A piece of Suffern’s history will be demolished to make way for the future

Posted on 23 March 2016 by Editor

Suffern's Hotel Lafayette will soon be demolished to make for an upscale apartment complex that may kick-off a whole other chapter for the village.

Suffern’s historical Hotel Lafayette will soon be demolished to make room for a new upscale apartment complex that may help kick-off a whole other chapter for the village.

A piece of  the Village of Suffern’s past will soon be history. Suffern (and Town of Ramapo and Rockland County) Historian Craig Long gives a nice summary of the history of the Hotel Lafayette, shot by LoHud’s Tania Savayan.

Peter Kramer, LoHud’s resident theater writer and man-about-town, contributes an interesting historical perspective on the Hotel Lafayette, which will soon be demolished to make way for urban renewal.


(Suffern Village Historian Craig Long discusses the Hotel Lafayette)

Soon Suffern will embark on its grand smart transit downtown apartment living experiment. The hotel sits smack in the epicenter of the Orange Avenue Associates project that will build some 91 luxury rental apartments in a specially created Transit Development District (TDD) on a 1.48 acre site.

The site is currently undergoing clean-up and pre-construction, well, preparation.

The Hotel Lafayette property is currently in abysmal condition and rather beyond saving in terms of a return on investment. The property has been used as a sort of low income housing cash register for many years, i.e., kind of a flophouse.

Long recalls fire calls at the property back in the 1980s with Suffern Fire Inspector Frank Conklin, where residents had hot plates catching fire. Long sounds nearly wistful while describing Suffern’s changing skyline – saying finally, “it’s progress.”

Kramer delves into the building’s glory days, providing a brief coloful history of ownership.

There’s a nice quote from lifelong Suffern resident and former longtime Suffern Clerk Virginia Menschner, who at 94 remembers Suffern’s yesteryears. Menschner said she “won’t be too nostalgic for the Hotel Lafayette”, which has been rundown now for nearly as long as its bright heyday.

“I’m still sad they built the Thruway,”  said Menschner. “We used to swim in the lake there. We used to have a beautiful beach there, believe it or not.”

Photos and video courtesy of Tania Savayan/The Journal News.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Carolyn Suffern Says:

    I may be the only person who is sorry the former Hotel Lafayette is being torn down. My view is that this demolition will reduce Suffern’s potential of becoming a charming destination attracting many it can be.

    The wonderful Trail Town Corridor initiative is in its inaugural stage – how great it might have been if folks attracted from New York City to take advantage of this beautiful Corridor had then been able to spend the night within the Village. They surely would have been repeat visitors patronizing Suffern’s eateries and shops. https://www.facebook.com/Explore-Harriman-Adventure-in-the-Trail-Town-Corridor-1495309347428981/?ref=bookmarks&__mref=message_bubble

    Sometime this year, the National Park Service will dedicate wayside panels near Suffern’s gazebo honoring Suffern’s inclusion in the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail – French General Rochambeau made encampment with his 5,000 soldiers in 1781 on his way to Yorktown, VA, with General George Washington, and again on his victorious return in 1782. This is only one facet of Suffern’s important Revolutionary War history. Heritage tourists might well have welcomed the opportunity to stay within this charming village. https://www.facebook.com/Explore-Harriman-Adventure-in-the-Trail-Town-Corridor-1495309347428981/?ref=bookmarks&__mref=message_bubble

    Suffern is a dedicated gateway to the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. Visitors headed in that direction might have enjoyed staying the night in the Village. http://hudsonrivervalley.com/Home.aspx

    Suffern has many options to become a “destination.” To my thinking, the longer visitors linger in the Village, the more money they would have spent there.

    It seems as if the prevailing sentiment is that demolition of the old hotel is progress. I would label it “change,” and I can only wonder if, after this new high-rise building is built and the traffic situation on the already highly-congested Orange Avenue becomes perhaps a true nightmare, if the question will arise “What have we done?” Will it be true there will be almost no children living in the building as the developer has forecast or might children move in? If they do, how will school buses loading and unloading children affect traffic flow on Orange Avenue?

    To me, not all change is progress.

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