Carla Kolbe - The grounds of the 1800’s Grinnell House, known as Shew Hill.
By JESSICA NICOSIA
For the Express
NORTHAMPTON — The Fish House Community Center sponsored its second Fish House Historical House and Garden Tour July 21, commemorating 250 years since the first permanent settler, Godfrey Shew, built his log cabin in the area.
The last tour was in 2009 and featured a number of historic homes located in the hamlet. Fish House is located within the town of Northampton on the Sacandaga Lake. Both towns were partly submerged when the lake was created in 1930, according to Fish House historian Joanne L. Blaauboer.
“In 1927, the state came around and posted all the low elevation sites and pretty much told everyone in the area that if their house was in that area they had until 1929 to tear down their house,” she said. “There are no full buildings under the lake. They cut down trees and burned buildings. They moved 12 cemeteries. In Fish House, there were 12 houses that were moved and six houses torn down.”
Ten of those 12 houses have been identified by Blaauboer through extensive research. One was owned by a wealthy family named Sinclair and turned into a hotel in the 1930s.
Another was Godfrey Shew’s second home, the oldest in the tour, built in 1784. And a third was Blaauboer’s house, which neighbors moved by building a box around it and dragging it up the hill with a winch system and horses.
“There were some pretty large houses that were moved,” said Blaauboer. “Some took a year to move. The newspapers back then were almost like gossip columns. It’s difficult to find pictures of houses being moved. People just weren’t recording it.”
She explained that the creation of the lake, which flooded two-thirds of Fish House, was the first of three setbacks the once-thriving town would experience.
Fish House got its name from the camp owned by Sir William Johnson in the 1760s that he dubbed his “fish house.” People called a small area of Northampton by that name until the 1960s, when a woman named Kathryn Seeley had it officially named.
Fish House was a vibrant town with stores, hotels, and mills, and experienced a boom in 1895 when the railroad came to Broadalbin and people built summer homes in the area. But after the lake was created, the town was a fraction of what it was before. The double punch of the depression and the shutdown of the Broadalbin railroad station in the late 1930s truly devastated the town, said Blaauboer.
Fish House still has defined boundaries and signs identifying it on routes 7 and 109, and there are about 100 homes in the hamlet. While it is not what it once was, Blaauboer believes that the history and the natural surroundings make it special.
“We have a collection of artifacts,” she said. “Arrow heads, musket balls, metal toys, clay pipes, pottery shards, a pile of horseshoes, a grinding stone from the blacksmith shop. Now it’s a lot of summer residences. There are no shops. But it is a beautiful place.”
The Fish House Community Center, located at 1170 County Highway 110 in Broadalbin, will be holding it’s third all you can eat breakfast this Sunday, Aug. 12, from 8 to 11 a.m. The buffet includes plain and blueberry pancakes, eggs, hash browns, breakfast meats, coffee and juice all freshly prepared and served at the historic center. Samples of the local history will be on display.