Historian Dennis Connors on “The Smith Family Fortunes”

Join the Strathmore Speakers Series and Onondaga Free Library for an evening with historian and former curator of the Onondaga Historical Association, Dennis Connors. Mr. Connors will discuss the history of the Lyman Smith Family, best known for their L.C. Smith Shotguns and Smith-Corona Typewriters. This talk will explore three generations of the Smith family and their residences as well as how the family’s fortune was made, spent, and dissipated. It promises to be an evening filled with interesting characters and images. A brief Q&A will follow.

This event will be held on Thursday, September 9th at 7 pm on Zoom. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series and Onondaga Free Library events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

You can register for this event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAkceGsqzsrHd1MoL8FU_zwkdgx0o4ozBb-

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

About Dennis Connors

Dennis Connors has worked in historical agencies since 1972 and as curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, New York from 1999 until his retirement in 2018.  He was employed originally by the Association from 1992 to 1999 as its Executive Director.  Previous to that, he was the Supervisor of Historic Resources for Onondaga County Parks for 14 years, overseeing three historic properties.  He also served as executive director for the Landmarks Association of Central New York for three years. He recently was a contributing author for the New York State Encyclopedia Project and has authored and edited six books on Syracuse area history, the most recent being Syracuse’s Grand Hotel: A History, published in 2017.  Mr. Connors has a history degree from the State University of NY at Buffalo with a concentration in museum studies.

About Lyman Smith & the Smith Family Businesses

Lyman Cornelius Smith was an American innovator and industrialist. He was born in Torrington, Connecticut in 1850 and died in Syracuse, New York in 1910. After several failed attempts to break into the lumber industry, Smith experienced his first entrepreneurial success in 1877 when, along with his older brother Leroy and firearms designer William H. Baker, he helped to form W.H. Baker & Co. Following the departure of Baker and his brother, he would rename the business the L.C. Smith Shotgun Company of Syracuse, before ultimately selling it to to the Hunter Arms Company in 1889.

Alongside brothers Hurlbut, Wilbert, and Monroe, Lyman formed the Smith Premiere Typewriter Company in 1887. Relying on technology developed by Alexander Brown, who had replaced W.H. Baker as the firearms designer for the L.C. Smith Shotgun Company, the Smith brothers began producing the first double keyboard typewriter in 1884. This typewriter, the Smith Premiere, performed so well that the brothers ultimately traded their gun business to focus exclusively on typewriters. The growing demand for typewriters combined with Syracuse’s role as an industrial and manufacturing center soon led other typewriter companies to setup shop in the City which, by 1904, had been nicknamed “The Typewriter City.”

The company was renamed L.C. Smith and Brothers in 1904 before being renamed again in 1926 when it merged with Corona Typewriters. By then, the newly formed Smith-Corona company was the largest manufacturer of typewriters in the world, producing 155,000 machines annually. Throughout its existence, the company maintained a reputation for innovation and would go on to expand aggressively into mechanical calculators, office products, paints, foods, and paper through the 1960s. The rise of inexpensive electronic calculators in the 1970s and personal computers in the 1980s ultimately led to the decline of Smith-Corona’s business. The company was acquired by Hanson Plc in 1986. It would endure its first bankruptcy in 1995 before enduring a second in 2000. By 2005, Smith-Corona had ceased manufacturing typewriters entirely, instead leveraging their expertise in ribbons and thermal technologies to focus on the growing thermal label business.

L.C. Smith and Bros. employees on the factory floor c. 1920. Photo from the Onondaga Historical Association.

The Syracuse History Instagram Creator on The Weight of My Words

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The Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce our next event, an evening with David Haas, founder of the viral Syracuse History Instagram account and co-founder of Storycuse.com. David will discuss documenting Syracuse’s past and how being a person who stutters has inspired his passion for giving a voice to the voiceless. The event will be held on Thursday, November 9th, at 7 pm. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

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About David Haas

David Haas is a nonprofit program manager; he volunteers for several local organizations with the mission to promote and develop the region. Most notably, David founded the popular @SyracuseHistory Instagram account in 2013 which now has over 14,000 followers. Since its inception, his work has been featured by a variety of media outlets including The Syracuse Post-Standard, Time Warner Cable News, 9WSYR, The Daily Orange and Syracuse Woman Magazine. In 2016, his account was voted ‘Best Blog’ and David was awarded ‘Best Social Media Personality’ by the Syracuse New Times. Subsequently, he launched the website, Storycuse.com, a platform for human interest storytelling. David has also been recognized by the CNY Business Journal as one of the 40 people under 40 who have excelled in the workplace and in the community. Late last year, Katrina Tulloch of The Syracuse Post-Standard named David as one of Syracuse’s leading innovators. Most recently, David became a freelance writer for the Syracuse New Times. He resides in the Eastwood neighborhood.

Gustave Stickley: At Home in Syracuse with Beth Crawford

bethThe Strathmore Speaker Series is proud to announce that Project Manager Beth Crawford will speak on the rescue and restoration of his Columbus Avenue residence in “Gustav Stickley: At Home in Syracuse” on Thursday, September 28th at 7 pm. Like all Strathmore Speaker Series events, this presentation is free and open to the public.

About Beth Crawford

Beth is a Senior Associate with Crawford & Stearns, Architects and Preservation Planners, PLLC of Syracuse and has been a Designer and Project Manager with the firm since 1983. She has participated in the preservation, rehabilitation, and adaptive use of hundreds of buildings across New York State. Beth has participated as a team member on numerous historic building condition assessments and historic structure reports including for the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church in Buffalo. Most recently she has coordinated the rehabilitation of the Babcock Shattuck House, a condominium rehabilitation of a Queen Anne house on East Genesee Street, and the fire restoration at Grace Episcopal Church on Madison Street.  Beth is currently Project Manager for the restoration of the Gustav Stickley House on Columbus Avenue in Syracuse.

About the Gustav Stickley House

The Gustav Stickley House, located at 438 Columbus Avenue in Syracuse, was home to the famed Arts and Crafts style furniture maker from 1901-1905 and again from 1915 to 1942. Built in 1900 in the Queen Anne style, a fire gutted the home on Christmas Eve 1901 presenting Stickley with the opportunity to rebuild the entire interior. Following extensive renovations it would became what is believe to be the first Arts and Crafts style home in America.

The home has had several owners since the Stickley family, and was eventually purchased in 1995 by the Audi family, which had acquired L. and J.G. Stickley Co., the furniture company setup by Gustav’s younger brothers Leopold and John George, in 1974.

After sitting vacant for twenty years, the phase one of the home’s restoration kicked off this past August. Expected to cost between $2.3 and $2.5 million, the project was originally overseen by the Everson Museum of Art, but has since been handed over to the Onondaga Historical Association. It is expected to take at least three years to complete at which time it will become a major landmark for the Arts and Crafts movement in America.

Announcing the Fall 2017 Season!

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The Strathmore Speaker Series is thrilled to announce our fall 2017 season. The three speakers events will be held at the historic Onondaga Park Firebarn, while the Strathmore Artisans Sale will be moving to a new home at the Most Holy Rosary Parish Center. All events are free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 28th at 7 pm – Project Manager Beth Crawford discusses the rescue and restoration of his Columbus Avenue residence in “Gustav Stickley: At Home in Syracuse”

Sunday, October 22nd at 2 pm – Maxwell School Constitutional Law Professor Thomas Keck and The League of Women Voters discuss recent and upcoming efforts to amend both the United States and New York constitutions in “Rewriting our Foundation: The State and Federal Constitutions”

Thursday, November 9th at 7 pm – Founder of the viral Syracuse History Instagram account and Storycuse.com David Haas on how being a person who stutters has inspired his passion for giving a voice to the voiceless in “The Weight of My Words”

Saturday, November 18th & Sunday, November 19th – The Strathmore Artisans Annual Arts & Crafts Sale. Kick off the holiday season while supporting the Speaker Series and local Artists at our new location, the Most Holy Rosary Church Parish Center.

Full bios for all of our speakers and details on the events to come!