Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Ground broken for Kathleen’s Tea Room 

From+left%2C+Eric+McKenzie%2C+BID+executive+director+Bill+Powers%2C+City+Manager+Matt+Alexander%2C+Roger+Campos+from+Mid+Hudson+Valley+Federal+Credit+Union+and+Vivian+McKenzie+turning+over+the+earth.+%28Photo+by+Regina+Clarkin%29%C2%A0
From left, Eric McKenzie, BID executive director Bill Powers, City Manager Matt Alexander, Roger Campos from Mid Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union and Vivian McKenzie turning over the earth. (Photo by Regina Clarkin) 

It was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “A woman is like a tea bag, you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” That adage can apply to Vivian McKenzie whose particular hot water came in the form of a roof collapse of her Kathleen’s Tea Room in June of 2021. 

Vivian and Eric McKenzie, accompanied by a crowd of family, friends, city officials, and members of the business community, turned the earth on a sunny, glorious late winter Wednesday, beginning the reconstruction of their business, Kathleen’s Tea Room that collapsed on June 2, 2021 when the roof caved.  

McKenzie, who is mayor of Peekskill, spoke about the day (March 13, 2024) being a ‘long time coming’ and the strong emotion she felt as the couple took the first step in rebuilding.  

Nearly three years ago, the one-story building that housed Kathleen’s Tea Room at 979 Main Street was razed after a roof collapse. The new Kathleen’s Tea Room will occupy the ground floor commercial space, with seating for 40, while each of the two upper floors will have apartments. 

Rendering of the building designed by architect Joseph Thompson

City Manager Matt Alexander spoke of a similar experience he had when he was a business owner in Wappinger Falls who lost his store during a seven-building fire in June of 2013. “I took the other fork in the road, and decided to not pursue rebuilding.” 

“I know how much of you is inside this little corner of Peekskill and I stand here with you three years later, seeing how you climbed out of this literal hole in the ground,” Alexander told McKenzie while a crowd of well-wishers looked on. 

 

Crew from Full Spectrum Building Group preparing the ground for construction. (Photo by Regina Clarkin)

Executive Director of the Business Improvement District Bill Powers noted that when the roof collapsed, McKenzie lost all her china tea cups along with furniture. He presented her with two antique tea cups to begin a new collection. 

Anthony Frascone, the president of Full Spectrum Building Group, is the general contractor on the project. He also worked on rebuilding Dramatic Hall further down on Main Street. Referencing the Bible, he spoke of the need to endure and not grow weary. He mentioned McKenzie’s kindness and gentleness and says he never met a mayor like this before and he’s met a lot of mayors. “It’s not about the money, it’s about people and relationships,” said Frascone. He estimated that the foundation for the building will be getting out of the ground in the next two weeks and aiming to finish construction before the end of the year. 

 

About the Contributor
Regina Clarkin, Editor and Publisher
When the Peekskill Herald weekly newspaper ceased publishing in August 2000 it was the first time in the history of the city that there wasn’t a local newspaper.  The award-winning weekly was often referred to as the ‘glue’ of the community. Founded on January 9, 1986 by Regina Clarkin, Kathy Daley and Rich Zahradnik with a $7,000 credit card line, the paper filled the void created when the daily Evening Star was sold to Gannett and moved out of town. Founding publisher Regina Clarkin continued to live in the Peekskill Cortlandt area and turned her attention to other life endeavors.  Through the ensuing 19 years, Clarkin was frequently stopped in town and asked when she would start up the Herald again. In January 2019, Clarkin decided it was less labor intensive to deliver a weekly blog than a print newspaper so she began posting one story a week about life in Peekskill. After a successful crowd funding campaign in 2020, the Herald was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in July of 2021. Peekskill Herald is a digital relative of the former print edition, featuring many of the favorite aspects of the beloved Peekskill Herald such as old pictures, personality profiles and well written stories about newsworthy events. Regina Clarkin is the editor and publisher of the site. Photo by Joe Squillante