Sunday, February 11, 2018

Adelaide Foote Greenhouse

Around the same time plans were being made to build a condensery in Deansboro, and the Blanding Feed and Grain Company was underway, another little-known business was just starting up: Adelaide Foote's Greenhouse.

Miss Foote lived with her family on Mill Street (2673 State Route 315) with her parents, Orin and Mary Foote, and her sister and two brothers. She was a great-granddaughter on her mother's side of John Failing, who allegedly was held captive for four year by an Indian tribe in 1776 and subsequently sold to a British officer in Canada for whiskey (he walked to his home in St. Johnsville).

From a relatively early time, Adelaide Foote was recognized for her skill in landscaping and her eye for color and decoration, and she transferred these attributes to opening a greenhouse at the Mill Street location. The greenhouse was built in 1902, and at first she intended to provide only roses and carnations but later branched out to all floral varieties.  In later years, she drew up plans for a large extension to the greenhouse, added an iron gate in front of the main house, changed the heating from steam to a hot water system, and had a driveway built from the road to the greenhouse, with the result that the enterprise was called "a credit to the community."

Miss Foote supervised the growing of the flowers and shrubs around the McAdam (Brothertown) Stock Farm on Gridley-Paige Road, which was known for the breeding of pure, prize Holstein-Friesian cattle. Several varieties of orchids had been transplanted, and she experimented with various other beautiful wild growths. She also was a judge at many garden club exhibits and competitions. But outstanding among the flowers in her gardens were dahlias,  with stalks up to 5 feet high and some blossoms six inches across, of all colors which, Miss Foote asserted, were grown from seeds from California.

Adelaide Foote placed an advertisement in the The Deansboro Holler in 1922 for her greenhouse which reads, "Rouge up your house and ground with some flowers." She offered geraniums, vincas, petunias, verbonas, pansies and more for window boxes, lawns and gardens. The ad went on to state that Miss Foote also conducted a "magazine subscription agency," where patrons could subscribe to a magazine of his or her choice.

That same year, a fire broke out in the Feed & Lumber Company, which threatened the greenhouse; however, quick action by the fire department saved the building from ruin.

The business was so successful that at one point, Miss Foote commented that rumors she was going out of business were "much exaggerated."  She was very much in demand as a speaker and expert on horticulture, and there were many reports that her business was steady and growing.

Miss Adelaide Foote became ill in 1937 and was taken to Rome Hospital. I could not find an obituary for her, but mention was made in 1938 that the property was sold to Clement and Emily Smith, who planned to operate a green house. The next transaction was in 1943, when the Smiths moved to Main Street, Deansboro - State Route 12B - into the house now owned by Betty Hughes and Dave Georgius. They moved the large greenhouse, which had been at the back of the house on Mill Street, with them. Dale Tuttle Lints, who lived there as a girl, tells me that a smaller greenhouse located in the front of the garage was later moved to 12B. The Tuttle family lived there until the 1960s, then the Lewis Brood family; and then the Willard Marsh family. Chad Seifert, who now owns the property, showed me around his back yard where, he said, the outline of the former greenhouse could be seen.

ADDENDUM: One of the many pleasures of researching history and sharing the results is the feedback from readers. The recent column on Adelaide Foote's house brought several comments, among them Dale Tuttle Lints of Waterville, who lived in the house from 1947 until the 1950s. Her parents bought the house directly from the Smiths, who bought it in 1938, eliminating the "party from Clark Mills" which was reported.

The Smiths, meanwhile - brother and sister Clement and Emily Smith - purchased the house on 2791 Route 12B, which is now owned by Betty Hughes and David Georgius, and moved the large greenhouse up there. Mrs. Lints remembers the smaller greenhouse, which was located in front of the garage adjacent to the house, was moved later on.

Adelaide Foote was Joan Barker Benedict's great aunt, her grandmother Minerva Foote Barker's sister - her husband's name was John. Mrs. John Barker's father was Oren Foote, who married Mary Failing, a sister of the John Failing who was captured and escaped during the Revolutionary War. Oren Foote built the flat-roof homes in town, for example the Deansboro Hotel and the house next to it. Many of us remember Mrs. John Barker' son, J. Oren, who ran a TV and Appliance center in the center of Deanboro, which was formerly the Hamilton House, where his family lived: Oren Jr.; Joan, Carol (Koren) and Sandy; and is now operated as an antique shop called Ye Olde Canal Shoppe, started by Joan Barker Benedict with her late husband Allen and still run by Mrs. Benedict today.

And the first television in Deansboro? It was at J. Oren Barker's appliance center in the 1950s. Joan Benedict remembers that her father set a bench in front of the store window so people could sit down and witness this miraculous invention.

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