HISTORY OF STONELEIGH
As we know it.....
Stoneleigh started life as a private home in 1885 when Francis Asbury Smith and his wife Julia had it built, and moved in with their adopted daughter Louise. (She was Julia's niece, who's mother died shortly after Louise was born, and Louise's father had already buried two sons, and now with his wife gone, he decided that would be best for Louise). The front half of the home was for the family, and the back half of the house was used to house the working staff. The Smiths owned the home from 1885 until Louise sold it to the Staley family, sometime around 1948.
Francis hired the architects Hartwell and Richardson to recreate a home the Smith's had seen while traveling in Germany, and added the cathedral ceiling for his own pleasure. They had come to this area due to Julia's connection with family, as she was part of the Hale lineage. Plus Francis had begun to practice law with his wife's relatives, (the Hales), who had already established a law firm here in Elizabethtown. As time went on, Francis became a well known, and well-liked Judge, making it to sitting on Circuit Court. He was a gifted orator, and from the articles I've read, he was a very fair judge.
After she lost her parents in 1915, Louise had the Judge's law office moved to the back of the property (the Judge died in October of 1915, and Julia in December of 1915), and had begun living in the law office-now converted to a home, while renting out Stoneleigh (starting in the summer of 1916). While reading through old newspapers, we found she leased it to quite a few different families including (a) Countess Janni and to the Albion James Wadhams family. Louise began renting the home to Judge Ellis Staley and family during the summer of 1922, and every summer from then on, until the Staley's bought the home that had become their home away from home. (Albany, NY was their winter home). Once the Staley's bought it, they continued to live here during the summers until 1955 when Ellis Staley (a son) began to rent it out to the Handley's (?) as a Nursing Home. (See paragraph below). Louise lived in the small house (the former law office) to the back of the property until her passing in the 1950's.
A tragedy almost took the home in June of 1920, just after Countess Janni and family moved in for the summer, when a spark from "the big chimney" ignited a fire on the roof that caused considerable damage to the back half. (So what you see today, the wooden back wing of the building, was rebuilt around that time). Luckily nothing was lost of the furniture and collectibles due to "300 local residents lending a hand moving valuable items out before any damage happened."
The Nursing Home: After the Staley's bought it, and after Judge Staley and his wife had passed, Ellis (a son) took over the home. He then rented it out to a couple who chose to use it as a nursing home. The nursing home opened during summer of 1955, and ran until it was closed by the state in 1964, and it was again the Staley's private home, and that's when it went up for sale (or shortly after that), and it stayed on the market for 5 years (before we bought it). During the years as a nursing home, the Handley's closed off the cathedral ceiling with a sheetrock ceiling, and built a floor where the railings are now....apparently to help with the heat since they had a houseful of elderly residents.
Present Owners: This is where we came in. In 1969, with a desire to get off of Long Island and avoid the long daily commute from the city out to Miller Place, Ron Remington came across an ad in the New York Times describing Stoneleigh. After a drive up here to check it out, Rosemary fell in love with it, and they bought it in the winter of '69, and moved in (with their two daughters in tow) during the summer of 1970. After a little remodeling in the back half, a lot of mowing, and the removal of the floor and ceiling in the main hall, the cathedral ceiling could again be seen from the ground floor and Stoneleigh was back to the original look it was meant to have. All of the woodwork in the main hall was untouched by the nursing home remodel, but they did throw out the curved railing, as well as two other sections of railing, and exposed the face of the curved overhang so there was some work involved in getting the main hall looking like it originally looked when it was built. It again became a summer home for the next four years due to work obligations in another state, but it once again saw full time residents in 1974, and continues on today.
From 1974 to 1987 it was a private residence again, but in 1987, Rosemary decided to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast with the help of her companion, Bill Ames. Ron Remington had passed on, her children had grown and moved out, and she owned a large house with no one to fill it with, so she and Bill felt the most logical thing to do with it was rent it out, a room at a time. Bill replaced the missing railings by turning all of the spindles himself, and finding a handyman to recreate the missing rails, so the finished upper balcony is thanks to his hard work and abilities. It has remained a B&B from that time forward, and it has seen many wonderful guests, many of whom have returned year after year, and think of it as their Adirondack "home away from home". So join us for one night, or several, and become one of our repeat friends, and join a large group of wonderful visitors that have come back year after year.
Sadly, we have lost Rosemary in September 2015. The house and business will never be the same without her.