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HUDSON FALLS — The rich aroma of roasted coffee beans permeates the old Hudson Falls National Bank now.

Rather than tellers behind the counter, you can find Drake Hewitt and his staff, steaming milk for an espresso drink or pouring a glass of local craft beer at the new Hudson River Brewhouse.

The business at 171 Main St. is one of the newest to open its doors by reinventing a classic old building in downtown. The former bank had a story like many of the other structures in the village.

People moved out, and it fell into disrepair.

But Hewitt, along with developer and Village Attorney William Nikas, took a chance on the building. National Grid, which runs a Main Street grant program, chipped in $25,000 to help install the heating and air system, upgrade the electrical system and deal with some structural issues.

The hard work, which took place over a little more than a year, developed into Hewitt’s new establishment. He serves Saratoga Springs-based Kru coffee and tea, and last week received a temporary state liquor license.

Hewitt and his team are still getting initial orders on craft beers, wine and cider as well as food products. He hopes to put more signs out front soon and get a website activated.

But coffee is brewing.

The coffee shop atmosphere is blended with that of a hometown bar. There are television sets on the walls and bar seating, but also lounge seating toward the entrance of the building. Maximum capacity is 35 people.

The interior of the more-than-century-old building has been transformed. It stands across the street from the former Washington County Courthouse and Forged restaurant.

A number of community members and local politicians celebrated its soft opening last week.

“Today, it’s hard to remember what it looked like originally,” said state Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, who was at the brewhouse on Thursday. She was referring to a visit made about a year ago, when the interior needed much work.

“You have done such a magnificent job of preserving the best of this space and really making it welcoming and warm and an inviting place to enjoy a phenomenal cup of coffee,” Woerner said.

State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, said she could imagine the building in its heyday, when all the “movers and shakers of Sandy Hill” walked through its doors. She could picture Walter Juckett, a local philanthropist for whom Juckett Park is named, strolling in and out, Little said.

“What a wonderful building to renovate and restore, to keep our history,” she said.

“We’re very excited about the building, excited about what was here,” Hewitt said. “It definitely was a challenge.”

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Reporter Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at 518-742-3238 or gcraig@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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