Manzi’s Cafe

In the late 1800’s Liberty consisted of Main Street or Liberty Street as it was known,  with a mix of residential, commercial and religious buildings.  Main Street commercial properties were crowded with a variety of warehouses, barns, carriage houses, sheds, a blacksmith shop and feed mill.  The Liberty Steam laundry and the Liberty Gazette fronted on School Street, as did a two-story wheelwright shop that bridged the creek.   School Street, so named for the elementary school located there still retains several older buildings built in the early 1900’s.  Related image

10 School Street is one such property that was purchased by Richard and Yna Manzi in 2016.  They  opened their doors as Manzi’s Cafe shortly thereafter.  Richard, a carpenter by trade was looking for inside work and Yna wanted to grow her “helado” business of selling tropical ices.  Manzi’s provides  a quaint, small, intimate and relaxing dining space just a block off Main Street.   Their menu features hot dogs, burgers, homemade fries, rice & beans, floats, ice cream and homemade tiramisu which you can even order to take home.  Large with 12 servings is $30 and the small 4 serving size is $12.

The Cafe building was built in 1920  as a two-story wood frame structure that has housed many businesses over the years.   It has 2 original street level display windows with a central entrance to the second floor.   A unique “diamond” window centered between three window bays adds detail to the exterior.  Stepping inside the Cafe you notice the manzivintage tin ceiling and wood floor that brings back a nostalgia of years gone by.

Richard is a 42 year cancer survivor and does what he can to raise money for the American Cancer Society as he says they were helpful to him when he needed it.  He walks in the Relay for Life every year and recently sponsored his Second Annual Chili Cook-Off raising funds for the Sullivan County chapter of the American Cancer Society.

Rich and Yna also have a party room available should you need a space to host a party, event or family gathering.  The Cafe is a welcome addition to the Village of Liberty.  When you are driving through town, make a turn down School Street to Manzi’s Cafe for lunch and an ice cream sundae or tiramisu for dessert.  Relax and plan to stay a while….because you most likely will !

Check them out at







The Preservation League of New York State Tax Credit Workshop was held this afternoon in the United Methodist Church in Liberty.  The workshop event was co-sponsored by the Sullivan County Division of Planning and Community Development, the Town of Liberty, Sullivan Renaissance and NYS Senator John J. Bonacic

Liberty Town Supervisor Brian Rourke opened the workshop which was followed by information on tax credits for those owning commercial properties in historic districts and on the National Historic Register.  Frances Gubler from the Preservation League of New York State;  Julian Adams & Kath LaFrank from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation; and Dadras Architects all lended their expertise on how Liberty might invest in rehabilitating our historic places.


The Preservation League invests in people and projects that champion the essential role in community revitalization, sustainable economic growth, and the protection of our historic buildings & landscapes.

Owners of historic properties may be eligible for 20% federal and 20% state historic preservation income tax credits for rehabilitation projects.   So….before ripping and tearing an old building that may have historic significance and be eligible for tax credits…. give their office a call before it’s too late and the integrity of your building is altered!   518-462-5658  x-10 or email at



Town of Liberty Supervisor – Brian Rourke



Back in October Brian Rourke posted on Facebook, “I’ve been asked a hundred times whether I was “crazy”, “lost my mind” or just took a “blow to the head” to be seeking the Town Supervisor position in Liberty”. He was asked why he would voluntarily leave the security, prestige, salary & benefits of a 14 year judgeship to run for this office. He thought of the “impossible & thankless task” of the taxes….worn out buildings…tension in the Town Hall…the dissention in the other departments…the abrupt resignations….clearly the government must be dysfunctional” they would say.

But, Brian moved ahead believing he could be a positive influence and make a difference in Liberty. Instead of looking at all the negatives flourishing in the town he chose to overlook its shortcomings and move ahead. He acknowledges a town that has been welcoming and good to him for the past 31 years; he appreciates a town that has been a good place to raise his children; he recognizes the tremendous individuals and families that live here and he chose to step into the political arena to give back to Liberty.

How positive we all felt when he won the election in a landslide and began to look forward with optimism. Brian is a mover and a do-er…. freshing in a climate where things move slowly and take forever to get done. Rather than just talk, Brian wants to get things done.

So how upsetting it was this week to learn  – from Facebook – that there are already stirrings of opposition to things he wants to do. It was posted that Brian decided to appoint Bruce Davidson as his Deputy Supervisor which was quickly met with discord from the Town Board.  We don’t know all the details and hopefully answers can be forthcoming at the Town Board meeting.  Those who care about Liberty and it’s future for ourselves, our families, our children … please come out to this meeting.

Brian has to be commended for stepping out and opening the Downtown Barn. This is a tremendous live music venue that is way ahead of Liberty’s time ! We are so fortunate to have this caliber of musical talent coming to Liberty….the likes of which has never been seen here! He has spent time, effort and expense over the past several years doing the impossible on Darbee Lane.  We are thankful for Brian’s determination, commitment and involvement in Liberty !


Bruce has to be commended as well,  for his involvement in purchasing the Liberty Theater on Main Street. For YEARS this building – once a beautiful example of art, architecture, community involvement and Liberty pride – has stood behind a black wall. The wall came to represent the downtrodden & depressed Liberty.   Within a short time of his purchase, Bruce DID bring the wall down, with every intention of renovating and refurbishing this jewel. How thankful we are to Bruce and so appreciative of HIS determination, committment and involvment in Liberty.


Both men have to be supported in the efforts they have put forth thus far which are supportive of the arts & music.  They not only talk….they are doing the work. If ever Liberty is going to rebound and get back to the great town it once was, that time is now.

PLEASE ATTEND THE NEXT BOARD MEETING?   January 16th at 7pm at the Senior Center at 119 N. Main Street to support Brian & Bruce. We need them both for the good of Liberty !  Let’s move ahead, work together as a team and assist all those who are working so hard to improve our Town.  They need our support.

Can you respond with a “commitment of attendance” to let us know how many people we might expect.

Thank you !

Spirit of Liberty


Liberty – VanAlstyne Star

This week the Star shining in the dark winter sky will be extinguished until next year.  While it will be sad to see it go we will be left with good memories of Christmas 2017.  Two memories in particular….. one of a journey completed;  another of rebounding community spirit.23405992_10214972934819179_3811405035841879999_o

Dick VanAlstyne erected the Star on his property that overlooks the Village of Liberty in 1967.  Dick maintained and kept the Star lit until his passing 10 years later.   His son Chris left the area and the Star continued to be lit by neighbor Linda Bult, the Johnstone family and town residents.

Although Chris moved away he returned periodically and over the past year proudly shared with anyone who would listen the “fact that the 50th anniversary of the Star’s lighting was approaching….and my Dad built it”.  To his surprise, and without exception, the response was one of fond memories and emotion.  “I remember taking my kids up there on a sled when they were young”;   “a winter date on a snowmobile took me to the Star”;   “we would go out on our front porch to look at the Star” were some of the responses.24301258_1536445093101129_2424517973467763822_n


Chris realized the “connection” was universal and the Star didn’t belong only to his family history, but to that of the town.   With that understanding he had an idea to use the anniversary of the Star as an opportunity to plan a family reunion for relatives who hadn’t seen each other in years.

Chris also recognized that his Dad was alive for 10 years of the 50 that the Star was maintained.  Neighbors, friends & townspeople took it upon themselves and kept it going for 40 more years.  They raised money and volunteered to replace lamps, repair and rebuild the Star. They not only considered it theirs, but they were willing to take money out of their pockets and get their hands dirty to make sure it survived.  That was what has made the Star so special and that was the story Chris wanted told.

He can’t say exactly why his Dad built the Star.  He was too young and doesn’t remember, but he does know they were extremely blessed and had many presents under their tree.  Chris believes he built it to remind us what the holiday was supposed to be about. Not something we could touch or play with, but something we should feel.  An article in the Liberty Register referred to the Star as a “symbol of light and hope at Christmastide.”25790994_10215390320173552_1159164686965105933_o

Chris wanted an event and to spread the word,  but had no idea how to make that happen.   He knew he wanted to say “thank you” to those involved with the Star.

By happenstance the “Spirit of Liberty”, was having their very first meeting at Charlie’s Restaurant on Main Street.  They were shortly interrupted by Chris who asked, “are you locals…and do you know anything about the Star”?   They were surprised to hear him tell his story about his Dad and the upcoming anniversary.   They were just discussing ideas on how to revive Liberty when Chris and his Star came their way.   Wheels began to turn & ideas were formulated.  They worked to put an event together with the help of Brian Rourke who supported their efforts.

On December 1st many braved the cold winter night to meet at the Liberty High School.  The venue was chosen as the viewing point for the lighting “countdown” complete with fireworks.  As Chris was surrounded by his Mom, cousins and family friends I could see his journey was complete.  Chris was estatic & humbled as he took the opportunity to share his story & honor his Dad.   Chris has come full circle & is following in his Dad’s footsteps with his altruistic desire to give back to Liberty !  He calls himself a “die-hard optimist” and he looks forward to Liberty’s positive future.  We thank him for that!



Spirit of Liberty member, Cindy Kurpil Gieger spoke about the Star saying, “24291539_10215179491302962_2850761504833229577_o It’s our Star…our  symbol of community spirit and the selfless volunteerism of those who continued the tradition for generations.  For me personally, it has been a reminder of the first Christmas Star leading to the manger where the Christ child lay….a symbol of light and life to the world.  To others, it’s a symbol of community that says “Here in Liberty, we care”.

“And so… upon a chance meeting of the “Spirit of Liberty” folks and Chris VanAlstyne, who expressed a desire to honor those who continued his fathers efforts…a Star event was born!  Tonight…as we look upon the Star shining throughout our town, we are filled with hope that through renewed efforts of our newly elected Supervisor Brian Rourke, Deputy Russell Reeves and our Town and Village boards we can move forward with new initiatives. We can work together with a mutual passion and shared energy to revitalize our town …together…reaching common ground.  To quote, “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished’s about who you’ve lifted up, what you’ve made better.. it’s about what you’ve given back”.

Supervisor Brian Rourke did the honor of declaring that the VanAlstyne Star “shines brightly over us throughout the holiday season and connects us with its warm history”  and recognized and thanked the VanAlstyne, Bult & Johnstone families for their keeping this “beloved tradition shining bright above our beautiful town & making the holiday season happy & bright for 50 years”.  The Star is forevermore a part of Liberty’s history!24174675_10215834573243926_8520219757322933512_n.jpg

Chris was proud of what his Dad did and looked for an opportunity to acknowledge him publicly.  The event that night was perfect & he was blown away by the affection, dedication and sense of community it represented.  “In an era of fear, greed and divisiveness, the light of the Liberty Star remains a beacon of hope, joy and gratitude. How cool is that! ”


In conclusion we say “thank you” to:    Steve, Cheryl, Troy Johnstone & Kassondra Ambrosi for organizing;  Santa Claus;  Mrs. Nolan & LCHS Honor Students for assisting;  LCHS chorus for singing;  Project Identity teens for singing;  Cindy Gieger & Christina Jones for their music;  Linda Babicz for her “Star” craft;  Friends of Liberty Library;  Mr. Strassman;  Dara Smith & cafeteria; Liberty Diner for the cake; Mark & Lane Mitchell for fireworks,; volunteers who donated cookies.  I apologize if I’ve missed anyone.

And those over the years:  Linda Bult and family, Barbara & Bob Burns, Johnstone family; Liberty Bells;  Liberty Masons;  Elks, American Legion, VFW, Clickin’ Chicken 4H group; Liberty Police PBA; St. Paul’s Church;  St. Peter’s Church;  Livingston Manor Lumber;  Ken Ross & Ross Electric;  Mike Schwartz;  Roger Mohrmann;  Vinny McPhillips;  Allie Hasbrouck;  Woods family;  NYSEG;  Chester Slaver;  and numerous anonymous donors who contributed money towards the Star’s upkeep.



Christmas Star


Liberty High School will be the viewing point for the Anniversary lighting of the Liberty Star on Young’s Hill. Join us on December 1st beginning at 5pm for this event.

For 50 years Liberty residents and Route 17 travelers alike have welcomed the Star in the dark winter sky signaling the beginning of the Christmas season!

What child has not marveled at its first appearance from their bedroom window, front porch or backyard? And what parent heading home from work hasn’t glanced towards this guidepost leading them home?

The VanAlstyne family may have built the Star and local families may have kept it lit for many years,  but the Star is a part of all of us.  A part of our cherished memories.

Memories that can never be taken away…. only shared.

The Star —-  IS —– LIBERTY
A symbol of ALL of our goodness
A symbol of ALL our hopes and our dreams

Merry Christmas !



There is no denying that Main Street Liberty is in quite the state of blight.  Sadly, the town that I’ve known my whole life has seen better days.  In light of this situation the Spirit of Liberty was begun…out of frustration and out of a desire to enact change.

That change came in the way of a Clean-up day scheduled on a frigid Saturday morning in November!  As my thermometer read 20 degrees I wondered how many people would leave their warm homes to come out and pick litter !  I was hesitant and without much confidence but headed downtown armed with brooms, rakes, and garbage bags.

My hesitation was put at ease as the volunteers arrived:  Liberty High School Junior & Senior Honor Society students; LCHS  government students;  Project Identity and St. Peter’s Church teens.   We had adult leaders:  Cindy Nolan from Liberty High School;  Krista & Meg from Bethel Woods;  Anne-Louise from Sullivan Renaissance;  Septemberr Rielly from St. Peter’s, Yna from Manzi’s Cafe; Spirit of Liberty team members:  Linda Babicz and Cindy Gieger & her children Veronica and Cameron;   and even my Mom, Fran Kurpil who came ready with her garden tools to spruce up the flower boxes !

For 3 hours everyone pitched in and raked leaves in the park;  picked litter along Main,  School and Church Streets and even managed to wash a few windows along the way.  The business people were supportive and positive.  We thank you, too, Ellen and Louie for the offer of coffee at Floyd & Bobo’s !

The greatest positive for me was these young teens !  I’ve been a bit depressed walking Main Street for the past few months, but today I was inspired by the young people who came out to “fix the place” where they live.   Their energy, aspirations, and willingness to help … all for the good of Liberty was commendable !  The Spirit of Liberty looks forward to working with them towards a better Liberty….one that we can all be proud of !

We finished the day with lunch at Manzi’s Cafe under the service of Richard who managed to feed us all in his delightful space.  We visited and enjoyed this time to share stories of the day.  THANK YOU ALL !

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Liberty Press

LIBERTY PRESS is located in the old Hillig Photo Studio located at 94 North Main Street in Liberty.  The building, which is located in the Historic District,  was custom-built in 1914 by Otto Hillig who was Liberty’s distinguished native, photographer, trans-Atlantic pilot and builder of a castle on Washington Mountain, north of Liberty.  libertycastleThe 103 year old historic facade still displays the original decorative tile and stylized pilasters emblazoned with “Hillig” to either side of vintage window panes.

LIBERTY PRESS  is owned and operated by Nancy and Frank Benedek.  Frank’s story began in Hungary where his parents tried to escape oppression under Communist Soviet control.  Frank was only a year old when his parents made an escape from their country.  On their journey he was given sleeping medication to keep him from crying and giving them away.  More difficulties befell them when his mother fell and broke her leg.  Despite the circumstances the senior Benedek managed to get them all across the border safely into Austria.  They made their way to Italy where they lived for 5 years before finally immigrating to the United States. How ironic that this family’s struggle for freedom ultimately resulted in a business called “Liberty” Press!hilligIMG_9733a

Stepping inside the business you can hear the hum of machines at work as Frank tirelessly runs the presses in back.  He has been a pressman for 40 years and is the mastermind behind the business.  Nancy greets customers in the front office and manages its many aspects such as payroll, customer service, bindery and bookkeeping.  Jon Heaphy works as a graphic artist and email correspondent.   Nancy explains that the Liberty Press provides a service for many people who desire their products which  include business cards, postcards,  brochures, flyers, tickets, business forms, posters and ad journals – just to name a few.  Their services include graphic design, fax service, labels, color copies, folding & cutting.

With the advent of computers and the internet, running the business has been challenging, but Liberty Press provides a service to local towns, schools, restaurants and other businesses that appreciate a local face and a human voice on the other end of the telephone !  Any questions can be answered in a timely fashion by a local person ! Their reputation is stellar, quality top-notch, and customer service is provided with a smile !

Liberty Press,  94 North Main Street, Liberty, NY  12754

Hours:  Monday – Friday  8:30 – 5:00 PM

Phone/Fax  845.292.8151




Liberty Market

While driving down Liberty Main Street several months ago I kept noticing the decorated windows in the Sunflower Health Food Store.  As I passed I wondered why the Health Food store was displaying women’s fashion….. beautiful outfits, bags, and shoes.   I had to stop and investigate.  Wandering inside I was thrilled to see a display of tops, dresses, and jewelry.  Wow !!  A women’s clothing shop in Liberty !!  Could this possibly be? 

The Health Food Store had been sold and here was a new business in its place.  I never expected a woman’s shop!  Greeting me was the owner, Ivelisse who with her bright smile and friendly personality was more than helpful filling me in on her line of clothing.  In the back room she pointed out her line of gorgeous bridesmaid and formal dresses by David Tutera.  Any young lady will be certain to find something to suit her for prom, special event or wedding!  Ive has not only a passion for fashion, but goes out of her way to make you feel comfortable in her shop.  She says, “customers walk in as strangers, but leave as friends”.  I can say this is certainly true.  I’ve only known Ive for a few months but feel like its been forever !

Co-owner,  Paul is a 12 year Veteran with the Army Reserves and Air National Guard.  He is the proud wholesaler of Nine Line apparel which is veteran owned and operated.  Not only does he carry this apparel for men, but women, as well!  In researching what “Nine Line” means I found out that it is a medvac request for a soldier that is injured on the battlefield.  To a soldier Nine Line symbolizes patriotism, hope and trust in one’s countrymen. 

Nine Line apparel strives to invigorate a sense of patriotism and national pride that seems to be disappearing from our society.  Nine Line respects the flag and what it stands for; supports those who have served and continue to serve in the military, police, fire or any public service;  and wants to make being patriotic something to be proud of !

As I wandered the beautifully decorated shop I was intrigued with the Nine Line T-shirts I found!   When I picked up a t-shirt that read, “I stand for the National Anthem”, I knew I had to have it!   I bought one with the American Flag on the back for my husband and he was just as impressed as I was.  He asked me to get him several more !

The following weekend we were stopped getting an ice cream, wearing our Nine Line shirts!  A truck pulled in behind us and several young guys got out.  They commented on our great shirts with the flags and wanted to know where we got them!  I was proud to say, “The Liberty Market”… In Liberty ! istando.jpg

71 North Main Street, Liberty     Telephone  –  845.707.1994
Hours of Operation:  Closed Sunday thru Wednesday
Open Thursday through Saturday 11:30 – 7:30

Christmas Star on Young’s Hill



 Richard VanAlstyne was the idea behind the Star and constructed it on his property.  He maintained it and kept it lit for years until illness took the life of this family man, trooper, snowmobile enthusiast and civic minded individual.
The family grew up and moved on but continued visiting Liberty for years.  Several weeks ago Spirit of Liberty members were approached by Chris VanAlstyne, son of Richard, at Charlies Pizzeria.  He wanted to know if we were “locals” as he was interested in finding the fine folks who have been the force behind keeping the Star lit on Young’s Hill for 50 years.
Chris made contact with the Bult & Johnstone families who took it upon themselves to keep the Liberty tradition alive and well.   His wish is to also connect with those civic groups that have also been so involved over the years.
Just as I anxiously awaited the lighting of the Christmas Star in December as a child, so have my own children who are now grown into adulthood !  We aspire to the continued lighting of the Star and to Chris who has returned to Liberty to give us all a boost of enthusiasm and pride,  just as his Dad wished upon us all 50 Christmases ago.

Town & Country Antiques

town2The Town & Country Antiques building was built in 1885 and over the years has been used as a meeting hall, clothing store and  theater.  In the late 1800’s the first floor was renovated as an auditorium for the Lyric Theatre and the second floor housed the Grand Room where the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge had their meeting hall.  The theatre showed silent films and hosted vaudeville acts and competed with The Opera House which was located across the street where the Green building stands today.  The building was owned by John Darbee and the street that runs from Main past the Downtown Barn bears his name.

The street level was returned to a store function as “Town and Country Sportswear”, and it’s distinctive geometric facade was constructed in 1953.  Liberty suffered economic downturn as the resort industry faded and the building suffered, as well.   In the 1990’s a Department of Transportation intersection improvement project slated the vacant and deteriorated property for demolition to build a parking lot. Luckily an action group of local residents investigated the history of the building and discovered it to be one of the oldest surviving buildings on Main Street.

In 2005 Eric Liepens purchased the building and in preparing the north side for painting and power washing, they exposed a ghost sign for Gold Medal Flour.  It was under a coat of paint from the 1930’s and faux brick probably put on in the 1940’s.  They were left with a decision:  pretend like they didn’t see it or restore it.  They were encouraged by many, such as the late Alan Berube to restore the sign.  And what a beautiful restoration it turned out to be!   As Mary Ellen says, “it is a part of the fabric of Liberty’s history.”   GM_sign.header

Being in the antique business the Liepens family is all about preservation. They are the “caretakers” of things that can be passed on to other generations to enjoy.  Browsing through their store will bring back many memories, and browsers are always welcome.  Visit them at 1 North Main Street in Liberty.

1 North Main Street, Liberty, NY


open Thursday, Friday, Sunday 10AM – 5PM
          Saturday 10AM – 3:30PM
closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Online at


Spirit of Liberty

19225655_1433144316732674_8433260926466065305_nSeveral weeks ago myself, Fran, Cindy and Linda set out to visit the local businesses along Liberty’s Main Street.  Our initial agenda was to start a association of businesses so everyone could connect and support each other.  We visited over 30 businesses and left a survey with most of you to fill out and return.  We thank those who got back to us.  We’ve received many suggestions and ideas which we will relay to you. The first question we asked was, “what do you like best about downtown Liberty”.  Some of the responses were the flower baskets,  Floyd & Bobo’s Bakery, and the park.