MONTICELLO, NY (August 6, 2012) – Monticello Village Historian Tom Rue prepared the following for the celebration of Monticello’s Broadway Centennial. He was gracious enough to share it with The Catskill Chronicle.
By Tom Rue, Village Historian
The Village of Monticello, New York
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Broadway is a small part of a highway that was the economic engine during Sullivan County’s earliest years, stretching from Newburgh on the Hudson River all the way to the Upper Delaware at Cochecton. Called "Main Street" in its first century, it is a one-mile stretch of the Newburgh Cochecton Turnpike.
In earlier years, livestock were a common sight. Horse-races and parades of decorated coaches were annual summer events. A very early resolution of the Board of Trustees prohibited pigs and oxen from running loose on Main Street. In later years, the Monticello Board of Trade boasted of Monticello’s broad streets lined with stately shade trees, including maples from which home-owners were known to tap syrup, even on here the village’s busy thoroughfare. Residents and business owners decided the street deserved a more cosmopolitan name than “Main Street,” which sounded like a sleepy little town.
At the February 22, 1908 meeting of the Board of Trustees, John J. Burns was appointed President of the Village. The first order of business, after he was sworn into office, was the following:
"Moved and carried that Main Street, Monticello, N.Y., be changed to Broadway, that Depot Street be changed to St. John Street; that the street east of the Village Park be renamed Jones Street; that the street running from Main to High Street, formerly called Orchard Street, be changed to Landfield Avenue."
On August 9, 1909, a massive fire swept through this neighborhood which started at the Murray Electric Co. located at the corner of what we know as North Street and Landfield Avenue – wiping out both sides of Broadway from the west side of Pleasant Street to the east side of Liberty Street, from the west side of St. John Street to the east side of Prince Street.
Four days later, on August 13, 1909, the Board of Trustees adopted laws prohibiting construction of wood frame buildings in that area, and “the construction within the corporate limits of the Village of Monticello any electric or steam power house for the purpose of furnishing electric light or power outside of the building, is hereby forbidden” unless the walls of the plant were at least 18 inches thick and built of solid concrete, with a roof of steel. Needless to say, no power plants have been built within Village limits since then.
Reconstruction began immediately, starting with the buildings, and then moving on to Broadway itself. The Board of Trustees ordered that Broadway be widened by 10 feet, “by purchase or condemnation.”
In a letter by Maj. John O’Neil, owner of the Colonial Hill, dated April 1, 1911, addressed to Village President John Burns, Major O’Neil gave the Village “permission to take out stone for repairing the streets. And will say that such repairs are sadly needed.”
Just as the Village was born again after its baptism by fire, ending with the 1912 paving of Broadway, it is now undergoing a rebirth at this centennial anniversary of that event. The Board of Trustees, State, and Federal officials worked hard, together, to see this project finished according to plans laid out over past years.
Let this rebuilt road represent our connection to each other, our shared heritage and future as a community.