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Once Upon a Time: A George H. Shorey Artist Studio

Written By petite karinne on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 | 8:15 PM

It happened upon one day wandering on and around different roads while out and about in Burnt Hills, a Storybook Cottage stood back in the woods on a clear wooded winter day.

I had to stop with fascination, to take phone photos and find out why this, obviously old, Tutor style structure is in existence. It stands in time with a wreath on the door. Someone owns this and they care.  

Off to inquire, I started with one of my photos sent to the Town Historian via email. His prompt reply sent me in numerous directions for research. 

Gasp! An artist studio! And a known artist! Still, family owned through generations and standing! Well, as I stated, this information only scratched the surface of my curiosity. It had me in a knee deep flood of questions; anxious about discovering more. Who was George? What works came out of this inspirational building and where are they? Where did George go and what did he do? What is the future of this structure? 

The Building: 

The property has been proudly and currently still owned by the Shorey family for more than seven generations. It so happens, the current subject structure is a second rebuild of George's original 1905 studio. The first studio was torn down and rebuilt to accommodate George Shorey's art students in 1912.  A fire destroyed the studio and it was once again rebuilt in 1914 by the artist and his son, James where it stands today. (1) The stucco walls were constructed by hand with cement and chicken wire. (3) 

(2) George H. Shorey Studio, c. 1914

During a Ballston Spa Journal interview with James Shorey, he said that the wood work adorning the interior at the time, was all hand carved. The wrought iron hinges and other metal works were made by a  local metal craftsman and blacksmith, Fred Gillingham. The second story window near the chimney was noted by Mrs. Shorey during that interview as "the Juliet" window. However, Mr. Shorey claimed that his father named it "the Romeo" window. The slight humorous conflict was left just as that as the interview continued.  At such time, there were leaded windows, now vandalized and gone, that were gathered from a New York City mansion demolition. George purchased a Model T Ford truck to bring his re-purposing treasures home to the Burnt Hills Studio that was in progress. (1) What a pleasant discovery for me to find that George participated in up-cycling in the early 1900's. Don't you love that? 

Photo credit: Wendy Presseisen, 2008 
Photo credit: Wendy Presseisen, 2008 
Photo credit: Wendy Presseisen, 2008 

Photo credit: Wendy Presseisen, 2008 

The studio, still erect, is in complete disuse. Vandalized, but not forgotten. During an interview with Wendy Presseisen in 2008, she was told by George's grandson, that the building will be restored. (3)  I can only hope so and envision it in it's original state, adorned with an easel, art supplies and sculptures as a museum of the Shorey husband and wife team. The building is an icon of the community and if anything, drawing attention and respect for what it once was. 

The Artist: 

George H. Shorey was born September 9, 1870 in Hoosick Falls, New York. Son of Thomas H. and Euphemia S. Shorey.  He studied under Walter Shirlaw and was best known for his etchings, oils and art instruction. He was also successful with other arts involving numerous published written materials,  play writing, music and sculpting. He has been claimed to be an exceptional violinist. 

George married Mary R. Jones in 1896 (4) , descendant to own the 1792 homestead property erected in 1793. Mary was born March 12, 1865 in Chicago, Illinois. She, herself, was a teacher and sculptress. (1) (5) She studied sculpture in New York City and that is where she met George. 

 Around Burnt Hills  By Katherine Q. Briaddy, Frank Burton Coons, Edna Davis Coons, p 118

 Around Burnt Hills  By Katherine Q. Briaddy, Frank Burton Coons, Edna Davis Coons, p 119

The Churchman, Volume 96:  Play

As I searched for George H. Shorey, I found him to be famed primarily for his etching art but he was multi-talented while creating and writing in New York City where he held a studio. He also resided in Grantwood, New Jersey.  George and his wife summered at the family home and studio in Burnt Hills where they later retired.  Some of his paintings and etchings were inspired from Vermont and New Hampshire landscapes. 

Published works included numerous reviews. He wrote for Harpers, New York Times* and other newspapers and magazines. His art exhibitions reached as far as The Art Institute of Chicago and he has been referenced in, at least ten, Art based books. (6) 

Continuing my search for George's art, I was pleased to find his prints are tucked into numerous Auctions. 

The Heart of Vermont

 Recess --The District School.

Winter Mosiac 

George died after a brief illness at the Bell Nursing Home, Schenectady,  on June 20, 1944. (7)  His wife, Mary, died shortly after his death, on September 26, 1944. (4)  Both are buried at Burnt Hills Calvary Episcopal Church Cemetery. (8)  

From what I've gathered about a storybook cottage and a talented man, I can only imagine the passion for life and art that intertwined the lives of Mr. and Mrs. George H. Shorey. The love they had for the arts and for each other were creations they shared not only among them, but for the rest of the world to acknowledge. 

It would be fitting if this structure became a monument to embark their life long works to be respected and admired. Especially the replacement of the  Romeo/Juliet window. Now that, my friends, would be a happily ever after. 

*NY Times: 1930
"Mr. Sterner redid at least eight houses, and his work attracted other owners; by 1930 most of the brownstones had been redone. “As enthralling as gypsy music,” wrote George H. Shorey of the work, in a 1924 review in International Studio magazine."

(1) Fulton History.com Ballston Spa NY Journal 

(2) Around Burnt Hills  By Katherine Q. Briaddy, Frank Burton Coons, Edna Davis Coons, p 119 

(3) Wendy Presseisen, Poppy Petunia Blog http://poppypetunia.blogspot.com/2008_06_01_archive.html

(4) The Artists Year Book  Google Books

(5) Fulton History.com Ballston Spa NY Journal Obituary 

(6) Ask Art The Artists Bluebook  Worldwide Edition 

(7) Fulton History.com The Saratogian  Obituary

(8) Burial Records


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