Elsie's Emporium

Elsie’s Emporium of Dryden

Posted by  //  September 3, 2015  //  Local Business

36 W. Main Street

Dryden, New York

(607) 844-8411

Elsie’s Emporium of Dryden is soon opening in a building with a history all its own. The building was constructed as a Greek Revival residence in the second or third decade of the 1800s. Before that a distillery was at this site and the building was of log construction.

Later owners modernized the house façade with fancy architectural details, a front porch, sheds on the rear, and chimneys. Owners and renters came and went. Dryden grew. 1990 the house and the one to its left on the corner of Library Street had been sold to a gas and oil company. Soon the other house came down with a giant crash.

The new little Dryden Historical Society sprang into action. We got it promised as a gift from the gas & oil company if we could get it moved off the property within thirty days.

The hard facts were that we had about $200 in our treasury and a membership of far less than 100 members! We quickly searched for a place to move it to and took on a giant fund raising campaign. I, as treasurer, got a promise of $1000 from a non-member IF we could get any matching donations. Several of us went out on personal visits, making our plight know to all the possible donors. We soon had a respectable amount of funds to make a move possible. But as yet, no reasonable site had been found.

Historic Ithaca came to our rescue: they bought the house on the left side of us and cut off its’ east side yard for us. We, the mostly elderly and /or non-experienced volunteers (a motley crew indeed,) tore off the built-on additions, porches, and pulled off the chimneys with farm tractors, crowbars, and soft hands, and unhooked all the utilities and drains.

Unfortunately the water lines had burst before our ownership and had flooded all the rooms, which now require water damage restoration services available at this important site. Everything froze, the floors heaved, and the young hoodlums of the area added their special touch to the windows and bathroom fixtures. Despite all that, we got a new foundation dug and fitted out in the neighboring side yard, and soon had the house address changed from 34 West Main St to 36 West Main Street!!

What a thrill is was to have our own building by our group, now known as the Dryden Town Historical Society, and with a place for our growing collection of donated artifacts and photos, all important parts of Dryden’s history. Added bonus: larger numbers in both our bank account and our membership!!

A quarter century later in 2012, Rebecca Southworth Simpson’s beautiful 1836 homestead was left to the DTHS along with its contents. The society moved there and I bought their soon vacated building.

After considering many options with many different area business people for more than a year, I found the winning combo: Skeeter Heidt came aboard as clerk of the works and Jodie Wainwright as store operator. Between them, both inside and outside the building, they have created a wonderful and exotic space. 36 West Main Street is now home to a new commercial venue in the West Main Street business area of the Dryden Village. My sincere wish is that area keeps developing and expanding until we get an exciting and thriving business center back in our Village of Dryden.

Elsie Gutchess

Dryden NY Historian


Nestled in the heart of the quaint village of Dryden is Elsie’s Emporium of Dryden. Soon to open in a historic home that formerly housed the Dryden Town Historical Society, Elsie Gutchess had a vision to create a unique shopping experience for the Dryden community, as well as the thousands of people that pass right by its front door along the well traveled Route 13.

As a successful entrepreneur for decades, Elsie handled thousands of collectibles and antiques during her career as the business owner of Victorian Sales. During this time she amassed a huge personal collection of one-of-a-kind items that she will now be offering for sale at the Emporium.

The shop will offer collectibles and antiques, along with new items such as local and regional art, soaps, candles, stationary, jewelry, personal accessories and “upcycled” merchandise. Upcycling, also called repurposing, is a very popular trend where used items are artistically recreated into an item that will be “re-loved” again, typically taking on a completely new look and use.

Elsie has chosen Jodie Wainwright, the former owner of The Bling Store in Cortland as the start up consultant for her new venture. Jodie has also brought her creative painting style to the Emporiums interior. She spent many weeks creating a whimsical, colorful space for all to enjoy. Jodie will also remain as the store manager once the store celebrates the grand opening on September 16th at 4pm.

Skeeter Heidt, a long time resident and well known community minded fellow has also been key to making this project come to life.  Under his supervision the building, located at 36 West Main Street, has been undergoing a transformation all summer with a facelift to the exterior with paint and landscaping.

The space promises to have visitors delighted with its distinctive atmosphere that offers a wide variety of gifts…. just in time for the holiday shopping season!

Jodie Wainwright

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