by Mike Hays
What a difference a century can make: What was once a pub and pool hall is now a home, garden and gift shop. In 1898, 87 Main Street was Hegner’s Café, a bar with a billiard table. Today that address is home to Colin Holmes, a store that specializes in antiques, furniture, upholstery, clocks, artwork, giftware and jewelry. The 87 Main Street address is back to back with 80 Burd Street, the original location of the Nyack Hotel, also owned by William Hegner.
An 1898 photo of the café shows seven beer kegs stacked near the street and the bartender in classic arms-crossed pose at the door. A man sitting in the Express Delivery wagon is working on a bottle. The two-story brick building is much as it today with a recessed doorway and two display windows. The shutters on the second floor are no longer present (although you can see the metal brackets.) The cornice is gone and tasteful striped awnings (awnings adorned many store fronts in Nyack’s early days) have been added.
On the left of both photos, you can see the edge of 85 Main Street, which was the Bonavista Hotel and Restaurant. The odd spelling of the hotel name is probably due to original ownership by Frank DeBona. A later proprietor of the Bonavista, purchased Hegner’s Café and the Nyack Hotel with grandiose plans to expand the building through the block to three floors. The second floor would have a restaurant for ladies and ladies uses. The third floor was to have 40 sleeping rooms with parlor accommodations.
The redesign never happened but the Nyack Hotel persisted until the early 1960s with entrances on both Burd and Main streets. The hotel advertised it was the largest and most modern hotel in Nyack. It had two restaurants, a grill, a bar, dancing, tile baths, and running hot and cold water.
The Burd Street part of the hotel became an eyesore after the demise of the hotel. A recent renovation into apartments has restored the building to its look of 100 years ago.
In 1964 Charles Rubin purchased the Nyack Hotel with plans to use the first floor for his music store since his store, Harmony Music, was in the block to be demolished for urban renewal on Main Street between Franklin and Cedar. His plans for renovating the front of the building never went through.
87 Main Street has been home to many retail businesses since then. Today, street side flower displays highlight the entrance to Colin Holmes, who recently relocated to this memorable address.
Michael Hays is a 30-year resident of the Nyacks. He grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has recently retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. He is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike.
Photo Credit: Mike Hays
Historical photo courtesy of the Nyack Library
Thanks to James F. Leiner for information about his great grandfather, William Hegner and his Cafe.