Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND” * * *
January 1, 2015
From 1959 through 1965, Howard Mason dictated his local history column to his daughter, who typed the material and sent it to the local newspapers for publication. Howard had the good fortune to live in the greater Glens Falls area during a time of great change. Warren County and the Town of Queensbury changed from an agrarian to a suburban environment. Through his columns, he was able to tell this story of change and recall the hundreds of people whom he met during his lifetime.
The Warren County Historical Society has reprinted Howard Mason’s books, Backward Glances, Volumes I, II & III into one volume. Fully indexed, the new volume includes some new photographs. It is available from the Historical Society for $30.00, tax included (add $5 for shipping and handling). Call 743-0734 for details or stop in the office on Tuesday or Thursday from 9 am – 5 pm.
The following is an article taken from the original Backward Glances, by Howard Mason, printed in 1964. New photographs have been added in the new edition.
SEVENTY YEARS AGO
Since the sale of the contents of the Foulds mansion on Ridge Street aroused such interest in the property and that section of Ridge Street, I think it would he timely to interrupt my series on East Lake George in order to describe that portion of the city of Glens Falls as I remember it 70 years ago.
Foulds Mansion on Ridge Street
Photo courtesy of Glens Falls City Historian
On the site of the Foulds mansion were two houses which were razed to make way for the Foulds house. One was a small, square, brick house which stood near the corner of Sumner Place. This house was occupied for several years before and after 1900 by two sisters, Clara and Leila Loucks.
My grandfather told me it was built by James Wells, brother of Benny Wells who owned the Hicks farm up Ridge Road. At the time Mr. Wells built this brick house, his neighbors wondered why he went so far out in the country to build. At that time, the area from Maple to Washington Street was one big buckwheat field owned by Martin Coffin.
The other house on the Foulds property was a white two-story wood building occupied for many years by Charlie Holley. The material from this house, as I remember, was used by the late John R. Loomis in building the double house where Leslie Rymkewicz and Ernest Ferguson now live.
South of the Foulds property was a large brick building called the Black house. I think it was used as a private school at one time. It was razed to make room for what is now the Singleton Funeral Home. This beautiful home was built by Capt. W. W. MacClay who was president of the Glens Falls Portland Cement Company. Later, John R. Loomis Jr. acquired the property and he, together with Charles B. Dix and their respective families, occupied it for 25 years or more.
South of the funeral home is the present home of Dr. M. Leroy Haviland. This was originally the home of Alphonso Little of the Glens Falls Insurance Company family and was built by him.
George H. Leggett, the druggist, built a fine home about 1900 on the corner of Maple and Ridge Streets. This was razed to build the Paramount Theatre.
Note: This property, opposite the Queensbury Hotel on Ridge Street is currently the offices of Structural Engineering Services and a medical staffing office.
The Paramount Theater stood at the corner of Ridge and Maple Streets.
The beautiful home on the corner, south of the Paramount, which is now the Health Center, was built by William McEchron, one of the lumber barons and a partner in the Morgan lumber Company.
William McEchron Home on Ridge Street
Photo courtesy of the Glens Falls City Historian.
Next comes what was once the home of Dr. George W. Little, a very prominent physician in his day. He was a great lover of plants and animals. In his greenhouses he had wonderful collection of orchids. After his death these were taken over by Binley greenhouses and the property purchased by Dr. Leroy Haviland who converted it into stores.
The Dr. George W. Little house on Ridge was torn down to build retail space, and currently is the site of the Robert J. Cronin High-Rise senior apartments. Photo courtesy of the Chapman Historical Museum.
Note: The ‘George Little’ property became part of the Robert J. Cronin High Rise and parking lot. Before Urban Renewal, it had been ‘converted’ into the stores in the photo below.
Going back to the north of Sumner Place, the large lot on the Lawrence Street corner (now a filling station) was the home for many years of Martin L. Wilmarth, son of Leander Wilmarth who founded the Wilmarth business in 1841.
Note: This lot is still a ‘filling’ station (Lukoil) on the corner of Ridge and Lawrence Streets. During the 1950s it was an “Esso” station.
On the opposite side of Ridge Street, beginning at the May Street corner where the Grand Union-Empire market is now located, stood one of the older fine homes of Glens Falls. I am referring to the Joseph Fowler home with the white Doric pillars, which in recent years was the home of Louis P. Drown. This house must have been built well before the Civil War as my grandfather’s sister, Adeline Numan, together with her husband, Daniel, and their children lived there for a time before moving to Kansas in 1858. There was a glass dome or cupola on the top. I was up there with Irving and Coolidge Fowler several times years ago. It afforded quite a view over that part of the city.
Next, to the south, was the Marsh home which still stands. Wallace T. Marsh, president of the Boston Store Company for many years lived there with his family. On the opposite corner southward is what is called the DeHart house. I know nothing of its history. The building south of this, (Gubitz) must be very old judging from its construction. Over the years it has been alternately a grocery, creamery and bakery. The brick office building next to it was built in 1896 by Dr. Fred G. Fielding for himself and his brother, Frank A., who was a dentist.
Next came the home of A. Willard Hitchcock, which was razed some years ago to make room for the Queensbury Hotel Addition.
Note: These properties comprise what is today the parking lot south of May Street, the Rite Aid Drug Store, and the parking lot and new part of the Queensbury Hotel.
On the hotel corner stood the home of E. W. West, president of the Glens Falls Insurance Company for many years. I delivered eggs to Mr. West at this house every Friday for 10 years. Later he moved to the corner of Glen Street and Grove Avenue.
On that part of the city park which fronts on Ridge Street, stood the home of Jerome Lapham. He was also a Morgan Lumber Company partner along with William McEchron. Mr. Lapham was president of the First National Bank for many years. That generation of lumber tycoons seemed to have made their money fast and they retired comparatively early in life. One of them once told me he was making so much money it was “painful”.
On the site of the City Hall was the home of B. Frank Lapham, brother of Jerome. He was Uncle Frank to me as he married my grandfather’s sister, Mary Mason. Frank and Mary Lapham had three children, Mortimer, who founded Lapham’s sporting goods store, Frank Jr., who never married, and Grace, who married Theodore Ames of Dorset, Vermont.
Note: The building currently occupied by LARAC (Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Center) was the carriage house on the Lapham property.
Immediately south of his father’s home, Mortimer Lapham started in business in a long, one-story wood building. He did repairing along with the sale of merchandise. No electricity in those days and what intrigued me so much as a boy was the water motor run by city water pressure. This motor, connected by belt to a line shaft, turned small machines such as lathes and drills. I have in my possession two of these water motors now.
Note: Today this is the city parking lot between City Hall and the start of the business block with the Minky Mink retail store and Bistro Tallulah.
That was Ridge Street as I remember it up to the stores and business blocks 60 or 70 years ago.
In conclusion, I sincerely hope the Foulds mansion will not be demolished to make room for another parking lot or motel. As anyone can see, the best materials obtainable went into its construction and it was built by master craftsmen. As Marshall Field said about his mansion which he built in Chicago, “Barring accident or fire it will last a thousand years”. The same statement could well apply to the Foulds mansion.
There are plenty of public uses that could be made of this house which would benefit everyone. I would suggest that it be used as a headquarters for a historical society and museum to house early Americana connected with this locality.
Editor’s Note: The Foulds Mansion that stood on Ridge Street was one of the first buildings to be demolished when Urban Renewal began in Glens Falls. It stood approximately on the land where the Kamyr, Inc. building, now a medical office building, stands today. The McEchron house Mr. Mason refers to, opposite City Hall, has just received a new lease on life as it has been converted to a fine dining establishment, Morgan & Company.
© January 1 2015, Warren County Historical Society.