McKown's Hotel c.1916
The hotel and tavern built by William McKown c. 1796-9, situated to take advantage of the traffic created upon construction 1799-1804 of the Great Western Turnpike; the eastern section of this road passing McKown's front door was opened in 1800.
This picture probably taken in the winter of 1916-17.
[in the files of the Guilderland Historical Society; also in the W. Mohr archive at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve].

This establishment was for all of the 19th century the center of the hamlet of McKownville, and William McKown (1763-1843) is the man from whom the settlement gets its name.
His son John McKown (1787-1870) inherited the business when his father died. John McKown's younger son James F McKown (1818-1880) became the first postmaster in 1862, and the hotel contained the McKownville post office until that was closed in 1905. The hotel appears to have been occupied and managed by others from before 1850, the McKown's living then in their farmhouse on McKown Road. John McKown in 1864 sold the hotel and the ~184 acres of the Hotel Farm to his eldest son William J McKown (1811-1879). In 1884, William H Witbeck leased the hotel from the heirs of William J McKown and later, in 1907, purchased it and the McKown Hotel Farm land adjoining it on both sides of the Turnpike. The hotel was known as Witbeck's after this purchase, until it burnt down one night in early October 1917. Lists published in the local paper for the town tax collector holding sessions at Witbeck's hotel, in years after this event, refer to a nearby converted barn that escaped the flames; the main hotel and tavern was never rebuilt.
Eventually a gasoline and auto service station was constructed where the hotel was located, on the part of the site closest to the Fuller Road/Western Avenue intersection, which remained until about 1980, when it was replaced by a burger drive-through. Other parts of the site, farther east along Western Avenue, are now occupied by another restaurant, and a bank. No trace remains of the tavern and hotel, and the associated barns and stables, nor of the McKown family burial plot behind, from which the gravestones and remains were taken in 1865 to Prospect Hill Cemetery. The old gravestones did not quite complete this journey, being discovered in 1973 flooring the basement of an old house near the cemetery.
The system to supply water to this hotel and tavern, and the stables and stockyards nearby, consisted of pine log pipes from a dam and pond on the Krumkill stream across the Turnpike to the west.

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