Ogdensburg Library and the Spirit of Liberty Statue

Today we’re looking at the Ogdensburg Public Library located at 313 Washington Street in the downtown historic section of the Ogdensburg, New York. Behind the library is a green open space called Library Park, which is the home to the Spirit of Liberty monument that was installed in 1905.

Such History. Much Wow.

The Ogdensburg Library as an organization dates back to 1828 and throughout the years moved around the city and never had a permanent home. That was the case until the 1890’s, through the efforts of Dr. Fred Van Dusen, the Ogdensburg Public Library saw some significant changes that would have lasting effects to the library’s establishment in the city. Changes included getting the library officially incorporated by the State Board of Regents in 1891 and eventually getting a permanent home for the library: the Clark House at 311 Washington Street.

The Clark House was a private residence built in 1888 for George C. Clark, a New York banker, who has used the house as a summer residence for his family. Prior to construction of the new Clark summer home, the property was originally the location of the Greek Revival home of Joseph Rosseel (also spelled Roselle) stood. Rosseel had been the land agent to David Parish one of the early landowners in St. Lawrence County. Rosseel employed Joseph Jacques Ramee to design his Greek Revival home in 1810. When Clark purchased the property, he had the old house demolished to build his Queen Anne home. By 1895, Clark was beginning to have second thoughts. Given the distance from Ogdensburg to New York City, Clark determined it would be better to have a summer residence closer to the city. Clark offered his home and entire block for the new home of the library for $35,000 ($10,000 of which Clark donated). The home was estimated to be worth $125,000. In addition, Clark gave his dock property (land between his residence and the streets) to be used as a park space in the city- this is today’s Riverside Park in Ogdensburg.

A side note about the Clark House, different sources say slightly different things about the house. One article reporting on the fire dated November 25, 1921 (Ogdensburg Republican Journal) said that Clark, “greatly overhauled and renovated,” the original 1812 structure for his summer residence. While other sources say that Clark completely demolished the older building to construct a completely new home. It’s unclear why there is a discrepancy in the information on what exactly happened but it would be safe to say that if any portion of the library is the original 1812 building still exists it would be difficult to determine given the level of renovations through the years and the 1921 fire.

In early 1921, funding was given from the estate of George Hall and John C. Howard to be used to complete needed renovations of the library’s main building and the library’s annex- George Hall’s house across the street. John West was hired as the contractor for the renovations, which were coming along fine and would have been completed by February of 1922 but a fire broke out on November 24, 1921 destroying most of the interior of the library.

Luckily, all of the collections were safe. The books, records, Frederick Remington paintings, and original bronzes had been placed at either the George Hall residence or in a massive safe in the library’s basement.

The Frederick Remington Museum
George Hall’s residence happened to be the former residence of Frederick Remington. The home is literally across the street from the library and today houses the Frederick Remington Museum. The museum does have a permanent exhibit on Sally James Farnham, more about her below.

The fire was discovered around 7 am by a passerby on the way to the local market. The fire department was alerted immediately and the local firefighters in their response to the blaze, were assisted by sailors from the USS Chillicothe, which was moored at Riverside Park. They weren’t’ successful in putting the fire completely out until noon of that day.

John Wert originally estimated the damages could be anywhere between $25,000-$50,000, and the entire building was gutted. A few weeks later, the damages were able to be assessed and the losses only totaled $15,000, which was covered by insurance. The cause of the fire was determined to be an overheated hot air furnace. The flooring and the roof completely burned but the walls somehow remained in good shape, allowing reconstruction to still be possible. The reconstruction work that occurred resulted in the library that we see today- it was rebuilt as a replica of the old 1812 Rossell Mansion.

The Ogdensburg Public Library
It is a Pokemon Gym for all those planning on Pokemon Going your way across Northern New York.
Front Facade
Front facade of the Ogdensburg Public Library


The Back of the Library
A view of the backside of the library while standing in Library Park.

Library Park:

Associated with the public library is Library Park, which is home to the Spirit of Liberty, a sculpture by local Sally James Farnham. The Park is behind the library and was laid out in 1903- the area was also part of the Clark Property.

When the library acquired the Clark Mansion in 1895, it also acquired a fantastic open space that was planned out to be a park for the city. Plans were eventually created in 1903 and not finally completed until the following year. The plans for the landscaping of the Library Park as it was called, were drafted by Arnold E. Smith and Dr. Dusen assisted in getting the authorization to complete the layout around the library.

The Commercial Advertiser on July 5, 1904 reported that the park plans consisted of, “a horse-shoe or semi-circle of, prominent, outlining, the concave facing the river, the library building at the apex, forming the background. The fountain, as now located, the central figure; the proposed soldier’s monument about one hundred feet westerly there- from and a little lower down…” In addition to this description, the park was to have trees throughout the park such as cherry, Persian lilac, and hydrangea and principal walkways were to be laid out from corner to corner of the park, crossing at the center in front of the fountain.

Google Aerial LibraryPark
An aerial view of Library Park via Google Maps. It gives a good overview of the layout of the Park.

The other pathway through Library Park

Pathway through Library Park
The photographs above show what the walkways look like at the Park as well as the Spirit of Library at the Park.

In the same year that finishing touches were made to Library Park, Sally James Farnahm, won her first commission via competition- a Union soldier monument to be placed in the park. Sally had submitted to models to the monument committee of Ransom Post, GAR, “Defenders of the Flag” and the “Spirit of Liberty.” Funding for the monument came from a number of sources: Mr. and Mrs. George Hall, Swe-Kat-Si Chapter GAR, Fortieth Separate Company, Ransom Post GAR, Post Card Subscriptions, and even from Sally Farnham herself.

The Spirit of Liberty:

The Spirit of Liberty was installed at the Park in 1905. The city of Ogdensburg had held a competition for a Civil Ware monument for the Park for the soldiers and sailors from the town of Oswegatchie who died during the Civil War. Sally James Farnham submitted two different designs: Defenders of the Flag and the Spirit of Liberty. Out of 15 submissions, Sally’s Spirt of Liberty was chosen by the City.

A Historic Postcard Showing the Spirit of Liberty

The backside of the postcard
Based on the postmark date of 1909, this shows a pretty accurate view of the Spirit of Liberty after its installation. You’ll notice the statue of the solider at the base. It is no longer a park of the monument due to vandalism and is currently in storage from what I heard.

Sally was born in 1869.  Her mother passed away when she was 10 years old, for this reason Sally was very close to her father and they traveled around the world. While Sally wasn’t formally educated in an art medium, she was exposed to art throughout her travels with her father to France, Norway, Scotland, and even Japan. In 1896, Sally married George Paulding Farnham, who was the design director for jewelry and silver at Tiffany & Co. Yes, THE Tiffany & Co.

Sally’s first experience working with modeling clay was the result of both a personal tragedy- the death of her father- and a serious illness that left her bedridden. Her husband, George, during this time brought home clay for her to work with, hoping it would help improve her spirits. Sally greatly became interested in working with clay as an art medium- she was guided partly by her husband, who was a member of the National Sculpture Society, and more importantly by Frederick Remington, who was another native of Ogdensburg and a family friend of Sally’s. Remington supported and encouraged Sally’s artwork up until his death in 1909. Oddly enough Remington lived in the house across the street from the building that is the city’s public library. It’s fitting that Sally’s sculpture not only stands high in her hometown but also in view of her friend and mentor’s old house. The other unique thing about Sally James Farnham is that she was one of the first women to successfully compete for national sculpture commissions, like the one for the Ogdensburg Civil War monument.

In competing for the Ogdensburg Commission, Sally had a strong connection to wanting to design the city’s Civil War monument, not only was she obviously a local to the city but her father was Col. Edward C. James who commanded the 106th NY Volunteers during the war. Her winning design features a winged Victory with laurel wreath and flag atop of a 35-foot granite column and pedestal (the granite is from the quarries of Barre, Vermont). The pedestal features four bronze war eagles and shields. Originally, the base also had a life-sized bronze soldier, it has since been removed due to damages caused by vandalism. The monument was officially dedicated on August 23, 1905 and was attended by almost 20,000 people including the USA Vice President, Charles Fairbanks. Later in her career, Sally created a similar Civil War monument for Bloomfield, New Jersey, which was dedicated on June 11, 1912- in 2001 the monument was restored by the city.

Spirit of Liberty from BacksideSpirit of Liberty

Close Up of the Statue
The above views are what the Spirit of Liberty currently looks like at Library Park.

Some of Sally’s other sculptures include: The Defenders of the Flag (1908), which is a Civil War monument located in the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY; the Frieze of Discovers (1910) located in the Pan American Union (now OAS) building in Washington D.C.; and the Simon Bolivar statue (1921), which is located in Central Park in New York City.

The Public Library, Library Park, and the Spirit of Liberty make up a portion of the Library Park Historic District in Ogdensburg. Other contributing properties include the Remington Museum and other houses along the square block made by Washington, etc. All of these sites are easily accessible in the historic downtown area of Ogdensburg, NY. The park is also in close proximity to the riverside where there is a walking trail that leads to the Maple City Trail and the Abbe Picquet Trail on Lighthouse Point!

Thanks for reading !

Resources and Further Information

Online Resources:

John C. Howard, “A History of the Ogdensburg Public Library and Remington Art Memorial,” Ogdensburg Journal, May 31, 1938. The Trustees of the Ogdensburg Public Library.

John Harwood, National Register of Historic Places Inventory- Nomination Form, Library Park Historic District, Sept. 1982.

Thayer Tolles and Thomas B. Smith, The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925, (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Distributed by Yale University Press, New Haven, and London, 2013) 154: Sally James Farnham, https://books.google.com/books?id=gRMQAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA154&lpg=PA154&dq=soldiers+monument+ogdensburg,+ny&source=bl&ots=kAr3bPeUkR&sig=aAMifeK_SdEMyHhoWne8Ndo4VG0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjQm9S6povdAhXiz1QKHSbFDZM4FBDoATAGegQIBBAB#v=onepage&q=soldiers%20monument%20ogdensburg%2C%20ny&f=false

Michael P. Reed, “The Intrepid Mrs. Sally James Farnham, An American Sculptor Rediscovered,” Aristos, November 2007. https://www.aristos.org/aris-07/farnham.htm

Lawrence P. Gooley, “The Career of Ogdensburg Sculptor Sally James Farnham,” Adirondack Almanack, April 4, 2016. https://www.adirondackalmanack.com/2016/04/career-ogdensburg-sculptor-sally-james-farnham.html

“Monumental Notes,” The Monumental News, Vol. 16. No. 9, September 1904, https://books.google.com/books?id=RMU7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA550&dq=sally+james+farnham+spirit+of+liberty&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj2q-TKnvDeAhVFjlQKHUZeALkQ6AEINjAC#v=onepage&q=sally%20james%20farnham%20spirit%20of%20liberty&f=false

Picture of Sally with the Solider Sculpture: http://ww.sallyjamesfarnham.org/sallywsoldier.html

The website: http://www.sallyjamesfarnham.org/ is dedicated to all things related to Sally. Check it out!

Historic Newspapers via NYSHistoricNewspapers.org

“Laying Out New Park: Library Grounds to the Greatly Beautified by the Changes.” The Daily Journal, Ogdensburg, NY, June 10, 1904.

“The Design Accepted for the Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument: ‘The Spirit of Liberty.’” The Daily Journal, Ogdensburg, NY, July 13, 1904.

“Soldier’s Monument,” The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat

“Ogdensburg Library,” Northern Tribune, Gouverneur, NY, March 6, 1895.

“Taxpayers to Vote on the Propositions,” The Ogdensburg Republican Journal, January 22, 1921.

“Public Library Damaged by Fire,” The Ogdensburg Republican Journal, November 25, 1921.

“Fire Did $15,000 Damaged to New Public Library,” The Ogdensburg Advance and St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, December 1, 1921.

“Library and Monument,” Commercial Advertiser, July 5, 1904.

“A Public Library,” The Daily Journal, May 13, 1893.

“Library Park,” The Ogdensburg Advance and the St. Lawrence Weekly Democrat, October 3, 1903.


Food Adventures in Rochester

So this blog is about my history and preservation adventures but have I told you about how much I love eating when I adventure around!?!

I enjoy finding unique eateries and stuffing my face fully of messy food. I also have a soft spot for anything made locally…so when I traveled to Rochester a couple of weekends ago, there were some really awesome places my friend, Amanda, took me to.

The first cool place we went to was a burger joint called, “The Playhouse and Swillburger,” which along with serving up classic American food, has a bar, and a number of old school arcade games. When we arrived at the restaurant, I was starving. I’m not good at planning for food stops when I’m traveling. I typically wait until I get to my destination…starving and questioning when we’re going to eat.

Sooo, I’m not just telling you about the Swillburger because of how awesome the vibe was or how great the food tasted. The building happens to be old and have a cool backstory!

This brings me to another topic I’ve been wanting to write more about- building rehabilitation and reuse stories. So the idea that an old, historic, unused property gets a Cinderella-type makeover into something cool and the building remains in use!

Check out the images of the exterior and interior of The Playhouse and Swillburger to see what the building once was. The captions for the photos will give a brief history of the building and how it got into its current state.

So back to the burning question you have…was the food any good!?!

For the love of all foods good, cheap, and served quickly. Yes. Much good.

This is a picture of the food I ordered at Swillburger- Crispy Chicken Sammie, Fire and Smoke Fries, and a Vegan Chocolate Milkshake….and a beer from the bar

The crispy chicken sammie (sandwich) with Swillsauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and dad’s pickles? That was amazing and everything was so fresh tasting.

The “Smoke and Fire” french fries? Spicy and crunchy just the way I like my french fries.

The vegan chocolate milkshake? Creamy, thick, and chocolaty with a hint of coconut.

On a super nerdy yet slightly related note… For those familiar with the television show, Supernatural, there is a scene of a recurring character who is eating a hamburger, and he says something along the lines, “These make me very happy.” Here’s a link to the clip on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0bpejn__bQ

That’s exactly how I felt eating the food I ordered at Swillburger. The added facts that it was in a historic building and I was with my bff. Priceless.

Swillburger and Playhouse
The Playhouse and Swillburger is located at 820 South Clinton Avenue. It’s open daily from 11:30 am – 2 am (the grill closes down at 10 pm and the bar stays open until 2 am). There is no parking lot but there is parking along the surrounding streets.

There was one other food place Amanda and I went to while I was visiting and that was the Rochester Public Market. The market is open weekly on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; it’s a year round market place.

Rochester Public Market
This was the main parking lot for the market. It was packed but luckily Amanda found a place to park!

Amanda and I went to the Union Street Bakery for breakfast because Amanda said they have the best breakfast sandwiches around. The bakery is part of a row of buildings at the Public Market.

They did not disappoint!

Bakery Windows


Breakfast Sandwich
This sandwich consisted on two fried eggs, cheese, and turkey (other options included ham, bacon, sausage, and/or peppers) all on a large roll. The sandwich plus water I got cost me like $5.00. It was real good!

The Rochester Public Market has been in operation since 1827 when it was located at the west end of the Main Street Bridge. In 1905, the market was relocated to its current location on Union Street. Originally, the vendors who sold at the market could only sell products wholesale. That changed in 1913, when the city began to allow retailers to sell directly to the shoppers. When we visited the market it was chilly out and overcast but that didn’t seem to stop people from being out and shopping at the market!

Researching the Rochester Public Market I came across some interesting articles about plans for upgrades to the market. Apparently, the Public Market has received quite a bit of money to build a few buildings and to do general upgrades to the location. The weird thing was that this collection of news articles were from 2012-2013….in one of the articles, some peoples opinions on the future upgrades were reported on. The main concerns were that the upgrades would “yuppify” the market- more hipster coffee places and prices would rise pushing out certain groups of people from shopping at the market.

I’m not sure how much work has been done on the market. My friend, Amanda, made it sounds like the biggest upgrades still haven’t happened. I’m not sure. What I do know though is when I was there, there were lots of people from all walks of life. The vendors varied from handcrafts to produce to livestock. It was great to see so many people from different cultures- I don’t get to see that often in Northern New York. I like it.

The prices also were very inexpensive. Breakfast cost me $5 and that sandwich was glorious. Between Amanda and I, we probably spent barely $30.00 on produce. I think the most expensive thing purchased were frozen pierogies that we had for lunch. Not to be too weird but I still have apples in my crisper from the market and they’re still good!

Click through the images below to get a sense of what the Rochester Public Market is like!


Both of these places were really awesome for food adventures! If you find yourself in Rochester, check them both out!

Here in Northern New York, there are a number of good building reuse stories for me to share in the future. For example, there’s an Italian restaurant in an old train depot around the corner from me!

Is there a place in your hometown, with a cool and unique building reuse story that you frequent often? Or is there an eatery that’s really awesome and serves great food? Or does your town have a public market that is open year round?

Let me know in the comment section! I love hearing about good food.

Check out some of the links in the “Further Information” section- there news articles about the Rochester Farmer’s Market and the Playhouse and Swillburger there, along with a link to historic photographs of the market!

Thanks for reading!

Further Information:

The Playhouse and Swillburger –


This is the link to the Kickstarter page for the Playhouse:


News Articles about Swillburger opening and the history of the building:





The Rochester Public Market –

Historic Photographs of the Rochester Public Market:


General Information about the market:


The Rochester Public Market has an entire chapter dedicated to it, in the City’s code:


Collection of brief articles related to construction and planned upgrades to Rochester Public Market. This is where the concerns were voiced about the possible “yuppify” of the market.


Saint Joseph’s College

I spent last week in Emmitsburg, Maryland at the National Emergency Training Center for FEMA. It was a long and exciting week filled with excruciating travel days, beautiful historic buildings, and a trip to the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania.

Since there was so much seen, I’ve split my initial post into four different topics: Saint Joseph’s College, the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Gettysburg National Park, and how to survive airport layovers of up to 15 hours. So that means, keep a look out for those upcoming posts!

Burlando Building
This is the Burlando Building, which was designed by E.G. Lind. When designing the building he took into account the architectural features of the Chapel located right next to the building such as the arches, pilasters, and brick.

I arrived in Emmitsburg, Maryland in the late afternoon last Sunday. I was asleep most of the bus ride that took me from Baltimore Airport to the training campus. The National Emergency Training Center is located on the former campus of Saint Joseph’s College. The college, originally the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School, was started shortly after Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton arrived in Emmitsburg in 1809. The academy was the first free parochial school for girls in the United States; officially it was incorporated as a school in 1816. It remained a school until 1973, during those years it changed names a number of times, and it was in 1902 that the school officially became a four-year liberal arts college for women. The college officially closed in 1973 and students and faculty merged with Mount Saint Mary’s University, which is located near Emmitsburg. The buildings and cemetery of the campus and the Mother Seton Shrine were listed in 1976 on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. In 1979, the Sisters of Charity, a religious order established by Mother Seton, sold the old campus to the FEMA. It was renamed the National Emergency Training Center in 1981.

The old campus buildings are a conglomerate of different architectural styles. I didn’t photograph every building, only the ones that were the most interesting to look at.

The photograph above is the Burlando Building constructed in 1870; it’s the most recognizable building on campus. I only was able to get a few exterior photos of the building because I never had enough time to get into the building. The building is considered to be a “provincial” example of the Second Empire Style, thanks to it’s prominent mansard roof! So…before I move on, “provincial,” not my word, this came from page two of the original National Register nomination (that’s listed below for you to check out).

When ever I see this word, I immediately think Beauty and the Beast and I want to break out in song! What it means or at least how it was used in the nomination for this district….is that it’s not “high-style,” so the building has some of the most common architectural features of a specific style but not all of the features to make it perfect prime example of what Second Empire Revival looks like.

Side View of the Burlando Building
This is the side facade of the Burlando Building. This side entrance leads into the campus library.

Right next to the Burlando Building is the Saint Joseph’s Chapel.

St. Joseph's Chapel

It took me two days to get into this building. The first attempt was after classes on Monday. Every damn door was locked. It’s not a usual thing when I can’t find a way into a building but when it does happen, I realize immediately how sketchy I look, systematically trying every door in the middle of the afternoon. It’s a good thing it wasn’t at night!

On an extreme side note, I always think that should I get stopped and questioned by law enforcement for looking sketchy outside of a locked building. I would just exclaim, “I’m a preservationist and this building DESERVES to be photographed…” and that would be more than enough and explain everything!

So anyways, since I couldn’t find a way into the Chapel, I checked out the “E” building on campus. This is the St. Vincent’s Hall, it seems to be connected to two other halls: Marillac and Seton. All three buildings were constructed between 1925-26 and are all Colonial Revival.

Saint Vincent's Hall

The interior of St. Vincent Hall is very intact, click through the photos to see.

The next day I was able to get into the Chapel with some of my classmates. The Chapel was constructed in 1839 and in the National Register nomination papers, the chapel is considered to slightly be “Italianate” or even “Romanesque” in style because of the rounded arch windows. Mother Seton also asked that the church resemble the Tuscan architecture she had encountered while in Tuscany in the late 18th century. The plans were drawn up by Rev. Thomas Butler. Today the chapel is the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel.

Hmmmmmm. Would I call this strictly a provincial type of “Italianate” or even “Romanesque”? No. Where are the Syrian arches? Joking. But really, where are they?!?

I think it would be more interesting and accurate to look at the Chapel as a combination of many different architectural elements inspired greatly by what Mother Seton wanted in 1839 and what was present in other Catholic churches in the early 19th century. The Chapel, is obviously “provincial” and I think is combines a lot of architectural features that would have been commonly seen in the early 19th century: the steeple is Wren-Gibbs inspired and there are rounded arches but those could be found on Greek Revival buildings or even Georgian Colonial structures. The building does give off an “Italian” feel but if it wasn’t constructed of brick and say, marble or another stone or even wood, would it still give that feeling…I don’t know.

I compiled a list of churches from roughly the same time frame that are considered either “Georgian Colonial” or “Greek Revival” that have comparable architectural features to the Saint Joseph’s Cathedral. There is one church that was constructed in the 20th century and is considered to be “Colonial Revival.” This help shows that it’s not always easy to pin-point an architectural style. There’s also links to Wikipedia pages about

Romanesque Revival: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanesque_Revival_architecture

Italianate Architecture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italianate_architecture

Let me know what you think about the architectural style of the Chapel below in the comments.

Make sure to check in tomorrow to read the next post about my trip to Emmitsburg. We’re going to learn about the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, which is located right next door to the National Emergency Training Center.

Thanks for reading!

Further Information:

National Register Nomination for Saint Joseph College: https://mht.maryland.gov/secure/medusa/PDF/NR_PDFs/NR-355.pdf

National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Chapel:


A Storefront in Kingston, Ontario


I posted this photo of a storefront on my Instagram account about a week ago. The storefront in located at 168 Princess Street in Kingston, Ontario where my dad lives. Since posting the photos,  I’ve done a little more research into the old Kinnear d’Esterre Jewelers, the shop name seen above the doorway.

It seems like the building at 168 Princess Street in Kingston was once the home to Kinnear d’Esterre, a jewelry shop, that closed down in 2004. The jewelry shop was opened in 1906, according to an advertisement from 1969.i

Advertisement for Kinnear d’Esterre Jewellers found on page 38 in Physics in Canada, the Bulletin of the Canadian Association of Physicists Vol. 25, No. 6 from 1969.

In Kingston’s directories, the shop doesn’t show up in the 1906-1907 Directory but Kinnear d’Esterre shows up in the 1907-1908 Directory.ii It’s very possible the shop opened after the 1906 directory was printed.

The shop originally was located at 100 Princess Street and was opened by J. C. D. D’Esterre (John Charles Duncan), who may have been a colonel in the Canadian Army during World War 1.iii D’Esterre moved to Kingston from Toronto and shortly after moving to Kingston he opened up the jewelry business. The business eventually passed to his son, John Kinnear D’Esterre, who was very well known both in Kingston and the Thousand Island region- the family also was known for boat building and John Kinnear owned a home on Garden Island.iv As already stated the shop closed in 2004 and John Kinnear passed away in 2012.

While researching the business, I found a lot of other current jewelry and appraisal shops in Kingston, seem to have connections to Kinnear d’Esterre Jewelers. For example, “Paul-Randolph Jewelers”, which opened in 1976 by W. H. Smith, is currently owned and operated by Brain Smith (son to W. H. Smith) and his son, Jeffrey. Brain Smith worked as an apprentice goldsmith with Kinnear d’Esterre when he was 18! Another shop, “Kimberly Appraisal,” is the business of Florence Kimberly, who worked at Kinnear d’Esterre from 1973 to 2004. When the shop closed, Kimberly decided to continue the “tradition of jewelry appraisal” services in Kingston that she had done while employed at Kinnear d’Esterre Jewelers.v

So while the shop of Kinnear d’Esterre Jewelers closed a few years ago, its legacy still lives on with other businesses in the Kingston area. The building luckily isn’t being demolished and is going to be the future home of Graham’s Pharmacy, a business local to Kingston, Ontario. The following is their website: http://www.grahamspharmacy.ca/about-us.php and this is a news article about the pharmacy when it first opened : http://www.thewhig.com/2015/06/26/cures-endure-at-museum.

Another view of Kinnear d’Esterre Jewelers. Information on the windows show that this building is going to be the future location of another Graham’s Pharmacy.

Further Reading:

If you have access to Ancestry.com, you can access this page and see a bunch of info on D’Esterre- there are photos! http://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?_phsrc=vvQ46&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&uidh=000&rank=1&new=1&msT=1&gsln=D%27esterre&MSAV=1&cp=0&cpxt=0&catBucket=rstp&db=mediaphotopublic&sbo=t&gsbco=Sweden&noredir=true&gss=angs-d&gl=&gst=

From 1962-1963, the Advanced News, a newspaper based in Ogdensburg, N.Y. ran a number of advertisements for shops in Kingston, Ontario including Kinnear D’Esterre Jewelers:




i  Physics in Canada, The Bulletin of the Canadian Association of Physicists 25, No. 6 (1969): 38, https://www.cap.ca/onlineforms/temp_PiC_archive/1969-v25-n6.pdf, accessed 12/18.

ii Kingston Directories can be accessed at this website: http://www.digitalkingston.ca/presents-from-the-past/2013/05/15/a-present-from-the-past-city-directories. The 1906-1907 Directory: http://archive.org/stream/kingstoncitydi190607guil#page/n1/mode/2up. The 1907-1908 Directory: Kingston City Directory, July 1907 to July 1908, Leman A. Guild and George Hanson, Publishers (Kingston, Ont., 1907), 51; http://archive.org/stream/kingstoncitydir190708guil#page/50/mode/2up/search/kinnear, accessed 12/18.

iii The following website describes a boat that was owed by D’Esterre and indicates that the gentleman was a colonel in the Canadian Infantry during WW1: http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?178039-BROTM-of-June-Peter-Malcolm-Jardine-Congratulations.

iv This is a link to an obituary for John Kinnear D’Esterre, written in 2012. Tori Stafford, “Remembering a Real Gem,” The Whig, February 12, 2012, http://www.thewhig.com/2012/02/12/remembering-a-real-gem, accessed 12/15.

v The following are websites to Paul-Randolph Jewelers and Kimberly Appraisal: http://www.paulrandolph.ca/about.htm and http://www.kimberleyappraisal.com/about.html.


“Movies Under the Stars”

The Massena Observer, Thursday May 7, 1959, pg. 3.


Drive-in movie theaters are a staple during the summer yet there’s not a lot left in the country. Let’s look at the comparison numbers, in 2015, NATO (the National Association of Theater Owners) there are 595 drive-in movie theaters in the country, compared to 40,164 indoor movie theaters.i That’s a huge difference!

Luckily enough, there’s a drive-in really close to Potsdam, located on Route 56 headed towards Massena, New York, that’s still operational and opened seasonally.

What’s it’s name you ask?

Obviously, it’s called Route 56 Drive-In Auto Theater.

The concept of the outdoor movie theater goes all the way back tot he 1933, when the first auto theater was opened by Richard Hollingshead in Camden, N.J. A few other drive-ins opened up throughout the rest of the country in the 1930’s but it really didn’t catch on until the invention of the car radio, which occurred in the early 1940’s. The number of drive-in theaters in the country peaked in 1958, when the total number hit 4,063.

Since 1958, the numbers of drive-ins have declined across the country for mainly two reasons: many were “Mom and Pop” type businesses that few people who inherited them, actually continued to run and combine that with the rising prices of land that could be used for development in growing towns or cities, both equal a lot of drive-ins being closed and the land sold off.ii

The Route 56 Drive-in has managed to stay open since it first opened in the summer of 1955, which means (some quick math), Route 56 Drive-In is 61 years old! YAY!

The original owner of the drive-in was Peter Papyanakas of Potsdam; Papyanakas also operated the Rialto theater located in Potsdam. Supposedly, land fill that was used during the construction had been dug up during the St. Lawrence Seaway Project.iii

On a side note. I’ve only been able to find one source suggesting this so far and if it’s true, it connects the drive-in theater with the over arching theme of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project, which I’ll be exploring in the next few posts!

So Route-56 Drive-In wasn’t the only drive-in theater in Northern New York. Others existed in Canton, Potsdam, Ogdensburg, Gouverneaur, and Alexandria Bay. The following website: http://www.newyorkdriveins.com/, does a really great job documenting all of the outdoor theaters that at one time existed in New York state. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you can search by region and even by which theaters are still open. According to the website, there are still 27 drive-in theaters in the state that are operational!

So back to my local drive-in! In the 1980’s the current owner, Jeffrey Szot, purchased the drive-in. During its 61 years of operation, the theater has had some renovations and changes to ensure it still is in line with current technology. In the 1990’s, the old fashioned speakers that attached to car windows stopped being used and sounds from the films began to be broadcast through the car’s radio. The old school speakers are still located in the field and are a good indicator of where to actually park your car. Then in 2014, a $100,000 upgrade helped switch the theater from reel-to-reel film to digital, which makes the picture brighter and the sounds clearer. While this summer, new bathroom facilities were built.iv

The Route 56 Drive-In is open weekly from May to September, seven days a week. Their website, http://www.jscinemas.com/56auto.html, is updated frequently to let you know which films will be showing that week. They do a great job showing the big summer block busters.

These were the films showing the weekend I went to drive-in with my brother and his girlfriend. Both movies were good I thought.

While, their concession is open throughout the night having typical movie theater foods: popcorn, slushies, poutine, fried dough (IT WAS AMAZING), etc. The concession stand gives off a 1950’s vibe. During the intermission a cartoon (1950-60’s style) is playing the entire time on the screen. The cartoon is about the concession stand and gives a count down to the next film. It’s pretty fun to watch.

So if you want to see two films for the price of one, under the stars, I highly suggest going to the Route 56 Drive-In or your local drive-in theater. If there’s an outdoor theater near you, comment below. Thanks for reading!

i “Number of U.S. Movie Screens,” http://www.natoonline.org/data/us-movie-screens/, (accessed 08/07/2016).

ii Robin T. Reid, “The History of the Drive-In Movie Theater,” Smithsonian, May 2008, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-history-of-the-drive-in-movie-theater-51331221/?no-ist, (accessed 08/07/2016).

iii Bob Beckstead, “Massena’s 56 Auto Drive-In Opens for 60th Year of Movies Under the Stars,” Watertown Daily Times, May 3, 1015, http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/adv/massenas-56-auto-drive-in-opens-for-60th-year-of-movies-under-the-stars-20150503, (accessed 08/07/2016).

ivAndy Garnder, “Massena’s Route 56 Auto Drive-In Going Digital This Summer; $100,000 Upgrade Planned,” North Country Now, May 26, 2014,http://northcountrynow.com/news/massenas-route-56-auto-drive-going-digital-summer-100000-upgrade-planned-0116094, (accessed 08/07/2016).

A Preservation Brewery Adventure

I’ve been trying to think of ways to highlight rehabilitation properties in Northern New York. What I mean by rehabilitation, are properties that are old, have lost their original purpose, and now are being used for a new reason but at the same time retain their historic character.

Rehabilitation projects are really cool to learn about and I’m hoping to have more posts related to this subject. So for the first post of this series, I want to show you the Old Stone Barracks located in Plattsburgh, NY.


I was there last weekend, for the annual Benefit Gala for Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH). This year, AARCH offered a ticket priced for “young preservationists,” which is a big reason why I went this year. Plus, it was located in a really cool building. The Old Stone Barracks, has recently been renovated into a multitude of things including a brewery, a restaurant, a space for large gatherings, and according to their website they have some rooms to stay in.

This is a small view of the Old Stone Barracks, the entire length of the Barracks is 200 feet. 

The Gala was upstairs at the Barracks where the space can be rented for gatherings or events. The finger food options were really good (it ranged between meat and vegetarian options). I mainly remember there were a number of stuffed mushroom options, one was like a crab stuffed mushroom and another was a spinach/artichoke/feta stuffed mushroom, both were very good!

There was also unlimited drinks, I was able to try a few of the beer offerings of the brewery. I’m not a huge beer fan but they were fun to try! The young preservationists who were into beer thought all the options were good. That’s gotta mean something, right?

This was the pub area upstairs that is used during events or gatherings. I didn’t take a lot of photos because the lighting wasn’t exactly the greatest and I didn’t want to make guests for the Gala uncomfortable.

Plus, the weather behaved long enough to sit out on the upstairs porch with the other “young preservationists” and hang out!

This is a view of the upstairs porch that was open to eat and sit out on. It was really nice!

For those of you who don’t know, AARCH, is a non-profit preservation group located in Keeseville, NY in… you guessed it…. the Adirondacks! They do a lot of educational preservation programming throughout the Adirondacks and beyond. I worked with them and the Potsdam Public Museum to do an architectural walking tour of Potsdam, NY called, “Potsdam Sandstone: Fifty Shades of Red” this past May. It was quite fun and between the morning and afternoon tours I did there was at least 30 people who came for the walk!

So the history of the Old Stone Barracks goes something like this:

During the War of 1812, the US government bought a bunch of land on the shore of Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh. They constructed some log fortifications and barracks. It wasn’t until 1838 that the stone barracks that still stand today were built. The US Army at the time, decided to construct two rectangular, limestone barracks. One for the enlisted soldiers and the other for officers, and there was a parade area between these two structures.

The property continued to be used by different branches of the military, including the Navy and the Air Force. For a very short time after World War 2 and, the buildings were used by Champlain College before being taken over by the Air Force. IN the 1960’s the stone barracks that had been used by the officers was demolished. The Air Force used the base until 1995, at that time, the property was sold off.

The Old Stone Barracks was sold in 2010 to a Montreal developer who initially planned to develop the entire property into apartment buildings. The public reacted negatively to this plan and were able to work with the developer to make plans to renovated and restore the Barracks. Nothing ever came about from those plans. Then in 2014, the Friends of the Old Stone Barracks formed and made a deal with the Montreal developer to purchase the property (the Barracks and the seven acres it came with).

Months later, two former military officers, Terry Schmatlz and Mary Theresa Pearl worked with the Friends to take over the contract and purchased the property with the intention of reusing the Barracks for a new restaurant and Brewery, Valcour Brewing Company. The plan worked and they’ve been open for business since earlier this year.

End view of the Barracks with that nice Valcour Brewing Co. sign! By the way, this view is facing Lake Champlain.

The Old Stone Barracks is located at 49 Ohio Avenue in Plattsburgh. They are open Tuesday through Sunday 11:30 am to about 9 pm or 10 pm, depending on the weekday. They are closed Mondays.

Also, on the old Air Force Base are a few of Plattsburgh’s museums: Clinton County Historical Association and Museum, Champlain Valley Transportation Museum, Kid’s Station Museum (it’s related to the Transportation Museum), the War of 1812 Museum. There is also another brewery on the old base, and that’s Oval Craft Brewing (located at 111 Ohio Avenue). And, the Old Stone Barracks is located right on the lake, I think there was some kind of walking path to adventure on, to get a better view of the lake.

If you’re planning on visiting Plattsburgh in the future I highly suggest visiting the Brewery and the old Air Force Bade because there’s a lot to do and see.

Thanks for reading!

For More Information:

Valcour Brewing Company: http://www.valcourbrewingcompany.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/valcourbrewingcompany/

Friends of the Old Stone Barracks: http://www.oldstonebarracks.org/

News Articles on the New Use of the Property:




Adirondack Architectural Heritage: http://www.aarch.org/

Wikipedia Page: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Wikipedia is not the best source but the page for the Old Stone Barracks has some interesting sterograph photo to look at. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Stone_Barracks

National Park Service: The following link goes to the standards for rehabilitation of historic properties. https://www.nps.gov/tps/standards/rehabilitation.htm