*As told to Clare de Boer by a handful of Pine Plains elders
Stissing House dates to the dawn of the American Republic. It was built in 1782 to serve as a watering hole for the swinging country town of Pine Plains, New York. The building accommodated a tavern, beds for travelers, and America’s first domed ballroom.
Pine Plains was the crossroads of two historic routes and rail lines. Its Main Street was buzzing with hundreds of travelers each day: What’s now the pharmacy was The Bowman Opera House; today’s Memorial Hall was a vaudeville theater; The park across the road was an inn. Locals and travelers ate, drank and danced at Stissing House.
During the First World War, the railway tracks that had brought life to Pine Plains were pulled up to make ammunition. Stissing House, the town’s Grande Dame, fell into disrepair and disrepute.
In the nineties, Christian Eisenbeiss acquired the property to save it from the wrecking ball. He enlisted partner Dale Mitchell, a master sawyer, and together they embarked on a two year renovation. They converted bunk rooms back to the original domed ballroom and repaired old-growth floorboards made from trees felled in the early settler days. In 1995, Stissing House reopened as a French restaurant and became the center of the community once more.
In 2022, Clare de Boer took over as chef and proprietor She reopened the tavern in the early spring, with Oliviero Borgna and Suzanne Nelson.