1474 Marsh Road
Pittsford, NY 14534

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Dinner 5:00pm–9:00pm
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Canal–side Patio Open (limited seating)

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Richardson’s Tavern History

Richardson’s Tavern is the oldest original Erie Canal Inn. As such, it is a living reminder of life during one of the colorful episodes in our nation’s history—the opening of the American West.

The tavern actually started before 1818 as a much smaller, 1 ½ story farmhouse purchased by John Pardee, February 16, 1819. Farmer Pardee took a dim view of the proposed canal cutting through his pastures and sold his property to John Hartwell in 1821, who sold to William Bushnell in 1823.

Elias and Gould Richardson early established Richardson’s Tavern, a haven for the brawny, rollicking canal builders. Richardson’s remained a public house, last known as Kowskow’s Exchange Hotel, for more than a century. In the 1930’s it was sold to a group of ardent naturists which pleased the conservative Widow Kossow, unaware that naturalists were, in fact, nudists! Whether the local town fathers, the mosquitoes or the nippy weather was responsible for its quick demise is obscured by time.

The tavern was abandoned in the late 1960’s and boarded up. By 1978, Richardson’s Tavern was in danger; abandonment was taking its toll. Andrew D. Wolfe and his wife, Vivienne Tellier, began the restoration process on Memorial Day, 1978. The first dinner was served nine months later on Valentine’s Day 1979.

The handsome vernacular Federal-transitional-Greek Revival building kept much of its original exterior and interior trim. Original colors revealed themselves through the restoration process. The brilliant yellow signature color on the exterior is true to the original—an identity that works as well today as in the early 19th century.

In 1979, Richardson’s reopened as a restaurant and was placed on the Register of National History Buildings.

Bushnell’s Basin & the Erie Canal

The Erie Canal was one of the most important engineering and economic development feats in history.

In the early 1820’s the Erie made a profound impact on Hartwell’s (now Bushnell’s) Basin. On the main stagecoach route connecting the Falls of the Genesee at Rochester and the village of Canandaigua, the basin played a key role.

One of the most difficult engineering feats in the construction of the canal was an artificial ridge one mile long and 75’ high constructed over the Irondequoit Creek and Valley, about 1 ½ miles northwest of Richardson’s. The work, in the days of pick, shovel, oxen, and mules, took more than a year and a half to complete. From about 1820–1822 Hartwell’s Basin became the western terminus of the Erie while the Great Embankment was being built.

Prior to the Erie Canal project a young American went to England at his own expense to study and record the lock and lift mechanisms of the English waterways. Canvass White brought back to America a wealth of detail on construction methods for the first Erie Canal. White also developed the all important formula for hydraulic cement.

The original canal was a ditch approximately 4 feet deep and 40 feet wide, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It spans 363 miles with 18 aqueducts and 83 locks, the rise from the Hudson Rover to Lake Erie is 568 feet. Construction of “Clinton’s Big Ditch” began July 4, 1817 and was completed in 1825 at a cost of $7,143,760.

Today sections of the Erie are drained in winter to protect the walls from the abrasive action of ice pressure. The public towpath serves as one of the longest linear parks extant.

Currently several cruise lines ply the Erie and we look forward to the seasonal return of the Emita II, Sam Patch and others.

Come Visit Us

Dinner (Tue–Sat) 5:00pm–9:00pm
Closed on Sunday
Closed on Monday
Richardson's Canal House 1474 Marsh Road
Pittsford, NY 14534

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