 and 1860, and by1841, the village and its waters had become world famous.
In the early 1900s, a summer clientele from Europe became attracted to the town and its magic waters. Over 60 grand hotels and bording houses catered to a diverse group of visitors and an increasingly Jewish clientele.
The great turnpikes of the 1800’s drew visitors from Albany, New York and other Hudson river towns. The turnpikes, Erie Canal system and eventually the Delaware and Hudson railroad drew more visitors and sparked commerce for farmers, shopkeepers and all sorts of accompanying businesses and enterprises. And Sharon Springs, as a spa and resort destination, thrived.
Then came Prohibition in the 1920 and the Great Depression in the 30’s, and several fires. People could no longer afford to partake in the comfort and luxury of the former spa glory days and several main transportation lifelines through the area ended.
The automobile and several new types of accommodations - motels and motor courts – which catered to the new automobile culture and really started to take business from the all-inclusive services of those grand Sharon springs hotels.
In 1954 the New York State Thruway opened its new section from Utica to Newburgh and traffic on Route 20 decreased drastically. By the 1960, Sharon Springs and many other towns along the old Rt. 20 “Great Western Turnpike” had become “ghost towns” – mearly a memory of the grandure and elegance for which they wer once known.
In 1994, the Sharon Historical Society obtained a grant of historical recognition for approximately 180 buildings, bathhouses, hotels, and homes, in the old spa area of the village. This newly recognized “Historic District” was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and New York State’s Register.
The new owners of the Old Roseboro and American hotels have invested significant resources to revitalizing those buildings and enlivening the area. Several new shops, café’s and restaurants have brought new life to the town. Yet the “local character” can still be found in the nearby taverns and rural businesses.
The people of Sharon Springs are deservedly proud of the unique architecture, history and character of the old spa district. There are exciting development plans currently being undertaken that may provide a substantial economic boost to the town and surrounding area. But the town will fight hard to protect Sharon Spring’s unique character as the challenges and opportunities of the future present themselves.
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