A grand house steeped in history
John G. Smith was born in 1849 in Canada and came to town after the Civil War. An enterprising and ambitious man, he later brought electricity to Warrensburgh, an unbelievable invention in the days at the turn of the twentieth century. When his friend Lewis Thomson had his own new house finished by 1906 — today the Cornerstone Victorian Bed & Breakfast on upper Main St. — Smith completely wired the house personally for electricity and installed the fixtures. On the night the job was complete, every light in the 27-room house was turned on and a crowd of citizens gathered outside to view the brilliant spectacle. Electricity was a breathtaking new marvel then in the “modern” world.
Smith was so in awe of Thomson’s mansion that it became his life ambition to have a house of his dreams for his own.
With love and care, he built his fine home on the corner of Hudson St. and Woodward Avenue and he and his wife Kate Smith moved in near the end of February, 1913 and she died the next year.
John G. Smith died Jan. 27, 1928. His complete story was told in this column in the March 30, 2013 Adirondack Journal. Over the years, the house at 63 Hudson Street has acquired more history than one volume could ever hold.
Smith’s house lives on
Charles E. Lavery, a subsequent owner of the house, was born in Igerna on May 10, 1862. He was brought up on a farm and did not leave home until he was 22. In 1882 and 1883 he attended the Glens Falls Academy and later taught in public schools. Afterwards, he became a lumber speculator in the long-gone hamlet of Griffin — near Wells, NY —with his father John Lavery, a job which lasted 5 years. In 1890 he worked during winters as a bookkeeper for the tannery of Rice, Emery & Co. also in Griffin. For the next few years he was in the grocery store business.
On April 17, 1884 he married Miss Carrie Beebe of Glens Falls. They had one daughter, Bertha Lavery who, in 1915 was known to drive around Warrensburgh in her new Saxon Runabout automobile.
On March 1, 1899 at the age of 37, Charles Lavery moved to Warrensburgh and bought a grocery store from Halsey Herrick at the foot of Elm Street Hill, opposite the Osborne bridge. In the old days that hill was called Paddy Hill, then Osborne Hill, and later called Lavery Hill. The store stood on the lot, now vacant, across from James Sturdevan’s Bakery — in recent decades known as Riverside Gallery.
He successfully ran the store for many years, but after his wife died he sold the store to L.A. Mosher and moved to Granville to live with his daughter and granddaughter. A few years later, he moved back to Warrensburgh and married Jessie Smith, a member of John G. Smith’s family. They lived in the house that Smith built at 63 Hudson St.
Lavery went home to God
Charles Lavery was a long-time member and trustee of the Warrensburgh Methodist Church and as he had a fine singing voice, he sang in the choir. On Sunday morning, Aug. 23, 1942, he was said to have been in “good spirits” as he went to the choir loft to sing for the upcoming service. He and Mrs. Murray G. Crannell planned to sing the hymn, “In the Bright Land,” a difficult duet. The lady later said that she had never heard him sing as well as he did that morning. Halfway through he began to perspire and than his body started shaking. When he finished the high last notes of the hymn “Glory Be to the Father,” Mrs. Crannell put her arm around him, fanned him with her choir book and lowered him into a chair. It is believed that he was dead before he sat down. Heaven surely must have heard him coming, singing the Lord’s praises. A shaken Rev. Frank R. Cubit pronounced the Benediction, halted the service and dismissed the congregation.
Warrensburgh undertaker Berry W. Woodward came to remove Lavery’s body to his funeral parlor and later in the day he was taken to his home at 63 Hudson St. where his body laid in state in the same parlor where Mrs. John G. Smith had lain many years earlier. Charles E. Lavery, 80, was buried in West Pawlet, Vt.
Burton was the next owner
I lived in Lake George during winter 1957 and it was a total ghost town there at night. One light always shining in the darkness was at the Sky Harbor Restaurant, on the north corner of Canada St. and Beach Road, which was run by “Mac” McGowan. On occasional evenings I’d sit there and talk with Douglas Burton, a quiet man who was knowledgeable and a fine conversationalist.
Doug was born in Lake George Nov. 3, 1906 and graduated from Glens Falls High School in 1926. He was a wealthy, well known and a respected businessman. He and his brother Harmel T. Burton owned The Antlers hotel on the Rte. 9N, the Marine Village motel in Lake George, Hotel Madden in Glens Falls and the Burton Equipment south on Rte. 9. At one time Doug was a director of the First National Bank of Lake George, vice-president of Lake George Marine Industries and an active member of the Lake George Chamber of Commerce.
In 1956 the brothers had purchased the Marlin Beach Hotel at Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla. I heard it was a real money pit. Doug felt that he needed to liquidate his holdings here and possibly move to Florida to make a success of the big Marlin Beach project. He said it saddened him greatly that he would have to sell his Warrensburg home, the Smith house at 63 Hudson St. in order to move on as his wife loved the house dearly and was happy there.
I moved to Warrensburgh in spring 1957 and I never saw Doug again. I later read that he and his brother had liquidated their Florida property, but he had not sold his wife’s house after all. In March, 1965 he and Mrs. Burton had been vacationing for a month at Deerfield Beach, Fla. and the day before they were to return home Douglas C. Burton, 58, died of a heart attack.
Doug’s body was brought north to Warrensburg, accompanied by his wife and brother Harmel Burton, who had been vacationing at Pompano Beach at the time. He had a son, Steven Burton. I know no more of his family’s history. He was most likely buried in Lake George.
Time marches on
Donald Brooks Stone was born in 1922 in Warrensburgh. His father and mother, Rexford and Mary Stone, owned the property where Sitting Bull Dude Ranch operated near the Thurman bridge. He went to school in Warrensburg at the same time as my late husband Merv Hadden, and Don used to visit us often. A cheerful, down-to-earth man, I was always glad to see him. His daughter Sandra LaFond today lives on Milton Avenue and his son, Donald B. Stone Jr. lives in town.
Don had a big family and his brother, C. Walton “Buck” Stone was chief of the Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Co.. Don owned Stone’s Gulf Station on the corner of Main St. and Mountain Avenue, where TD Bank stands now, and he owned a truck stop north of Warrensburg which he leased to Martha "Tyke'" Duell, a building that was later enlarged substantially to become the North Gateway Restaurant.
A labor of love
Donald Stone bought the Smith house at 46 Hudson St. and one day he took me on a tour. I remember looking down at the grand winding staircase with its vaulted ceiling overhead and Don saying, “I do all the work here. I start painting in one area and by the time I work my way around the house back to where I started, it is time to do it all over again.”
Donald Brooks Stone died Feb. 3, 1977 and his funeral service, like those of the various owners who had died before him, was held in the house he loved. He is buried in the Warrensburg Cemetery.
In next week’s Journal I will tell readers of the recent stewardship of the house at 46 Hudson St., a destiny which surely would have pleased original owner John G. Smith.
Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at email@example.com or 623-2210.