One of the few buildings left on the east end of Marion Avenue after the fire of 1874, the Empire House, at one time known as the Empire Hotel, is the oldest commercial building in the village. It was in continuous operation as a country inn from C. 1835 until 2003. Built for Lewis Morris, a grandson of Gen. Jacob Morris, the hotel was an important stop on inter-county stage coach and livery stable routes.
The hotel has entertained guests from all over the world, year round, during most of years it was open. Always a center of village activities those have included political caucuses to card clubs, Rotary Club meetings, formal dances and elegant wedding receptions. Long before the Civil War, the hotel gained a lasting reputation as being a center for abolitionism. In 1872, it played host to a famous Emancipation Ball attended by dignitaries from all over the east coast.
There have been a number of hotel keepers including Frank Eckmair during whose tenure the hotel gained a wide reputation for fine dining. It was during that time that the historical mural in the dining room was painted by his son, Frank C. Eckmair.
The building has had two major additions; one in the 1870’s that included dividing up the 2nd floor Ballroom to make additional guest rooms and the other n the 1890’s, to further expand guest room and dining facilities.
After having been closed for four years and extensively renovated, the Empire House reopened in the spring of 2008.
© Leigh C. Eckmair 12.09
The Village of Gilbertsville, NY – A National Register Historic Site