A quaint and simple wooden farmhouse once stood where Union Tavern is today. Owned by Sylvester Woodman (b. 1771 d. 1845 or 1847), a retired sea captain and rumored ex-pirate, and his wife Abigail (b. 1758 d. 3/16/1830), they made this their home after Captain Woodman purchased 100 acres and nearly all the shoreline on February 1, 1819 from John Hornby. Here they farmed the fertile land. The road the home was built on what was later named Woodman Road. After Mrs. Woodman died in 1830, her body was laid to rest just a few hundred yards from the home. Sylvester would later be buried beside his wife. While there is no record of the Woodmans having any children, some believe a large immovable stone in the basement may indicate the Woodmans lost a child young before baptism and buried him or her on the property.
Alternately, some believe this stone could indicate this home was a stop on the underground railroad, while others believe it may have hid the family's valuables during a time where banks weren't available. During Woodmans ownership, the town of Irondequoit was founded in 1839 and the property, once in Brighton, was now officially part of Irondequoit.
The home was built in the early 1850's by Irondequoit town supervisor (1851-52) Captain Samuel Waldo Bradstreet VI (b. 10/13/1815 Topsfield, MA d. 3/26/1860 Irondequoit, NY), a Black Hawk War veteran. He married Lavinia Wild (b. 11/23/1826 d. 2/15/1911) in 1853. Captain Woodman bought 212 acres from Humphrey Woodman, which today is known as the Sea Breeze area of Irondequoit. He tore down the old Woodman farmhouse, kept the fieldstone foundation, and built a then-modern two-story brick home with cupola which they officially moved into on October 17, 1856. It is said that the brick was brought by ox team from the Brighton Brick Yard, taking a day for each load of brick to be transported. Captain Bradstreet planted trees on both sides of what is now Culver Road today, and began a simple life of farming while Lavinia worked as a tailoress. They maintained their grand farm, which in 1850 was valued at $15,700 - nearly three to five times the value of the average farm of the day. They had 7 horses, 4 milk cows, 4 working oxen, 12 cattle, 140 sheep, 20 pigs, and grew wheat, corn, and oats.
Here they raised their children Lillie (b. 1854), Samuel VII (b. 10/17/1855 d. 1/31/1946), Laura (b. 1857), and Isabella "Belle" (b. 1859). In addition, Captain Bradstreet may have been married previously to Nancy and had four children Caroline (b. 1840), Janet (b. 1842), Addison (b. 1845), and Adeline (b. 1850), according to some census data. The Bradstreets were considered wealthy for their time and employed at least three servants.
Captain Bradstreet died young at 46, leaving his wife a widow with eight children. There were many "swamp fevers" in the area, so working the land had its risks and Captain Bradstreet could have easily succumbed to any number of them such as malaria. It appears that Lavinia had a family member, Anne Wilde (b. 1820) come to stay with her very soon after her husband's death (1860 census). The Woodman-Bradstreet cemetery became the final resting place for Samuel and Lavinia, and their son Samuel and his wife Lottie (b. 1/21/1858 d. 1/26 or 28/1942). Additionally, there are burials during the Bradstreet ownership for neighbor Watson Ewer (b. 1800 d. 1882) and his wife Susannah Ewer (b. 1804 d. 1875), and their children Adelia (b. 1833 d. 1881) and Susan (b. 1839 d. 1878).
There are rumors that put the Bradstreet home as a stop on the underground railroad, as well as a speakeasy during prohibition. What is known is that it remained a private residence until the 1930's. In the mid-1930's, it made the switch from private residence to public entity and was gutted. Its history since has included apartments, restaurants, and bars. At some point in its history, Woodman Road was re-named. By an 1887 map, Woodman Road was now Sea Breeze Road. Later, it was re-named again Culver Road. The last remnant of the Woodmans is now where Culver Road meets a road named Woodman Park.
In 1960 and 1961, the town of Irondequoit decided to move the Woodman-Bradstreet cemetery plots to the larger Irondequoit Cemetery just up the road to free up the space for business growth across from Sea Breeze Amusement Park (Sal's Hotdog Stand was the first to use the old cemetery space). However, with several of the interments being over 100 years old, it is likely they didn't dig up much if anything and just moved the stones. The re-interments are in the Irondequoit Cemetery's old section. Samuel Bradstreet and his wife Lavinia can be found in lot 144 grave W4. Their son Samuel Woodman VII and his wife Lottie can be found in lot 144 graves W2 and W3. Sylvester Woodman and his wife Abigail can be found in lot 144 grave W5.
1852 map of the Bradstreet property & neighbors
1887 map of Sea Breeze
The Reunion Inn
Jim "Barney" Barnash co-owned The Reunion Inn with Steve Sahs until early 2019. They opened The Reunion Inn as a tavern in late 1971, choosing the name as they were getting ready for their upcoming high school reunion, hence "The Reunion." Prior to 1971, the restaurant was called Hallie’s Steak House. In 1976, the second floor apartments were converted into a dining room and a Victorian-style staircase was added to be made to look like it had always been there. In 1977, The Reunion Inn officially opened for dining.
The first "Dinner & Ghost Stories" at The Reunion Inn took place in October 2004.
The Reunion Inn was sold and remodeled in mid-2019 by new owners, Don & Kelly Bush. They renamed the establishment Union Tavern. Join us for our 2019 Dinner & Ghost Stories at Union Tavern to see if all the construction stirred up some ghostly activity!
Union Tavern today is home to several ghosts. At least one of the ghosts is a former resident, believed to be Mrs. Lavinia Bradstreet. Three of the ghosts are rumored to be former slaves who may have been using the Reunion Inn as a stop on the underground railroad. One ghost is quite possibly the former owner of Hallie's Steak House, the eccentric Mr. Hallie. One of the current owners has seen a red-headed female spirit, and thinks it may even be his mother's ghost.
“The ghosts are still here ... I was personally approached by one,” Sahs recounts, recalling a night, in 1973, when he was down in the basement, changing a keg, and a hand with “boney” fingers tugged on his arm. “It was pretty scary ... I locked myself in the walk-in cooler until I couldn’t stand the cold anymore,” Sahs said, “and I never told anyone until six months later, when another employee tells me the same story (that happened to him).”