CLIFTON PARK: Landmark sees historic overhaul

In an age of strip malls and pre-planned, cookie-cutter communities, the relics of centuries past have become scarcer and scarcer. Grooms Tavern in Clifton Park, however, has survived generations, dating back to the early 1800s, and remains a physical reminder of the town's humble beginnings.

As the town has grown exponentially, the tavern has deteriorated. Fittingly, it was the community it helped define that worked to restore it to its former stature.

Saturday, April 14, marked Grooms Tavern's grand reopening, an event attended by local residents, town officials and community supporters. Patrons reflected on the conscientious restoration work done on the once-dilapidated structure while browsing various period pieces on loan from the Van Vranken family and Doris Cole.

Throughout the day, visitors also had the opportunity to observe craft-making exhibitions, such as chair caning, and took in some of the tavern's history as described by town historian John Scherer.

According to Scherer, town board meetings were held at Grooms Tavern from 1828 until around 1868. The tavern later served as a general store from about 1880 through 1970.

A lot of people around the area still remember coming here, said Scherer.

Scherer went on to express a sense of pride in what Grooms Tavern has become today, commenting, "We'll be using it as a town cultural and historical center, where groups again will meet. It will be a vibrant building."

The town has made a great effort to refurbish one of its oldest landmarks. Since purchasing the structure in 1999 for $150,000, roughly $600,000 of the town's fund balance has been invested into improving Grooms Tavern.

Included in that $600,000, said town Administrator Mike Shahan, "The town recently allocated $75,000, which was matched by Assemblyman (Bob) Reilley (D-Colonie). So, we have $150,000 still left to finish off improvements to Grooms Tavern."

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