Henry Crandall: Benefactor or Slum Lord

To the Glens Falls area, Henry Crandall (1821-1913) is remembered fondly as a benefactor; Crandall Library, Crandall Street, and Crandall Park are but a few reminders of his legacy.  But in the 19th Century and early 20th Century, Crandall owned numerous buildings some of which were in disrepair.  This article is not meant to be disparaging in any way.  It is just a statement of fact and a reflection of the times.

The following is a letter to Henry Crandall from the Masonic Hall Association of Glens Falls Inc., a not-for-profit corporation established to secure lodging for the 2 Masonic Lodges, Royal Arch Mason Chapter, and Eastern Star Chapter in Glens Falls.

March, 1910

Mr. Henry Crandall,

Glens Falls, N.Y.

Dear Sir:-

The Masonic Hall Association desires by this notice to give you plain statement of the situation of the Masonic Hall and the trouble that it has had by reason of the defective roof.

On May 26, 1904 we caused a written notice to be given you of the condition of the rooms at that time and you promised to make repairs; subsequently you repaired the paper on some of the rooms and patched the decorations in the Lodge Room and once since that time the papering on some of the rooms has been fixed by your authority, but such repairs do not reimburse our association for the damage done by this leaky condition of the roof.  We will not in this notice attempt to give you a detailed account of the property that has been damaged and destroyed, but will only refer to it in a general way.  We think, however, it is unnecessary to refer to it because you and your agents have been notified many times and you have been there and seen the condition yourself.

Before we leased these rooms we took the precaution to exact from you a covenant that you would “Keep the roof in good repair so as to prevent any damage through leakage”.  This provision is contained in the Lease.  We required such a covenant on your part, for we were intending to make an outlay of from $3500 to $4000 in fitting up the rooms suitable for our occupancy under the twenty years lease which we made with you.  At the end of the twenty years all the improvements which we made to your property reverts to you and unless we have the right to enjoy our property during the term of the lease our money has been expended in vain, and for no other purpose than to enhance the value of your property.

For a good many years past the effect of the damage caused by the leaky roof has been apparent in every room, excepting two small inner rooms and now the condition of the rooms are such that we can no longer hold our meetings in them in their present condition.  The decorations in the Lodge Room are practically ruined, all the curtains in the dining room have been ruined for several years.  We have had much tin ware spoiled by your agents placing them at different places to catch the water and leaving the water in the dishes until they were ruined.  Much of our property and paraphernalia which has been kept in the long hall on the south side of the main room and in other rooms, have been damaged by the water to that extent that it will require an outlay of considerable money to repair and put them in proper condition.

We have come to the conclusion that until a new roof is placed upon the building it will be useless to make any repairs to our property either by you or by us.

What you have done in the past in the way of a little papering and painting has been allowed to pass.  But now the situation has come to such a past that a definite arrangement and understanding must be arrived at, for there must be a general repairing of our entire property, and of practically all the rooms.

Our property which we placed there at a large expense when we rented these rooms, would be in good condition to-day and would remain in good condition until the expiration of our lease had it not been for the leaky roof.

We shall expect, therefore, you to bear the expense of putting our property in as good condition as it was before it was damaged by your failure to keep the covenant in the lease, and unless we have an assurance from you that this will be done and done speedily then the only alternative is to let the Courts settle the questions and fix the responsibility.  The conditions this winter have been so much worse then formerly that it is necessary for us as representatives of the bodies who use these rooms to have some radical change in the management hereafter.  Many of the occupants assert that the rooms are not tenantable and are dissatisfied with them in their present condition.

We desire to be reasonable and only ask what is just and right, but must insist upon some definite arrangement being made by which our rooms will be put in proper condition and kept so.

We therefore suggest that you meet the association at such time and place as may be convenient to yourself, for the purpose of ascertaining definitely what is to be done, and for the purpose of fixing the amount of damage done, and providing for the repairs to the rooms and as to what assurance we may have that our property will be safe in the future.

Please let us know if you will meet us to try and adjust this matter.

Yours &c,

A copy of this letter is owned by the Queensbury Masonic Historical Society.  The result of this disagreement caused the Masonic Hall Association to secure a building from the Glens Falls Insurance Company which was eventually moved to a location on Glen Street.

About leader

District Deputy Grand Master Saratoga-Warren District 1998-2000; Grand Lodge Leadership Services Committee; Leadership Development Course Coordinator; Vice Chairman Grand Master's Educational Task Force; Vice Chairman Grand Lodge Child ID Committee; District Deputy Grand High Priest 14th Capitular District; Grand Master of the 1st Veil 2010; Grand Master 2nd Veil 2011; Grand Master 3rd Veil 2012 Grand Royal Arch Captain 2013 Grand Principal Sojourner 2014 Grand Captain of the Host 2015 Warren County Historical Society Board of Trustees; Queensbury Masonic Historical Society Charter Member; State Chairman Lodges & Buildings Committee Deputy Grand Master's Advisory Committee
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