The building located at 326 Liberty Street in Newburgh may just look like the skeleton of an old building, but to Thomas Dodd, it's like walking back in time.
"If you look up in the ceiling, you can see that it's made out of logs, and then you have another log here, and then you also have hand hewn beams, and then a lot of the walls are made up of cedar saplings that still have the bark on them, " said Thomas Dodd, the owner of the building as he walked through the construction site.
What You Need To Know
- Weigand's Tavern in Newburgh was most likely in operation from the late 1700s to the early 1800s
- The building sat neglected for at least 65 years until Thomas Dodd purchased the building and decided to restore it to its original state
- Dodd plans to turn the building into a tavern, cafe or gallery
The building used to be home to Weigand’s Tavern, and dates back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. It was the center of life for Newburgh’s earliest residents at the height of the Revolutionary War, including one very famous founding father.
"It was rumored to be where George Washington would hang out, but we think that that was the previous building, which was two blocks to the north of here," said Dodd.
The building sat neglected for at least 65 years until Dodd, the president of the Newburgh Preservation Association, bought it and decided to restore the building to what it would have looked like during its prime, rebuilding the historic foundation using stone and lime mortar and restoring old features of the building like its windows, a brick bread oven and wooden staircase.
"When this building is finished, you're gonna walk in and feel like you're in the 1830s," said Dodd. "The windows are small; the ceiling height is only 7 feet, 5 inches."
He hopes to turn the building into a new tavern, café or gallery that will benefit the surrounding neighborhood.
"Newburgh needs jobs and opportunity desperately, and one of the things that will bring that to Newburgh is tourism, so you have the perfect fabric for attracting people from all over the world to come here,” Dodd said.
Dodd is hoping others will embrace the history of the building and the stories of all of Newburgh’s earliest residents, not just its most famous one.
"Washington was just another guy as well, and so he would hang out with the people, so that’s what all this is about," said Dodd. "And if COVID has taught us one thing, [it’s] that it's about human beings and those relationships relying on each other, because nothing else really matters."