reher-center-immigrant-culture-kingsto-nyWelcome to the Reher Bakery, an institution in Rondout for close to eighty years  spanning most of the twentieth Century.  Many current residents of Kingston have memories to share about trips to the bakery with their parents and the smells of the fresh baked breads and rolls wafting out into the street.  Some have told us stories about home deliveries by one of the Reher brothers, in some cases directly to their kitchen tables, or conversations with one of the sisters who ran the retail shop.   Few who walked or drove the streets of Rondout in those years fail to mention to us the sight of family members sitting outside of the Spring Street entrance to the upstairs apartments.  Invariably, however, people become the most animated when they begin describing the unsurpassed taste and texture of the breads and rolls the Rehers produced.  “Did you find the recipe yet?” we get asked often.  Unfortunately for future generations, the Rehers didn’t need a recipe.

Frank Reher (center) with sons Willie (left) and Hymie (right).  Reher Center Archives

Frank Reher (center) with sons Willie (left) and Hymie (right). Reher Center Archives

Opened in 1908 by Frank Reher, an immigrant baker of Austrian Jewish descent, two generations of the family lived and worked in the bakery building until 2004 when Hymie, the last of the Reher family bakers,  passed away.  The bakery never officially closed.  Operations at the bakery gradually wound down as one by one family members passed away.  Even after his older brother died in 1980, Hymie continued to bake from time to time,  firing up the huge coal oven to turn out fresh batches of his coveted hard rolls for himself and a few friends and devotees who he knew would welcome some. At these times there would always be extras for the window for those lucky enough  to happen by at just the right time.

Three of the Reher sisters enjoying the sun outside of the Spring Street entrance to the upstairs apartments.  Reher Center Archives

Three of the Reher sisters enjoying the sun outside of the Spring Street entrance to the upstairs apartments. Reher Center Archives

The property occupied by the Reher Bakery was deeded to Thomas Cornell of the Cornell Steamboat Company and his wife Ann by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company in 1854.  It was sold to Edward Cloonan and Andrew Eubank in 1868, and soda water and sarsaparilla were manufactured at the location from 1871 until 1877.  During this period the property may also have been used as a grocery by Peter Cloonan and/or Thomas Cloonan. The nature of the structures that existed on the property at that time is currently unknown though some local preservationists believe that the Reher Bakery buildings, based on their architectural details, could have been built c. 1875.  As late as 1870, however, the Combined Map of Rondout, Kingston and Wilbur, published by F.W. Beers (1870), shows the lot without structures.

In 1877, the north portion of the property (currently occupied by the Reher Bakery buildings) was sold at auction to William Turck and Nelson Burhans.  The southern portion of the property, now occupied by the Art Society of Kingston (ASK), was conveyed to the Trustees of the Village of Rondout.  Immediately thereafter, Turck and Burhans sold their portion of the property to John Weber Sr.  There is no evidence in city directories that Weber ever occupied the property, since they list his home and business further south on Broadway.  However, in 1883 Weber sold the property to James Van Buren who ran a leather, findings and hides business at that location until 1900.

Sign for James Van Buren ’s leather and findings business that occupied the building from 1883 until 1907

Sign for James Van Buren ’s leather and findings business that occupied the building from 1883 until 1907

The 1887 Sanborn map contains the first archival evidence of the current structures showing recognizable outlines of the present buildings including a break in the common wall.  The advertisement for Van Buren’s business is still visible on the third floor south-facing exterior wall of 101 Broadway.  James Van Buren Jr. appears to have run the leather business between 1900 and 1902, after which time it was operated by Richard McCutcheon until 1907.  In 1908, the year the Reher Bakery first appears in city directories, Mary Van Buren, widow of James, sold the property to Bessie Mones who, within a month, sold it to Ada Aduchefsky, wife of Frank Reher. The Reher family operated a bakery on the premises through the 1970s before shutting its doors and retiring to the upstairs apartments. The Jewish Federation of Ulster County was deeded the property in  2004.

 Trouble at the Bakery

The bakery made headlines in 1916 as reported in the Kingston Daily Freeman. Click here to read all about it.

 

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