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Turning Back the Pages

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.

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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