History Tuesday at Old Houses Under $50K focuses on wonderful homes that were built for less than $50,000 back in the day. They are not for sale, and if they were, they would certainly cost way more than $50K. Today we feature the H.S. Leech house known as Stoneleigh.
Stoneleigh was a summer house built for H.S. Leech by architect S. Gifford Slocum in Saratoga Springs, New York, around 1886 when the town was a booming vacation resort.
S. Gifford Slocum
Architect S. Gifford Slocum (1854-1920) may have attended, but he did not graduate from Cornell University. He maintained an architectural office on and off in Saratoga Springs from 1882 to 1895 before moving to Philadelphia. Previous to relocating, Slocum built himself a house at 22 Greenfield St, Saratoga Springs, a Victorian style house which now stands hidden behind fencing and trees.
Located on the corner of Union and Circular Streets, Stoneleigh was owned by the Leech family until 1896. Frightened by the high death rates from consumption and germs, the family built the home with numerous balconies as sleeping porches. In fact, the residence may have had more balconies than Leeches.
The hall and dining room were finished in antique oak, the sitting room in oak, the library in mahogany with a Lincrusta ceiling, and the parlor in ebony. As the demand for large houses waned, the house remained vacant for two years before a new owner inhabited it. In 1931 the home was purchased by Skidmore College for use as a girls dormitory.
Sadly, while the college students were away for Christmas vacation, South Hall as it was now called, was destroyed by fire on December 20, 1937 and caused $100,000 worth of damage. An early investigation of the blaze suggested that it may have been caused by an explosion of the electric refrigeration plant in the basement. In any event, the fire resulted in heating and electrical problems with several other campus buildings so that Skidmore had nowhere to house a large number of students for some time. The mansion was never rebuilt.