East Main Street in 1912

February 4, 2023 | Mick Jarvis

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This photo was taken in the spring of 1912. The view is looking eastward on East Main Street. The Town Hall is just one year old and later in the summer of 1912, Main Street will be paved. Note the tall elm trees that lined the street. The man and his team on the left are coming out of John Street. The Kissane block that stood (part of it still stands) between John Street and the Town Hall had not been rebuilt yet, following a fire that destroyed it. And, not a "motorcar" in sight (as they would have said back then).

Catholic Church Locations

November 26, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a Blog Post about the three different St. Patrick's churches that were on West Main Street between 1844 and the present. Several people have since reached out and asked me to locate things on a map.

Here goes...I used a Google Earth image of that part of West Main. To orient things, north is to the top of the map. The Four Corners is shown towards the upper right corner of the image.

The yellow box and dot show the earliest locations of the church and rectory. The first church was flattened during the Tornado of 1856 which destroyed or damaged over 300 structures in the Town of Chateaugay. The second Church (on the same site) was shown in the photos that accompanied the Blog Post. It burned to the ground (in less than an hour) as the result of a lightning strike on July 12, 1919.

But, even before the second church was destroyed, the parish was already thinking about building a larger church to accommodate the growing congregation. With that in mind, the parish purchased the land on the corner of Belle Avenue and West Main and the large home just to the west of it in 1911. That location is marked with the blue box and dot. Nothing happened as far as using the newly purchased property to erect a larger church and it sat unused.

However, after the 1916 fire, the church had an opportunity to purchase the land where the church sits today. C.W. Sprague was willing to sell the large lot to St. Patrick's, so the decision was made to sell the unused lot on the corner of Belle Avenue and, eventually, the plot where the first two churches had stood, and build a larger Romanesque church on the much bigger lot which was also closer to the Four Corners.

That's where the church sits today.

All of this information is intended as background to the history of the present church building that is being researched and written by Rosemary Green. This coming July 8th will mark the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the present-day St. Patrick's.

As Rosie is preparing her history of the Church of St. Patrick, I'd like to put out a plea...If anyone has photos showing the church (inside or outside) through the years, please consider loaning them to this project, so they can be scanned. I promise they will be carefully scanned and promptly returned. Contact us via email (chathistsoc@gmail.com) or Facebook PM me (Mick Jarvis) or Rosemary Green if you have any images that you would be willing to share for her project.


Wooden Water Pipes in Chateaugay

November 16, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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I have been researching the water system in the Village of Chateaugay recently and have amassed some interesting facts about the earliest pipes laid throughout the community.

The earliest and most inexpensive water pipes were of wood. Long, straight trees were cut into various lengths (most commonly between six and ten feet long) and were bored through the center with a long steel auger bit. Depending on the size of the bit used, the hole down the length of the log would typically be an inch to an inch and a half in diameter.

This simple method was the most labor efficient. To make joints, one end of a bored log would be sharpened to a tapered end and inserted into the flat end of the log laid before it. The bored hole in the flat-ended log would be enlarged slightly so that when the pointed end was driven in, the diameter of the hole was not constricted and the flow of water impeded.

This process would be repeated and lines laid under the streets. It was a simple matter of drilling into the line to attach smaller, branch lines which fed homes and businesses.

The tapered joints could be sealed with pine tar or other material, but most often were left “dry” and without sealant since, when the pipes were filled with moving water, the wood fibers would swell and the joint became water tight.

In our area, cedar, pine, hemlock, or even elm were most often used, although any long, straight-grained tree could serve this purpose. These lines could last well over a hundred years without rotting as there were never any appreciable levels of oxygen available to allow rot to take place. The outside of the pipes was surrounded by soil and fill that would soon compact and seal the outer surfaces, and the inside of the pipe was always filled with water.

This is the same circumstance shown on some reality shows on cable tv with present-day loggers harvesting old, downed trees from the beds of large open rivers. In many cases, the trees have been underwater for decades (maybe even centuries), but when brought up and dried, can be sawed up and milled into perfectly good lumber.

Back to wooden water lines—another example of early, wooden pipes is much more labor intensive. This involves “stave” pipes, which were assembled from long chamfered pieces of lumber (think long barrel-like construction) which were bound around the outside with either a coarse wire or flat metal bands. This process was a refinement of the bored log system and was only used if the community laying the lines had the resources and money to pay for the added labor and related expenses involved.

Evidently, one of the advantages of wooden pipes in communities was when fighting fires. If the pipe was readily accessible, it was an easy process to drill into the pipe, insert a hose end and have water available to fight a blaze. To seal the pipe again, it was simply a matter of driving a round plug into the newly-drilled hole in the side of the pipe. Thus, the origin of the term; “fire plug”.

How does this all apply to Chateaugay? To start at the beginning of the process, as they say; the Village was incorporated in 1868. In the earliest days of the community, every home had their own hand-dug well (or cistern or brook, etc.) as a water source and were responsible for their own water supply for daily life.

Shortly after the incorporation, plans were made for a municipal water system, although the actual water line network would come later. Finally, in 1880, a water line network was begun in the Village by the Chateaugay Waterworks Company, using wooden piping. It appears that the bored pipe method was used in these earliest lines.

This system worked well for decades but eventually metal pipes began to replace the older, wooden sections of the waterworks—partly to replace sections in need of repair, or to build entirely new lines, but more importantly, to increase water volume to the growing community with larger capacity lines.

Although metal pipes had largely replaced the wooden lines during the early years of the 20th Century, within the last twenty years or so, sections of wooden pipes have even been dug up on Iron Avenue when water line work was being done there. So, there were (or maybe still are) a few short sections of wooden pipe carrying water in the village into the present-day.

In 2018, Tony Green, who was then the maintenance supervisor at the local milk plant, called me up and told me of some wooden pipes unearthed at the end of Collins Street where the plant had some construction underway. He took photos of some of the log lines after they were pulled from the ground and then sawed sections that showed the bored water line and a tapered end that was used in a pipe joint. He turned the sawed examples over to the Historical Society.

Eight photos are featured above: three that Tony took, two images of the sawed sections in our Archival Center, followed by three Google Images that show a stave pipe with the outer wrappings, a good view of wooden pipes jointed with a tapered, pointed joint, and a photo showing how the logs would be bored with a long metal bit.

So, the first five images are of local, Chateaugay Village wooden pipes and the last three are stock images from the internet showing pipe details.

On a personal note, my Dad was a plumber at the mines in Lyon Mountain as a young man. As a youngster, I often helped him when he did plumbing for others or at our home. I remember having to help thread pipes, coating the new threads with pipe dope to help seal them, and tighten the fittings using pipe wrenches, or helping to seal the bell joints in Orangeburg sewer pipes by pounding oakum into the joint and sealing it with melted lead. All very labor intensive, for sure.

When thinking about plumbing and how it has progressed from lead and iron pipes, copper, plastic, and now ultra-modern systems like Sharkbite and Pex; it is interesting to see how the plumbing trade certainly has undergone amazing changes in materials, techniques, and processes.

And to think that the local materials used to run the earliest water pipes in the village were just the trees growing here…

Here Comes Winter

November 14, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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With a bit of snow forecast for the middle of the week, I thought we would look a little farther into winter. This photo was brought into the Archival Center by Edith Lopardo.

It is undated but was taken at the rink on River Street before the new school was built.

Note how the ladies are clad in dress coats and hats as they watch the skaters.

Catholic Churches of Chateaugay

November 5, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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This blog post had its beginnings in a conversation I had with Geri Favreau, president of the Clinton County Historical Association, about an ecclesiastical painter named Angelo Metallo who did murals at the former St. Philomena’s/Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Churubusco and in St. Patrick’s Church in Rouses Point. It turns out that he also did painting at St. Patrick’s in Chateaugay. Who knew?? According to the August 17, 1928 issue of the Chateaugay Record, Professor Metallo was “decorating the interior of St. Patrick’s” and would be moving on to a similar contract at the church in Churubusco.

Naturally, I went back into our files to see if there was any information about paintings that were done at St. Patrick’s in Chateaugay. I found many photos of the Catholic Churches in Chateaugay over the years but nothing about any specific murals or scenes. I took some new photos of the present church and decided while the research into Professor Metallo continues, and a post (or newsletter article) about him and his works will eventually appear, that I would do a blog post on the three Catholic Churches that have been on West Main Street over the last 178 years—with photos.

The first was built in 1844 by Father James Keveny of Hogansburg. Masses were said in the new church very intermittently due to the large territory that Father Keveny had to minister to. The local church and the one in Malone were mission churches of Hogansburg until 1848. Chateaugay then became a mission of the newly formed St. Joseph’s Parish in Malone with Father Bernard McCabe as pastor. St. Patrick's Church of Chateaugay was officially incorporated under his leadership on August 16th, 1848.

In 1856, this original, very small church was destroyed by the tornado that tore through the Fort Covington, Burke and Chateaugay communities, destroying over 360 buildings in Chateaugay alone. The cyclonic winds and baseball sized hailstones flattened the little Catholic Church on what is now West Main Street. For the next three years, Masses were said in various buildings in the village.

No photos or other depictions of that first church are known to exist. It has only been described as wood-framed and quite small.

Finally, in 1859, construction of a new, larger church was begun on the same site on West Main (the area where the American Legion and a private home now stand). Father Anthony Theves, pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Malone and its missions in Chateaugay and Brushton began the construction of the new building. The citizens of Chateaugay donated everything from money, grain, potatoes, their labor and other items so that construction of the new church could begin. However, it proved to be a slow and frustrating process. Four years later in 1863, only four walls and a roof had been constructed.

That same year, St. Patrick’s Church in Chateaugay was established as an autonomous parish with Father Edmund DePauw as the first resident pastor. He approached the Chateaugay assignment with a dedication and fervor that impressed his parishioners. The congregation grew and his next challenge was the partially constructed second church. When he arrived, he described it as: “little better than a barn, with no pews, badly heated, and so unfinished that the snow found entrance, and the sacred wine froze in the chalice." The church construction was eventually completed with an ornate high altar, pews, steeple with a bell, and all the expected and required décor and statuary. Sheds for horse and buggy rigs sat to the east of the church.

The first photos above show three different views of this second Catholic Church. The first is a postcard. The second is a Henry Beach photo and the third is another postcard. Next is a photo of the interior of the old church. The resolution is very poor but one can still get a sense of the interior and the high altar on the back wall. The final photo is a much clearer image of the altar, showing the ornate design.

After being forced to wait for seven years after losing their church to the lightning-caused fire, the St. Patrick’s congregation finally saw the beginning construction of their new home. This would become the present-day St. Patrick’s Church just west of the Four Corners. The inflation which followed WWI had stalled building plans. Masses were held in other larger buildings (a roller skating rink and Sprague’s garage) on West Main while construction was delayed.

On July 8, 1923, the Bishop presided over the laying of the cornerstone for the new building. By the end of the next year, the exterior was largely complete. The first Mass said in the new St. Patrick’s was Midnight Mass on December 24, 1924. Interior finishing then followed. And, according to the Chateaugay Record, Angelo Metallo was part of the interior decorating being done in 1928. The Italian marble altar and fifty-four foot communion rail were installed in 1930. The stained glass windows would follow and the entire interior was eventually completed during the 1930s.

There are six photos above of the completed, present-day building through the years. The first is a view of the Church with the original bell tower. The second shows the Church today with the copper sheathed spire which was installed in 1986. The third and fourth images are of the original white marble high altar, followed by a photo of the altar in 1982 (after the Vatican II renovations were completed) and finishing with a photo of the altar area, or apse, today.

More on Professor Metallo to come…

Shopping in 1892

March 27, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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

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.

Baseball Memories at the "Old School"

January 22, 2022 | Mick Jarvis

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I find myself sitting here in a bright, sunny room browsing through Facebook and seeing lots of baseball-related posts (especially from the 50s and 60s). Even though it is ten below zero on this sun-splashed late morning, my thoughts have drifted back to the “sandlot” days of playing at the end of Church Street.

The Old School ballfield was the meeting place for the neighborhood kids. It drew us like a magnet. I never remember phoning anyone to see if they were going to play ball; everyone just appeared, carrying their gloves, a few had bats and, most importantly, we hoped someone had a baseball.

Standing on the field or in the batter’s box on that sunny lot, the summery blue sky above and the “heat bugs” (Canadian cicadas actually) buzzing and singing, there was no better feeling in the world for a preteen baseball-fanatic kid than that.

We would toss a bat to choose up sides and the game would begin. I remember the first year I taught at the newly formed Northern Adirondack Central School. I was in Altona for the first two years as the new high school was being built. I was teaching 7th and 8th grade Social Studies. We always took our kids outside for recess and would play softball. I rotated the captains for two teams each day and they used the tossed bat to pick teams.

I wonder some 52 years later, and with sandlot baseball practically extinct, if today’s kids would know how to use a bat to pick teams…let alone know what three fingers at the top of the bat meant.

There were other sandlots in town. I remember some of us from our neighborhood playing at the Bell Avenue field and even at school on River Street a few times, but that felt like they were “away” games because the Old School field just felt so familiar and comfortable.

No one had a lot of money, so we were always “making do” to keep the games going. If our treasured baseball would begin to fall apart as the stitching in the seams gave out, our go-to solution was to use black electricians’ tape to keep it together. It worked pretty well but the ball had to be re-taped quite frequently as the sand and gravel of the filed wore at it quickly. I am sure that many of our fathers wondered where their roll of black tape was…

I remember one time, our last ball was in need of rewrapping. No one had any black tape but Stephen Wood, I think, had a roll of wide white athletic tape. We figured that would work so we set about tearing it into narrow strips and wound it around the ball. Back to the game we went.

However, the white tape didn’t stick quite as well as the electrician version did and as the game went on, the edges of tape strips began to roll back. With some of the sticky side exposed, the ball soon began to pick up sand and gravel grains from the field. As more grains stuck, more tape peeled back and more grains stuck, and on and on. We eventually had to stop playing that day because the ball had become a sand-covered sphere quite a bit bigger than what we had started with and pretty hard to grip and throw.

Someone, somehow, came up with a roll of black tape and we were soon back to playing again.

I remember one day when a couple of us were headed to the Boardman to fish. We crossed the RR tracks just east of McArdle’s house. Walking up a path at the end of the cheese plant’s last building, we turned left to head down the cinder path that curved around to the base of Boardman Hill. We didn’t know it then, but that was the last remaining trace of the half mile racetrack that was part of the local fairgrounds.

As we walked the path, we happened to spot a baseball lying in the grass next to the left field line of the Sheffield Park ballfield. We had struck gold. This was obviously a foul ball that hadn’t been found by the ball chasers during a Ponies’ game. With this ball, we knew we were set at the Old School for a while at least, provided we didn’t lose it to the tall grass surrounding the Old School lot. However, the ball had been there for a while and it was waterlogged and even had a little green mossy growth on it.

I stuck it in my fishing basket. When I got home, I asked my mother if I could try to dry it in our oven. Needless to say, she didn’t think much of that brainstorm and the oven idea died a quiet death. The backup plan was to set it in the sun on our side porch railing for about a week. That worked well enough, we decided, and it became a game ball for us.

We “made do” with our bats as well. If a bat broke we were out of luck. If one cracked, we always felt we could save it by using small wire nails or brads to put it back together and then finishing the job with a good wrapping of black tape. Needless to say, this wasn’t the answer because the bat would split again or completely break the next time it was used.

Two particular times during those baseball years still stand out for me. My first real baseball glove was one of those fat-fingered, no real pocket, oddball webbed creations like the one shown in the first photo above. It was getting pretty worn. I never really liked it, anyway. In the early 60s, fielder’s gloves were changing. They were getting longer, much better shaped and with better designed webbing. Major leaguers were using them and they were just plain “cool” to me.

I had been saving my money from my paper route and from mowing lawns with a plan to use it for a new glove. I don’t remember how, but I found out that the National Army Store in Malone was due to get an assortment of new gloves…and that there were supposed to be some Mickey Mantle models in the shipment. That was all I needed to hear. I got my father to take me out to Malone first thing Saturday morning so I could get one. I woke up about five o’clock and nervously paced and watched the clock until we left. Out we went to the car (a pea-green, 1961 Ford Galaxy 500, standard shift, four-door monster) and off we headed.

My greatest fear was realized as soon as we walked into the Army Store. They had only gotten two Mantle gloves and they were already gone. Rather than throw myself on the floor, teeth gnashing and completely disappointed, my father urged me to at least look at the gloves that were still available. Although I was looking half-heartedly, I had to admit they were nice and every one was a definite upgrade from my old one. I can still remember standing there next to the bin of gloves and the smell of the new leather that just wafted up from them.

I ended up picking out an Ernie Broglio model. He was a St. Louis Cardinal – not a Yankee – but he was having a pretty good year at the time. Although I was a die-hard Yankees fan, I just loved baseball – period. I followed the game and appreciated players like Stan Musial, Warren Spahn, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and others for the great players for that they were. On the way home, I decided my Ernie Broglio glove was a pretty nice one. It proved to be a great purchase for me.

Once we got home, I immediately went into my dad’s shop (just a back room in the house, actually) and grabbed a can of Neatsfoot oil. We normally used it for our leather hunting boots, to keep them supple and water resistant. Sitting the sun on our side porch I worked the oil into the new leather of the Broglio glove, feeling it soften and watching it acquire an even deeper and richer color. The last thing to do was to put a baseball in the pocket and tie the glove closed with twine to begin the shaping of it. The ball and twine was a day’s end ritual for about a week. The glove took on the shape I wanted. I was a pretty happy camper. The glove became one of my most treasured possessions. In fact, I still have it (photos two and three above).

The other time that sticks in my mind was that same summer when Pete Coryea’s Western Auto on East Main Street got in a number of baseball bats. I walked in one afternoon while on my paper route to look around. There, in the bunch of new bats, was a Mickey Mantle model. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but I asked him to set it aside for me.

I finished delivering my papers, pretty much on a dead run, charged into the house and up the stairs into my room. In the back of my closet was a White Owl cigar box where I put the money I was saving from the paper route and my lawn mowing. I counted out what I needed, put the cigar box back in place, and ran downstreet to pay for the bat.

Walking up to the field at the Old School the next day, I felt as proud as I had when I showed up the first time with my new glove. Everybody oohed and awed over the new 34” bat. It was well used for the next several summers. Only by the grace of God did it never crack, splinter or break. Like the glove, I still have it. As the photos show (images four and five), it is well worn but still intact. I think it might have also been used to hit a few rocks.

My warmest memories of baseball as a youngster are of playing catch with my Dad. But, those memories of playing at the “Old School” come in a close second.

Memories of Soft Drinks From the 1960s

September 19, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

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…

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.

Smith / Alvord / Cook Home on East Main

June 13, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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

More Transitions

Another of Chateaugay’s earliest and most note-worthy homes is transitioning. I refer to this house as the Smith/Alvord/Cook Home. It has been owned only by these three families since it was built by Colonel Thomas Smith in 1818.

The Smith family had come to Chateaugay the year after it was originally settled in 1796. Col. Smith’s father, Jacob Smith had served in the American Revolution. He and his family arrived in Chateaugay in 1797. He lived on what we now refer to as the Earlville Road and began a small tannery operation on his property.

Thomas Smith served as an officer during the War of 1812. He operated a tavern at the Four Corners which served as the headquarters for American General Wade Hampton during the war. He was one of the most influential local citizens, serving in various capacities in local government. The Colonel had this home built of locally quarried stone.

The first photo shows a drawing of the original structure. It still serves as the main part of the house.

This is really a three story house which was very unusual in this area in 1818.

Servants’ quarters were on the basement level. Half of space was their living quarters, half of the space was the kitchen. The servants’ quarters were very comfortable with plaster and lath walls which were even wallpapered.

All the local grocers were informed that any kitchen deliveries were to be made to the basement level and not the main or upper floors, which were the family’s spaces. There were two doorways to enter and exit the basement.

The second photo shows a part of the cooking ovens and fireplaces in the basement.

The Smith family sold to W.S. Alvord in the 1840s. Alvord family owned it for the next 80 years.

It was purchased by the E. D. Cook family in 1923. Edwin Cook renovated the interior, adding modern plumbing and wiring. He also added the front porch of matching stone and the dormer across the north facing roof line. The original configuration of the interior framing and room sizes, etc. was left essentially unchanged.

The third photo shows the house as it appears today. If you imagine the dormer and front porch not being there, it is easy to see that the main portion of the house is still the same as the original drawing.

This is truly an historically significant home in the village. It resembles the original structure as much as possible considering that it has been continuously occupied for the last two hundred years. The only structural changes have been the porch and dormer. The inside is laid out much as it was when it was built.

Because of the recent passings of Olin “Odie” and Barbara Cook, the house is now for sale. Odie and Barb were founding members of the Chateaugay Historical Society and were each named as a “Trustee Emeritus” when they retired from our Board. They were fiercely proud of their home and its historical significance. They treasured its ambiance and were protective of its legacy.

The fourth photo shows the home this morning (June 13, 2021).

Demo on West Main: McCoy and Denio Houses

June 6, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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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.

Jake's Red Hots

April 24, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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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!

East Main Street Postcard

March 26, 2021 | Mick Jarvis

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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

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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

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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.