A Clarkson Mosaic - page 162

Woodstock Lodge.
After standing unused for a number of years, Woodstock, the large
sandstone house standing on the Clarkson estate, reopened as a Cooperative Boarding House in
1935, after Miss Emily Moore donated $1,000 toward furnishing it as a residence.
Woodstock Lodge had been built in 1827 by Augustus Clarkson (1802-55), the uncle of
Thomas S. Clarkson, after whom the University was named. It was used as a residence for him
and his family. Even though both his wife, Selina, and his two young children died within two
years, he continued to live there. His second wife, Emily McVicar, bore him a daughter,
Frances, in 1853, and both she and her daughter resided there after Augustus' death in 1855.
Late in the century, Lavinia Clarkson refurbished the building as a playhouse for
neighborhood children who were invited to enjoy the toys and children's library she provided. A
grand marble staircase in the center of the foyer led to many second floor rooms that were
removed by later renovating. When no longer a residence, it became a playhouse for one of the
Clarkson sisters, and contained what was said to be the best billiard table in Potsdam. A small
conservatory located near the front of Woodstock was used as a recreation building for the
Clarkson children where they kept themselves entertained with their musical instruments.
Forty years later, the building again began to be used as a residence called the
Woodstock Club when, in 1935, it housed 25 men: 20 freshmen, three sophomores, one junior,
and one senior. Mrs. Rhoades, mother-in-law of Prof. Bill Farrisee, was the house mother, but
she received considerable help from a House Committee. Composed of one member from each
class, this Committee- Fayette Van Zile, senior, as chairman, with Robert Smith, Paul Slate,
and John Plunkett- assigned chores to each resident.
Those whose earliest class was nine o'clock did the breakfast work, those having classes
at two o'clock or later did the lunch work, and those not having classes at all that day did the
dinner work. Each resident had approximately five duties to perform during the week. In
addition to the housework, the men cut their own firewood on the Clarkson estate with
permission. This same spirit of cooperation carried over into the academic work. Those in
trouble in a course would receive the help of others in the house, resulting in the overall average
of Woodstock being higher that the average for the school. This Club remained in existence
until 1943 when the building was closed to residents, but was used for storage for about 10
In 1954, to stop the vandalism which was beginning to destroy it, JohnO'Brien, director
of purchasing for Clarkson, received permission from Don McIntyre, treasurer of the College,
to move his family into the building. The O'Briens lived there for 18 months, and were
followed by Bill Cole, custodian of the gym, and his family.
Tim O'Brien [later Services Supervisor] described the house as he remembered living in
it as a small child. It had a large kitchen with baking ovens in the basement, and a rope-driven
dumbwaiter leading up to the dining room on the first floor. Off the kitchen was a storeroom
behind which was a root cellar.
On the hill behind Woodstock itself were three barns, each of which had huge
interconnecting cavernous cellars made of finely crafted interlocking and arching stonework.
These resembled tunnels, leading to the mistaken myth that they were part of the famous
"underground railway" which helped runaway slaves during the Civil War. These barns were
located where the Science Center later was erected.
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