Historic Waterfront Property on Ausable River For Sale.

Keeseville, NY

Michael R. Franklin
Licensed Real Estate Broker
(o) 315-876-2262
Mike.Franklin@FranklinRuttan.com

HISTORY

In the 19th century, Keeseville, New York was a prosperous industrial village, with various mills and factories located along the rapids and falls of the Ausable River as it tumbled out of the Adirondack Mountains on the way to Lake Champlain. A visitor in 1860 described it as a bustling hamlet with “seven churches, the Keeseville Academy, two extensive rolling mills, three nail factories, a machine shop, an axe and edge tool factory, a cupola furnace, a planning mill, two gristmills, and a nail keg factory” and a population of 2,569 people. In 1870, Adirondack guidebook author and photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard described Keeseville as a “thoroughly wide awake little village.”

 

Nineteenth Century Keeseville


A key factor in Keeseville’s prosperity was the invention of a horse nail manufacturing machine by Daniel Dodge, a local blacksmith. “By 1862, his invention was perfected, patented, and put on the market. Where formerly it took all day to make ten pounds of nail by hand, Dodge’s machine could produce 200 pounds with no sacrifice in quality.” By 1873, Dodge’s Ausable Horse Nail Company manufactured and sold their machines worldwide, employed 200 persons, and produced 2000 tons of horse nails annually, which were shipped to wholesalers and retails along the entire East Coast of the United States.


From right: Keeseville Stone Arch Bridge, Stone Mill, Stone Office Building, stone church, and other Ausable Horse Nail Company buildings along river and waterfalls

 

The Ausable Horse Nail Company was the successor of the Eagle Horse Nail Company, which constructed the original portion of today’s Stone Mill building in 1849, as a first floor, stone door lintel carved with that year still illustrates. As the nail making business grew in the hands of the Ausable Horse Nail Company, so did the building. The Stone Mill was expanded twice, creating some 11,000 square feet on two levels, plus an additional basement room containing the large water wheel that powered the factory’s conveyor belts and machinery.


Stone Mill, c.1860s, before a subsequent addition. Stone Office Building on right


About the same time that the Stone Mill was constructed, the Eagle Horse Nail Company also built a three story Stone Office Building to serve as the business office for the growing operation. By the last quarter of the 19th century the operation occupied a half-mile stretch of the Ausable River on which were other buildings and structures for manufacturing, box making, and shipping.

The Eagle Horse Nail Company’s Stone Office Building, with eagle on top,
Later taken over by the Ausable Horse Nail Company


“Shoeing the Horse” – 19th century postcard, with Stone Mill, Stone Office Building
and stone arched bridge in background


“As new industries began and flourished along both sides of the Ausable River, so too did the village’s commercial centers along Main and Front Streets. Stores, stables, churches, hotels, theaters, banks, doctor’s offices, and other establishments made of wood, brick, and local sandstone lined both streets and catered to every need and whim of the population. The residential areas which surrounded the commercial and industrial center of the village included homes of manufacturers and merchants and the more modest dwellings of the village’s clerks, laborers, tradesmen, and artisans. Also notable are Keeseville’s three historic bridges: the 1842 Stone Arch Bridge is a 110’ span made of local sandstone; the 1878 Upper Bridge is the oldest Pratt Through Truss Bridge in New York and one of only about seventy-five wrought and cast irons bridges in the country; and the 1888 Swing Bridge is a rare pedestrian suspension bridge.”

Mid-nineteenth century sketch of Keeseville’s iconic stone arch bridge. Eagle atop the Stone Office Building is visible on right. Stone Mill is visible just under the bridge on right.

  With the advent of automobiles in the 20th century, the need for horse nails diminished dramatically, and in 1923 the Ausable Horse Nail Company property was sold to R. Prescott & Sons, an early Keeseville manufacturer of architectural wood products, furniture, and, in the 20th Century, radio and television cabinets. This firm used the property until the mid-1960s.

In the later part of the 20th century, manufacturing in Keeseville went the way of manufacturing in most of rural, small-town America. Although most of its industry ceased or moved elsewhere, fortunately much of Keeseville’s rich architectural heritage remains and is included in Keeseville’s National Register Historic District of 125 buildings and structures.

In 1988, the Stone Office Building, Stone Mill and an attached, large wooden mill were purchased by Keeseville businessman George Moore. Moore operated two very successful companies—one that recycled automobiles and another that dealt in truck parts. For decades he used the mill buildings for storage of materials, and he rented the office building to various commercial operations. By the turn of the century, he was ready to downsize and sell some or all of these historic buildings along the Ausable River.

Consequently, the Stone Office Building and Stone Mill were purchased in 2008 by Adirondack Architectural Heritage (“AARCH”), the non-profit historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park. AARCH, founded in 1990, had been leasing office space at the Village of Keeseville’s Civic Center for several years. Consistent with its mission, AARCH was looking for its own historic property to serve as its headquarters. It saw in the Stone Office building an ideal office, meeting and exhibit space. It saw in the Stone Mill an opportunity to preserve a historic building, find a compatible use for it, and thereby contribute to the revitalization of downtown Keeseville—a process that had begun during the previous decade.

Upon taking possession, AARCH undertook a major restoration of the Stone Office Building, which it continues to use as its headquarters and to rent a small office to a local engineer.

Simultaneously, in recent years, AARCH undertook a number of projects to stabilize the Stone Mill (roof repairs, window replacements, masonry pointing, etc.), clean out the interior, remove a non-confirming, deteriorated addition, add an entrance ramp, and use the space for several one-time events—all this while researching and exploring various alternatives for the building's long-term use. For a few years, AARCH considered undertaking a major renovation and adaptive use project itself, but in the end concluded that this would take too much time, energy and resources from all its other program activities. Therefore, AARCH is now ready to help the Stone Mill find its next owner, a good neighbor who will enjoy an extraordinary building in a beautiful location while contributing to the ongoing revitalization of Keeseville.

The Stone Mill – Then

The Stone Mill - Now

The Stone Mill – Soon?

 

  • Franklin Ruttan Unique Property Specialists
  • Broker: Franklin Ruttan 1406 North State Street Syracuse, NY 13208
    (O) 315.876.2262 E-Mail: info@FranklinRuttan.com
  • Broker fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.

 

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