Raymond DeFiore was cleaning up a storage area under the H Bridge near the Metro-North tracks one February morning with a Tarrytown DPW crew when something caught his eye.
Amid the scraps of wood and debris sat a rusted historic marker erected nearly 60 years ago at the spot where the Florence Inn once stood.
The inn was a stop on the old Albany Post Road for presidents including Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, and writers Mark Twain and Washington Irving.
Erected in 1965, the marker’s inscription states the Florence Inn was originally named the Benjamin Franklin House that operated from the early 19th century until the building was razed in 1964.
The marker had disappeared years ago from the corner of Franklin Street and Broadway.
“I just happened to stumble across it, and I was like ‘Oh, this is really cool,’” DeFiore said. “It almost ended up going to the dump, but I said, ‘No, we should save this,’”
He and a coworker hoisted the heavy sign and pole into a pickup truck and dropped it off at the Historical Society on Grove Street.
“I just thought it was really cool,” DeFiore said. “I had no idea anybody was even looking for this.”
He posted a photo of his discovery on a Facebook page dedicated to New York State historical markers, where it caught the attention of Julia McCue, a history buff who owns Horsefeathers restaurant.
“I picked up the phone and called [Historical Society Executive Director] Sara Mascia right away and told her, ‘You’re never going to believe this. They found the Florence Inn sign,’ and she was so excited because I guess it had been missing for a while.”
The sign was one of 12 purchased by the Historical Society back in the 1960s and three or four are still missing.
“The pole is not bent at all, so it doesn’t look like it came down in an accident,” McCue said.
She commended the DPW workers for saving a piece of village history.
“I wanted to just document the guys finding it because they could have just thrown it in the scrap pile, and we’d never heard of it again. I think it’ll open up the conversation about where the other ones went.”
The village will work with the Historical Society to get the marker cleaned up and installed, and asked anyone who knows the whereabouts of other missing signs to email: email@example.com.