Renovated 1890s barroom with new concrete floor
Photo: Aimee Herring

Raising the Bar

It dispensed drinks in the 1890s, even survived as a speakeasy into the 1930s. But the barroom was gutted by the time Thomas La Fera and Colette Hallinan bought the house it was attached to. Determined to return the space to its intended use, the couple spent hours researching its history, discovering that their town of Rosendale, New York, was a center for cement manufacturing. The speakeasy cottage industry sprang up to give tired workers places to get booze after the whistle blew.

Six years passed before they began renovating the original barroom. Other projects took precedence, such as fixing the apartment above the bar where they suspect patrons slept it off after one too many. With help from a contractor friend, their first undertaking was laying a new radiant-heated concrete floor. There's 15 yards of concrete in the barroom, which pays homage to the town's legacy, while creating the industrial feel that the homeowners wanted.
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