History of the Canal House

 

1797 – Simeon DePuy, one of the most prominent citizens of High Falls, NY opened the Stone House Tavern.

1825 – Work on the Delaware-Hudson Canal began, a project destined to link towns from Rondout-on-the-Hudson to Honesdale, PA. Simeon DePuy, by then an experienced restaurateur, profitted well during this time catering to hungry and thirsty Canal workers.

1826 – The D & H Canal opened ushering in a new era of cargo transport that operated for over 70 years. Simeon DePuy’s eatery was the site of Lock 16. His business flourished as the canalmen, called the “roughest, toughest, fightingest” bunch of the profession, refueled at the tavern-on-the-water.

1870 – The D & H Canal entered a prosperous decade, which would be its last successful era.

1872 – 1,000,000 tons of anthracite coal were weighed through the locks at Eddyville. It was coal that gave the Canal its start. Ironically, it was coal that would force its closing. Since the Canal could not operate during the winter, America welcomed in the Great Railroad. Trains were able to move the coal quicker, cheaper, and in all seasons of the year. High Falls, a thriving community with five stores, five saloons, and two butcher shops, began to lose its luster.

1899 – The D & H Canal Company sold the Canal with all of its “franchises, rights and privileges” to Samuel D. Coykendall for $10,000. But within a few years, the Canal closed for good, with the “Ulster Queen” the last boat to make a scheduled run. The Canal, once the Interstate Highway of the 19th Century, became merely an unused, overgrown ditch.

1964 – John Novi, a D & H Canal history enthusiast and resident of High Falls, became interested in the old, stone building located at Lock 16. Seeing the “for sale” sign that was posted on the former Stone House Tavern, John Novi began negotiations to purchase the building with the help of his advisor, S. Snyder. The asking price had originally been $12,000. With a $500 loan from Snyder, Novi purchased the building for $4,500. Restoration, brainstorming and financing followed in the next few years.

1969 – After touring and working in Italy, John Novi came back to the States and opened the old Simeon DePuy Tavern as a restaurant on June 14, 1969. John, as chef, and a small staff operated the restaurant.

1970 – Craig Clairborne, the “New York Times” food critic rated the American Nouvelle Cuisine four stars, an achievement most restaurant owners can only dream about.

1973 – Novi and his staff moved into a new kitchen addition constructed from old materials: barn beams, street lights and urban renewal bluestone.

1974 – Final restoration is completed in the cellar of the Canal House with the opening of a wine and reception room.

1976 – America’s bicentennial celebration – John Novi, with the American Revival Organization and Canal Society, established a park commemorating it with the erection of a flag pole.

1985 – An article in “Time Magazine” on American cuisine called John Novi “the Father of New American Cooking”.

1994 – The TV Food Network named John Novi “The Father of American Eclectic Cuisine”.

2015/16

THE EVOLUTION OF THE DEPUY CANAL HOUSE,

A REGISTERED NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK

A dream comes full circle for John N. Novi a life long

Honorary member of The Delaware and Hudson Canal Historical Society

The State historical marker calls the building the Simone Depuy Tavern. It has been known

for the last 51 years, while it was owned by Chef John N. Novi, as the Depuy Canal House.

The house was recently purchased by the D and H Canal Society and Museum, which John and a few friends founded on March 31st, 1966. John was responsible for restoring the 1797 Stone house in the 1960’s. He opened his restaurant on June 14, 1969 and operated a fine dining restaurant there. In 1970, Craig Claiborne of the New York Times awarded John a 4 Star restaurant rating. Later in the 1970’s he opened a music and entertainment center, adding a brick bread oven pizza bistro in the basement of the Canal House.

Through the years, John has supported the D & H Canal Society with benefit dinners and contributed to the purchase of their current museum on Mohonk Road. In the most recent proposal, John offered in 2010 to sell the Depuy Canal House and property to the D & H Canal Society. His idea was for the society to keep its current museum where it has been for 35 years in the old rectory/chapel at 3 Mohonk Road and establish an adjunct museum or Locktenders House Museum in the Depuy House. The house and property will connect the 5 lock walk south of the Canal House to the River Conservancy on the north end of the house. The locktenders quarters in the Depuy House would include Simone’s Tavern restaurant to provide yet another attraction when the museum is complete. Much work has to be done and much money has to be raised to complete the restoration: a new roof and handicapped accessible bathrooms are just two big projects to be tackled. Donations to the D & H Canal Society are much welcomed.

This successful transfer was funded through John’s proposal to the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Consolidated Funding administration. Governor Cuomo’s office announced the awarding of the grant in December 2014, and it was matched with funds from The Open Space Institute.

John has been a part of the Depuy House for one quarter of the building’s history, and it was he who rescued it from its derelict state in 1964. His dream is that his majestic, world class kitchen reopen to be used as the new museum’s restaurant kitchen. He hopes to continue to seat 8 to 12 guests in the kitchen as once was very popular with Canal House patrons. The bakery kitchen below the main kitchen would stay intact as would the Chefs on Fire bistro restaurant located in the basement. This would become the museum café / restaurant. The main house would reserve two ball rooms upstairs to continue to cater to major group benefit dinners and for the society to raise funds for restorations and operations thru monthly dinners. Contact John Novi at jnovi@hvc.rr.com or call 845-687-7777

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1315 Main Street - P.O. Box 96
High Falls, NY 12440

Email: office@depuycanalhouse.com
Phone: 845-687-7777

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