The Brazenhead Pub
This popular pub was once a two story building. Prior to having its second floor removed, it had housed the New York Hotel near the turn of the century. After this major renovation, it opened as Mack’s Lunch, then later Liner’s and eventually Chet’s Bar and Grill (Chet Darling and his wife Fran).
Few people know that Monroe was once a popular stomping ground of the legendary Babe Ruth. In the 1930’s this pub, then Liner’s, was one of the Babe’s favorite watering holes. Many colorful stories of the Babe and his ante-rage of team mates can be recounted from within the walls of this unassuming building.
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The building next to the police station was constructed in the early 1900’s as Young’s Harness& Saddle Shop. In 1915 Citizen’s Bank of Monroe opened in this location , but moved to the present day location of M&T Bank less then a year later. The State Police once had their Monroe headquarters upstairs in this building.
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The Blacksmith’s Shops
It is interesting to know that prior to the turn of the century, located where the Millpond Parkway now intersects Lake St., stood two of Monroe’s blacksmith shops. On opposite sides of the street were Utters Blacksmith and Fairchild’s Blacksmith, specializing in horse shoeing and carriage repair these shops operated from the mid to early 1900’s. Gaunt’s wagon shop was the end building. After the turn of the century and with the onset of the automobile, the shops were converted to automotive garages. Directly in line with the new proposed roadway, both buildings were torn down when the Millpond Parkway was constructed in 1932 to 35 by the Monroe Improvement association.
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Historic Buildings and Locations around Monroe alphabetical A - J
The Colonial Theater
Directly across the street from DeAnglis Hall is the Colonial Theater Building. This was the first movie theater to be constructed in Monroe. It opened on July 31st in 1922 with a showing of the silent movie “The Boat” starring Buster Keaton. In 1926 it was purchased by the Masonic Lodge. The 2nd floor was used as their meeting hall and the ground floor was leased to the theater. In 1929 the theater began exploring the possibilities of installing new equipment that would allow the showing of a newfangled invention called “talkies”. A year later the talking movie “Welcome Danger” with Harold Lloyd premiered on Feb 14th.
The showing of movies on Sundays was originally banned in Monroe until a referendum allowing it was overwhelmingly passed in 1934.
With the newer air conditioned Monroe Theater around the corner, and features like “Francis (the mule) joins the WACS” and “Killer Leopards”, the Colonial Theater was finally forced to close on Oct. 10, 1954. The Masons sold the building in 2000.
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The Community House
Originally built in 1874 by Martin Konnight, a man prominent in Monroe’s early history, the building was called Konnight Hall and served as an entertainment center. It was later to become the Monroe Opera House until it was purchased by a group of citizens and converted to a community house in the 1920’s. There was a four-lane bowling alley in the basement and a library on the first floor. The town nurse was also located here and this is where you would go to get your required vaccinations. The second floor housed a gymnasium and a stage. Local basketball games were held here which prompted the installation of thick padding around the building columns which happened to fall mid court. Large community dinners were also held on this floor as well as stage productions. The third floor contained rental apartments. The front yard of the community house had a bandstand, and next to it a large pine tree which became the Village’s Christmas tree each season. Little known to most, and hanging from beneath the main entrance stairs, was the bell from the freighter SS Monroe which served in WWII. Sadly, building was destroyed by fire in 1990.
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Contrary to popular belief, this body of water is not named Goose Pond, but Mill Pond. The Monroe Improvement Association, a group of civic minded citizens, purchased the land around Mill Pond in 1922 and began removing buildings and doing improvements including the construction of the Millpond Parkway. They dredged the ponds and removed the swampy areas and created the island you see today. The park was named after the first president of the association, Alfred J. Crane. After completion of the work the park was donated to the Village of Monroe.
It was here in 1937, during the dredging, that the complete skeleton of a Mastodon was unearthed. A distant cousin of the modern elephant and similar to a Wooly Mammoth, they dominated this area just after the ice age nearly 10,000 years ago. An identical skeleton was found nearby in Harriman several years later and can be seen today on display in Museum Village. Monroe has produced 4 of the over 40 Mastodon skeletons found in Orange County; making Orange County the single largest source of Mastodon artifacts in the world.
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The Dam House
Located at 315 Stage Road, this house probably dates back to the late 1700’s. It was built in three distinct parts: a north half and a south half that are joined north of the door and an addition across the rear. The roof has been raised more than once to accommodate these changes. There is a cooking fireplace in the basement south wall. The beehive bake oven in this wall was reconstructed in the 1960’s. The original one story section of this house is more than likely one of the early structures built in the area by David Smith.
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John DeAngelis Hall
Many of the buildings that line Lakes Street are modern and have been constructed after the turn of the century. The majority of the original structures were destroyed in the great fire of 1892 or simply lost to modernization. A few however bear worth pointing out and the first is John DeAngelis Hall.
Renamed as such in 1998 after the popular Supervisor of the Town of Monroe who served from 1978 to 1989, this building was originally constructed in 1912 by C.T. Knight as the Monroe Post Office. The Post Office relocated to Stage Rd. in 1953 and the Building and Loan Association occupied this space until 1963.
At that time Monroe was in need of a new location for its town hall and Elwood Smith, brother of Roscoe Smith and then owner of the building, saw fit to donate the structure to the town for that use. In 1979 the Town Hall moved to its present location but it is still used for town offices. The Monroe court is also located upstairs.
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Doremus Photo Studio
This current building was constructed in 1940 to replace a much longer building which was removed at the time of the grade crossing elimination in order to make way for the newly constructed Carpenter Place.
The original building housed Regiluth’s drug store, which actually contained the local library at the time. Later, Jacqmein’s Barbershop occupied this space. Every costumer of Jacqmein’s had his own personalized shaving mug displayed on a shelf in his shop.
Upstairs was the Doremus Photo Studio, later owned by his apprentice Bill Todt. This building also housed David Nelson’s liquor store which moved into this current building once constructed. This was the first liquor store to open in Monroe after prohibition ended in 1933.
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The Firemen's Opera House
The building was originally constructed as Bertholf’s Tin shop in 1887. To the rear was located a separate blacksmith shop and a parsonage barn. At the turn of the century, this building underwent a major renovation to become the local municipal building of sorts. It housed the fire department, the town and village halls, and the local jail as well as the Fireman’s Opera House- all simultaneously. The Mombasha Volunteer Fire Department housed their fire wagons on the first floor with the Town and Village Halls in a separate section area on the same floor.. The jail was located at the basement level.
With the coming of motorized fire trucks, the building underwent another renovation as it was found necessary to move the heavy trucks to the lower ground floor level.
The fireman’s opera house, was located on the second floor, and was the villages main entertainment attraction along with Konnights Hall. It operated throughout the early 1900’s featuring vaudeville acts, silent movies, and other amusements.
In 1942, a significant piece of history took place in this building. The great George M. Cohen first previewed his famous film Yankee Doodle Dandy to a private audience in the theater located upstairs. George M. Cohen lived in Woodbury and spent much time in and around the Monroe area during the first half of the 20th century.
In 1963, the Town Hall moved to the current DeAngelis Hall. Village Hall moved to its current location in the 1960’s along with police dept. and the Mombashia Fire Department moved to its current location in 1965. The building was then sold and renovated to its present form as the funeral home.
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First Methodist Church
The Methodist Church, around the corner on Maple Ave, was built in 1840. A new education building was added in recent years. The Church originally had a very tall slim spire, which was replaced in recent years with a neatly designed lower spire alongside it.
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First Presbyterian Church
The congregation first met around April 20, 1783, under an apple tree off Reynolds Road. A month later, May 28, 1783, the framework of the church at Seamanville was raised. The congregation met there until 1853 when this new church was erected here on Stage Rd. According to the Church History, the ladies of the congregation helped raise the heavy oak framework into place. The first school house built in Monroe was located at the rear of the church, as well as were several carriage sheds.
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The Flat Iron Building
This vacant site was home to the brick building constructed by the Carpenter Bros. in the late 1800’s. Its unique triangular shape and similarity to the famous building in New York City led to its popular reference as Monroe’s Flat Iron Building. A private bank A.C. Wilcox & Co. would occupy the building in February 1904, they would close the Monroe branch in February 1905 to make room for a new bank. That was lucky for the residents of Monroe, because in May of 1905 Wilcox & Co. was insolvent, having 14 branches in upstate NY. The Monroe National Bank opened for business in this building on March 2, 1905.
During its operation the bank would issue National Bank Notes under its name. On June 20, 1932 the public was notified the bank was taken over by the Comptroller of the Currency. In time all loans were repaid and the bank’s assets liquidated, the depositors would receive most of their money back. It would house a number of stores over the years including Daigon’s Candy Store and a number of other businesses. The building was destroyed by fire in November 1976.
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The Fowler Building
The Fowler building was built in 1911 by William M. Fowler to serve as a department store. It was operated as such until about 1926, when it was sold to Philip Fleischer. The Masons also met upstairs until they purchased the Colonial Theater building in 1926. In the 1940’s, the Kroposki Brothers opened an embroidery factory in the building on the second floor, and later a furniture store on the first. In 1999 the building served as temporary headquarters for the Monroe Police Department during construction of the new station on Stage Road.
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The Grade Crossing
The center of the village presented a very different appearance in 1841 when the train was first brought to Monroe. It was a crossroads of sorts, and soon became a hub of transportation, not only to New York City, but also to points north including Albany. The intersection originally linked North Main Street with Stage Road (then called South Main) and Lake Street, with Spring Street to the east and west. The Erie railroad bisected this intersection on the diagonal. The area was a bustle of activity, not only of local business, but also of travelers coming and going on foot, horse, wheel and rail. In 1939, Monroe was a popular point of departure for the famed World’s Fair. The coming of the steam giants eventually proved a dangerous attraction and led to the elimination of the grade crossing in 1940. Even with the passing of the last train in 1983, the intersection has never been reopened.
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