This is a transcription of an article from the Warwick Valley Dispatch, dated February 5, 1975.
A bit of Warwick history preserved
"Only the most perceptive eye could have appreciated the simplicity of starkness of that magnificent building. I am shocked at the way our historic monuments are allowed to deteriorate and eventually be destroyed."
So said Ann Lye, resident of Church Street, Warwick, and a member of the local historical society when she heard that the Veterans of Foreign Wars had made a decision to destroy their large Georgian Colonial building located on the corner of Church Street and Forester Avenue in the Village of Warwick.
The VFW Post could no longer financially support the large structure and decided to replace the old historic building with a contemporary meeting house.
Mrs. Lye quickly joined with David Brandt, a local land planner, and David Hull, an orchardist and real estate associate, to see what could be done to save the builing that had historical lineage dating back to the 1800's.
The building was the first of Georgian style architecture to be built in Warwick, according to Betty Rutledge, who studied the deed and historical background of the property for the local historical society.
John W. Smith, a successful merchant from Long Island, purchased the vacant property in the early 1800's and established a business on the corner of Colonial Ave. and Forester Ave., the site of the present Professional Building. His trade was general merchandise and stables. Mr. Smith, a raconteur and real estate entreprenur, dazzled the young ladies of the day and in 1813 married the gorgeous Kathleen Welling. The mansion was erected shortly thereafter. Mr. Smith, a civic minded individual, was Supervisor of Warwick for six years. He served on the school board and as Trustee of the first Warwick library. The famous naturalist Frank Forester mentions, "The magnificent mansion built by John Smith" in his book Warwick Woodlands published in 1836. M.R. Bradner, M.D., established Warwick's first hospital in the mansion in the early 1900's. It remainded a hospital until 1939. The property was purchased shortly thereafter by the Veterans of Foreigns Wars.
The Warwick Historical Society, in an effort to save the building, decided to take an option with the Veterans to purchase the property. The option was for a period of one year. The Society listed the building for sale. It was felt that a suitable buyer could be found that would restore the exterior of the building to its original architecture and use the interior and grounds for functional use. The property, one acre in size, is zoned for apartments, office space, medical clinics, retirement home. It is one of the largest parcels of land remaining in the village.
A revolving fund was created by the Historical Society under the chairmanship of Mr. George Bensen, treasurer of the Society. The general purpose of the revolving fund is to supply low interest, long term loans to owners of designated hitorical buildings in Warwick and to aid the owners with exterior restoration of their buildings. The fund has been enormously successful in raising over 8,000 dollars through community contributions.
The year's option with the Veterans failed to produce a suitable buyer for the property. The Historical Society was given notice that the mansion was to be destroyed within a week. Mrs. Van Leer, president of the Historical Society, called an emergency meeting of the executive committee. It was decided at the meeting to purchase the property. The Veterans were asked for a delay of one week before destroying the building. The asking price of 60,000 dollars was met quickly by several large cash loans from local concerned citizens and Main Street businessmen who strongly felt that preservation of this building would contribute much to the character and environment of the community. "It would save a legacy for future generation."
Today you can easily preceive and appreciate the vision that Mrs. Lye, Mr. Brandt and Mr. Hull had for this building more that two year ago. The Georgian mansion has taken on a new life. The brick walls have been sandblasted, cleaned and preservered. The roofs have been repaired, window panes replaced, A replica of the front entrance is being made. The trim, shutters and attached meeting hall will be painted in the spring. The building has been received by the New York State Historical Society. The John W. Smith mansion may become an historical landmark in the very near future.
The Warwick Revolving Fund is hard at work and asking for further contributions to carry on its task of preservation. If you're looking for an architectural tearsure, the John W. Smith mansion is for sale.
(Ed. When I think of the Welling Farm, I consider it in the area of the Pioneer Farms Restaurant. But I think the original tract of land that Thomas Welling bought from Burt was rather large. According to the Assessment Roll of 1775, District # 2, Thomas Welling was accessed 24 pounds and 8 schillings. This was the highest for this district. I think his holdings included a large section of the present Village of Warwick.)
Many of the transcriptions found here are now in published form. They have been published by the Orange County Genealogical Society (in Goshen, New York). Volume 3 includes my Volume 3 and Volume 5. Volume 4 includes my four parts of New Milford history. There is a planned Volume 5, which will include my Volumes 6, 7, and 8, Part 1, which is about 250 transcriptions. They can be purchase through the Genealogical Society. Just Google them and print out the order form. Or they can be purchased from the Warwick Historical Society. They are also on sale at the gift shop at Baird's Tavern. I would like to thank the Genealogical Society and Dan Burrows for their efforts. Started a new blog for images of Warwick. Go to: www.imagesofwarwicknewyork.blogspot.com.