Sharon Springs, NY: The Gayest Little Town You’ve Never Heard Of
“One of the greatest things, the thing that has saved Sharon Springs is the LGBT community.”
I grew up in the rural, rolling farmland of Upstate New York. Occasionally—often on the way to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or nearby Glimmerglass Lake—we would pass through Sharon Springs, a town memorable solely for the distinctly pungent smell that emanated from its natural sulphur springs.It was because of these springs and their healing properties that Sharon Springs had grown into a popular summer spa destination in the 19th century, attracting thousands of visitors annually including members of the Vanderbilt family and Oscar Wilde, who lectured at one of its hotels in 1882. By the 1970s, though, Sharon Springs had fallen firmly into decline and seemed destined to become a footnote in Upstate New York’s history.Twenty years later, however, the village would embark on a renaissance thanks to Doug Plummer and Garth Roberts, a couple who were passing through from New York City, located approximately 200 miles away.
“My husband and I saw an old farmhouse outside the the village and thought, this is the coolest thing we’ve ever seen,” recalls Plummer, the mayor of Sharon Springs. And so they bought the house, as well as several other properties, including the then-rundown historic American Hotel that they rehabilitated and run today. Beyond that, the two men have been pivotal in attracting others to join in with their enthusiasm for the village of 550 people.
“One of the greatest things, the thing that has saved Sharon Springs is the LGBT community, we are the ones who came in here and started to improve things,” continues Plummer, as we sat together in the cozy lobby of his hotel. As if on cue, Lance and Anthony, another gay couple from NYC, appear. “These guys came in one Friday about six months ago, and on Sunday saw a realtor and, like, three days later they put an offer on a house.”