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Description of The Estate
From Personal Recollections of Gerrit Smith
By George Thomas, Esq. Utica, Jan 5, 1875


The visit described below took place in June 1859

Smith Mansion

On my arrival at Peterboro I first saw Mr. Smith at his office - a plain and substantial full sized edifice for the purpose situated a few rods from his dwelling. Very soon he showed me the way to his stately mansion, and seated me in his library room, where Mrs. Smith was engaged in drawing. This is a very large room entered (from) the large hall and fronts Main Street - had an extensive library, but he remarked that he had found time to read but a few of the volumes it contained. He passed me around through the mansion containing many large and smaller rooms, some 12 ft. high in the lower story - all in good order and richly but plainly furnished. The wide piazzo on the southerly side of the house was converted into a large conservatory with a glass front and filled with choice flowers in great variety and heated in winter from a furnace in the basement of the mansion. After such examination Mr. Smith remarked that his father had built the mansion when he was a child and before settlements even made near it to any extent - said he had improved and added somewhat to it and feelingly remarked that he venerated it with the poplars that surrounded it as the work of his father. We were now called to dinner and when seated around the table Mr. Smith with much unction invoked God's blessing upon the poor slave and the dinner was served. After dinner he conducted me over the grounds attached to his mansion consisting of 25 A of land through which was flowing a never failing stream of water of sufficient size to operate a mill just below the premises. A strong stone wall above high water mark extending along the sides of the stream protected the banks from the action of the water the summits of the banks being some 15 ft. above the walls. The ground was graded forming an even gradual slope to the height of the walls. On the one side of the stream was a beautiful green lawn. On the other side were five terraces some fifteen to 20 rods in length rising each about 3 ft above the other to the summit. These terraces were planted with grapevines of several varieties all in a flourishing condition. At the end of the terraces was a large greenhouse or grapery made of glass at a cost of $4000 in which the most choice foreign grapes were produced. Some ten rods in the rear of the mansion is a beautiful summer house, near which is a fine artificial fountain of living water. The whole grounds were in a state of high cultivation, abounding in fruit and ornamental trees and flowers, producing abundance of vegetables in great variety, melons, etc. The grounds were carefully laid out, with neat gravel walks passing in diferent directions with a design for convenience and ornament and they exhibited good taste.

Source: Onondaga County Public Library


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