Historic Buildings and Locations around Monroe alphabetical K - M
The Knight House
Nicholas Knight bought the Smith’s grist mill in 1806. According to local tradition, his family lived in the little house across the street until a part of this house was built in 1811. During the 1800’s, the house was enlarged and renovated in the Greek Revival style. Porches became popular during the 19th century and were added, also. This house has remained in the Knight family since its construction until 2005 when it was sold.
Map Location 45
During the mid to late 1800’s this building served as a bar and a general store. Fights would erupt on weekends between English and Irish miners who came from opposite sides of the town to indulge in the spirits.
In 1897, the building was renovated to become the Erie Hotel, but it closed after only 2 years and was converted to a café known as Dix’s till 1907. A local businessman by the name of Shorty Stevenson purchased the property in the early 1900’s and changed the café’ to a bar, and then later, back to a café again. By the late 1940’s it was to become a meat and grocery market. The building served as a restaurant after that into the 1960’s.
Map Location 8
Marilyn Monroe Day
On the lighter side of Village history, as a publicity stunt, on November 5, 1953, Mayor Charles B. Knight signed a proclamation declaring that the name of the Village be changed to Marilyn Monroe, NY for one day.
It was the brainchild of chamber president Lou Weiner. Marilyn Monroe was invited with high hopes to participate, and may have attended had she not been receiving an award in Hollywood. There was a parade down the main street with local officials along with, the Monroe-Woodbury School Band and St. Patrick’s Semi-Military School Band.
The official celebration included a sign proclaiming “Entering Marilyn Monroe, NY” and sported a life size cutout of the actress. Also a special cover envelope was stamped proclaiming the one day change, which became a very popular collectable.
Map Location 6
The right side of this house was built by John McGarrah in the early 1800’s as a inn. It was a popular stagecoach stop on the Orange Turnpike. When McGarrah died Goff, a local inn keeper bought Tavern operating it from 1839 to 1867. Around 1815, a wood frame store next to the house was moved, attached to the house, and raised an extra half-story to meet the height of the inn. It was not uncommon to move buildings in this era. The rear wing, which has been completely reconstructed, was probably used as the kitchen of the inn as there is the remains of a large cooking fireplace in that section of the basement.. The house was later owned and occupied by the Hulse family for over a 100 years. Fred Hulse was a local lawyer and was elected mayor of the
Village of Monroe from 1941 to 1946. Early in the 20th century, the home was operated for several years as a sanitarium by the Hulse family, and was named as Hulsehurst.
A unique feature of this house which is located on the third floor and mainly untouched, is the original Masonic meeting room of the local order of masons dating back to the mid 1800’s. It was this forgotten, yet preserved, feature that prompted the Masons to purchase the house in 2000.
Map Location 37
The Mill Ruins
The grist mill underwent many changes over more than 200 years In the mid 1800’s, in an attempt to keep up with demand, the mill was upgraded with new heavy duty rotary design milling equipment. The new equipment proved too massive for the meager flow of the dam to turn. The new equipment had to be dismantled and the old equipment returned to its place. In the late 19th century, the mill house was doing double duty as both a sawmill and a grist mill. A 1908 newspaper article stated that the mill business was healthy and they foresaw many years of successful operation. The mill closed 7 years later. Changing times and the advent of steam power led to its ultimate demise. The building was converted to an auto garage in 1921 and was then destroyed by a fire several years later from gas and oil soaked floor boards.
As far as we know, and contrary to popular belief, the mill house never had an external waterwheel. All equipment was housed within the structure and fed by a sluice way from the pond into the building, although, the original 1700’s mill may have been much different.
Map Location 39
The Millpond Dam
In the mid-1700’s, David Smith, a miller from Long Island, came with his family to this area. He built a dam in the Ramapo River to power a grist mill he constructed next to it. David Smith was a self-proclaimed British loyalist, and while he was a honorable citizen, other family members gave much concern to the revolutionists of the time, most notable his notorious son Claudius. Claudius Smith was to become known as the Cowboy of the Ramapo for his anti-revolutionary activities.
The dam which first appears on maps made as early as the 1800’s. was constructed at the time of the first mill, and created the Mill pond behind it. It has undergone many changes over the centuries.. The most recent dam restoration took place by the CCC in the 1930’s
The Mill Tunnel
It has long been rumored that there are tunnels from one or more of the houses on Stage Road down to the Ramapo River. While those tunnels have never been found, during excavation for the new bridge in 1995, contractors broke into a stone tunnel on the west side of the Ramapo. It is about 6 ‘ wide and 5’ high. It is corbelled similar to the original bridge. It appears to run from the old mill, under 17M, towards the old stone barn. It is not clear what purpose it served, although it is speculated that it may have been a new spillway constructed at the time of the failed mill upgrade.
Map Location 42
Monroe Cheese Factory
In 1873 an immigrant from Bavaria, Julius Wettstein, came to Monroe and founded a cheese manufacturing factory that would later be known as the Monroe Cheese Company. Here he manufactured fine Swiss, German and French type cheeses. The fourth owner of the factory was Jacob Weisl, who took control of the business in 1891.
In the 1890’s, a young cheese maker named Emil Frey created a gold crusted, soft ripening, spreadable cheese, which he named Liederkranz. By 1915, they were shipping an average of one ton of this cheese out of the Monroe plant daily. And if your not already aware, yes it was here in Monroe, that Emil Frey also invented Velveeta Cheese in 1923.
The Monroe Cheese Company moved to Van Wert, Ohio in 1926 and the Velveeta rights were sold to Kraft in 1927. The Weisl family continued to operate the Monroe Cheese Company, until they sold the remainder of the operation to Borden in 1929.
The house in the front was the home of the Cheese Maker and was occupied by Mr. Frey for many years. The brick building is all that is left of a once larger wood frame factory. The underground curing cellars still remain, along with the small block office building that was built in 1915. During the 1930’s, as part of the creation of Crane Park, the wooden section of the factory was removed by the Monroe Improvement Association.
Map Location 28
Monroe Professional Building
During the same time period, the Monroe Professional Building was constructed on the left side of the Reed Building. This building was the first location of The Monroe Gazette in the years 1908 – 1915. Dayton’s 5 & 10 Cent Store was also located in this building from about 1916 until 1950. The building was renovated in the 1960’s and given its present name.
Map Location 15
Monroe Village Hall
This building was constructed c.1865 as a retail store with apartments upstairs. In 1900, Samuel M. Nelson moved his dry goods store from Callicoon, NY to this location, the business remained here until 1922, at which time it moved around the corner to 16 Lake St. Fire gutted the Building in 1915, Mr. Nelson lost most of his stock& personal effects since he lived upstairs. Dayton’s 5 & 10 Cents store located next door also suffered extensive damage and moved to another building. Over the years the building would house a restaurant, dress shop, fish store, shoe maker. Johnny Miller operated his grocery store there and later it was taken over by the Travis family. In 1960 the building was purchased by Rosco W. Smith and gifted to the Village of Monroe to be used as the Village Hall.
The Village Hall was moved here from its previous location at what was once the Fireman’s Opera House, the Monroe Police Dept. was also located here until 1976.
Map Location 16