Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

March 1, 2019

 

History of the Griffin House

3 Hudson Street – Warrensburg, NY

 

          The original farmhouse on the property where Hudson and , Elm Streets meet Route 9 was built prior to 1833.  Added on to over the years, the result is the beautiful home on the property today.  Steven Griffin lived on the large estate in south part of the hamlet of Warrensburg.  After his death, it was left to his granddaughter, Grace Merrill Lown Magee.

 

          Grace lived on the property and was the last of her family to do so.  It had been in the family for over 150 years.  She lived to be 94 and, like her mother, Mary Griffin Merrill, she was committed to maintaining the estate that her grandfather, Stephen Griffin, had left them.

          Grace was married and widowed twice.  She spent her final years on the property living in an apartment above the carriage house – behind the home.

 

The Griffin Family

Stephen Griffin

          Stephen Griffin was born on January 22, 1754 and died on March 1,1841.  As a young man he served in the Army of the Revolutionary Forces, holding the rank of ensign.  During the Winter of 1780 he was stationed at Valley Forge.  What must have been a welcome change happened on May 29th when Stephen’s brigade was ordered to proceed to Albany.  Later, the brigade was ordered to march to West Point.

          That September, Stephen played an important role in one of the most dramatic events of the Revolutionary War.  This was the treason of Benedict Arnold and the apprehension and execution of Major Andre.  Stephen Griffin’s role was to guard the man who arranged the secret meeting between Benedict Arnold and Major Andre, one Joshua Smith.

          What follows is an excerpt from Stephen Griffin’s journal:

Munday Camp Orange town Septr 25 1780

This evening the whole armey was under arms about 12 o’clock at night and everything in Readeness to March at a Moments Warning genl Wain (Wayne) Marched his brigade and all the Pennsylvania troops and we was informaed the Genl Arnold had sold West Point and all the Stores that our people had taken the Adit Gen’l (Andre) of the British armey as a spie and Gen’l Arnold Hearing of this Maid his escape to New York as he had sold the fort for three Hundred Thousand Pounds Sterling.

Munday Camp Octr 2 1780 Orange town this day at 12 o’clock the Adj’t Gen’l was hanged there was two battalions attended his execution as well as a great number of Spectators…

Stephen Griffin’s journal was recovered and restored by Mary Griffin Merrill. Mary donated the original document to the Colonel Strong Museum in Vergennes, Vermont.

Stephen Griffin II

          Named after his grandfather, Stephen Griffin II (1812-1893) was a well-known businessman and lumberman who owned extensive mill properties and timber lands in the Warrensburg area. In 1880 he constructed a tannery in Hamilton County near Wells, and a town called Griffin developed near the mill.  Once a busy hamlet, today it is only a ghost town.  A book had been written about it, called Griffin:  Ghost Town of the Adirondacks by N. Girard.

          In 1875 Stephen II was a member of the state legislature and held the office of town supervisor twice.  During his lifetime, he did as much for Warrensburg as any man who lived there, employing many in his mills , businesses and lumbering activities.  He was known to never turning away people in need.

The House

        After Grace Merrill Magee’s death, the house was purchased at auction by Kenneth and Florence Carrington who opened a restaurant and bed and breakfast establishment, giving it the name, ‘Merrill Magee House.’

          The history of the house and the family has an important place in the history of Warrensburg as well as Warren County history.  In 1985 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

          Looking at the property, you can see that a prosperous family must have owned it.   The house grew over time as the family prospered and additions were added.

          When Stephen Griffin II purchased the property in 1839, the house was a small farmhouse.  That portion of the house was the tavern and lounge for the restaurant.  In the 1850’s Griffin added the Greek Revival front, then in the 1920’s, Grace added the back section which served as the Griffin dining room.

          It is believed that the oldest part of the house dates back to 1812, but was not original to the site.  It was brought here from an earlier homestead that was several miles away.

          Grace was also responsible for adding a swimming pool in 1928.  The huge, heated swimming pool was reported to be the largest, private, heated outdoor swimming pool in the state.

          In April 2008, new owners Stewart Smith and his sister, Constance Maxam, undertook major refurbishing of the guest quarters. In that spirit, June 2008 saw the owners change the names of the Guest House and Restaurant.  The name changes come from the lineage of the lady that made the estate her home for so many years.  Grace’s Restaurant and Lounge was named after Grace Merrill Magee and Griffin House Bed and Breakfast was named for Grace’s grandfather, Stephen Griffin II, who built up the estate back in the 1800’s.

          In the recent past, the property changed hands again.  After much renovation and upgrading, it has re-opend.

          At press time, information on the latest changes were not available.  Please re-visit the site as an update and photos will be added to this story.

This article was produced by Brady Stark, a senior at Queensbury High School for the Warren County Historical Society.  Brady is an intern with the Society and is the student representative on the Board of Trustees.

 

Warren County Historical Society // 50 Gurney Lane // Queensbury, NY 12804 // (518) 743-0734

 

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