WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA BOSSHART, SARATOGA SPRINGS PRESERVATION FOUNDATION  |  PHOTOS PROVIDED (UNLESS NOTED)

"BEING COZY BY THE FIRE with my son Romeo admiring the Christmas tree is my favorite place to be during the holidays,” said Larissa Hawley, the owner of 748 North Broadway.   It is easy to see why when one walks into this stunning home.  The entry hall features beautiful painted diamond-patterned floors; a graceful stairway with a delicate curve as it leads to the second floor; and custom-color diamond French wallpaper.  “I fell in love with the house the moment I walked in the door.  It had all the Victorian charm and character that I wanted, while also being light and bright,” she said when asked what attracted her to the house.    

City Hall Saratoga Springs

Photo by Susan Blackburn Photography.

Photo by Susan Blackburn Photography.

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The Victorian Stick style house was built by Edward R. Stevens Jr. in 1877.  The house features a wrap-around porch with low-pitched roof turret and porte-cochere.  “I love the painted black and white checkered floor of the front porch. It gives the house a bit of a whimsical welcome for friends and family.  I love to decorate the porch for the different seasons, Christmas being my favorite,” shared Larissa.  

Stevens’ close friend Charles Cooke Lester, a young attorney, purchased three vacant lots in 1876 for $3,500.  Lester immediately deeded the southern half of the three lots to Stevens for $1,750.  The friends built nearly identical houses.  The houses have the same floorplan, but Lester’s house, 754 North Broadway, was constructed of brick, while Stevens’ house was constructed of wood.  Each house has its own distinctive front gable decorative detailing.  Stevens’ features a decorative curved brace and vertical pierced board siding with intricate cut-outs and Lester’s features ornate brickwork with beautiful scrollwork.  An 1876 article in The Saratogian wrote “E.R. Stevens is just finishing a very attractive and conveniently arranged cottage on upper Broadway.  The outlook is fine, commanding a splendid view of the village and the distant mountain ranges.”  Stevens and his wife Isadore lived in the house, although often they rented it to others during the summer season.  

Stevens was born in New Orleans where his father operated E.R. Stevens & Co., described in an 1857 New Orleans Bee newspaper ad as “importers and wholesale dealers in cutlery, guns, pistols, perfumery, fancy goods, paper, stationery, school and blank books, playing cards, & ….”  Similar to his father, Stevens operated a book and music store at 322 – 324 Broadway that carried a variety of goods.   On December 21, 1871, The Saratogian highlighted its advertisers, including Stevens, in “Santa Claus Prospecting”—  

"Chief of all, however, among those who tempt old Santa, are those who deal in books and fancy articles.  At the head of the list is E. R. Stevens Jr., whose assortment of holiday books and toys, articles of vertu, and elegant little keepsakes of all kinds, is well worth examining. We cannot stop to enumerate all that Stevens offers. His counters are brilliant and inviting and his shelves shine with the handsomest of volumes." 

E. R. Stevens’ holiday offerings were regularly noted in The Saratogian.  Another article wrote, “Some of the most elegant volumes for holiday gifts that we ever saw are on exhibition in the showcases of E. R. Stevens' Bookstore. He has all the standard authors, including some very fine translations of the best German classics.”  One can only imagine that his home was decorated for the holidays and gifts from his store were wrapped under the Christmas tree. 

Stevens operated his store until 1888.  He then went to New York where he connected with a trading company of Japanese goods.  He passed away at the age of 42 in New York.  Isadore remained living in the house until 1907.  She later became the proprietor of the boarding house at 637 - 641 North Broadway known as the “The Maples.”  From 1908 until 1911, 748 North Broadway was rented by Albert E. Cluett who was associated with Cluett, Peabody, & Company – a shirt, cuff, and collar manufacturer located in Troy.  Isadore passed away on July 24, 1913.  Albert C. Coleman, Isadore’s brother who was a manager of the United States Hotel, was named her executor.  He rented the house to others.  Albert passed away in 1917 and the following year the property was sold to Andrew Moreland, a vice president of the Adirondack Trust Company.   Moreland moved to New Jersey and sold the house in 1919.  

Rita Hayden received the house as a wedding present from her parents in 1919.  Rita married Theodore A. Knapp, an attorney, and they had two sons, Lohnas and Robert.  Rita and Theodore divorced in 1939.  Rita was regularly featured in the social pages of The Saratogian.  She served as the Chair of Surgical Dressings for the local Red Cross chapter during World War II where she organized women to make surgical dressings for service men.   She was a pianist and would often host discussions about music at her home for the Practice Club of Saratoga Springs.  In addition, she was active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served as president of the Flower and Fruit Mission of Saratoga Hospital.  Rita resided at 748 North Broadway for 43 years until she sold it in 1962.  

James Cox Brady of Far Hills, New Jersey purchased 748 North Broadway to be a summer cottage for him, his wife Eliot, and their four children during the Saratoga racing season.  Brady inherited a vast estate, including his father’s business, Purolator Products, manufacturer of oil filters.  After graduating from Yale University, Brady took a job at the Consolidated Gas Company in the Bronx shoveling coal by the side of Italian and Polish immigrants for $23 a week despite being a director of the company that he had inherited from his uncle.  According to his New York Times obituary, “He had remembered the advice of his uncle, who said, ‘a man couldn’t direct a business well unless he knew how to do even the humblest job in it.’”  

Photo by Susan Blackburn Photography.

Photo by Susan Blackburn Photography.

Brady’s father was a major horse owner and breeder.  After serving in World War II where he earned a Bronze Star, Brady took a greater interest in racing.  He had sixteen major stakes winners and was a founding member of the New York Racing Association where he served as chairman for eight years.  One of his proudest moments was cutting the ribbon when Belmont Track opened in 1968.  It is certain that 748 North Broadway was host to many summer gatherings during the 35 years that it was owned by the Brady family and Mill House, the Brady racing stable. 

On December 11, 1996, Happy Hill Farms Inc. owner Peter W. Wetherill purchased the property. He was raised on the Happy Hill Farm in Pennsylvania.  “Peter had a love of horses and horse sports that carried him forward from his mother and father’s involvement in racing and show horses… Peter was an accomplished horseman and rode to many National championships aboard his wonderful horses Junior League, Desert Storm and Hudson,” according to his obituary. 

It was during Wetherill’s ownership that the wrap-around porch floors were painted with the black and white checkerboard pattern; the entry hall, living, and dining rooms had the hardwood floors painted with a black and brown diamond-pattern; and wallpapers from France and England were hung.  It is believed that he was also responsible for the enlarging the opening of the entry hall into the living room, incorporating paired square and round fluted columns as well as making what was most likely two rooms into one large living room with a coffered ceiling.  

In 2002, Martha Farish Gerry acquired 748 North Broadway. Martha was a long-time trustee of the New York Racing Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, one of the first women to be admitted as members to The Jockey Club, and was the breeder and owner of the three-time American Horse of the Year, Forego.  In 2006, Richard A. Corbett, a real estate developer in Florida, purchased the property.  He retained ownership until 2017 when it became Larissa’s home.

It is no surprise that today the house continues to be a place for friends and loved ones to gather.  “Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I love how the house looks when it is decorated, particularly when the first snow falls.  It is so cozy and inviting.  Romeo gets so excited about the Christmas lights on the tree and in the windows, not to mention the presents left under the tree by Santa Claus,” Larissa shared.  “There is no place that I would rather be on Christmas eve than gathered around the dining room table with family and friends enjoying holiday cheer and a delicious dinner, compliments of my father Jack and brother Jim.  It is truly special - creating lasting memories,” she ended.  Wishing Larissa, Romeo, and everyone a happy holiday season!  


Bonus Gallery of Photos by Susan Blackburn Photography.



Simply Saratoga

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