George Spence, Jr.
City of Troy

This biography is from Troy and Rensselaer County, New York, Volume III, by Rutherford Hayner, Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., New York and Chicago, 1925. It was submitted by Debby Masterson.

GEORGE SPENCE, JR.—Holding a foremost position in the building construction world of Rensselaer county. New York, George Spence, Jr. stands at the head of the important business interest which was founded by his father, but of which for more than two decades he has been the head and sole owner. Mr. Spence is a son of George and Jane (Cairns) Spence, old and esteemed residents of Troy in a day now gone by.

George Spence, Jr., was born in the city of Troy, New York, Noverhber 8, 1871. His education was acquired in the public schools of Troy, and he made special preparations for a business career at the Troy Business College. From boyhood interested in the work in which his father was engaged, along the line of carpenter work and building construction, he became junior member of the firm of George Spence & Son. Upon the death of his father, which occurred in June, 1902, Mr. Spence succeeded to the business, and has since carried it forward individually. He has been largely successful. Taking over the interest when it was a comparatively small business, with few employees, he has developed it very extensively, and now holds a leading position in his field in this part of the State. He has spacious yards and a planing mill at Watervliet, New York, on Water Street, extending from Nineteenth to Twentieth streets, north of the Congress Street bridge. With a two-story building, containing some 27,500 square feet of floor space, he employs about thirty-five men in the manufacture of doors, sash, blinds, mouldings, building trim and general wood work, piazza and porch columns, rails, balusters, and brackets, and all kinds of turning and scroll saw work. He has furnished the interior trim and mill work for many prominent buildings of this city and county, including the new State Armory, and Public School No. 14, both in Troy, also for the City Hall building, in the adjacent capital city of Albany, and for Public School No. 23, of Albany. He also furnished interior trim and mill work for eight cottages and the administration building at Thiells, Rockland County, New York, for the State of New York. Indeed his product is shipped to all parts of this State and into various near by States. The contracting department of this business is located at Nos. 53-59 Church Street, Troy, with a floor space of 15,000 square feet, and here about sixty men are employed. All kinds of heavy structural work come within the scope of their activity, and besides building construction, such work is handled as the installation of interior trim and hardwood floors, all kinds of carpentry jobbing, etc. Some of the many contracts which Mr. Spence has filled may well be included in this review. Among them are the erection of the Boardman building, the factory of the George P. Ide Company, Inc., Public Schools Nos. 1, 2 and 16, St. Francis' Parochial School, several large buildings for the Eastern Malleable Iron Company, the S. S. Kresge Company's store, the American Theatre, the Powers Collar Factory (Ferguson Collar Company), the Sacred Heart Rectory, the plant of the National Biscuit Company, the Rensselaer Students' Union Club House of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Manufacturers' National Bank building, the Oriental Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, the executive offices of the firm of Cluett, Peabody & Company, and the lockmaster's cottage for the United States Engineering Department. Some of the many contracts which might come within the general term of jobbing are the store front of Weinstein Brothers and other improvements for the same concern; the addition to the Troy Waste Manufacturing Company, C. Fazioli's store front, new show windows for William H. Frear & Company, Inc., new store fronts and other improvements for J. Henry Hepp, Goodman Brothers, Kaufman Brothers & Company, W. P. Herbert, and James Kinsley; alterations for the Tibbits estate; store front for Samuel Lewis, front and alterations for the Riker-Hegeman Company; alterations to the offices of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; store front of Doring Brothers, and improvements to the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, also the American Blower Company, and to the store of F. & W. Grand Five, Ten and Twenty-five Cent Stores, Inc. Mr. Spence has erected some of the finest residences in this section, including those of Peter Kooman, Farnum J. Keeler, Harry E. Clinton, Clarence N. Flack, the late William P. Stanton, A. E. Cluett, C. W. Frear, Mrs. John Hansen, and ex-Governor Frank S. Black.

In the public affairs of the city Mr. Spence has always taken the deepest interest, and he was brought forward in the public service as early as 1898, when the Fourth Ward of Troy placed him on the Board of Aldermen, where he served three successive terms, six years in all. While a member of that body he served as chairman of the important Public Works Committee. In November, 1903, he was elected general assessor of the city of Troy, being one of the only two Republicans elected on the city ticket, and he served two terms, fulfilling the duties of this exacting office for eight years. At one time he was made Republican County Committeeman of the Fourth Ward, and in 1909 he was a candidate for the nomination for Mayor in the Republican primaries. He served for several years as a member of Company D, 21st Separate Company, National Guard of the State of New York. Mr. Spence has for years been a member of the Troy Chamber of Commerce; of the Contracting Carpenters' Association; the Employers' Building Crafts Exchange, of Troy and vicinity, which he served as vice-president; the Eastern Woodworkers' Cost Information Bureau, Inc., of New York. He endorses widely dissimilar lines of advance with great catholicity of interest, holding membership in the Atlantic Deeper Waterways Association, the Trojan Hook and Ladder Company, No. 3, which he served for several years as treasurer, and the Central Young Men's Christian Association. His tastes are definitely musical, and with a voice of excellent quality, he has for years been a member of the Troy Maennerchor and the North Troy Maenner Quartet. Fraternally Mr. Spence is a life member of Apollo Lodge, No. 13, Free and Accepted Masons; Apollo Chapter, No. 48, Royal Arch Masons; Bloss Council, No. 14, Royal and Select Masters; Apollo Commandery, No. 15, Knights Templar; Delta Chapter, Rose Croix, holding the thirty-second degree in the Masonic order. He is also a member of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and of Troy Tent, No. 447, Knights of the Maccabees, which he served as lieutenant-commander. He is a member of the Old Guard Tibbets Cadets, of which he was at one time captain. His clubs are the Masonic, the Apollo Fellowcrafts, the Rensselaer County Republican, and the Troy Burns Club, and he was formerly a member of the Troy Rotary and the Troy Automobile clubs. He is a member of the Second Presbyterian Church, of Troy.

Mr. Spence married (first) at Wynantskill, New York, on June 14, 1899, Ella F. Link, of that place, who died, leaving one daughter, Mildred Gertrude, born April 6, 1900. He married (second) on October 4, 1916, Mary A. Galusha, of Williamstown, New York, daughter of Mark and Cora E. Galusha, and they are the parents of two children, twins: Marjorie Prentice and Dorothy Edna, born June 26, 1922. Dorothy Edna died July 5, 1922, at the age of nine days.

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