Chateauguay Valley Antique Association's 36th Annual Show

August 27, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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I am finishing an article for our Society Newsletter on the J.C. Cook General Store that once straddled the border in Earlville. The store building was later moved about a mile, to the Rennie farm in Rockburn, Quebec.

Mr. Rennie made the store one of the buildings in his “living museum” on the First Concession.

The Rennie property is now the site of an annual Antiques Show hosted by the Chateauguay Valley Antique Association. Since its beginnings following the death of Mr. Rennie, the antique show has grown to include a flea market complete with craftspeople, a classic car show, antique farm implements, many, many food vendors, and all of Mr. Rennie’s collection of buildings (a school, a church, Mr. Cook’s general store and more) and their displays of historic objects.

The annual show was this weekend (Aug. 26 and 27), so I paid it two visits. I wanted to take photos and finish off a few details for my article. Mission accomplished! Had a great time (both times)!

Watch for this event next August! It is an interesting and enjoyable way to spend a summer day!

Also, the complete story of the J.C. Cook General Store will be in the upcoming issue of the Chateaugay Historical Society’s newsletter, complete with some interesting historical photos.

Members, start watching your mailboxes for this issue beginning around the middle of September.

Here are some of the photos I took this weekend at the CVAA show…

Locations of Prominent Features in 1915

July 13, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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I am a great proponent of maps and timelines. I believe they are so very valuable in helping to locate places and/or events in both in terms of their geography and within certain timeframes. To know when something happened in relation to other events, and to know where something was situated relative to other near-by locations, both combine to provide context for local history.

That said, recent posts and discussion threads here on Facebook have centered on topics like; the covered bridge that once spanned the Chateaugay River, just west of the village, and the two railroad tunnels that were built in 1849-1850 to carry what was first known as the Northern Railroad (and later as the Rutland Railroad) across the Chateaugay River and the Boardman Brook.

Some asked exactly where these were located.

So, I decided to travel back to 1915 and locate ten of Chateaugay’s prominent features and commercial locations on a topographic map from that year.

The first featured image is a map with those ten well-known locations back then. The photos that follow the map are in the order they are listed in the map caption. There are two views of number 1 (the RR tunnel over the Chateaugay River). All of the other numbers 2-10 have one image each, all in the order they are on the map.

For further context, here are dates for each of the ten features labelled on the map:

The railroad was completed in 1850. The tunnel over the Chateaugay River was the last part of the rail line’s construction to be finished and the entire thru route from Rutland, VT through to Ogdensburg was not opened until the tunnel was complete and the rails laid over the newly filled gorge.

The Chateaugay Agricultural Society’s fairgrounds held annual fairs from 1908-1911, before going bankrupt.

The wooden covered bridge was built in 1843. It was replaced with an iron structure in 1901 and was eventually demolished in 1940.

The first Douglass Hollow bridge, down at river level, was built sometime around 1815.

High Falls Pulp Company mill was built in the early 1890s. It operated until 1930.

Chateaugay Pulp Company was constructed in 1893. It closed in the early 1930s.

The local railroad, officially known as the “Ogdensburg Division of the Rutland Railroad” began operation in 1850 and had both passenger and freight trains in service. The last passenger train stopped in Chateaugay on June 26, 1953. The final freight train rumbled through town on September 25, 1961 and took Chateaugay’s final freight shipment.

A dedicated rail spur from the railyard in town to High Falls Pulp and Paper Company was built around 1902. The rails were removed in 1935.

The Chateaugay Chasm operated as a well-known tourist attraction from 1882 until early in 1903, when the Chasm House hotel was closed and tourist access to the chasm was ended. The property had been purchased by the Chasm Power Company which had built a dam and powerhouse. Chasm Power began producing electrical power in 1903.

Naming a Movie Theater

June 28, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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This year’s second issue of the Historical Society’s newsletter is on its way—another 28-page, photo-filled edition! Watch for it in your mailboxes.

One of the articles in this issue tells the story of Chateaugay’s various entertainment venues over the last 150 years.

I just came upon an article in the Chateaugay Record that directly relates to that entertainment article in this newsletter, so it seemed appropriate to note that news article here as the newsletter copies make their way to each of you via the Postal System…

First a little background…Movies began in the Town Hall soon after its construction was completed in 1911. The Town Hall burned in 1940 and was quickly rebuilt within the next year.

Tobin and Quinlin had shown movies in the Town Hall prior to the fire as the “Ideal Theater.”

Following the rebuild, Tobin left the partnership and the Quinlin family prepared to move forward but decided the theater needed a new name.

A community-wide contest was held and scores of proposed theater names were submitted. The complete list of contest submissions is in the photo box below. There certainly was much interest in the theater operation!

There were quite a few repeated entries, but over 110 different suggestions were made. There was a large and eager group of movie fans awaiting the reopening of the theater.

Louise Chase and Alice Hilliker each separately submitted what would become the Quinlin family’s final choice: The Gay Theatre. The family showed movies for the next 20+ years under that banner.

Check out the list above. My personal favorite was “Quin-Land”…

The Chateaugay Hotel in the 1930s and '40s

January 15, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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I was stopped at the light at the Four Corners this afternoon. I happened to look over at the Hotel while waiting for the light to change.

Many comments have been made on our Facebook page over the years about how it has fallen into ruin. However, I'm hoping these photos above prompt some memories of the place way "back in the day" and when it was a busy part of downtown.

The first two are shots from 1935. Note the traffic light in the middle of the intersection. The hotel was called the Chateau then. The lobby had floor-to-ceiling windows so those sitting there could watch traffic and passersby and solve the problems of the world.

The next two are from 1944. Notice the tin ceilings in both the bar and the Arabian Room (dining room). Looking out the window of the dining room, the Dairy and the Liquor Store are right across Depot Street.

The last two are from 1949. The dining room photo shows the smaller bar and the bandstand. The glimpse of the wallpaper on the right compliments the dining room's name, "The Arabian Room".

There were more "glory" years to come - the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, and on... until it closed for good.

Chateaugay Memories

January 7, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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I was recently doing some local research using the issues of the Chateaugay Record from the mid-50s through the mid-60s. After reading through so many newspapers as I took notes, I found myself sitting back and thinking about being a kid during that time.

I think there was no better place for a kid to grow up. I remember so many great times like: sitting on Mose Humiston’s store steps and drinking the big Royal Crown Colas or buying some of his penny candy, Peterson’s and playing pitch in the booths while being yelled at by Evie Franklin for making too much noise and the way the place was always filled to bursting after basketball games, fishing, fishing, and more fishing, the original Jake’s Michigan stand down on West Main, the Skyliner and listening to the “Falcons” and so many other bands, Barnes’ at the Lake (most recently the Lakesider), the Valley Inn, Billy’s Grill, the Gay Bar, the hotel with Patsy Cline blasting on the juke box and all the other bars we were sometimes thrown out of for not having “proof” (and other times not even being checked), Larry Cook and I sitting in Peterson's and drinking Mountain Dew the first day it was ever available here after we had finished work for the day with the "Youth Corps", putting coins on the railroad tracks for the train to flatten as it passed through town, Bernie Mills' diner in the rail car next to the bank, Paulie Jackson’s Pool Hall, tentatively exploring the Old School which sat cold and empty at the end of Church Street, riding our bikes up to Doug Bova’s store and eating a Sealtest ice cream sandwich while we watched the train go through, the Teen Center, parties at the Dew Drop Inn at the Chasm, camping and building forts up along the Boardman, Quinlan’s with the best meals and pie around, Joe Rovelle running the bowling alley and setting pins there (for a short while), endless baseball games each summer up at the “Old School” after the building was torn down, swimming in “Devil’s Hole”, movies at the theater and Pug McCarthy patrolling the aisles with his flashlight, and so many other great memories.

On Friday and Saturday nights in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, people came to town to do their weekly shopping. Many would park downtown just to sit in their cars with the windows rolled down and visit with all the folks on the street as they moved from store to store. Those things really cemented the bonds between people and made for a tight-knit little community.

Practically everybody had a nickname, like: Hambone, Gizmo, Mose, Bugsy, Sky, Fish, Cannonball, Pug, Gramp, Red, Tarzan, Doc, Pin, Puddy, Didi, Frenchie, Chief, Twine, and, literally, hundreds of others… Back then communities were much less transient than today. With the Lyon Mountain mines, the milk plant, family farms and all of the local businesses, employment was always available and many generations remained where they were raised and there seemed to be so much more connectedness and strong sense of community. In a town like Chateaugay, which tends to foster strong, heartfelt connections anyway, that sense of belonging and “connectedness” led to longstanding familiarity and the nicknames just followed.

The way Chateaugay always has and always will connect so deeply with people is proof of how special it is. This is the ideal hometown…guess that’s why I’m still here.

Chateaugay definitely has changed from the “old days”; lots of vacant buildings, much less activity in the center of the village and new, sometimes more transient, families. But at its core, it still is the same small town that created so many great memories. There are some who live here now that don't know of the memories we carry but there are still many more who do. At its heart, Chateaugay remains pretty special with lots of stories to be remembered, appreciated and told…

Pulp Mill Locations

November 1, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Working on some research tonight on the Chateaugay Pulp and High Falls Pulp companies on the Chateaugay River. Ended up placing them on a vintage map to show their locations relative to one another and to the village.

In the map: north is to the top, the "Four Corners" is marked with a blue dot, and I have also included the half mile racetrack that was on the fairgrounds at the end of Collins Street (the Chateaugay Agricultural Society held four annual fairs at the grounds from 1908 through 1911).

There was a rail spur that was built from the west end of the railyard south to the High Falls operation. Plans were discussed to extend the spur to the Chateaugay Pulp facility farther upriver, but it was never constructed.

The two mills required thousands of cords of wood each year to manufacture paper pulp. The logs were put on the ice at Chateaugay Lake each winter, and log drives each spring took them downriver to the two mills.

At their busiest, the two mills employed several hundred local men. The High Falls plant closed in 1930 and the Chateaugay Pulp operation was shuttered a few years later. These large mills led the way for local employment "back in the day".

Excelsior Mills Addendum

July 12, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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I have been doing some follow-up research on the article I wrote on the three excelsior mills that were in town at the turn of the last century. The original article appeared in Vol. XII, Issue 3 of our newsletter in 2018. This post is not meant to be a comprehensive recap of the excelsior article but rather, additional material to supplement the original information.

Excelsior is a little-known product today. Around the turn of the last century, it was a valuable commercial commodity.

The newly designed maps above will show where each of the mills was located in the vicinity of the railyard as it crossed Depot Street and paralleled Monroe Street.

Any evidence of these mills is now long-gone but "back in the day", they represented sources of jobs and vital commercial income for Chateaugay.

I remember an anthropology/archeology professor at SUNY Potsdam telling us that one of the main challenges that historians and researchers face is the way that modern man can alter the landscape and make it unrecognizable from its appearance in the past. I remember his quote: “You have to be ready to deal with modern man’s ability to move vast amounts of dirt!”

In this case, we have to consider modern construction abilities as well and how the landscape of what was then the railyard and all its sidings, main tracks and buildings has changed over the years. The buildings parallel to Monroe Street that stand today are vastly different than those of 100 years ago.

The first map shows the locations of the three mills on a set of 1912 insurance company maps. The second view is from a Google Earth image from 2022 with the mill locations superimposed over it.

If you missed the newsletter this article appeared in, you can learn about Chateaugay’s excelsior industry. We have back issues of Vol. XII, Issue 3 (2018) available for purchase at the Archival Center.

Shopping in 1892

March 27, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Shopping—Some people love it, some people hate it. Whatever the case, shoppers want to know what is available and where to go to purchase it.

It was no different 130 years ago in Chateaugay. During this week in 1892, local shoppers had a wide range of goods available from a large number of retailers right here in town.

Main Street, from the west end (about where White Street is today) to the east end (up to about where Quinlin’s was-Stewarts is now), was a busy and filled business district. There were shops in all the storefronts, as second floor walk-ups, and even behind the Main Street buildings. Shops extended down River Street, up Depot Street, and down John Street. The alley that used to be between Pearl’s and Alix’s even had a name: Union Avenue-which led to businesses in the back of the East Main Street buildings.

Main Street was not yet paved and had hitching posts placed throughout the entire district as shoppers found plenty of places to tie up their teams as they shopped.

The first two photos give us the flavor of Main Street back at that time. After that, are some of the ads that appeared in the Chateaugay Record during the third week of March 1892.

People could meet all their needs with the wide variety of firms doing business in town. Even all the nationally advertised medications, tinctures and balms were available in the local pharmacies.

Chateaugay Businesses One Hundred Years Ago

January 12, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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Today, we journey back 100 years to a selection of ads in the Chateaugay Record during January of 1922.

Back then, the small-town economic model was fully in operation. Shopping was most often done in local businesses and each community offered a wide selection of goods and services that met most wants or needs. Note the broad variety available in the two dozen ads (and the prices as well!).

Main Street commercial store-fronts were all full and the spaces often had waiting lists of prospective businesses hoping for an opportunity to open their doors.

The scores of local and area dairy farmers were coming into town every day with cans of milk for the local plants. While in town, they had an opportunity to stop in the various businesses and pick up needed goods. And, of course, entire families would pack the businesses each weekend, beginning on Friday nights. This was an opportunity not only to do the week’s shopping but to socialize at the same time.

Economic models have evolved in the last century. From small-town, local economies, to the emergence of larger, regional stores, “shopping centers”, to large malls, and now to on-line and remote models, the changes to shopping were swift and eventful during the last ten decades.

Even so, while perusing the ads shown here, it is easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of Chateaugay’s vibrant, local economy “back in the day.”

Resort Hotels on Upper Chateaugay Lake

October 10, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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The history and events of Chateaugay and Chateaugay Lake are very closely related and interconnected. The Chateaugay Lakes area has a fascinating and event-filled past that merits a detailed treatment and much attention by local historians. Today, there are several websites that contain historical material on the Lakes.

Throughout the years, many articles have also been written in various local and national newspapers and magazines. This wealth of information is all priceless. I am currently compiling material that will contain around twenty five first-person accounts of the earliest sporting visits to the lakes. They are filled with vivid descriptions of what the “sports” experienced while either plying the waters for trout and whitefish or traveling the woods in search of deer and other game.

Two more recent books: Chateaugay Lakes by Herman and Ruth Whalen © 1997 and Chateaugay Lake: The Resort Era 1830-1917 by Henry C. Ruschmeyer © 2010 are longer treatments of Chateaugay Lake history and are treasure troves of information, memories and captivating characters.

Rev. Ruschmeyer’s book has proven to be the definitive work on the various hotels that served guests on the lakes. He has exhaustively documented the history of the lodgings and visitors to the area and traces the various stages of resort development over almost 90 years. His detail and analysis of the “Resort Era” is unmatched.

With deference to Rev. Ruschmeyer, this blog post is a “Cliffs Notes” version, or a primer of sorts, of the resort hotels and their various names and incarnations. In discussions over the years, I’ve heard questions like; “Which hotel was Morrisons?” or “What was the Interlaken?” or “Was it the Merrill House that was also known as Young’s?”

It can be easy to lose track of which hotel was which, due to the various changes in ownership/operators and business names.

There were six major, commercial accommodations on the lakes during the “Resort Era”, but they were known by a total of some twenty different names over the years. This blog post is neither a comprehensive nor detailed look at these resorts, but rather a quick reference as to which name goes to which hotel, when the names changed and, specifically, where the five Upper Lake hotels were located.

For the in-depth story of Chateaugay Lake and the “golden age of visitors”, we are, indeed, fortunate to be able to turn to works like Chateaugay Lake: The Resort Era 1830-1917.

The very first resort hotel on Chateaugay Lake became known to later generations as the Banner House. Located on the Lower Lake and built about thirty years before the Civil War, it was the only true resort on northernmost lake. There were a few cottages that took guests, but the Banner House was the only larger accommodation dedicated solely to guests each season.

Bellows House → Bellows Lake House → Chateaugay Lake House → Banner House

Construction was begun in the late 1830’s by Jonathan Bellows. This is the original commercial accommodation on the lakes. It was variously referred to as the “Bellows House”, the “Bellows Lake House” or the “Chateaugay” or the “Chateaugay Lake House” until it was purchased from Bellows’ grandson, Millard, by A.M. Bennett and J.S. Kirby in 1891 and renamed the “Banner House”. Kirby eventually bought out Bennett’s share. Fred W. Adams later became owner, followed by the Chase family who operated it for 4 generations. Capacity: approx. 75

The map shown in image 1 places the five resorts located on the Upper Lake. The Banner House on the Lower Lake is easily the most visible of the six hotels; sitting across Route 374 and overlooking the water. These five on the Upper Lake were less visible to the casual traveler. Below are brief sketches of each along with the various names attached to them over the years. The number for each resort coincides with the number on the accompanying map.


Built in the late 1860’s by Darius Merrill and run by him for over twenty years, it was sold to Oliver Young in 1890 and the name was changed. Young enlarged the hotel and installed indoor plumbing throughout. It was considered an excellent “family style hotel”; clean, pleasant and comfortable with an “excellent table”. Young operated it well into the 20th century, through the end of the “Resort Era”. The building eventually burned in November, 1979 following several years of disuse. Capacity: approx. 75


Originally constructed in the early 1890’s, it was more of a “big city hotel” than the existing establishments were. It was built basically “next door” to the Merrill House. In 1892, Charles W. Backus bought the Interlaken from Wat Merrill and renamed it the “Chateaugay Hotel” or simply, the “Chateaugay”. In 1902, Backus had financial difficulties and lost the hotel. Alys Bentley and a business partner bought the hotel and the three acre property for $4,000 and renamed it the “Owlyout Lodge”. It burned in 1908 and was never rebuilt. Capacity: approx. 100


This hostelry was conducted in Charlie Merrill’s home much like a bed and breakfast might be today. It was the smallest but, probably, the most intimate of the lodging choices found on the Lakes. It was located south of the Owlyout Hotel. The Charlie Merrill family placed ads in local newspapers as well as in several New York City papers.

This hotel was listed in the “Adirondack Hotels – Circa 1860 to 1930”, and in The Descriptive Guide to the Adirondacks… ©1894 by E.R. Wallace. In each case, C.E. Merrill is listed as the proprietor and its capacity is noted at 35 guests.

Wallace’s description reads: The Lake View House is pleasantly located near the shore, 60 rods from the Interlaken [later the Owlyout Lodge], and commands a prospect similar in picturesqueness to that disclosed by the other resorts named. It offers entertainment to 35 guests, at moderate rates.

The Lake View House was not discussed in the previously mentioned Chateaugay Lake: The Adirondack Resort Era 1830 – 1917.


Built in 1872 by Captain Tupper, this hotel was the largest on the lake and was operated as the “Adirondack House” during the early years. In 1878, it was purchased by a Doctor Ralph from Malone who enlarged it to accommodate 125 guests and renamed, appropriately, “Ralph’s”. In 1907 Andrew Morrison became the new proprietor and, again, changed the name. In 1920, it changed hands yet again and, under the new ownership of Arthur T. Smith from Montreal, became the “Sunset Inn”. Several other owners followed Smith. The hotel eventually closed in 1940 and was demolished in 1943. Capacity: approx. 125. There is a more in-depth description of this hotel in an earlier blog post, dated September 10, 2021.


Around 1852, a man named Eben McPherson built a number of “shanties” on Indian Point and hosted guests. The property was leased to George W. Collins for a time just before it was eventually sold to Richard Shutts in the early 1880s. The Indian Point House was among the smallest and most intimate of the commercial hotels on the lake. It was built in 1882 by Dick Shutts. It consisted of a main building and several cottages. This resort was also the most inaccessible, only reachable by boat. Upon “Uncle” Dick Shutts death in 1921, the family attempted to keep the business going. However, the main lodge burned in 1923. The property and the remaining cottages were later purchased by Fay Welch and become “Tanager Lodge”, a summer camp for children in 1925. Tanager Lodge still operates today. Capacity: approx. 40.

Chateaugay Lake was served by trains on the Chateaugay Railroad that stopped in Lyon Mountain, about four miles distant, and by trains on the Rutland Railroad that stopped in Chateaugay village, about nine miles away. Both stations were connected to the lake by well-maintained roads and continuous stage service on comfortable Concord coaches.

When all six of the Chateaugay Lake resorts were filled to capacity, there could be some 450 guests enjoying both lakes and all they had to offer.

Summer of '61

October 2, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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June 1961 In Chateaugay

Aside from Christmas, the last day of school each June was the most eagerly awaited day of the year when I was growing up. The sheer joy of peddling away from the CCS building and into the two months of summer vacation was very special. Like today, we were dismissed during the morning of that last day, so we began our vacation with almost a full day left to dive into summer activities and set the tone for the next two months.

I had a summer job every year beginning the summer I turned fourteen, but my summer vacation in 1961 was an amazing time.

As I left school on June 23, 1961, report card tucked in my back pocket, I peddled my 24” Schwinn as fast as I could. When I raced home to change from my “school clothes” into what my mother called my “play clothes”, I was already getting myself ready for the remainder of the day ahead.

I remember mowing the lawn that day (that was only one of my jobs at home which also included taking my turn washing the dishes, making my bed and keeping my room picked up every day, shaking all the scatter rugs each week when my mother cleaned the house, shoveling in the winter, raking the yard in the fall, along with weeding the garden, all of which earned me an allowance). I was almost running as I pushed that old mower, trying to get it finished before I ate lunch.

I scarfed down my sandwich, glass of milk and four Fig Newtons (that was the house limit when cookies were the dessert). I grabbed my fishing pole, some tackle, and worm can and headed out into the sunny afternoon. It had rained the day before and that evening I had grabbed my dad’s flashlight and had picked night crawlers which now filled the worm can.

I rode my bike down Church Street and met up with David Sorrell at Doug Bova’s store next to the train station. Leaving our bikes there, we walked up the sidewalk, across the tracks to Benny Benjamin’s store on the corner of Lake and Collins Streets.

Dave and I were always going on fishing adventures and that day we had a plan to fish the culvert that fed the Bailey Brook under the street. We fished the Bailey regularly where it ran through the village and we figured that there were some nice trout under that long, cool, stretch of water in the culvert. We could have stooped down and walked through it to fish but that would have spooked the trout.

We had a plan that day. Dave had brought two cedar shakes off the roof of the shed in his back yard and we had a few small nails. The scheme was pretty simple, and probably against the fish and game regulations, but we put it into motion.

The plan was to bait a hook and tack the line to the cedar shingle so that the worm trailed behind it by about a foot. One of us was to stay at the mouth of the culvert by Bennie’s and set the cedar shingle into the current. Then, with the reel bail open, line would be let out as the worm was carried through the culvert, past the huge trout we imagined were lurking there. The other one of us was to be at the other end of the culvert down by Bob Oliver’s Ford garage to intercept the shingle as it emerged from the culvert and, we hoped, a large fish on the hook.

We used a rock to drive the small nail into the cedar and then bend it over to hold the line. After a few tries, we got the line secured and we were set to try it. I was to be the “receiver” at the other end for this first try, so off I raced across the street to get ready. The plan was that after I unhooked the line, Dave would reel it back in and set a line on the second shingle and repeat the process.

Eventually, the cedar shake emerged from the culvert but no fish! I pried the nail off the line, scrambled up the bank and waved my arms to let him know he could reel it back and set it up a second time.

We did this all afternoon, switching places at the ends of the culvert, and we only caught one fish. It was a nice one but, unfortunately, it slipped off the hook as Dave was trying to get hold of it. We got hung up on rocks in the culvert a couple times and broke the line a few times as well.

Eventually, we tired of the project and packed up our poles and stuff. We walked back over to Bova’s and each bought an ice cream sandwich to take the sting off the pretty-much failed grand fishing expedition.

I got home in time for supper and then met up with Stephen Wood and Craig Murray. We were headed to the movies in the Town Hall.

So, downtown we went, eager to take in the latest monster movie: Caltiki – The Immortal Monster. This was the latest movie masterpiece to come out of Europe; Italy in this case. It involved a Blob-type monster discovered at the bottom of an ancient Aztec well. It feasted on human flesh. Once it was released from the well and placed in a lab, it quickly escaped and began to wreak havoc on the public. It was finally destroyed with fire and the world was saved from sure destruction. Not a classic but great fun for thirteen year old boys just beginning a two month break from school.

We didn’t stay for the second movie but headed out for Jake’s Red Hots to have some michigans. We left the movies with a couple other friends and headed down Main Street. One of the guys, I don’t remember who it was, dropped back from the group and quietly reached out and touched one of the others on the back of his neck while making the sounds Caltiki had made in the movie. Of course, the victim jumped, yelled and cursed out his tormentor. We all laughed and teased him and had a grand time headed to Jake’s. No one ever said thirteen year boys were the sharpest pencils in the jar!

In any event, we had our michigans and each headed home (before curfew), the first day of summer vacation 1961 in the books.

It proved to be a great summer break. We played uncounted games of baseball at the field near the old school at the end of Church Street, with not an adult in sight. We chose teams, umpired our own games and worked out any disputes ourselves. We went to more movies, rode our bikes all over the place, camped at the Boardman, fished the Bailey, the Boardman, the Marble and the Chateaugay Rivers, and generally goofed around that summer.

Most of us were Yankee fans and we followed the team closely as they were having an historic season with Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. They won 109 games and beat Cincinnati in the World Series. To this day, this remains my all-time favorite Yankee Season and every so often, I reread the book, “Season of Glory” just to take it all in once again.

As long as I did my chores at home, showed up for meals on time and was in by curfew each night, I was allowed to be off on my bike with playing and exploring as my full-time “jobs” that summer.

It was truly a safe, carefree, and fun-filled summer before I became a fourteen year old “working man” with the Neighborhood Youth Corps starting in July and August of 1962.

Memories of Soft Drinks From the 1960s

September 19, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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Humiston’s Grocery – Penny Candy, “Houns”, and a Great Front Step…

Humiston’s Grocery, next to the Lumberyard, on East Main St. was a fixture in the business district for many years.

The first image above that shows Clarence “Mose” Humiston in his store is cropped from a larger photo that shows my dad, who was working in the grocery store in 1940. At the bottom left of this first image is just part of a corner of the penny candy case that was a must-do stop for kids. The inside of the store didn't look much different in the '50s and '60s and through until it closed.

When we bought the penny candy, Mose would always ask if we wanted a "pouche", which he pronounced as "pussh", the French word for a small bag or, literally, a pouch.

The outside step was where we sat drinking 20 oz. Royal Crown Colas that Stephen Wood christened as "houns". The second image is of the 16 oz. version of the glass bottle of Royal Crown Cola.

The third photo shows the complete image from inside the store. From left to right: Clarence "Mose" Humiston, his wife Kathleen, and my father, Gerald Jarvis (who was 16 when this photo was taken). The fourth photo shows Mose (on the right) on the outside of the grocery. I believe this was taken in the early 1960s.

Who knows how many uncounted kids sat on the edge of the front deck and chugged sodas over the years?

Speaking of Soft Drinks in the 1960s…

As I added the final two photos to the Humiston’s Grocery information, I suddenly remembered the very first day Mountain Dew was sold in the North Country.

On a sunny afternoon in August of 1964, Larry Cook and I had just finished our work day with the summer Youth Corps program. We knew that the brand new soda, called Mountain Dew, was being delivered to businesses nation-wide for the first time that day. So, we left the Town Garage and walked up to East Main. We stopped in Peterson’s, sat down at the counter, and each ordered one. Sam pulled two out of the cooler behind the fountain counter. That ice cold drink tasted pretty good after cutting brush all day on the roadside.

Turns out, Mountain Dew was invented (formulated?) by two guys in Tennessee in 1940 as a mixer for bar drinks. The recipe was purchased by a regional distributor, and it was available in isolated areas of the country over the next 20+ years.

The reason it went nation-wide and appeared locally in 1964 was because the national rights were bought by the Pepsi Company, and they began to deliver to all of their customers.

The final three photos [images 5-7] posted above, show: Peterson’s exterior in the 1960s, the interior of the store in 1937 (shown are Georgie Peterson [on the left] and Evie Franklin), and the final image is of the original Mountain Dew Bottles from 1964.

Being a kid in Chateaugay in the late 50s and early 60s was filled with tons of great times and many, many very sweet memories…

The Sunset Inn 1872-1945

September 10, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

The histories of Chateaugay and the Chateaugay Lakes have been very much intertwined from the earliest days of settlements at each place. The Chateaugay Historical Society has regularly included articles about Chateaugay Lake in our quarterly newsletter. Stories of both communities help to weave the story of our area over the last 200+ years.

This blog post began when a friend of mine, Jesse Kaska, posted a photo on the “Lyon Mountain, Ny” Facebook page. The image he shared is the first one posted below. It shows a sign directing people to the “Sunset Inn on Chateaugay Lake”.

Jesse’s post immediately set off a flurry of comments and questions about the hotel. I wrote a very brief sketch of the inn’s history for the Lyon Mountain page but quickly decided that this week’s blog post should be the story of the Sunset Inn. Here is a profile of the hotel in a bit more detail.

In the early 1870s, Captain W.R. Tupper bought lakefront land on what is now the Sunset Road. In 1872 he built a small hotel on the site and hosted visitors to the Lake. He also operated a side-wheeled motor launch which would ferry his guests from the stagecoach stop at the north end of the lower lake up to his hotel. The paddle wheeler would motor the length of the Lower Lake, its two side mounted paddlewheels churning the water, and make its way up the Narrows, emerge on the Upper Lake and eventually arrive at Tupper’s hostelry (which he called the “Adirondack House” and later, “Tupper’s Hotel”). The captain even referred to the dining room at the hotel as “Tupper’s Hall” where he hosted banquets and dances. This side wheeler, by the way, is said to have been the first of many motor launches to ply the waters of the Upper and Lower Lakes.

The story goes that on weekends, miners who worked for the Chateaugay Ore and Iron Company would frequent Tupper’s to enjoy the drinks he had in stock. Evidently, the president of the company, Andrew Williams, didn’t think much of his employees’ weekend activities there and thought it an unnecessary distraction for the workers, so he bought the property from Tupper and had thoughts of tearing down the small hotel.

Shortly after, Williams was approached by Dr. M.D. Ralph of Malone with the idea for a larger, more upscale hotel to cater to the growing summer clientele on the Lakes. Eventually, a more refined hotel emerged as the Tupper building was renovated and enlarged. It was leased by Dr. Ralph. Understandably, as it was named by the doctor, it quickly became known as “Ralph’s” and was the largest and one of the most popular resorts on the Upper Lake.

Under Williams’ ownership, the main hotel had four levels with expansive verandas. The main floor contained the office, a reading room, a parlor and a huge dining room. The upper three floors held the guest rooms. There was also a two story annex and two two-story guest cottages. The entire facility could accommodate 125 guests, which made it the largest hotel on both lakes. To illustrate the extensive nature of the renovations, the main hotel refrigerator was so large that it could hold eighty tons of ice to keep the kitchen’s food supply adequately cooled. All of the facility’s grounds were also expanded and developed to include croquet, tennis grounds, new docks, larger boat house containing all new boats for the guests (and guest rooms above it), and other amenities.

In 1878, Dr. Ralph became the much-expanded hotel’s owner. He owned it for the next several decades and hired various managers to oversee the day-to-day operations. The hotel became known as the most posh on the lake. In fact, in the early years, guests were expected to “dress” for dinner each evening.

In 1907, it was purchased by Andrew Morrison who renamed it "Morrison’s". He was an experienced hotel man who immediately upgraded the facility. Gas lights were installed to light the entire hotel complex and indoor plumbing was upgraded with the installation of several bathrooms throughout the guest spaces. Morrison would operate the hotel for the next several years. In 1917, Morrison sold to William Dalenz who only remained for three years.

In 1920, Arthur T. Smith of Montreal bought it from Dalenz and named it the "Sunset Inn". Smith had managed and owned restaurants and hotels in Montreal and brought a great deal of experience to the Chateaugay Lake resort.

In 1923, Chateaugay businessman, C.W. Sprague, bought the hotel but only operated it for one season. The Sunset was closed for the 1924 and 1925 seasons. In 1926, Arthur Smith resumed ownership of the hotel (presumably Sprague had defaulted on the mortgage held by Smith).

Smith ran the inn for the next decade. Two factors began to work against him. The roaring “Resort Era” on Chateaugay Lake was waning. The summer visitor traffic that had descended on the Lake for over ninety years was slowing. All of the hotels were feeling the pinch. In addition, the stock market crash on October 24th 1929 and the beginning of what would come to be called “The Great Depression” caused even less visitors to the resorts.

Henry Cook of Chateaugay managed and ran the hotel for the 1935 season; Smith’s last as owner. That year, Smith began to fall behind in his mortgage payments and the die was cast as his ownership was destined to end.

Mrs. Isabelle Shufelt became the new owner when she bought the property at a mortgage foreclosure sale in early 1936. Her son-in-law, Henry Cook, took over long-term management of the hotel at that point. He later owned and ran the hotel until 1940 when it closed for good.

During the years the hotel was known as the “Sunset Inn”, it became the site of area meetings and annual banquets. The pleasant surroundings and first-class facility made it the preferred destination for many groups and organizations. Among those groups regularly scheduling events at the hotel were: the Chateaugay Rotary Club, the Franklin County Veterinarian Association, the Chateaugay Court of Catholic Daughters, various bowling leagues, Lyon Mountain Miners baseball team, and many others.

The main building of the Sunset Inn was demolished in 1945. The Cook family had sold off portions of the large property over the years but kept the two cottages. Carolyn Cook Campbell made one of the cottages her camp on the Lake.

The long and event-filled history of this property on the Sunset Road is a major part of the story of the "Resort Era" on Chateaugay Lake.

Recording Change on West Main

September 5, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

As much as some of us do not like it, change happens constantly. It is inevitable. In the case of the Historical Society and its mission, when notable buildings, etc. disappear we may be disappointed with their removal, but we forge ahead with our objective to record and archive them for those who will come after us.

To that end, here are three photos. The first is of the McCoy house on West Main Street taken on May 5 of this year. The second is of the same property taken September 5th from the same vantage point (on the sidewalk in front of where the Denio house stood, looking east to the McCoy home). The third was taken of the home and the barns and stable behind it in the 1920s, looking from the East.

To record this particular home, we have taken hundreds of photos. There is a set showing the original exterior views including the wooded area behind the house. Another set of images has documented the complete interior of the house from the attic to the basement. Still more albums record the demolition of the McCoy and Denio houses and the subsequent clearing of the lots. The final photo file shows the construction of the Dollar General store, with photos taken each weekend throughout the construction process. The photo here includes a few cars belonging to folks working this morning to stock the shelves of merchandise. It appears that the opening is getting closer.

In addition to the photo files we have taken for our archives, we have a file containing house scenes from over the years, donated by the McCoy estate. Also, a history of the McCoy house has been written and is ready to appear as an article in an upcoming issue of our quarterly newsletter.

While our group has many documents and objects which we maintain in the Archival Center as an historical collection, in cases such as these changes involving homes, etc., we have neither the means nor the mission to save and/or to do restoration. So many of Chateaugay’s early and noteworthy structures have been demolished over the years, at least this one has been documented as thoroughly as we possibly could. We can’t save and maintain them all, but we can record and note their existence for people seeking information in future years.

Imagine if someone had taken extensive photographs of the fairgrounds at the end of Collins Street, or the Chasm House hotel, or the train yard with the passenger, freight depots, the warehouses and various rail sidings, or the High Falls Pulp and Paper Company, or the Chateaugay Pulp and Paper Company, and so many other local landmarks from days past. We would certainly be grateful to be able to come upon boxes of such photographs today.

By the same token, hopefully history enthusiasts will be delighted to come upon the archived images of this house and the changes happening there, a hundred years from now.

Chateaugay Hotel Photos

July 23, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

Just working on organizing some photo files and came across these images of the Chateaugay Hotel back in the day.

Demo on West Main: McCoy and Denio Houses

June 6, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.


As a wise man once said, “the only constant in life is change.” We can always count on things evolving and changing. Some see change as good, others see it as a negative. Either way, it will happen – that much is guaranteed.

West Main Street is now seeing a significant change. The former McCoy and Denio homes on the south side of West Main are gone, soon to be replaced with a Dollar General store.

I have followed the entire process and have attempted to keep a comprehensive photo record as things have unfolded.

The McCoy house was built by Jonathan Hoit (Herb McCoy Jr.’s great great grandfather) in the early 1830s on a fifty acre parcel of woodland inside what would become the village of Chateaugay. In fact, a document found in the house affirms that Jonathan Hoit built the home from lumber milled from original trees found on the property.

The Denio house was built about fifty years after the McCoy home on a small lot from property sold by the McCoys.

Most of my involvement with this whole process has been in connection with the McCoy home. I had the good fortune to work with Herb McCoy Jr.’s heir as the home was cleaned out. The Historical Society was the recipient of a large quantity of documents, photographs and artifacts, thanks to the diligent, painstaking, and careful sorting of the house’s contents.

The local and family history collected and saved by the five generations of the Hoit/McCoy families that lived there, was quietly waiting to be revealed. The careful sorting and identification of the home’s contents following Herb’s passing, resulted in a treasure trove of significant items which were donated to our archives.

I was able to do a thorough photo record of the McCoy interior, the exteriors of both houses, the subsequent demolitions, and property clearing up through today.

I spent time speaking with the surveyor who was working this morning, laying out the lines for the upcoming construction. While chatting with him and explaining who I was, we talked about recording the whole process. I told him that, down the road – say 50 or 75 years from now, someone from the Historical Society might be doing research about the 2020s. By creating this photographic record, there will be a complete documentation of this event to look back on.

I am preparing an article for a future newsletter issue that will have an in-depth history of the houses and the property which will set the homes in their proper historical context.

For now, here is a selection of 27 of the approximately 500 photos I have taken of the process so far. Some show the interior features of the Hoit/McCoy home, some show the exteriors of both houses, some are of the demolition process, and the last few are of the property this morning (June 6, 2021).

This blog post is as much a Chateaugay “news” story as it is a recording of events for the future. It is presented here with commentary-free, descriptive captions purely as an historical record to be saved and archived for future researchers.

Ode To Jake's

April 28, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

I think this poem should be the official tribute to Jake's Red Hots. These twelve stanzas capture the Jake’s experience perfectly. This “Ode to Jake’s” along with the many warm memories of that little stand that everyone has shared on Facebook, will insure that Jake's forever remains a treasured and significant memory of Chateaugay's history.

I am going to make it a part of the Historical Society's archival collection.

Jake's Red Hots

April 24, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

Jake’s Red Hots were sold in the little stand on West Main Street from the summer of 1948 through the summer of 1966. The michigans sold at the stand during that time all had the original sauce developed by Jake LaPage. Beginning in the summer of 1967, the Furnia family rented the West Main Street stand and used their own recipe as Jake’s recipe was not included in the rental arrangement.

In the mid-70s, the Furnias built the Whistle Stop on Depot Street in front of the RR Passenger Depot. The Whistle Stop remained open for about ten years.

Today, excellent michigans are available locally at Wendy’s Quick Stop, Harrigan’s Soft Ice Cream and Fast Food, The Cherry Knoll and Dick’s Country Store. Each uses their own recipe for the sauce.

The original Jake’s michigan sauce recipe was included in the article I wrote for the Historical Society newsletter. The long held family secret was printed in that article with the permission of Jake’s daughter, Linda LePage Orsborn. When I inquired about including the recipe, here is the note she sent me:

"When my Mom ran the stand she needed the recipe to be private, so did my Nanny and Gramps. I hope you will include the recipe in the article. So many people enjoyed the michigans and remember them after so many years. I think we should keep the Chateaugay tradition going. I would like to think that a new generation of Chateaugay will start to enjoy the recipe and have them at their summer gatherings."

A photo of the stand on West Main and Jake’s original sauce recipe are featured here. Enjoy!

Chateaugay Dairy's Delivery Driver Owen Murray

April 18, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

Did you know Chateaugay had its own door to door delivery service back in the 1950s? This 1955 image shows one of Chateaugay Dairy's deilvery drivers, Owen Murray.

The first image shows an overview of the photograph while the second shows a close up of Owen.

East Main Street Postcard

March 26, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

Here is one of my favorite images showing the south side of East Main Street. This side of East Main was never photographed as much as the north side but the buildings were equally as impressive.

This postcard is undated but is probably from the late 1920s. It clearly shows the extent of the buildings on this side of the street back then.

The only two of these buildings still standing. First, is the one on the corner, in the immediate right of the scene. This is the Jackson Block which was constructed in 1876. Among the more recent businesses in this two-storefront structure have been (in no particular order): Mills Diner, Ethel's Harvest Room, Bush's Restaurant, Chic-Toggs, Write One, and Hometown Family Chiropractic. It is vacant today.

The only other surviving building is the three story one, midway down the street. This has been the home of Shaw's 5&10, Alix's Variety Store, and Lopardo's Barber Shop. Today it is Write One Plus.

If the postcard was enlarged, one can see the stained glass transom panels in each masonry building just like the ones that were in the north side buildings.

The two wooden frame buildings sandwiched between the two surviving buildings were demolished to create the grass lot that is there today.

The first portions of the building immediately to the east of the three story structure were where Cantwell's Hall was located on the second floor. The ground floor would eventually become Pearl's (which is a subject of one of the articles in the soon-to-be published Chateaugay Historical Society quarterly newsletter) which was the "go to" downtown store for clothing and footwear for the whole family for many years.

The lumberyard which sits across from the Town Hall (and is the subject of another article in that upcoming issue) is obscured by the trees.

For a small town, Chateaugay certainly had an impressive business district "back in the day."

West Main Street Pre WWI

March 6, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

This weekend, we journey back to West Main Street just before World War I to examine what one would see if they took a stroll just west of the four corners back then.

This first photo shows the paving of West Main as the work crews made their way westward from the four corners. After many years of discussion, Main Street was finally paved with a hard-fired brick beginning in 1912/13. Stacks of pavers can be seen on both sides of the street awaiting installation on the roadway. The improvement was welcomed by all as the muddy mess following wet weather conditions had become a real issue for the locals.

There is an example of the paving brick used for this project in our Archival Center in the Town Hall.

Shown on the right in the first photo is the exterior and in the second one, the interior, of the first railcar-style diner in Chateaugay. It was owned and operated by Oliver Patnode. His favorite expression was “Holy Jumpin’ Moses” which he used regularly and loudly. This image appeared in the Chateaugay Record and the information comes from the caption that accompanied the photo. Unfortunately it did not reproduce clearly here. The sign above the door reads: “Egg sandwiches 10₵ or two for 15₵” and the two customers are unidentified.

Oliver Patnode’s diner stood where Joe Parent’s store, later the Chasm Hydro offices, and now Backus Realty were/are located.

In the first photo, note the name painted on the west wall of the hotel is the “Chateau”, one of the many names given it over the many years of its operation.

Crossing the street and starting on the corner with the bank building, the first photo does not show the grocery store connected to the bank’s west wall. But, the third photo shows C.H. Crawford’s store with his name on the canvas awning. Immediately west of the grocery is Tobin’s Hotel. (For Society members who save all the issues, look back to your 2011 newsletter copy of Vol. X Issue 3 for a history of George Tobin and his hotel.) The first photo shows the hotel from the west side and the third gives us a look at it from the east side. It was the smallest of the four local hostelries back then (the Union House, the Chateaugay Hotel, the Chasm House and Tobin’s) but it has an interesting and entertaining story about it.

The fourth photo shows a scene from “Tobin’s Saloon” on the first floor of his hotel. Seen behind the bar are L to R: Walter Humiston, George Plouffe and George Tobin. In front of the bar on the left are Allen Eaton, Dan Golden and an identified man. To the right of the bar are Frank Sitifer and Bert Gillette. Eaton, Golden and the unidentified man all have their glasses of dark beer raised while Bert Gillette appears to be enjoying his favorite cigar.

Note the spittoon on the floor. Also, no barstools here! Just “belly up” to the bar rail and enjoy your favorite adult beverage! There is also a mount of an elk rack above mirror behind the bar.

Continuing westward on the north side of the street, Dan Chambers livery stable is next to Tobin’s. The building that is just out of view at the very edge of the photo is the Chateaugay Record office. The very edge of the first photo catches the power pole that is seen in the fifth photo which shows the Record office.

Unfortunately, this scene would be drastically changed in 1915 when a fire would sweep through the north side of the block. The blaze would begin in the rear of Chamber’s Livery and quickly spread. When the smoke cleared and the fire was finally extinguished, all the buildings from the corner of Harrison Avenue to the bank building would lay in smoking ruins.

The final two photos here show the devastation left by the blaze. The first is a view from Harrison Avenue that shows the machinery from the destroyed Record office and the remains of the burned out grocery store the morning after the 1915 fire. The second shows the fire’s aftermath as viewed when standing across West Main St from about where the St. Patrick’s parking lot is today.

New buildings would quickly spring up to replace those lost in that 1915 fire. But, because of that blaze, yet another unique Main Street view of Chateaugay from years past would be consigned to the dust bin of local history.

East Main Street & Business Ads

February 28, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

A different approach this week… While researching how and when the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain RR became the Rutland RR, I began reading the weekly issues of the Chateaugay Journal from 1896 and 1897, looking for news articles about the railroad. During all that, I came across a nice selection of ads run by local businesses and began saving them.

Pictured are street scenes from that time and the actual ads. The first and second photos are of East Main St. The first shows downtown looking east from the Four Corners. The second shows farther out East Main. The lumberyard is recognizable on the right. Note that there is no Town Hall on the left. Construction of that would not begin until 1911. The next photo shows the wall ads for McKenna’s Pharmacy at the Four Corners. The fourth photo shows the painted name sign “Ryan & Franklin” from the alley behind what was Ryan’s Hardware (now the “Talk of the Town Pizza” shop).

A little backstory on this fourth photo. Back in 2019 when remodeling was going on, I stopped one day and asked the contractor if sometime he might show me the back buildings (which used to be a tin shop where heating system ducts, etc. were made for the hardware’s installation business. The contractor handed me a flashlight and said: “sure, you can go back right now and check it out.” Grabbing my camera, I took a bunch of shots of the outside and inside of the back building. There are two ways to enter the tin shop space. By climbing a few stairs in the back, you can pass directly into the back while staying in the building. The second way is to go out the rear door into the alley and cross to a door on the tin shop’s lower level. That is where the Ryan & Franklin sign is painted. It is a bit difficult to make out in the photo but when it was done, over 100 years ago, it was clear and much brighter.

Following these four photos are a selection of the ads that were printed in the Chateaugay Journal during '96 and ’97. They are a nice snap shot of business being conducted here 125 years ago.

Anderson Block

February 12, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

We looked at the Chateaugay bank building last weekend. This time, let’s turn to the Anderson Block on the north side of East Main Street. This structure was built following the great fire of 1893 which destroyed every building between River Street and John Street. Mary Humiston wrote an account of this blaze in the very first edition of our newsletter in 2007.

The temps were far below zero and the wind was blowing a gale on the night of the fire. The Fire Department had no chance against those daunting conditions. When the sun rose the next morning, the entire block was in ruins. In fact, the embers had even swirled around and ignited the small store west of the blaze on the corner of River and West Main. This, too, was destroyed. In fact, that newly vacant lot made construction of the new bank possible (but that was last week’s post).

Many owners on East Main Street immediately began to make plans to rebuild. Others sold the property and buyers scooped up the suddenly available lots and made plans for new business buildings. A new village ordinance mandated that all newly constructed business district structures had to be of masonry, not wood construction.

Mrs. Rudolphus Anderson, born Cornelia Smith, made plans for the building shown in the first photo below. Mrs. Anderson certainly had the financial means to construct the imposing building that she wanted. Her late father was Judge Henry Smith. He was the son of Col. Thomas Smith (who owned Smith’s Tavern that had originally stood at the corner of River and East Main) and the grandson of Major Jacob Smith (who was one of Chateaugay’s earliest settlers and had built a small tannery at his property on what is now the Earlville Road.) Jacob Smith had fought in the Revolutionary War and Thomas had served in the War of 1812.

Judge Henry Smith was an astute businessman as well as a prominent civic leader and politician. When he died, he was reputed to be the richest man in Franklin County with extensive real estate and business holdings in Chateaugay and the surrounding area. His daughters inherited his fortune. Cornelia married Rudolphus Anderson and two of her sisters married two of the Cantwell brothers (of Cantwell Hall fame, etc.). Cornelia had both her father’s keen business instincts and the financial means to construct an impressive and noteworthy building.

I am currently researching a long article for our newsletter that will tell the story of the Smiths, Andersons and the Cantwells (The Smiths were a story in themselves with several consequential members who impacted Chateaugay’s history in many major ways. The Cantwells were part of the family of attorneys in Malone as well as Cantwell’s Hall [which Phyllis Thompson wrote of in an article in our newsletter]. Rudolphus and Cornelia Smith Anderson were the parents of Col. K.S. Anderson and his three brothers). Watch for that Smith/Anderson/Cantwell article in a future newsletter issue.

Now, back to Mrs. Anderson. She wanted her building to be the most noteworthy and impressive of all of the new construction as downtown bounced back from that devastating 1893 fire. She worked with Malone architect, G.S. Croff, to design the structure that would bring her vision to life.

Originally, plans were made for a brick building to match every one of the other new structures, but she changed her mind and ended up facing the front with Gouverneur marble and adding stained glass panels to the second floor. All the new buildings planned to install stained glass panels over the first floor store-front windows but she added that same feature to the second floor windows as well. In addition, she had all the trim and ceilings on both floors done in select-grade whitewood. All of the ceiling, door, window and cabinet construction and trim were painstakingly installed, oiled and finished with coats of shellac. She also insisted on premium fixtures throughout.

All of the block reconstruction from River to John Streets that followed the 1893 fire was completed within a year.

The Anderson (some refer to it as the Bessette) block has seen a significant number of tenants and businesses over the last fifty years or so and a significant portion of the inside has been remodeled with many of the original features having been replaced or covered over.

In 2018, I was able to accompany a county official into the vacant building and take a series of photos. We discovered a leak in the roof which was subsequently patched. The block is in the County’s possession today.

Should the building ever find itself in a private owner’s hands again someday, there will be issues to contend with: the front stonework and back brickwork need repointing to replace deteriorating mortar joints, an entirely new roof should be installed, the exterior woodwork and trim badly needs either reconditioning, repair or replacement, and the interior would require much care and attention as well.

Is this block the “grand dame” of the remaining business blocks on Main Street? Who can say, but she surely still has the potential to be a showcase of 1890s commercial construction in Chateaugay.

Pictured are some of the shots I took that day. Some of the photos show original construction details and design while others show more recent changes and remodeling that has been done over the years.

I was very impressed as I went through it from basement to second floor. Enough of the original features of Mrs. Anderson’s construction plan still exist to clearly show how her vision for the building was made reality as it rose from the ashes of that devastating 1893 fire.

Key Bank

February 7, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

To view full size images and read captions, click on an image.

The Chateaugay branch of Key Bank closed almost two years ago. The building sits empty today. When it was built in late 1890s, it quickly became one of the busiest spots in the business district.

The bank used a portion of the first floor for its lobby and located several banking offices in the lowest level. The rest of the first floor and the second housed several retail businesses over the early years. The third floor was used as a meeting space for the Grand Army of the Republic at first and then the Masonic Lodge used the floor.

The third space was (is) a large, open space with a small enclosed area for storage and any kitchen needs.

Before the bank was closed, I was allowed to go into the third floor to take a few photos. No pictures were allowed in the basement office and vault area, nor on the first floor and second floor with the meeting room and a third vault.

What happens next for the building is unsure. It is currently for sale. I remember thinking, as I stood in that third floor space, that with full glass on the east and south walls it would make an amazing studio apartment.

Included here is an image of the bank shortly after it opened and the main entrance was on the corner. The next photo shows the bank more recently with the entrance on the west side of the building's front. The last two shots show the space on the third floor. Even though it has not been used for many years, it is easy to see how well finished the room was when it was new.

Another Chateaugay landmark transitions to an uncertain future...