HIGH FALLS – Rock Cliff House building applications had all been submitted to the Town of Marbletown in January said Jacqueline Marie Williams, the building’s new owner. Building permits are expected to be returned in April and, "we’ll start rebuilding in early May," Williams said standing outside the 5,200 square foot building which was built in the 1890s as a boarding house.
Williams first considered buying the large house behind the theatre parking lot in Rosendale. But she didn’t like it or its lack of parking. Her agent, Maxine Rosola of Halter Associates Realty, then considered other local buildings of that size and came up with High Falls’ Rock Cliff House. Just the name attracted Williams. "I almost took it unseen," said Williams. She purchased the building in December and hopes to open between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
A bed and breakfast, bar, small kitchen, and a bridal shop are planned for Rock Cliff House. Williams dreams of the site becoming a destination target for weddings. "I was drawn to creating a bed and breakfast," said Jacqui, "because of my four children. They’d then have somewhere to stay. Additionally, the building is beautiful and its history, and the town’s, are complex and entrancing."
Williams, born in Kingston, Jamaica, came to the United States after high school. She and her doctor husband brought up their now grown-up family in Florida. Williams has a doctoral degree in gifted and talented education and for the past ten years has been an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida-Sarasota Manatee’s School of Education. When her children began to move on to college, Williams began designing wedding dresses. She then began displaying her dresses at major wholesale bridal markets with considerable success. Williams has also been involved in purchasing and renovating Florida real estate.
Her architect, William Brinnier, denied that there were any title problems as recently claimed by a local newspaper. "We have title insurance," said Brinnier. "Our surveyor has laid out a footprint of all we own. But there is a problem in that everything you can see from here," gesticulating around at the surrounding Hamlet of High Falls, "is subject to some debate as to where the property lines really lie. This is a historical matter and also because, when the state put in Route 213 in the 1930s, they put in a new post as a Rosendale marking spot. Some surveyors then used the post, and some did not. Additionally, New York State was renown for putting markers in the wrong places. But we’re all okay here at Rock Cliff House. The titles are not a problem."
During an internal tour of the building, architect Brinnier said that while Williams would like to reopen Rock Cliff House this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, a more realistic target is a year from now. "Although Jacqui’s a woman of unlimited energy and totally driven," said Brinnier, "her construction experience has all been in Florida. It’s very different up here."
Enlarged parking areas are planned — behind the building and on top of the cliff. Tesla is going to build a 480-volt charging station for cars.
To deal with a traditional High Falls problem, a new septic tank and pump system designed by Chris DiChiaro will be installed behind Rock Cliff House and a drainage field will be sited on the eastern portion of the lot. Summer weddings, when Jacqui’s dream is fulfilled, will take place in a large tent in the backyard, said Brinnier. "The building itself," said Brinnier, "is structurally sound. We have public water in the street and as we’re putting in a sprinkler system an exterior fire escape won’t be required."
Proudly showing off a hundred-year-old banister, a refrigerator designed as a bottle, and an ancient bar, Brinnier said: "We’re going to take out all the recent rubbish finishings and go back as near as we can to the original style. We’ll make the building super energy efficient within the confines of the original building and we’ll be doing best practices in terms of its thermal envelope."
The building already has a brand-new roof added by the previous owner, said Brinnier. "Soon we’ll put in a new small flat roof replacement. We’ll first be doing small stuff, but the real work will begin in May. When we get done, Rock Cliff House will again be a show place."