Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Gerrit Van Schaik Quackenbush and the GVS Quackenbush & Co. Dry Goods Store, Troy, New York

Gerrit Van Schaik Quackenbush
The earliest established retail dry goods house in the city of Troy, New York was that of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. Few of its first patrons are living to tell of its beginning on the east side or River Street, one door north of State Street, sixty-seven years ago. Then it was seated as it is now in the business center of the city. Its removal on October 1st, 1856, to the south-east corner of Third and Albany streets, was looked upon as a mistake of the circumspect proprietor, but the marked changes in the growth of the city which later followed confirmed his foresight and sagacity.

The large and finely-lighted four-story store was a creditable monument to his enterprise. The business being wholly that of the sale of dry goods, the stock of the different departments, both wholesale and retail, comprises silks, woolen, cotton, and other dress fabrics, prints, cloths, linens, muslins, underwear, hosiery, laces and embroideries, shawls, cloaks, haberdashery, carpets, curtains, and other products of the loom and needle. An elevator carried buyers from floor to floor. The spaciousness of the salesrooms was one of the striking features of the well-ordered establishment. Situated at the intersection of Third Street and Broadway, two of Troy's principal thoroughfares, it was of easy access both to city shoppers as well as country customers.

The founder of the store, Gerrit Van Schaick Quackenbush, engaged in the dry goods business in 1824 with William C. Miller, under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co., at No. 202 River Street, next door north of the dry goods store of Knox & Morgan, opened in May, 1827, in the building on the north-east corner of River and State streets. The site was originally occupied by a two-story frame dwelling first the residence of Zephaniah Anthony, who, on October 27th, 1792, sold it and lot 70 to Moses Bears for 350 pounds, who converted the building into a tavern, which was burned in the fire of 1820, when Amos Allen was the landlord of the house.

On the dissolution of the partnership, on April 28th, 1826, G. V. S. Quackenbush and Edwin Smith formed the firm of Quackenbush & Smith. On the withdrawal of Edwin Smith, on March 7th, 1828, G. V. S. Quackenbush continued the business until 1837, when he and William Lee as G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. became associated in it. The firm, from 1839 to 1841 had a branch store at No. 3 Franklin Square, which was conducted under the name of William Lee & Co. In 1841, the store at No. 202 River Street was conducted under the name of Quackenbush & Lee. From 1842 to 1865, G. V. S. Quackenbush had the management of the business. On February 1st, 1865, he, his son Gerrit, and Samuel Lasell, who had held a clerkship under G. V. S. Quackenbush for a number of years, and William H. Sherman, who had likewise held a similar position in his store from 1848, entered into partnership under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co. In 1868, Frederick Bullis became a co-partner.

On the death of Gerrit Quackenbush, on May 8th, 1869, the four surviving members of the firm continued the business under the same name. Gerrit V. S. Quackenbush died on June 10th, 1872, aged 71 years. On February 1st, 1873, Samuel H. Lasell and William H. Sherman succeeded to the business, which they have since conducted under the name of G. V. S. Quackenbush & Co.

The doors finally closed for good on August 3, 1937.

However, the historic Quackenbush building survives to this day, and is under renovation. The long-vacant, Victorian-era structure, will soon serve as the new, larger home for the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.

According to its website, The Center, initially founded in early 2013, "is a federation of makers, hackers, crafters', and artists who share camaraderie, space, and resources to do out tinkering."
In two years, the science business incubator has already outgrown its current 5,000 square foot space in the former Off-Track Betting parlor in the Uncle Sam Atrium.

According to the building's owner and local real estate developer David Bruce, the project is receiving financial support from Rensselaer County, the city of Troy, private developers and a $550,000 grant from the Empire State Development Corporation.

When complete, the building will also house offices for Gov. Andrew Cuomo's START-Up New York program, which offers new companies incentives for establishing their businesses in the Empire State.



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