Utica on the Map

Utica on the Map
Smack in the Center

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Upstate Architecture: Whatever Happened to the Sherman House?

I've quoted my friend, Jeff Boehlert, on this blog before. He knows a thing or two about houses and is interested in local architecture.

He has come across some unanswered questions about a house that used to stand on Genesee Street during Utica's "golden" years. Back when the manufacturers hadn't left the area, when the elms lining Genesee Street hadn't died away from Dutch Elm Disease, when the population had grown to around 100,000 people, when the railroad station was central to both business and pleasure.

The above house, portrayed in both a photograph and a post card, belonged to James S. Sherman ("Sunny Jim"), Vice-President of the United States under President William Howard Taft. He was born in Utica, a Hamilton College graduate, a lawyer, mayor of Utica and Representative in Congress. Have you ever noticed all the Sherman Places and Sherman Streets in our city? Hmmm. Well, James Sherman was the inspiration. He had three sons: Sherrill, Richard and Thomas. But I can find out very little about them, or about his wife. They all went on to successful careers--so the brief internet bios say. Where are the Shermans today?

Meanwhile, "Sunny Jim," served his first four year term in D.C. and then, during the re-election campaign in 1912, succumbed to Bright's Disease, a kidney disease, and died a few weeks before the election. 25,000 - 30,000 people showed up in Utica for his funeral, including President Taft.

30,000 people, Vice-President of U.S.

So what did our city do to his beautiful house. Here's what Jeff found out:

"It was an outstanding house on Genesee St., unique, beautiful. Instead of our leaders fighting to make such a treasure a national landmark and/or museum, they allowed it to be torn down as if it had no historical significance what-so-ever. An A&P grocery store was built on it's site-- most likely in an effort to increase the city's commercial tax base. It's my understanding that it was torn down in the 1940's. I'd love to know why, who the players were and how such a horrible decision came to be. Was it public knowledge that the house was to be demolished, or were the people left in the dark?  How wonderful it would be to have The Sherman House here, both for us and for those who pass through our city from other parts of the country and from around the world." 

Thanks to Jeff's interest, I am planning to go to the Historical Society and see if I can find out why the house was torn down, as there is no information on the internet. I will post whatever I can find.
If anyone knows anything about this house or the Sherman family, please respond to this post. I would love any information.

Meanwhile, here is what the Sherman "lot" between Jewett and Clinton Streets looks like today. First, it was an A&P Market. Now it is the home of Rite-Aid, etc. And a parking lot.

Photo by Jeff Boehlert
And below is a photo that shows the house that stood next door to Sherman's. It can be seen in the old photographs of the Sherman house. 

Photo by Jeff Boehlert

1 comment:

  1. If you check out the site you can see an old stone wall on the north side of the existing house. That wall was actually part of the Sherman home. It held up the port-cochere that was constructed after the photos you display. So there is actually a surviving remnant of the Sherman Home! Bobby Sullivan