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History Preserved at Smith's Tavern in Armonk

ARMONK, N.Y. – There’s nothing more important to the North Castle Historical Society than preserving the town’s past and members Judy Early and Bertha Leinung do not want the younger generations to take history for granted.

“It’s memories of our fore fathers and all the people before us,” Early said. “It’s our culture, where we came from and it teaches us how quickly and creatively we’ve been over just a few hundred years.”

Early and Leinung often conduct tours of Smith Tavern on Bedford Road, one of North Castle’s most historic sites. The tavern, according to a historical society publication, is believed to have been built in the late 1700’s. It was labeled “Smith’s Tavern” because John Smith, a former captain in the continental Army, operated the main house as a tavern, post office and stopping place for the Danbury stage.

The oldest parts of the tavern exhibit the working-class style of life in the colonies during the 16th and 17th centuries, with low wood-beam ceilings and small living areas and bedrooms.

“We can’t compare our historic buildings to Europe because the architecture there is just awesome, but they’ve been there for thousands of years,” Early said. “Just the structure of these buildings and what was in those buildings, you really see that our society has come a long way very fast. It’s just incredible.”

Most items are not original to the house, according to Early and Leinung, because there have been at least seven or eight families living in the house over the years.

“A lot of the stuff was gathered by the farmers that were here, things people had in attics they gave us and it’s all very similar to what was here in the beginning,” Early said. “When people bought their houses they’d find things in their attics or basements, clean it up, and then bring it over and give it to us.”

One of the most striking items in the original part of the tavern is the tiny rope bed, which Leinung was quick to give a lesson about.

“We love to teach visitors where the saying “sleep tight” came from,” Leinung said. “On these rope beds your weight, after a while, would stretch the ropes and you’d have to tighten them back up to get comfortable.”

The Smith Tavern property was bought by the historical society in 1974 and has remained in its control since then. Accompanying the original tavern are three buildings that were moved from nearby locations in North Castle, including a blacksmith shop, a school house and the Quaker meeting house.

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