The Sherwood Inn, Straight Up

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Sherwood Inn, 1922

Sherwood Menu 1922

I know what you’re thinking: Budweiser in 1922? During Prohibition? Well, there are two possibilities. Although Anheuser-Busch was mainly producing Bevo as its near beer, they did produce a Budweiser near beer. (And it was Kin Hubbard who said that the man who named it “near beer” was a poor judge of distance.) But there was also a Budweiser near beer produced by the DuBois Brewing Company of DuBois, Pennsylvania, which sold in Erie, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Whichever Budweiser it was, we can be sure it was a pallid brew.

The View from Utica, 1872

“A Beautiful Village.” Skaneateles, Aug. 26, 1872. To the Editor of the Utica Observer:

“Two hour’s ride on the Central road and half an hour on the Skaneateles up-hill road in an elegant coach, from Skaneateles Junction, landed your correspondent in one of THE MOST BEAUTIFUL little villages in the State. Skaneateles, Onondaga county, has in its own right a population of 1,400 souls. The village is most delightfully nestled around the foot of that bewitching little sheet of water known as SKANEATELES LAKE, which is about eighteen miles long and wide enough to be extremely pretty. A brief ramble about the village disclosed the fact that much wealth is at the command of the residents of the village. There are very many beautiful residences and elegantly laid out grounds scattered about on prominent points, each commanding unsurpassed views of the lake and surrounding scenery.

“A little steamer on the lake conveys excursionists to its head, where about the village of Glen Haven numerous camping parties resort. A party of excursionists, including one of Utica’s prettiest and most charming daughters, spent last week in that vicinity, and enjoyed a merry time. The aforesaid lady advises all delicate young ladies from Utica with failing appetites to make the same trip. One week will tinge their cheeks with a permanent and healthful bronze, and give them a most ravenous appetite.

“The village of Skaneateles and the country surrounding is quite A RESORT FOR SYRACUSANS on account of its convenient location. At the Packwood House [today’s Sherwood Inn], a remarkably comfortable, fresh and home-like hotel, kept by a most deserving man, John Packwood, I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Riley Miller and family of Syracuse, formerly of Utica. Mrs. Miller and family have been enjoying the healthful atmosphere of this little gem of a place for several weeks. Mr. M., who is a successful wholesale clothing dealer in Syracuse*, runs up every other evening to enjoy the pleasures of the season.

“Speaking of this pleasant family, strange to say, reminds me of TWO AMUSING INCIDENTS of the campaign.** Politics run high in small towns like this, and the contest thus far has been quite exciting. The village was formerly Republican, but your correspondent was assured that enough Liberal Republicans had espoused the People’s cause to secure a handsome majority for Horace Greeley. Last Friday evening the Democrats and Liberal Republicans united in raising a handsome pole, which was to bear the stars and stripes with the names of the People’s candidates attached. The pole was nearly in position when one of the guy-ropes broke and the pole fell and was sadly demoralized. Whereat the collar-wearers of the Grant faction rejoiced and were glad, and they CHUCKLED with remarkable vigor.

“The Greeley men immediately went to work preparing another pole… On Saturday evening the followers at the Office-Holders’ party had a mongrel stick in readiness. It was hickory at the base with a splice on the top jointed by a framework about the center. This frame looked substantial enough on the outside, which was painted, but, like the party it intended to serve, it was rotten at the core. Messrs. [David J.] Mitchell, (he of the McCarty murder trial in Utica***) and [William J.] Wallace****, of Syracuse, were inflated with eloquence for the occasion. When this rotten Grant pole was nearly in position the treacherous splice gave way and down came the stick, breaking into splinters.

“A NARROW ESCAPE. Mrs. Miller and a party of friends were riding towards the Packwood House at the time of the smash, and the inmates of the carriage only barely escaped being directly under the falling timber. When they arrived at the hotel the discharge of a cannon startled their spirited horses, but fortunately they were controlled in time to prevent injury to the ladies.

“Messrs. Mitchell and Wallace did not succeed in extracting any good moral from the rotten Grant and [Henry] Wilson stick or its untimely downfall. The Greeley men ‘smole’ [obsolete past tense of ‘smile’] several audible smiles, but the Grant faction was sick at heart and disgusted. They won’t attempt to raise another pole in that vicinity.

“A FLYING TRIP to this charming spot like that made by your correspondent was only a temptation for a longer stay. Those who by any chance happen to pass this way should not fail to run up from the Junction, and they will be well repaid for their time and trouble. Your correspondent was most hospitably entertained during his stay by Elias Thorne, Esq., and his excellent family, of the Society of Friends. Mr. Thorne is well and favorably known in Utica, where he has been engaged in extensive wool operations with prominent manufacturers. His house is most beautifully located in a commanding position by the lake-side*****, where all the rare scenery of the country can be thoroughly enjoyed. In November, Mr. Thorne and family leave for San Jose, California, where they will spend six or eight months. With pleasant remembrances of a kindly welcome from stranger friends, I am, Yours, EFLAN.”

***

* Riley V. Miller was a principal in the firm of Kent & Miller; he was also an attorney and the president of the Commercial Travelers’ Association in Syracuse.

** In the presidential election of 1872, Ulysses S. Grant won a second term, despite a split within the Republican Party that saw Liberal Republicans supporting Horace Greeley of the Democratic Party. Grant’s victory was fortunate, as Greeley died three weeks after the election.

*** Josephine McCarty was tried for murder in Utica in 1872 and successfully defended by David J. Mitchell of Syracuse, said to be one of the best lawyers in the state. In this case, he persuaded the jury that because the man who died was not the man McCarty intended to shoot (but rather a friend seated next to him on the street car), it could not have been premeditated murder. (After the verdict, Mrs. McCarty was arrested in the courtroom and charged with the attempted murder of her intended victim.) While it may not seem relevant to the present piece, I cannot deny you the newspaper’s appraisal of Mrs. McCarty’s career. “Let it suffice to say that it began with being false to a worthy husband twenty-two years ago, after a married life of less than six years; that it went on with larcenies, wantoness, swindles and various impositions upon the public and individuals; hunting up wealthy men in different States and blackmailing them as the alleged father of her illegitimate children, meantime seeking new adventures and abandoning herself to various pleasures, prosecuting sundry schemes and gratifying her own lusts in men’s apparel; following for years the horrid calling of abortionist, and closing finally the revolting record of twenty-two years duration, at the age of forty-eight, with murder.”

**** William Wallace served as Mayor of Syracuse in 1873, and was appointed as a judge of the U.S. District Court by President Grant in 1874.

***** Elias Thorne (1811-1896) lived at what is today 50 West Lake Street; he was a successful farmer (his farm was known as Thorne Hill) and a nationally known dealer in wool; he was also one of the first directors of the Bank of Skaneateles.

The Meteoric Residency of Henry Clay Jewett

Sherman Skinner Jewett was born in Moravia in 1818, and left at the age of 16. He walked to Jordan and took a canal boat to Buffalo, where he arrived with fifty cents in his pocket and the address of his uncle’s iron foundry. At the age of 18, he became the junior partner of another foundry, formed a new partnership at 20, and by the age of 22 was the sole proprietor of his own firm. From there he built a career as a stove manufacturer, merchant, banker, railroad operator and civic leader.

“His only amusement,” noted one history, “is fishing on the Niagara river, where he uses his elegant steam yacht, ‘ Titania,’ and devotes himself with passionate energy to the destruction of perch, black bass and muscalonge.”

His two sons, Henry and Josiah, spent time in business with him and also prospered on their own. But Henry Clay Jewett had a passion for more than business: He loved horses, trotters in particular, “of the best type.” Outside of East Aurora, N.Y., he built a farm with a race track, a one-mile track entirely covered by its own mile-long roof. Glazed windows every eight feet provided ample daylight and viewing areas were heated by natural gas. Horses could train all winter and their owners could watch them in comfort. Henry eventually had another stock farm in Kansas, plus an orange grove in California and lots of money.

Josiah Jewett graduated from Yale in 1863, went into business with his father, and from 1880 to ‘85 was the president of the Buffalo Bisons baseball team. He married Grace Hall, the daughter of Nathan Kelsey Hall (of Marcellus), who had served as U.S. Postmaster General under President Millard Fillmore, and then as U.S. District Court Judge in Buffalo. After the baseball team was sold, Josiah returned to his banking and manufacturing interests. He retired in 1900.

It appears Henry Jewett was the first to visit Skaneateles, “driving here by team” from East Aurora in 1902. In June of that year he bought the former Dor Austin farm, 3 1/2 miles south of the village on the west side of the lake, from David Cashman, picking up 128 acres and 2000 feet of lakefront for $6,400. Henry immediately planned a new house with a view up and down the lake, and in 1903, the house was “nearing completion.”

Cabin Launch SB&CAt the same time, in February of 1903, the Skaneateles Boat & Canoe Company was building Jewett a 50-foot, $5,000 cabin launch, with interiors of cherry and oak. Henry Jewett named it Titania, perpetuating the memory of his father’s steam launch.

Launch for Jewett

In 1904, Josiah Jewett parted ways with his wife, who went to live with a married daughter in Yonkers, N.Y. Josiah came to Skaneateles, perhaps in anticipation of being near his brother. He took up residence at the Packwood House (today’s Sherwood Inn) from autumn to spring, and spent his summers at the Glen Haven Hotel.

In 1905, the Buffalo newspapers reported that H.C. Jewett would be spending time at “his elegant new home on Skaneateles Lake,” but he also spent time that year at home in East Aurora. And in the winter, he went to California, stopping at the Hotel del Coronado at Coronado Beach before settling in Pasadena.

In 1906, saying the climate did not agree with him, Henry put his Skaneateles farm on the market. In October, he came to inspect the property, and take one more ride around the lake on the Titania, which went up for sale as well (going to Michael J. Carmody for $1,200, for use on Owasco Lake). After four years of barely being here, Henry Jewett was gone. He died in East Aurora in 1923.

Josiah Jewett, however, made Skaneateles his home. In 1913, he bought a plot of land at the corner of West Lake and Genesee Streets from the Skaneateles Lake Transportation Company and built a house called “The Terrace.” Josiah lived there until his death in 1932; he was noted as the last living graduate of Yale’s Class of 1863.

In 1934, the contents of Josiah’s home (“special items: 3 French gilt chairs and settee to match”) were auctioned off by his son, Nathan Hall Jewett of Detroit, and the house and land were sold to the village, which purchased them to create Shotwell Park.

The Count, Countess & Contessina

In September of 1972, Skaneateles hosted jet-setting royalty. Count and Countess Pier Arrigo Braschi and their daughter Francesca, of San Marino, Rome and New York, came here via Newport, where they had just attended a reception for Jacqueline Onassis. The Skaneateles Press noted, “They had visited Skaneateles sixteen years ago and wanted to show their daughter ‘the most beautiful village in the United States.’”

While in the village, the family stayed at the Sherwood Inn and were entertained at lunch at the Skaneateles Country Club by Miss Lynn Abrams.

The Braschi family is descended from 12th-century Italian nobility; the family tree includes Giovanni Braschi, who as Pope Pius VI reigned from 1775 to 1799. In addition to being a Count, Pier Braschi is San Marino’s longtime ambassador to Colombia (the native land of his wife, Nubia) and active in philanthropy. More importantly, the Count was once photographed by the legendary Slim Aarons.

Count

Count Pier Arrigo Braschi in the Piazza della Liberta, San Marino, circa 1984