Story by Jennifer O’Connor
The historic and notable Baird’s Tavern, located at 105 Main St. in the Village of Warwick, will once again become a tavern for patrons to enjoy. Built by Francis Baird in 1766, the tavern for many years was a welcoming destination for travelers. Soon patrons will be able to revel in its rich Colonial history and soak in the same atmosphere where George Washington “had a grog” in 1783 as he recorded in his diary.
Over the years, the tavern has had several owners until it was acquired by the Town of Warwick Historical Society in 1991. To help generate revenue, the Historical Society will rent the first floor of the building to Adam Powers who will open a tavern there sometime this summer. The second and third floor of the building will remain as a museum. The entrance to the museum will be at the side of the building and separate from the tavern.
The Historical Society was granted final site plan approval by the Village of Warwick Planning Board after a public hearing was held on Thurs., Apr. 20 to allow the first floor to be used as an eating and drinking establishment.
“The idea is that this will represent Colonial times. It will also help the Historical Society,” said Powers, who is the owner of three businesses in Warwick – Fetch Bar & Grill, Village Billiards, and Fizzy Lifting Soda Pop Candy Shop.
In addition to paying rent to the Historical Society, Powers will pay all of the utilities and handle maintenance of the property such as snow removal. According to Executive Director of the Warwick Historical Society Lisa-Ann Weisbrod, although the building will still have non-profit status, eventually it will go on the tax roll, and Powers will cover that as well.
Unique to this region, staff will be trained in the history of the building and present materials to visitors about the Historical Society as well as about their upcoming events. Patrons will be encouraged to become a member of the Historical Society.
If someone becomes a member of ‘Baird Tavern,’ they will receive a pewter mug with their name engraved on it that they can hang on the ceiling to reuse. Proceeds after the cost of the mugs will go to the Historical Society.
“Not only will the Historical Society be getting rent and new members, this will create awareness of the beautiful and amazing buildings that many people don’t even know are owned by the Historical Society,” said Powers.
The building will remain intact. During the public hearing, Joe Irace, the architect of the project, said that the inside and outside of the building will not be altered. There will be a portable “cage” bar indicative of the Colonial era. There will not be a kitchen or an open flame. Menus from local restaurants will be available to patrons who can have food delivered to the tavern.
The plan proposes three different quaint seating areas that can accommodate about 50 people and 12 parking spaces. This project also will not have any impact on the Nature Play Area that will be located behind the barn on the property. The Warwick Historical Society has received a grant from Stewarts Shops Holiday Match Program and is partnering with HERoes in Deed to install the nature play area.
One comment made by the Planning Board is that they advise there be a “right turn only” sign installed at the exit of the driveway. No one from the public spoke in opposition to the project. Powers hopes to open the tavern in July or August of this year. The hours of operation will be Mon. through Thurs. from 4 to 10 p.m. and Fri. through Sun. from 4 to 11 p.m.
Yesterday’s to Have Informational Meeting on Site Plan Proposal
After the public hearing was closed, many residents remained in Village Hall to listen to the Board’s discussion with John Christison about his proposed site plan, although no public comments were allowed, as this was not a public hearing.
Christison, the owner of Yesterday’s restaurant, located at 29 Main St. in the Village of Warwick, is proposing to build a 3,600 sq. ft. restaurant for his establishment at 16 Elm St. The proposal includes a banquet room, dining and bar area, bathrooms, covered porch and a deck with a total seating capacity of 190 people.
Christison’s purchase of the property is contingent upon him receiving approval for the project. The lot, which is zoned light industrial, is owned by Frank Petrucci, Lynn Crane and Glenn Petrucci.
Village residents concerned about the project recently wrote letters to the editor published in the Warwick Valley Dispatch and the Warwick Advertiser. Attorney John Cappello, representing Christison, said that they are aware that there have been letters written from the public about the project.
“We ask that you read them. I don’t typically address public comment when it’s not a public hearing. If there is anything that you guys feel we need to address as a result of those letters please direct us,” said Cappello to the Board.
Planning Board Chairman George Aulen acknowledged that the Board has received letters. Cappello then said that Christison will hold an informational meeting for the public on Sat., May 13 and will address everyone’s concerns. The time and place will be announced at a later date. It was also stated at the meeting that the Planning Board members will do a site visit on Sat., Apr. 29 at 10 a.m.
The next Planning Board meeting will be held on Thurs., May 18 at 7:30 p.m. in Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.