Residents of Huntington, Smithtown and Brookhaven met at the hotel of B. B. Newton to discuss the proposed extension
of the Northport branch of the Long Island Railroad from Northport to Port Jefferson.
The proposed extension was to run though Smithtown, St. James, Stony Brook, Seatauket and Port Jefferson. (BDE)
1876/1877/78: W. N. Spurge was a horseman and raced trotters in Smithtown.
William Spurge was listed as a hotel keeper in New Rochelle, Westchester Co., New York
in the 1880 census taken in June.
1885: Smithtown was described as a "rural picture of shingled houses, gardens and farm life" forty-eight miles from Brooklyn.
Six trains daily and two on Sunday. Round trip $2.50. Three hotels were listed including the "River Side Hotel"
on the banks of the "Nessequogue" half a mile from the train depot, William Spurge proprietor, ten guests. (Brooklyn Union)
William Spurge was raising partridges.
In the late 1800s
the river was stocked by
the State Fisheries Commission. A report from the Cold Springs
fish hatchery recorded a distribution of
8,500 Brook trout "fish-fry"* to W. N. Spurge Smithtown in 1889.
In addition, 20,000 Penopscot Salmon were sent to the Nisseuogue river.
*("Trout all start their life
cycle as a very tiny fish egg and then larval fish fry." Michigan State University Extension)
1900: October - the original Riverside Inn burned to the ground.
1901: In January
construction was underway on the new Riverside Inn
and the Proprietor, William N Spurge, expected to open the hotel in early February.
The new inn was twice as large as the old hotel
and contained all modern conveniences.
"There is an office, reception room, cafe, and dining room, and fifteen bedrooms, all
which are to be handsomely
furnished and fitted throughout. Steam heat, gas, hot and cold water and sanitary
plumbing are innovation that will add to the homelikeness
of the inn and ensure the comfort of all who may become its guests." (Times Union, Brooklyn, 18 January 1901)
"Smithtown and Smithtown branch are quiet but pretty country places,
abounding in shady walks, picturesque drives, brooks,
and birds. It is a retreat well worth the spending of a week or so of one's
vacation. The new Riverside Inn, at Smithtown, managed by W. N. Spurge, who
for twenty-six years successfully managed the house
burned last, winter, is an ideal hotel. Its light finish,
large rooms and pleasant location recommend it at first sight." (Brooklyn Daily Eagle 30 June 1901)
1901: In September driving parties from Bay Shore and Babylon to the Riverside Inn
in Smithtown were very popular. Every
day several carriage loads of society people
would make the trip from the south shore to the north shore to
lunch at the inn and return in the late afternoon. Mrs. Spurges who was staying at the
inn took a party of 19 by carriages to Bay Shore. From there they took a ferry to Fire
Island for the day. They returned to the inn around dusk. (Brooklyn Daily Eagle)
1902: In June naturalization courts where held at
the hotel of William Spurge in Smithtown. (SCN)
1902: In July the Riverside Inn was the destination of "many gay
driving parties from Bay Shore, Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson."
The Riverside Inn in Smithtown was the Mecca of driving, bicycling and automobile parties
from the south shore.
"Hostler wanted in country hotel; must thoroughly understand care fine horses, carriages, lawn,
milk; no incompetent or
intemperate man wanted; wages $20 per month. W. N. Spurge, Smithtown."
(A hostler was a man who took care of the horses of people staying at an inn.)
The Riverside Inn had a very successful season. I was
filled with guests form the early part of the summer.
1905: The New Riverside Inn - advertisement in the Times Union
"Offers superior accommodations to limited number of guests; house just
completed; fitted with hot and cold running water in rooms; acetylene gas, steam heat
and bath; first class table; fresh vegetables, eggs and cream raised on place;
one of the coolest places on the Island; good fishing; beautiful drives. W. N. Spurge, Proprietor -
Wanted cook - small country hotel; full charge;
soups, roasts, pastry, bread; fare retured; $20 a month for winter; reference required.
S. N Spurge Riverside In Smithtown
Multiple newspapers announced the sale of the Riverside Inn in the summer of 1908.
William Spurge, the proprietor of the inn, sold it to James D'Orsay Murray of Manhattan.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle asserted that Mr. Murray would be "catering to the appetites and -
shall it be said - caprices of the traveling public." The price was
undisclosed but was reported to have been "quite a large sum" - around $30,000.
Spurge planned on retiring to a small farm not far from the hotel - said to
be the "Arthur place" which was Mrs. Spurge's personal property.
The Brooklyn Eagle also reported that Mr. Spurge had been "keeping" the hotel since 1875.
1908: James P Kilroy obtained an excise certificate in Smithtown.
(The arrival of James P. Kilroy most likely coinsides with the start of the gambling
for which the inn became infamous in later years.)
1910: Ad - September
"Before and After the Cup Race -
Riverside Inn (on the Jericho Turnpike) offers the best to motorists -
J. P. Kilroy Manager"
(The Vanderbilt Cup race of 1904 was the first international
road race held in the US. The race was held on Long island from 1904 until 1911.
The 1910 race was held on the Long Island Motorway. Videos of some races are available on YouTube
through the Library of Congress.)
In September 1910
the Brooklyn Daily Eagle published an article on Hotels and Road Houses on Long Island.
J. P. Kilroy was listed as the
manager of the Riverside Inn on the Nissequogue river in Smithtown.
Long Island with its "perfect roads and magnificent scenery"
was called the Mecca of automobile enthusiasts.
The inn was open year round. The inn boasted of two garages
where all kinds of repairs could be made on short notice.
It also bragged of all the most modern convinces such as steam heat in addition to great wood fireplaces.
The inn contained 35 rooms, both single and ensuite, all larges, and several with private baths.
The new dining room on the main floor seated 150. Inclosed in glass the dining room made a beautiful sun porch in the winter.
There was a separate chauffeurs' dining room, smoking rooms, parlors and a cafe.
The front of the building was shaded by a 120 feet long veranda.
Mr. Kilroy was described as a very hospitable manager.
Articles of incorporation of the Smithtown
company of Smithtown were filed with the State Department
in November. It proposed to conduct "a hotel etc."
Capital stock $10,000 divided into $100 shares each.
Directors John H. O'Brien of New York City
and Frank M O'Brien and James P Kilroy of Smithtown.
(Times Union, Brooklyn)
(James P. Kilroy, was a former desk officer for the Buffalo Police Department.
He was the son of Buffalo police officer Patrick Kilroy.
and Frank O'Brien were brothers and newspaper reporters from Buffalo. They both
received significant civic appointments from the New York City Mayor McClellan in 1905.
In November 1903
Police Captain Patrick Kilroy and member of the press, Frank M O'Brien, (and other guests)
made "merry" at the annual ball of the Police Mutual Aid and Benefit Association.
It would appear that Kilroy and the O'Briens knew each other from their time in Buffalo.)
1910: December 20 - Frank M. O'Brien, secretary to former New York Mayor
George B. McClellan, married a Brooklyn actress, Marion Stanley,
who had been married several times before.
O'Brian was her third husband. She was once widowed and once divorced.
The couple were to live in Smithtown where he was the manager of the Riverside Inn.
(Frank O'Brien was reported to own the Riverside Inn in 1913. George B. McClellan
served as mayor of New York from 1904 to 1909.
He had the backing of Tammany Hall.)
1911: As indicated by an ad in the Automobile Official Blue Book,
James P. Kilroy was the manager of the Riverside Inn in 1911.
1912: Annual Report of the State Commissioner of Excise, Volume 2
By New York (State). Dept. of Excise - among the Certificate holders in Suffolk County were:
- no listing for Spurge
Kilroy, James P Smithtown, Riverside Inn, Main Street HOTEL
- Friede, Frank,
Smithtown, Middle country rd, HOTEL
1912: In July 1912
The Sun ran an article entitled "LONG ISLAND ROADS MAKE ATTRACTIVE TOUR". The recently
opened Jericho Turnpike offered a "run" (a one day moter trip) from New York to Smithtown.
Most of the turnpike was of tar and gravel coating on a macadam base.
The last three miles leading into Smithtown were of asphalt macadam construction.
The trip to Smithtown and back was about 90 miles. The Riverside Inn was recommended as a place to stop and eat lunch.
1913: August 17, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
reported that the Riverside Inn at Smithtown was under new management.
Unfortunately, they neglected to actually name the new management. In November it was reported
the Riverside Inn was under new management Mr. Kilroy having resigned and returned to
Table d'hote served on - Sundays and Holidays -
the best on the Island - A la carte service - rooms with bath - splendid place for week ends
1913: September 10, 1913
According to accounts in multiple newspaper "Big Tim Sullivan" the leader of Tammany Hall
disappeared for a week and was finally located the Riverside Inn at Smithtown.
The newspapers said the inn was kept by James P. Kilroy an
old friend of the Tammany leader and was owned by Frank O'Brien,
the former "Fire Commissioner", also a friend of "Big Tim".
Tim Sullivan had tertiary syphilis. He had suffered a breakdown
and was judged incompetent. He entered a sanitarium in 1912.
He escaped from his brother's house in the early morning of August 31, 1913.
His body was found later that day on the railroad tracks in the Bronx.
His family did not report him missing for ten days.
(Why was it claimed Sulllivan had turned up alive
at the Riverside Inn when he had clearly been dead for over a week?
It was Frank's brother, John O'Brien, who had been the New York City Fire Commissioner.
However, John O'Brien was also somehow involved with the inn.
Not long after this incident James P Kilroy went back to Buffalo from whence he had come. John O'Brien was appointed Fire Commissioner of New York City
January 1, 1906 and resigned the position in October 10, 1906.)
A 1915 ad listed Pearl Hendrickson as
the proprietor of the Riverside Inn. 49 miles from New York
12 Trains on weekdays - 5 trains on Sundays (Long Island and Real Life
By Long Island Rail Road)
1915 census listed on Main street Smithtown -
Pearl Hendrickson 27(?), hotel keeper,
Ernest Hockanf 32, barkeeper,
Moses Codd 30, waiter,
Frank Scott 28, waiter,
Wm H Montgomery 43, cook,
Edith Williams 26, servant)
1915: Brooklyn Eagle ad - The Riverside Inn - Smithtown, L. I. - situated on the Jerico Turnpike
and Nissequogue River, 47 miles from New York; good roads; accommodate 60 guests;
electric lights; room en suite with bath; rates $14 and up - Pearl Hendrickson, Manager
An August ad listed Wm Palmer "Prop" of the Riverside Inn in Smithtown.
1917: In September nine people received licensees to run saloons in Smithtown.
Among them were "William T. Reilly" and Henry "Haber"* at the Riverside Inn and Frank Friede
in St. James.
*Could this be Henry E. "Hayes" who advertised the Riverside Inn in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
(In the 1915 census Henry Haber was listed as a farmer on Hauppaugue rd.
On his World War I Draft Registration in 1917
Henry Haber, birth My 16, 1879,
listed his occupation as Hotel Prop in Smithtown Branch, wife Margaret.
In the 1920 census he was listed on Main Street
with his wife and two daughters - occupation
"hotel". In 1925 he was listed as a "game protector". In 1930 he was a game warden in Smithtown. He died in Smithtown in 1955.)
(The Times Union reported William T. Riley
took possession of the Central Hotel in Smithtown Branch in January 1914.
The Central Hotel was previously run by George W. Penny and known as Penney's Hotel.
The 1915 census listed Wm Riley age 46, hotel keeper, his wife, Anna, son Wm and two employees,
a stable man and a barkeeper on Main Street, Smithtown.
The 1920 census in Smithtown listed William Riley age 50, born Ireland, "hotel keeper"
his wife, Anna, son, William, brother, Benjamin, and a hotel cook on Main street.
William Riley age 63 an owner of the Capital Theater in Riverhead died
after an illness of more than two years. He was survived by his wife, Anna, a son,
William Jr., and a brother Robert. William Riley and his brothers, Robert, and Benjamin -
all born at Riverhead -
constructed the two story brick building that housed the 1,100 person capacity theatre
in 1919. William T. Riley of Riverhead left an estate valued at $55,970 to his wife, Anna, and son, William Jr.)
(In 1917 Frank Friede and his mother were connected
to a restaurant and hotel near Lake ave. and Middle Country road in St James.)
1918: June 2, 1918 "Long Island RIVERSIDE INN Smithtown, Long Island
A Beautiful Auto Trip on the Jericho Turnpike; 44 "Miles ... HENRY E. HAYES, Prop." (BDE)
1918: June 20th Ad in The New York Times - Resorts Listing
1918: According to his obit in 1954, Frank Friede bought the Riverside Inn in 1918.
Smithtown, Long Island, 45 miles from New York on the Jericho turnpike,
at the Nissequogue River.
Canoeing, bathing, horseback riding, shooting and fishing. Rooms en suite,
with private and shower baths. American and European plan
H. E. Hayes, PHOP"
1919: At the death of Mrs. William Spurge the Brooklyn Eagle
reminisced about the Riverside Inn a "small, unpretentious hostelry" with
a warm welcome for the traveler, great "home cooking", and personal attention from the Spurges .
Mrs. Spurge was described as a person with a "charming personality" and "unfailing in her courtesy".
Mr. Spurge, aka "Billy", was recalled as a charming host, who was very witty and a good story teller.
1920 to 1933: Prohibition lasted from January 17, 1920 to December 5, 1933.
Prohibition laws were obviously overlooked at the Riverside Inn.
In March Frank Friede at the Riverside Inn was advertising for kitchen help.
1920: In July Frank Friede at the Riverside Inn, a "summer hotel"
was advertising for "upstairs help".
1920s and 1930s:
Friede's was often the venue where clubs and businesses held outings that included sports events, races, contests and games.
1924: An automobile outing was held at Friede's Riverside Inn, Smithtown in September.
1925: A motorboat belonging to Frank Friede of Smithtown was returned to him by the Federal court.
The boat had been seized
by Federal revenue men as a rum runner.
Friede pleaded innocent to the charge and the judge held there was no proof to convict.
1928: August 2 -
Two slot machines were seized at the Riverside Inn Smithtown.
A fine was paid and the contents of the machines were
distributed among the local poor. (BDE)
1932 August - The Smithtown Star
reported a holdup at Frank Friede's Riverside Inn
around 11:45 P. M. while there were still many dinners in the restaurant.
Three gunman arrived at the inn by car. One stayed in the car while the other two
entered the building and
held Frank Friede and his assistant, Henry Wagner, at gun point.
Neither guman wore masks. They took $450 in cash and drove off. The Riverside Inn,
a popular rendezvous for a number of
prominent New Yorkers and Long Islanders had been the victim of several holdups in the past.
1933: February - Federal men raided the Riverside Inn Smithtown.
Henry Wagner age 35, bartender, was arrested and pleaded guilty. He was held in $1,000 bail.
1938: Feb 3 - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - Four people
were robbed by three armed men on a Saturday night around 7 o'clock at Firede's Riverside Inn on the Jericho Turnpike in Smithtown.
One of the robbers, Charles Campiglia, age 33, was captured and sentenced to 35 to 70 years in Sing-Sing.
His prison admission record from Sing-Sing states he was
convicted of robbery in the 1st degree. His criminal act:
"Held up a bookmakers room" Smithtown LI -
$500. He was eligible for parol July 9, 1961.
The four men who were held up were:
Henry Wagner of Smithtown for $225;
Jack Brown owner of Jack Brown's tavern at Lake Ronkonkoma for $130; Lou Keiser,
former proprietor of the Normandy at the Lake for $57; and Edward Griffiths,
bartender at Friede's for $30. The holdup men had a high powered
rifle and automatic pistols.
February 10, 1938 - The Country Review reported a raid by the District Attorney and the Sherriff's office
of a bookie room in a barn within a stone's throw of Frank Friede's Riverside Inn.
Frank Kelly, 45,
and Henry Wagner, 43 were taken into custody and charged with operating an illegal
gambling establishment. Bail was set at $300.
Telephone equipment, some money, charts, slips and other items were confiscated.
In March Frank Kelly and
Henry Wagner pleaded guilty to bookmaking charges. They were
to be sentenced at a later date. On March 31 they were fined $50 each and
assured the judge they would not re-open the betting room.
1938: February - Frank Freide went on a six week vacation to Florida and Havanna.
Andre Koltay and his ensemble kept things lively playing swing music at the inn in 1936 and 1938.
1939: The Nissaquogue River was being polluted by cesspools and sewage flowing directly into
the river. Offenders were listed in the Smithtown Star on July 19. A small building on the east side of the main building at Friede's inn was
used as the help's headquarters. Sewage from the
building flowed into a tributary which led to a storm drain which in turn flowed into the river.
1941: Frank Freide spent the winter in Miami Florida. He left mid January and returned
Telephone and telegraph companies were in competition for customers. The telephone
company had make inroads in the business
by providing service for race track news
outlets including installation at
Friede's hotel in Smithtown in the name of Frank Kelly.
(BDE - 17 Aug 1943)
1943: Henry Wagner died of pneumonia on Christmas Day.
March 13, the
Nassau Daily Review reported that a police raid caused the forced clousure of
one of Long Island's "best known headquarters for the sporting set, the
Nissaquogue Club in the rear of Frank Friede's Riverside Inn." Police
found about 200 men and women "lounging in comfortable chairs, studying dope
sheets and apparently making wagers." Frank Kelly, age 52, the manager of the club
and five other men were arrested and fined $50 each. The "guest" were allowed to leave
"unmolested". Kelly told the state police that Friede was in Florida and was unaware of
any gambling. Five telephones, two public speakers and a ticker were confiscated.
March 24, The Suffolk County News reported a state troopers
raid of the bookmaking
room in the rear of Friede's inn. The room was "the most elaborate in Suffolk County."
The police confiscated teleflash loudspeaker equipment,
racing charts, furniture, and tore down the cashier cage. There were approximately
125 betting patrons in the room when the raid occurred. Six of the inn's employees
were arrested and fined $250: Clyde Barbieri, 32, of Alrington ave, Smithtown Branch,
Allen R. Bryden, 49 of Stony Brook, Herbert M. Maroid, 37, of Jersey city,
Victor J. Puzo, 45, of Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, Frank W. Kelly, "30", of Old County Rd. Patchogue, and
Frank Rettenberger of Smithtown.
"The bookmaking establishment in the
rear of Frlede's Riverside Inn in Smithtown,
was raided on Monday afternoon by State Police." It was the second raid in 18 months.
Four men were arrested:
Clyde J Barbieri, 34, in charge of the ticker machine,
Frank W. Kelly, 52, and Victor P Puzo, handling bets and posting results,
and Frank Rettengerger, 58, general helper - each fined $50. The equipment was seized.
(The Suffolk County News August 31, 1945)
(In 1918 Victor J Puzo was a truck triver.
In 1934 he was the driver of an ice cream truck that
skidded on a wet road and crashed into a car. An occupant of the car,
William Hopp, was instantly killed.
Mrs. Hopp was awarded $42,500 in damages. In 1942 Victor James Puzo, born 1899,
had been a bartender at Friede's
for three years when he resigned to join the armed forces.
He was given a sendoff at Mother Friede's. He joined the Army 9, November 1942.
According to his WWII Draft Registration in February 1942 he lived at the Riverside Inn and
had a Tatoo of a sailor on his right forarm. He died in Smithtown in 1966.)
1945: Frank Freide was granted a liquor license for locations on
Middle Country Road and Route 25, Smithtown.
1947: April - The barn behind the inn was a known gathering place where
politicians and socialites could gamble at cards, dice, roulette,
birdcage and horse betting. It was frequently raided.
The horse room behind Frank Friede's Riverside Inn was a famous gambling resort.
In one raid a reported $1,357 in cash was confiscated but the 300
or so men and women were allowed to leave quietly in their cars.
The "promoter" and six club employees were arrested. The manager of the hotel, Frank Kelly,
pleaded guilty, was fined $250 and given a 30 day suspended sentence.
Four of the clerks, Louis Boyer, Joseph Slivorik, Bernard Lamb and Edwin J Griffiths
were fined $150. The fifth clerk, Norman H. Land, who had only worked there for 48 hours*,
and the handy-man, Frank Rittenberger, received suspended fines.
All were given a 30 day suspended sentence. Kelly paid all the fines from a $3,000 bankroll.
Gambling equipment was removed from the spacious room.
The long low building behind the famous hotel was known as the center of book making is Suffolk County.
*(Norman H. Land was my grandfather's brother. His World War II Draft Registration filled out in February 1942
listed his employer as Frank Fiede Riverside Inn Smithtown. Norman H. Land )
(Bernard Lamb was born June 20, 1917 - served in WWII - died in 1963 - bartender.)
The "Missequogue Club" sic had been raided
repeatedly for the previous 30 years and had reopened "promptly" after each raid.
(Daily News 13, April 1947 and the Suffolk County News, April 18, 1947)
1949: In October 1949 the inn was targeted by crime busters who shut down a
gambling ring rumored to be run by the Colombo family.
The barn at the back of the inn was raided by the Smithtown police who found the barn empty but there was evidence of
a horse track betting room.
The newspapers reported organized secret gambling in a horse room in
the barn behind the Riverside Inn.
Photos of the operation at Friede's were printed in the papers.
Word of potential raids had spread across the Island.
By the time the raiding party drove up the winding road behind the restaurant
they found a deserted building, completely empty of betting paraphernalia. It was said
Smithtown police had personally warned Friede to shut down.
Friede claimed the press had him all wrong.
He know nothing about any horse room or gambling
on his property.
claimed he had rented the barn to a man who wanted to use it to store highway building equipment.
He didn't remember the name of the man. He said
the stream of cars passing the restaurant at race time
on their way to the barn every afternoon were "highway workers".
He further claimed that the barn had been empty since the previous raid in 1947.
The town clerk confirmed the building belonged to Friede.
The plot it was located on was 133 acres
bounded by the river on the west, the Long Island railroad on the north
and other land belonging to Friede on the south and east.
1950: The Beverly hotel suite of
Mrs. Telma Friede, wife of the Long Island restauranteur and sportsman, was broken into
and about $15,000 worth of jewelry, furs and silver coins was taken. But the thieves overlooked
another $10,000 worth of jewelry - a diamond ring and a diamond studded watch.
None of the missing items were insured. Mrs. Freide was at Smithtown at the time of the burglary.
She had recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas.
(The Beverly Hotel at 125 E 50th street is now the Benjamin Hotel.)
Frank Friede was doing business at the Riverside Inn, Smithtown and
the Middle Country Road Hotel Smittown Branch.
1953: Daily News 27 June :
"Frank and Thelma Friede's restaurant in Smithtown not only has the best
boiled beef and potato pancakes outside New York, but also some sports prints which flip all true art lovers."
1954: Frank Friede, age 72,
owner and operator of the Riverside inn, and
"one of long Island's most noted restaurant operators died in Smithtown after a brief illness."
Frank Friede "was a delightful story teller and a quick man with a house drink." Daily News 10 May 1954
1955: Thelma Friede's was the place to stop on a trip to the Island from the city.
1955: Frank Kelly was still doing a "big job" with Thelma Friede in
continuing the traditions of the Riverside Inn in Smithtown. (New York Daily News 31 July 1955)
1960: Ad - Frank Friede's RIVERSIDE INN - Open All Year - Smithtown, Long Island - Service A La Carte -
Junction 25 and 25A at Smithtown.
1962: Thelma Friede maintained the tradition of her husband and had not changed anything about the inn
except to replace the white clapboards with white aluminum siding.
1964: Thelma Friede Burke continued "the tradition of hearty no-nonsense fare in the same sort
of congenial atmosphere."
Most visitors flocked to "the big Champion Room with the bar and sports and hunting motifs". It was
a "masculine atmosphere which women find appealing, too."
1969: Thelma Friede retired due to ill health.
In 1977 the inn was said to be the headquarters of of
$200,000 a week floating crap game run by the Colombo crime family.
1978: In March 1978 Friede's Riverside Inn was undergoing refurbishing and would open under the new management of Ed Meyer
formerly of Linck''s Log cabin in Centerport.
By the time the Frank Friede's celebrated Riverside Inn
burned to the ground in 1981 it had been known by several other names including the Yellow Balloon and the Riverview Inn.
The restaurant had been closed for a few weeks
before the conflagration and is was rumored that the owners were filing for bankruptcy.
The fire spread so quickly from one part of the building that arson
was suspected. There were rumors of foul play, insurance scams, arson, etc.
Fire companies came from the surround towns but the building could not be saved and it took four hours to bring
the situation under control.