59 North Main Street Liberty, New York
This historic building overlooks the very center of the Village of Liberty. Built in the late 1880’s by entrepreneur J.C. Young with his partners, Charles Messiter, and Frank Dodge, the building, known as “Young, Messiter & Dodge Department Store”, was an imposing landmark on the Main Street of the Village. All three partners were successful in the areas of banking, retail goods and farming, and made an impact in the local political arena. They were influential contributors in turn of the century Catskills, shaping the future of Liberty when industry and technology began to leave its marks on the world, and the area was introduced to the world as what it still is today—a beautiful, unparalleled vacation spot, and a place to enjoy the arts, music, theater, and history.
Liberty, the fourth town founded in Sullivan County, joined the rest of the country in the dizzying heights of success and opportunity of the late 1800's, a turning point from agrarian society to a modern producer and world power. Department stores, still a new idea, were the most recent symbol of a society shifting into the next century, offering hundreds of items in stores lit by electric lights and manned by trained salespeople. Culture flowed across the Atlantic as great artists and musicians came from—and went to—Europe in a miniature renaissance. America exploded onto the world with inventions, ideas, and larger than life personalities, taking it’s place as the new center of culture and art. The Young, Messiter & Dodge Department Store was a grand leap forward for an area reinventing itself into what would be, decades later, a place frequented by movie stars and opera singers, and highlighted the spirit of the late 19th century.
Upon the death of J.C. Young , the store was purchased by Otis. E. Keller and was known as Keller’s Department Store. Keller was then director of the Sullivan County National Bank. He eventually converted the building into the Bank's last location in Liberty, installing a heavy bank vault, still awesome to see, on the ground floor.