Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
July 15, 2013
The Past Still Lives
Just before crossing the bridge into South Glens Falls on the west side of Glen Street, there is a small, two-level shop at the foot of the hill where Calvin Robbins resided with his wife and children. The building was made of stone in 1825 and still stands today because of the good construction used in the building. The first floor is solid stone.
Calvin Robbins was born in Connecticut and came to Glens Falls in the mid-1820s to work as a blacksmith. In 1827 Calvin had a business partner, a Mr. Putman. By 1835, Calvin had started his own blacksmithing business.
Robbins married his wife, Polly, and they had seven children. Two sons and one daughter died as children, but Helen, Marion, Elizabeth and Louis lived into adulthood. His daughter Marion married Darwin Sherman, son of millionaire Augustus Sherman.
Being a blacksmith was not an easy job. Besides working with horses and making their shoes, the blacksmith made many things, like hinges, barrel rims and wheel rims. Blacksmiths work with metal and bend and shape metal pieces into things that people would need for everyday living. not have a clue doing. For horses, the blacksmith must know where and how to shape the metal to fit the shoe properly. If it is not just the right shape and size, it can hurt the horse and make it lame.
Calvin was a respected member of the community. In addition to his blacksmithing, from 1835 -37 he was pound keeper. (The pound keeper was someone who kept a pound, or enclosure, hence, a dogcatcher…but at that time any stray animal was fair game: pigs, cows horses, etc.). He was one of five trustees elected to the first Board of Trustees on June 4, 1839 after Glens Falls was incorporated as a village. In 1843 he was an Assessor for the village. Calvin died in 1864 and is buried in the Bay Street Cemetery.
Today Robbins’ beautiful stone-crafted building still stands. It has been the home to several businesses since Calvin Robbins had his blacksmith shop there. It was a blacksmith shop for over eighty years, operated after Robbins by Samuel Ricketts, Ike and Edward Fielding, Jerry Spencer, Jerry McCarthy, and J. T. Baudet. About 1860 there was a carriage shop in part of the building slongwith the blacksmith shop. In the 1930s it was operated for a time as Mirro Cleaners and Dyers. Most recently it was a gift shop and then an Interior design studio.
Calvin Robbins’ blacksmith shop at the bottom of the Glen Street hill may be the oldest building in the city.
The former blacksmith shop may well be the oldest building in the city. It still stands after surviving two very destructive fires in the city. If it weren’t for its location at the bottom of the hill, it probably would have burned down like much of the rest of the city.
© July 15 2013, Warren County Historical Society
This article was written for the Warren County Historical Society by Lyndsey Devine, who at the time, was a student at SUNY Adirondack.