The Warren County Historical Society Logo newly adopted January 2015. Copyright 2015 Warren County Historical Society, Queensbury, NY. Design by www.orangeolive.com
Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
July 16, 2015
EPHRAIM B. POTTER
10/06/1855 – 11/05/1925
Ephraim B. Potter was born October 6, 1855, son of Ephraim B. and Electa Seymour Potter. He had a brother Olin and a sister Gertrude. Ephraim and Olin lived with their mother on Elm Street after their father’s early death. The senior Potter was only in his 40s when he died.
Gertrude married William Scales, an architect and modeler at the Glens Falls Terra Cotta Company and left the home to start her own family. She had a son, Victor, and they lived at 15 Sherman Avenue.
Ephraim’s brother died at age 33 and his mother Electa became despondent and died in 1900, they say of a broken heart. With the loss of his parents and brother, and with sister Gertrude raising her own family, Ephraim experienced much loneliness. He met and married Isobel Crosby, 16 years his junior and a native of New York City.
Isobel and Ephraim were married in 1907; Ephraim was 52 and Isobel 36. They opened a boarding house in Glens Falls. Called the “Sherman House” at the corner of Glen Street and Sherman Avenue, today it is the home of the Greater Glens Falls Senior Citizen Center.
Ephraim Potter had learned carpentry and engineering trades from his father, who had been a millwright and builder. At age 30, Ephraim branched out from his learned professions and became an architect and wealthy landowner in Glens Falls. Little is known of his personal life and education, but the designs of his many homes and buildings in Glens Falls, Hudson Falls and Fort Edward remain a lasting legacy of his life and work.
He was involved in the life of the city, serving as superintendent of the water works in the late 1800s. He was a principal stockholder in and served on the board of the cement company (1897).
The Potter/Crosby marriage was not the best of relationships as Isobel became tired of running the boarding house and the number of boarders declined from ten to one. That one boarder was Cora Seeley, and she stayed with them for ten years. Ephraim was so involved with business, designing and building buildings and collecting rents, he failed to see the problems at home.
Over time, he became an outstanding architect who designed many of the beautiful buildings in Glens Falls. His style, called eclectic, withstood the test of time and what remains has made Glens Falls a beautiful city.
Most of his buildings are on the National Historic Register of Historic Places. The Madden Hotel, the Morrison Shirt Factory, the old high school on Glens Street, and the Bemis Apartment Buildings on Glen Street are his designs, as well as the Fowler Building downtown, said to be his favorite.
He designed for the rich and built what he considered a perfect house at 36 Sherman Avenue for him and his wife. He was one of the architects who worked on the Empire Theatre on South Street, and he designed the Madden Hotel across the street from the Empire.
On a chilly day in November 1925 while doing errands and riding his bicycle on South Street, he was hit by a mail truck and died instantly. He had turned 70 years old the month before. At the time of his death, the New York Times named him one of the wealthiest men in Northern New York. He was buried in Glens Falls Cemetery, Plot 30, Lot 1.
Ephraim B. Potter’s gravestone in The Bay Street Cemetery, Plot 30, Lot 1. (Photo courtesy of Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian)
Potter left all of his property to his sister Gertrude, except for the 36 Sherman Avenue home that was Isobel’s to live in along with enough money to live on. After Isobel’s death in 1956, the property also went to Gertrude. It was sold to Phil and Eileen Rose who raised their family there; it was sold again and is now the Glens Falls Bed and Breakfast.
At the time of her death, Gertrude Potter Scales’ net worth was over a million dollars, due primarily to the work of her brother.
THE GLENS FALLS WORKS of EPHRAIM POTTER
Supervised rebuilding of Wing’s Sawmill after spring freshet of 1869
Ephraim B. Potter House, 36 Sherman Avenue (Glens Falls Inn B & B)
The house at 36 Sherman AvenueHistoria) was built for his wife and today houses the Glens Falls Inn B & B. (Photo courtesy of the internet)
Bemis Eye Sanitarium Complex, Glen Street and Sherman Avenue
The building at the corner of Glen and Union Streets was part of the Bemis Eye Sanitarium complex designed by Potter. (Photo reprinted from ‘Bridging the Years,’ courtesy of the Chapman Museum)
Thomas Burnham House, 195 Ridge Street
BB Fowler Company Building, 190-194 Glen Street (Aimie’s Dinner & Movies)
The B. B. Fowler building downtown, now ‘Aimie’s Dinner & Movies,’ was built as a department store and is said to be Potter’s favorite building. (Photo reprinted from ‘Bridging the Years,’ courtesy of the Chapman Museum)
W T Cowles House, 43-47 William Street
John E. Parry House, 146 Warren Street
Peyser and Morrison Shirt Company Building, 211-217 Warren Street (Binch’s Native Textiles building)
The Peyser and Morrison Shirt Company on Warren Street, designed by Potter, is known today as Binch’s Native Textiles building. (Photo reprinted from ‘Bridging the Years,’ courtesy of the Chapman Museum)
Martin L C Wilmarth House, 528 Glen Street (one of the earliest Colonial Revival houses in the city)
Helen Wing House, 126 Warren Street
The Marion House, 13 Notre Dame Street
Coolidge Carriage House, 16 Maple Street
Lawrence Dolan Building, 39-43 South Street
Glens Falls High School (original city high school), 421-433 Glen Street (The Heritage Apartments)
Now The Heritage Apartments on Glen Street, this was Glens Falls’ first high school was designed by Potter. (Photo reprinted from ‘Bridging the Years,’ courtesy of the Chapman Museum)
LN Scott Building, 28 Ridge Street
Hotel Madden, 22 South Street (torn down 2011)
Ferriss Building, 178-180 Glen Street
Helped design interior of the first St. Alphonsus Church (burned in 1955)
Helped supervise the construction of the Empire Theatre, South Street
The Shirt Factory building, corner of Lawrence and Cooper Streets
City Cemetery Tour 2011/ Potter script by William Woodward
Material prepared by Mrs. Kyle Graves from the theatrical script by Mr. Woodward
“Listening In” Memories of Glens Falls 1755-1931, compiled by Wayne Wright. City of Glens Falls (2009)
www. Chapman museum.org/The Corners biographies/Ephraim_b_potter.htm
This article was prepared by Dr. Marilyn Van Dyke for the Warren County Historical Society. Thanks go to Wayne Wright, Glens Falls City Historian, for his assistance and the Chapman Historical Museum.
© July 16 2015, Warren County Historical Society.
Rewind maintained by Gary Evans 17 July 2015