When the Erie Canal was being constructed, it ignited the local economy along its length first as laborers moved in and eventually as the travelers on the canal moved through the area. One such boomtown was Perinton, a canal town with a tavern located alongside the Erie Canal where travelers could get a meal and drink some ale. The tavern, which opened 200 years ago in 1818, was operated by Elias and Gould Richardson and became renowned as the best tavern on the Erie Canal.
Today the Richardson Canal House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the oldest original canal house on the Erie Canal. While the building has served many purposes over the years, today it’s back to being a tavern of renown. The long building has much of its original character, with painted brick columns supporting the overall structure and much of the original building intact. That yellow paint is the original color of the tavern. The building was almost torn down in the dark days of 1970’s when historic preservation was less interesting than strip malls and office parks. Thankfully logic won out with the help of local support and the old tavern was restored to its former glory.
Those locals love the summer dining outside next to the canal, where Richardson’s has a trendy vibe and al fresco dining is embraced in the snow belt of Upstate New York. I’m sure that’s lovely, but for me sitting at the bar drinking a couple of pints of Richardson’s Bicentenni Ale and having a meal in the same tavern that the engineers and laborers who built the canal ate and drank in 200 years ago was more my style. I’m sure Elias and Gould would have been thrilled to know that the tavern they built along that new canal would survive and keep the Richardson name alive long after they were gone.