Bayside Cemetery: Photographs and Thoughts

For most of the month of October, I was on vacation with my boyfriend in Austria. Before I start sharing all the highlights of that trip, I wanted to focus on one of the local cemeteries before the month is over. The cemetery that I frequent is Bayside Cemetery, which is located slightly outside of Potsdam on the Back Hannawa Road. A majority of the cemetery overlooks the Raquette River.

Cemeteries are interesting places to investigate and photograph. For me, cemeteries seem timeless: life is moving outside the cemetery gates but within, it just seems kind of at a standstill. The stones represent not just people but specific moments in time: birth, death, and maybe an achievement. It’s probably my own morbid curiosity but I wonder what my headstone will say someday, and if a curious passerby will take photos of it and wonder who I was.

When I walk through the tree lined lanes and past the moss covered headstones of Bayside, lots of feelings run through my mind.






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I don’t want to delve a lot into the history of Bayside because I really want the focus of this post to be the above photos and the importance of cemeteries to our local history. The shortened version of Bayside’s history is that it was established in 1865. It is considered a “rural cemetery” because of its landscaped, park-like layout designed by Boston architect and surveyor, Luther Briggs. When it was finally finished, about 720 graves were moved from earlier cemeteries that had once been within the village of Potsdam on Willow Street and Pierrepont Avenue.

For more information on Bayside Cemetery, visit their website. They have a lot of great information on the history of the cemetery and the work that the Bayside Cemetery Association is doing to maintain the property:

If you have any thoughts or want to share your thoughts about your own local cemetery, just leave a comment below! Thanks for reading.

St. Lawrence Academy

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This low-key monument is located outback of the apartment building I live in (it’s low to the ground. Wink, wink, see what I did there). I walk by it occasionally on my way to the local library. It’s located on Union Street in Potsdam. If you’re in the area, you should check it out!

As you can see this monument, was laid in 1916 celebrating SUNY Potsdam/ the Potsdam Normal School’s 100th birthday. Last week, SUNY Potsdam celebrated its 200th birthday, which is really awesome.

What’s interesting is that this monument has been placed in the location of the original St. Lawrence Academy. The Academy is the precursor of SUNY Potsdam. So what happened to the original building?

It’s history-research adventure time!

Today’s adventure has been brought to you by NYS Historic Newspapers. But seriously, this website is amazing and a wonderful resource for people interested in researching Northern New York. A link can be found in the “Resources” page.

Using newspapers, I discovered that the original St. Lawrence Academy was built-in 1810 by Benjamin Raymond, one of the first settlers of Potsdam. The building was used as a meeting place for the locals. From 1816 to about 1825, the building was used for the St. Lawrence Academy. It had grown too small for the growing number of students the Academy was attracting.

The building was described as a one-room wooden building, 24×36 feet and it had a vestibule, a cupola, and a belfry. The close-up of the plaque shows the original Academy building.

After 1825, the building was no longer in use. So it was bought by Anthony Elderkin, another early settler of Potsdam. Mr. Elderkin moved the building to Main Street (65 Main Street to be specific). It was called the “Red House Lot” after it was moved.

On that note, can you imagine moving a building in the 1820’s. It doesn’t sound easy or fun!

The building was remodeled into a residence for Mr. Elderkin. It passed on to his son and then the building had a series of owners, the last being Joseph Ross. In 1949, the building was demolished, along with two others, to make way on Main Street for new science buildings for Clarkson College.

This is the general location of what the “Red House Lot” would have been located on Main Street. Today the area is home to part of Clarkson University’s campus.

The old St. Lawrence Academy building had a very interesting history, especially with it being moved and being used for such a long time. Sadly though it was demolished, which isn’t uncommon when it comes to researching old buildings. On an uplifting ending because of the St. Lawrence Academy we have SUNY Potsdam, which is one of the oldest colleges in the SUNY system, if not the oldest.


“Bronze Plaque Marks Site First School House, Church,” Courier Freeman, Sept. 4, 1958, pg. 1.

“Stone of Old School,” Commercial Advertiser, March 28, 1916, pg. 1.