Hancock Town Square 1894
A History of The Hancock Town Square
The picture above showed what the Town Square looked like over 125 years ago. It was, believe it or not, a kind of, well, town square. As they say, "Everything old is new again."
The old field has seen many people inhabit it's confines over the past two centuries, mostly businesses. Here are just a few.
The entire block was owned by Charles Knapp prior to 1853 and was home to
The American Hotel (top below) and Shehawken House (bottom below). They were prominent fixtures in Hancock's landscape in the mid to late 1800's. They provided a meeting place for local businessmen and a retreat for city vacationers.
Fannie Read fell inconsolable at the hotel her father owned, The American, and wandered the halls in silence after her soldier went off to the Civil War, never returning. She died in 1932, but her legend lives on.
The corner of East Main street looked good to V.T. Smith in the 20's. His strip mall of the day offered gasoline, electrical contracting, signs and a place to get your radio fixed.
Gasoline stations were popular at this spot due to being on the main highway route to and from New York City. Another filling station would occupy the same corner run by Joe Cappiello in the 1960's, when Joe ventured down from his Hawk's Mountain gas station location for more "town" business.
The Hollywood Beauty Shop occupied a prominent place in the village, as well as the minds of fashion conscious ladies of the day. Many a salacious rumor began there.
The old field also saw it's share of restaurants over the centuries. Ken's Delaware Restaurant (above), The Central Diner (below, left corner), The Model Restaurant and The Cozy Corner are just a few.
Other businesses that displayed an "Open" sign over the century were: Stubbs' bakeshop, Newt Whittington/Curt Coombs Electric Shop. The Esso station was on the corner and heading west (in the thirties) was Val Iversen's Battery Hospital and office for Socony. Occupying the entire Wheeler Street side was the Shehawken House built around 1847. The block's most famous occupant was probably The American Hotel, originally built in 1825 as the Dutch Tavern.
The block would eventually give way to only one business, and it would become the block's final tenant. The Great American Supermarket. The market was part of a chain based in Norwich, New York which eventually went bankrupt in 1995. The supermarket stood alone on the block for several decades.
The Hancock Partners spent 8 years and nearly $1 million dollars developing the Hancock Town Square Project. The Partners purchased the aging Victory supermarket building and lot in 2004, and demolished what had become an eyesore, and reminder of tougher economic times.
Today, the Hancock Town Square stands as the cornerstone of a new Hancock community. It is a testament to to the initiative and tenacity of the private individual. No taxpayer money was used in the acquisition, construction or maintenance of the Hancock Town Square.
The Partners continue to maintain and develop the Hancock Town Square. The Partners are committed to making the Town Square the center piece and "linchpin" of redevelopment and revitalization in downtown Hancock, and the entire local community.
A facility the size of The Hancock Town Square requires a major amount of grounds and building maintenance. A donation to help in the upkeep of the park would be greatly appreciated. You can donate by your money or your time by clicking here.
The site has been utilized for many popular events such as concerts, Hancock Education Foundation fund raisers, class reunions, presentations, community picnics, and of course, just strolling about or having a leisurely lunch in the pavilion.
Anyone can use or rent the park. Just click here to inquire.
We'd also like to take a minute and thank everyone that has already contributed to making the Hancock Town Square a reality.
You know who you are. Thank you!
And a special thanks to the French Woods Camp For The Performing Arts for providing their limitless time, and immense talent for many great band concerts throughout the summer. Here's a link to a snippet of one of their concerts.