For Sale: The Saloon in East Durham
The Saloon is up for sale. The East Durham spot is universally loved -- a favorite spot for bikers (see the photo below from its real estate listing) and also friendly enough to be a favorite hang-out for my mom, a Long Island-based retired nurse and grandmother-of-three, who is basically the opposite of a biker chick. It's been around for a while, and I'm sad to see another For Sale sign on East Durham's stretch of 145.
The 3700 square-foot commercial space sits on 1.1 acres and includes a 1-bedroom apartment. Asking price is $695,000. The listing suggests, " If you are looking to change the venue a bit, you might consider turning the apartment and corner of the bar area into a brewery!" I could get behind this idea.
But can we talk a little about East Durham? It's an Irish enclave in the Catskills, sometimes known as the "Irish Alps." It's the beautiful area that inspired me to start my Brooklyn DoubleWide project.
Over the summer, the NY Times published a nostalgic yet somewhat disparaging piece on the area. In the article, writer Michael Malone recalled his childhood visits to East Durham and lamented the current state of affairs:
"My memories call up a miniature Emerald Isle in Greene County, where the resort’s dining room was always full, the pub teemed with revelers and there were always enough children for a ballgame. Yet the Irish Catskills, about 130 miles north of Manhattan, were already on the decline when I was a boy in the 1970s. According to Kevin Ferguson, who directed the 2016 documentary “The Irish Catskills: Dancing at the Crossroads,” there were once as many as 50 Irish-themed inns, along with several bungalow communities sporting shamrocks on their shingles. Today there are a scattered few."
My upstate friends -- many of whom are running successful businesses in the area -- lit up my Facebook feed with angry responses. One local woman responded to the article "that portrayed the place I call home as a failing remnant of the past" with a retaliation that was published in the Times-Union just last week. Though her words are overwhelmingly polite and positive, you can see that the NY Times article still stings after months have passed.
As people from different backgrounds move to East Durham, it may not maintain it's Irish-American reputation, but it's still a corner of the Catskills that that's worth visiting. I've loved writing about the local al fresco pizzeria, the idyllic farms, the working resorts, and the auction house -- and this is just the beginning. There's so much more left to explore.