Parksville NY

Parksville circa 1907
artwork by Linda Kempton Armstrong 1993

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Parksville is a hamlet of the town of Liberty, which is locally known as "the
heart of the Catskills." The town of Liberty was created from the Town of
Lumberland in 1807 and was settled mostly by families from Connecticut and
other eastern states. Around 1800 settlers arrived in Parksville. Lemuel
Martin and Eber Hall are attributed to be the first settlers.

William Parks and his family arrived shortly after and started to build mills and
improve the area. Martin wanted to call it Martinville but the settlers revered
Parks more, and hence the name Parksville. Although later Parks moved to
Ulster County, when he was 80 he visited Parksville, fell ill and wanted to
be buried there. His grave and those of his extended family are in the
Baptist Church Cemetery behind the currently active First Methodist
Episcopal Church of Parksville, also known as the Parksville United
Methodist Church
, built in 1898. The Baptist Church in Liberty is an offshoot
of the original Baptist Church in Parksville. Another house of worship,
the Tefereth Israel Anshei Parksville Synagogue, was built in 1907 and
is currently inactive. Both houses of worship have been added to the
National Register of Historic Places.

Parksville used to be in the town of Rockland but the inhabitants decided to
annex to Liberty because it was only 4 miles away. Parksville was originally
a swamp but became forested and dry. It is in a valley surrounded by hills
and the Little Beaver Kill River runs through it. William Bradley built a
tannery there, and James Bush, also a prominent resident, was a merchant and
politician and invested in Bradley's tannery.

Parksville had shops and mills and was a bustling community. This was back in the
day in the early 1800's when coffee was 36 cents a pound, a gallon of brandy
was $1.00, and panthers roamed the hills.

The railroad mainly contributed to the fast growth of the Catskill area in
the late 1800's up through the 1930's. The O & W (Ontario & Western) Railway
served the surge of building of summer hotels and houses. to A well-known
landmark in Parksville is Young's Gap - named after a Liberty family - made
famous by the railroad surveyors. Parksville was a railroad stop on the O &
W and became touted as a pretty village in the heart of the trout country .
In 1904 Parksville was officially founded and in the early 1900's it was
considered a peaceful resting destination spot.

Within two decades the hamlet had become so popular that it was no
longer a quiet, peaceful place. Main Street was so clogged with throngs of
people shopping that cars couldn't get through. There were listed 39 hotels
and resorts in Parksville. After the Great Depression, however, many
businesses failed. The large resort hotels still thrived - the Grand Hotel,
Klein's Hillside, the Paramount, and Breezy Hill to name a few. The Young's
Gap Hotel was built in the 1920's and was the prize of Parksville. It
thrived through the 1960's as a fun place to stay.

Unfortunately, over the decades there was a decline. The popularity of the
railroad through the Catskills diminished and the last trains ran through
Parksville in the late 1950's. Vacationers flocked to the New Jersey and
Long Island beaches and the vogue of the Catskills waned. The doors of those
huge resorts began to close where there had been very successful night
clubs, comedy acts, and indoor shopping meccas.

There was a brief revival of Parksville in the 1990's. There were a handful
of enthusiastic business owners who worked together to bring Parksville to
life. Dead End Café, owned by Tom and Michele Caltabellotta, was opened in
1989 and helped to kick start new growth on Main Street - another restaurant,
an antique shop, a coffee shop, a silk-screening studio, a tattoo parlor, a
video store and a beauty salon among others. But after 15 years, by 2005,
businesses on Main Street were lost once again. For some reason, the highway
called "The Quickway," Route 17, had an adverse impact on the flow of
traffic towards Main Street Parksville. Parksville was no longer a
destination spot and businesses on Main Street and the highway pulled out,
yet many businesses throughout the hamlet are still in operation today.

The Department of Transportation completed the Interstate 86 bypass
of Parksville in October 2011 and now the highway no longer runs
through the center of the hamlet. They improved the roads and signage,
and planted flowering trees and plants, and installed sidewalks and a municipal
parking lot. This has now spurred growing interest in the community's revitalization.

The O & W Railroad path is now being restored in Parksville to an active Rails to Trails
and a community effort by Liberty and Parksville is ongoing to beautify it
with flowers and signage, and work to connect it to the Town of Liberty to
make it a longer trail.

New businesses are beginning to anchor on Main Street just in the last year.
Revitalization is forthcoming.







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