A Crawford County Community is gaining back momentum after a fire demolished one of the region’s most treasured destinations.
Most of us can remember May 2nd of last year, learning of the tragic fire that sparked the end of an era in Cambridge Springs. But, more than a year later, a renewed pride in community is brewing.
Historian Janet Beanland tells us, “Fire trucks just kept going by where I live, just constantly, and I just got in the back of my head something bad.”
Not just something bad… but something irreplaceable.
Dale Docter, Cambridge Springs Historical Society President, says, “‘Quick, turn on the TV. The Riverside’s on fire.’ ‘Oh my gosh, what?’ It was just that sick, pit-of-your-stomach feeling.”
It took only a matter of hours for the blaze to take a building that stood for 132 years and leave behind just a pile of rubble. But, mourning the loss of the Riverside Inn reminds us of what it meant to Cambridge Springs.
Docter says, “The first, and that centerpiece, to what was to become the boom years here through until about 1920.”
The Riverside Inn grew up out of the Mineral Spring Era. It started as a sanitarium and over the years, the hotel became a destination; drawing visitors near and far for the decades that followed.
Beanland says, “Back in the 40’s, when I grew up, money wasn’t real plentiful. So, going to the Riverside then for a special event was just fantastic.”
After the fire, the magic dried up as quickly as the tourist dollars but, with an unpredictable project in the works, comes a new hope and a new chapter for Cambridge Springs.
Riverside Brewery Co-Owner, Deanna Howles, says people said to her, ‘”Why don’t you guys take a look at building at the Riverside?’ and we said, ‘well, that’s a great idea.'”
For Jason and Deanna Howles, the vacant lot is a chance at a dream. Jason tells us, “We had this plan for the brew-pub for a couple years now and we thought, ‘what better space to do it in than right here on a special property?'”
By summertime, the entrepreneurs hope to transform the space into a full restaurant and brewery with outdoor entertainment, keeping the name of the place they won’t forget.
The framework for the new building even comes from the same era as the Riverside. A barn built in 1879, that detail stamped on a beam in the brewery’s foundation.
Deanna says, “We were just kind of trying to find a spot that barn would fit, and then whenever the idea of the Riverside came up, it just came together. It was perfect.”
While change is never easy, this one; the people of Cambridge Springs are embracing. Deanna tells us, “I never thought in a million years that we would be so whole fully accepted into this community and they have just come out and given all of their support and I can’t even put words on how much that means to us.”
In some ways, a fresh start, rising from the ashes.
Beanland says, “Something good’s coming, so we’ll see.”
It’s just the beginning of a new story, how Cambridge Springs is rebuilding after the Riverside. Since we started this project, the Howles have made a lot of progress on the building in terms of construction. Check out where they’re at now by visiting https://www.facebook.com/RiversideBrewingCompany/.