Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Thanks to Elizabeth Bilobrowka for contributing information on Nellis Tavern.

<=The Tavern as it appeared before purchase by the Palatine Settlement Society in 1983.

Nellis Tavern was built in 1747, the second home of Christian Nellis. His first home, nearer the river, was plagued by spring floods. Christian decided to build another home on higher land north of the original homestead.

This second home was built as a farmstead, a one-and-a-half story wooden structure. Its location in the middle of the Palatine settlements put it in the path of the raiding English and Indian attacks on the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution. That it survived the war when most of the wooden buildings in the valley were destroyed was probably due to the fact that Henry Nellis, a Tory serving with the English, asked Guy Johnson to spare it. It is a recorded fact that Henry did ask that the Palatine Church be spared, and he well may have asked that the Nellis homes also be spared.

The Nellis farm was one of those in the Mohawk Valley that provided wheat for the armies of George Washington. The valley was named the "breadbasket of the Revolution" because of the large amount of wheat that was grown there.

Following the Revolution, when a need arose for boarding places for the number of pioneers moving west Christian's son Christian decided to turn the home into a tavern. To do so, he raised the roof of the house and added a second story.

Business must have been good, for in the early 1800's he added a wing to the east end of the building. The wind of the building was decorated with intricate stenciling in the Moses Eaton style. These stencils are significant pieces of American folk art.

For the period of the westward movement the tavern flourished. It was not just a stopover for travelers, but also served as a meeting place for the local citizenry and as a training field for the local infantry.

Nellis Tavern is an excellent example of early Palatine German construction techniques and life style. It was built in Georgian style with a central hall the width of the building and large rooms on each side. When the farmhouse was turned into a tavern, the style of the structure was changed to Federal. Today you can see a Georgian doorway and a Federal doorway side by side in the central hall.

After the Civil War the tavern business declined and the building became a family farmhouse again. The house continued to be know as Nellis Tavern in the community. The house remained in the possession of the Christian Nellis descendants until 1887 when it was sold. The purchaser was Alpha Nellis, a descendant of Christian Nellis's brother William, the other Palatine pioneer.

Alpha's descendants retained ownership of the building until 1983 when the Palatine Settlement Society purchased the property. By that time the Tavern had been unoccupied for some 30 years, during which time deterioration and vandalism badly damaged the structure.

The Palatine Settlement Society undertook the restoration of the Tavern, a project which is still underway.

How the Tavern Was Saved.

Larger view of Nellis Tavern

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