Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

May 15, 2017

The Glens Falls Club, originally formed as the Glens Falls Athletic Club, was a social organization that at one time occupied the top floor of the Elks building, the building which Scoville Jewelers recently vacated.  The group was organized in the Crandall building, located at the southwest corner where South Street meets Glens Falls.  Members of the group prepared ‘papers’ to be read in front of the group.  The City Historian has some of these ‘papers’ which were transcribed from the collection of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.  We present one here that was prepared by Marion A. Chitty about the old Sanford House on Ridge Road.  Carolyn and Robert Rudolph live in the house today.  The Rudolph’s were instrumental in pursuing the National Register designation which the house received in 1998.


The Sanford House on Ridge Road in Queensbury is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was home to one of the earliest settlers in the area.


The Old Sanford House


     There are no colonial homes in this part of the country, with one exception, the old Fort House in Ft. Edward.

     Although the first settlements were made at least ten or twelve years before the Revolution, the houses were mostly of logs and of the most simple design and construction. Even these were all destroyed either in Burgoyne’s advance thro’ this country, or later in Carlton’s raid of 1780. The Marquis de Chastillux traveling through this country in December 1780, thus describes its appearance: “Those who were in Burgoyne’s way, alone experienced the horrors of this expedition, but on the last invasion of the savages the desolation has spread from Ft. Stanwix even to Ft. Edward. I beheld nothing around but the remains of conflagrations’ a few bricks, proof against the fire, were the only indication of ruined houses, whilst the fences, still entire, and cleared lands announced that these deplorable habitations had once been the abode of happiness.” (Travels in America by the Marquis de Chastillux, translated and published in London 1787).

     The close of the war brought many of the first settlers back, or at least those who had survived, and as the mills were rebuilt and put in operation a better class of houses sprang up, and by the end of the century a few quite elegant ones, built by well-to-do immigrants, patterned after their homes in New England.

     One of these was the old Sanford House on the Ridge Road, about two miles above our city. Dr. Holden says that in the year 1800 this locality was more prosperous and better built up, than this settlement at the Four Corners (meaning our present Bank Square). In that year (1800) the Quakers built their new Church in what is now the Quaker burying ground, abandoning the older log structure on the Bay Road. Later on this new church was also abandoned and the present brick structure built in the city.

     While the Quakers were the first settlers here, and greatly predominated, the close of the war brought many who were not of that faith. In 1795 there arrived from New Milford, Conn., a band of new settlers – members of the Congregational Church of that place. Among these was David Sanford. He brought with him his wife, Amy Hartwell and his two oldest children, Rachel and Rebecca. As he was born in 1769 in New Milford, Conn., he was at this time twenty-six years of age.

     Miss Louise McDonald has furnished the following information: “Mr. Sanford removed to the Town of Queensbury about 1795 and settled on a ridge just outside Glens Falls which in honor of him soon took the name of Sanford’s Ridge.”

     There he at once entered the mercantile business, which he very successfully conducted for some years. He also conducted an ashery and acquired a good deal of real estate. He was a man of wide influence and esteem, holding various offices, town clerk in 1802-3; superintendent of schools in 1805-6-7-10-11, and other town offices. He assisted in building the first church in Glens Falls, (then called Pearl Village), begun in 1803 and finished in 1808. He had eight children – all but Rachel and Rebecca born at Sanford’s Ridge. His wife, born Amy Hartwell, was one of the charter members of this first Church. David Sanford, of New Milford, is described as “rich and respected” both in the church and society. He was on the committee in the revolution appointed to furnish the town quota of soldiers, and also held many town offices.

     Soon after David’s arrival here, his father and mother joined him, bringing with them David’s sister Mary, who had married Dr. Charles McDonald. She brought with her her two young sons. One died in early manhood, and the other became the William McDonald, progenitor of that well known family in Glens Falls.

     It will thus be seen that with this addition, and his own growing family, David needed a large house, which he proceeded to build probably largely with his father’s money.

     This large roomy house is a typical example of the New England architecture of that period. We should be glad that it was built outside the city, for the few homes of the same class, built in Glens Falls, have long since disappeared. (Examples: The old Sisson house on site of the Glens Falls Insurance Co. and the J. W. Finch House.)

     Mrs. Rawson in her book “Sing Old House” in speaking of these old houses calls them “The spacious two story and garret homes of the whole country, which just to look at is to love and feel the spirit of home.” She also speaks of their entire lack of ornamentation and ostentation. But this is not entirely true of the old Sanford House, for it has above the typical entrance door, a large Palladian window, with one exception, the only one known in this vicinity of that period. There is also a line of ornamental carving or wood work encircling the whole house. The interior having been lived in so long and continuously has been much modernized. Mrs. Willis Haviland, who went there as a bride about 1870, states that the high kitchen chimney – beginning in the cellar – was still there, but the open fireplace had been bricked up. The fireplaces in the front rooms have apparently been made smaller as in the Gansevoort house, but the attractive hall and large spacious rooms still remain – the upper hall being well lighted by the aforesaid large Palladian window – makes an attractive sitting-room. The high green barn was built by Mr. Willis Haviland around the smaller old one which was removed when all was finished.

     The fact that old Zachariah, wife and daughter, joined David’s family here, seems to indicate that they meant to found a family home suitable and adequate for themselves, and for the generations which were to come.

     But alas for man made plans: Old Zachariah died in 1802 leaving the major part of his property to son David. (Read will). David lived for another ten years, doubtless busy and happy ones, when he too passed away at the early age of 43 years, leaving a family of minor children. Two of his sons had died in infancy leaving only one son, George, and five daughters. Dr. Holden says that son George remained with his mother ’till he became of age, assisting her in the care of the family and property. He then entered business and after a busy and successful career in Glens Falls,  removed first to Balston and later to Syracuse, where he died in 1862. Thus passing from the picture. His mother, Amy Sanford, married a second time Elisha Folger, a Quaker, and doubtless went to live at the Folger farm in what is now the Haviland road. Her oldest daughter, Rebekah, had been married before her father’s death, 1811, to John Hitchcock.

     Rachel married Abram Vandenberg

     Delia Marie married Nehemiah Sheldon

     Emily Francis married Orlin Mead

     Amy Emeline married Orlin Mead

     David’s sister, Mrs. McDonald, took for her second husband, Major Thomas Bradshaw. Her only surviving son William, who had been actively engaged in his Uncle David’s business, for a time owned the old house.

     The late Mrs. Lewis Arms in a letter says: “We recently drove by the old house. It looked just the same and brought back many happy memories.” She goes on to say that the late Leonard G. and William H. McDonald were born in this old house  – while she, herself and sister, were born in the Warren Street House subsequently bought by her father, Wm. McDonald. This had been originally partly built by Abraham Wing. Dr. Holden says that Wm. McDonald “rebuilt and completed the half finished structure to a spacious and elegant mansion, which he occupied till his death.” This stood on the site of the “Old Ladies’ Home” and was demolished to make room for that building. On the rear of the lot stood for many years the original log cabin of Abraham Wing.

     But to return to the Sanford House, its original occupants had by this time been pretty well scattered when in 1820 Wm. McDonald and his wife, Maria Jane, sold it to Gould Sanford of New Milford, Conn., a nephew of David Sanford. It is described in the deed as parts of lots 11 and 12 of the 1st division of Queensbury. The price was $4500.

     Gould Sanford presumably soon took possession, raised a large family and continued to occupy it till his death in 1855. His will directed that the property should be sold, giving preference to son Frederick and the proceeds divided among his heirs. Son Frederick not wishing to purchase or perhaps not being able to do so, the property was sold for the first time out of the family to David J. Haviland on Oct. 22nd, 1855 for $9000. The home farm contained 139 acres. There as also land at the intersection of the Oneida road and the Haviland road, and other property. Elmore Platt and Sarah, his wife, were executors.

     David J. Haviland occupied the place till his death in 1868, when he was killed by a train, at or near Ft. Ann. He was married three times – his second wife being Mary Sanford, daughter of Gould – By the three wives he left six children, four of whom were minors. On application of Phoebe Haviland to the Supreme Court, Orange Numan was appointed their legal guardian December 21, 1868, and on April 1, 1869 he sold the place for $10,660 to Joseph Haviland, a cousin of David J. This price being the highest offered.

     The place thus descended to the late Willis J. Haviland, son of Joseph, who took possession on the occasion of his marriage with Miss Belle Andrews about 1870. After occupying the house for approximately sixty years it was sold to the Yale family. It has since been in the possession of the Bennett family and is now owned and occupied by John Ferguson.

     Although his old house has not the historic importance of Gansevoort, it is one of the oldest houses of this vicinity. Its owners and occupants, the Sanfords, the McDonalds, the Havilands all took and important part in the development and up-building of the community. The Sanfords gave their name to Sanford Street, and hence to the Sanford Street school; the Wm. McDonald while a member of the legislature obtained the survey and appropriation for the Glens Falls Feeder and Dr. Holden says: “to him, more than to any other man” is the credit due for opening up the place and preparing the way for its healthy development.

     The Havilands were among the earliest settlers, and have always been and still are, among the most important inhabitants of the city and surrounding country – They gave their name to the Haviland road.

     These three families have also been connected by marriage with the Hitchcocks, the Sheldons, the Orlin Meads, the Cools, the Gansevoorts, the Bradshaws, the Sissons and most of the well known people of our early history. The old house has seen many weddings and festivities, also deaths and family separations. It has run the gamut of human joy and sorrow – The Old Sanford House may well be called locally at least, a historic home.

Marion A. Chitty

Read at a meeting of the Old Glens Falls Club

Retyped by Casey Cosey for the Glens Falls City Historian from a copy of this story found at the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in December of 2016.  Thanks to Glens falls City Historian Wayne Wright for sharing this information.


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