Image from the Culinary Institute of America, Conrad N. Hilton Library.

Image from the Culinary Institute of America, Conrad N. Hilton Library.

We have all been to catered events and have come to realize how boring the food can sometimes be. For the common folks, it’s often no more exciting than trays of ziti and some sort of chicken, which I’ll swear have the name Sysco Foods or US Foods branded on every bite.

That got me to thinking, what it would have been like to dine at an event for the Hudson Valley “Elite” back in the day when opulence and flamboyance were not considered to be near sinful. With a little digging around I came up with the menu for a gala Poughkeepsie event. The 25th anniversary of the elite and prestigious gentleman’s club, The Amrita Club.

The event was held on March 23, 1898, at the Nelson House in Poughkeepsie NY, one of the finest hotels between NYC and Albany. Needless to say, the working stiffs whose sweat dripped onto the floors of nearby docks, warehouses and factories, were not required to attend. They probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway. The bill of fare at their events consisted mostly of bring-a-dish entries.

You can click on the menu to the left for a larger view or read it here. The fare for this gala event consisted of:

Blue Points, Green Turtle, Salmon Hollandaise, Sweet Breads–French Peas, Roast Turkey–Cranberry Sauce, Cardinal Punch, Broiled Quail, Nesselrode Pudding, Cake–Fruit, Crackers, Brie Cheese, Coffee, Cigars.spacer

More About The Amrita Club

Postcard of Amrita Club Poughkeepsie NYThe club was founded in 1873 for local businessmen and professionals, with future neighbor and prominent local lawyer Frank Hasbrouck as one of the charter members. It excluded Catholics, African-Americans and Jews, and soon became synonymous with the city’s elite. In 1905, local historian Edmund Platt described as “the first club of any importance”. “Much of Poughkeepsie’s growth was decided at the Amrita Club’s dinner table”, writes Carolyn Burke in her biography of Lee Miller, whose father was a member during her childhood.

Amrita Club Poughkeepsie NYIt met either in rented rooms or refurbished older buildings until it decided to build its own clubhouse in 1912. It cost the club $100,000 ($2.23 million in 2008 dollars.

Over the course of the 20th century, the club’s influence waned as the city grew more diverse and its industrial base declined. In the 1980s it eventually disbanded and the building became city property.
Above excerpt from Wikipedia

The Amrita Club building is located at 170 Church Street, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601, across from the Armory building on the east bound Arterial.

More About The Nelson House

Nelson House Poughkeepsie NYThe Nelson House developed a rich history over nearly a century, hosting a president and “king,” governors and celebrities.

“It was the social and political hub of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County,” City of Poughkeepsie Historian George Lukacs said. “But it reached a national scale.”

It was a community focal point where V-E Day was celebrated in 1945 and through which President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley passed.

Above excerpt from The Poughkeepsie Journal. Read the rest of this article.

Contrary to the fate of the Amrita Club building, the Nelson House is no longer standing. By the 21st century, nothing but partial ruins of the structure remained. Considered to be a hazard to pedestrians, the Nelson House was completely demolished. I believe that all that remains at the location is a plaque commemorating the structure. The Nelson House was located on Market Street, in the City of Poughkeepsie.