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Monday, December 8, 2008

Rustic Inn Ownership

I got a phone call from a reporter at the end of last week who was working on a story regarding the planned renovation and the reopening of the old Rustic Inn as a pub type bar and restaurant. He wanted to know who originally built the restaurant and who the various owners were. I didn't have all of that information in my files, so I called Ben and Elaine Allen, Helen Carty, Floyd and Betty West, Claire and Alston Allen, and Steve Eichinger to see if they remembered the ownership chain to the Rustic Inn. Their memories were spotty on the question and somewhat contradictory. The following is what I have pieced together from their comments, along with information in my history files. Hopefully, it is accurate, but I will not know for sure until I have time to get to the Bass River Tax Office and research the old tax records or go to Mt. Holly to trace the old deeds to the property.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there can shed some light on the matter, let's hear from you. Donald Maxwell grew up in the house just east of the Rustic Inn. Perhaps he can help out. Hopefully, he reads this blog; but, in case he doesn't,  I will email him in sunny Key Largo and ask for his recollections. Stay tuned!     - Pete S.

Ownership History of the Rustic Inn

The first building on the northeast corner of Route 9 and Maple Avenues was a restaurant built by the Lamson brothers, Ashton and Joseph B., in August of 1899. (Note: Joseph B. built the New Gretna House on the opposite corner, in 1884.) Ashton ran a successful restaurant and meat market out of the building, until a fire destroyed the building in April, 1931. In late 1933 or early 1934, Frank and Rejessa Cramer built what was locally known as the Brick Restaurant. It got the name from the brick facade. Jane Yike was the next owner. It appears that she likely named the place the "Rustic Inn". Chris and Bertha Ostergod (not sure of spelling) were the next owners.  I have been told that they named the business the Rustic Inn, as they were from Germany and wanted to give the place a rustic atmosphere reminiscent of the Black Forest in Germany. Doug and Helen Hancock were the next owners; followed by Frieda Loveland Shediker; followed by her daughter and son-in-law, Betty and Edward Kowalski; and, finally, Howard and Veronica Hudson. Mr. Hudson died in 1973 and the business was run by Mrs. Hudson who was the last owner. When she became sick, the place was closed. She passed away in 2001, and the building has been boarded up since then.

The Lamson brothers, Ashton (l) and Joseph B., built the first building on the northeast corner of Old New York Road (Rt. 9) and Maple Avenue that was to become the Rustic Inn. Ashton was Betty Lamson West's grandfather. (Photos courtesy of Betty Lamson West.)

An old post card showing an inside view of Cramer's Grill which was to become the Rustic Inn. (Courtesy of June LeMunyon.)

The Rustic Inn today. (12/08/08 photo by Pete Stemmer.)


  1. Enjoyed the story and photo's. Mother has said Gran Pa's custard pies were quite popular.Could be a family tradition. My Mother (Betty West) makes the best pie crust I have ever tasted!
    I have been told "Uncle Joe" was quite a character. He may have had one of the first automobiles in New Gretna-?
    Debbie West

  2. Debbie,

    I can vouch for your mother's fine cooking. Not only does she make great pies, a skill perhaps inherited from her grandfather Ashton, but she also makes the best bread pudding that I ever tasted. She says that she got the recipe from Lizzie Gerew who was noted as being the best baker in New Gretna.

    Pete S.