Sometime about 1760, an early, unknown settler to Red Hook built a simple farmhouse. In 1783, it was on the market:
FOR SALE "...an ELEGANT HOUSE either for a store-keeper or tavern on the public road to Albany..."- New York Packet 1783
By 1785, it was The Elmendorph Inn, a popular stopover on the four-day (!) stagecoach run between New York City and Albany. Mail was delivered, horses changed and passengers refreshed as townspeople, farmers and travelers relaxed in convivial fellowship. In 1796, the owner, George Sharp, son of a Palatine leader from the original settlement at East Camp (modern Germantown), sold the inn to Cornelius Elmendorph, the current building's namesake.
Upon Red Hook’s official incorporation in 1812, The Elmendorph began to host town meetings and local courts of law. In 1817, the first Dutchess and Columbia Country Agricultural Fair - now the enormously popular Dutchess County Fair - occupied the grounds.
With traffic along the Post Road dwindling in the face of faster travel by steamboat and railroad along the Hudson River, the Inn became a two-family home in 1854. Successively over the next century, it housed the area’s first kindergarten (1887-94), then a country store, antique shop, and gas station, before being abandoned in the 1960s and threatened with demolition in the 1970s. The Friends of Elmendorph, Inc. purchased the Inn in 1977. A year later, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Careful restoration and maintenance continue with generous support from the Red Hook community.