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Warren Hunting Smith

1905 - 1998


Bill Treichler

Warren Smith grew up in Geneva, went to Yale College, spent years of his middle life in England and in New Haven where he completed the Yale Edition of the Horace Walpole correspondence in 1982. In recent years he resided at his family's home in Geneva on Castle Street.

His grandfather, Thomas Smith, came from England to Geneva in 1837 when he was 17. Thomas with his brothers and mother bought a small farm with a house on Castle Street in 1845. A year later they started a nursery business that continued to thrive after the Civil War and well into this century as the W. & T. Smith Nursery Company. Oldest brother William Smith, who never married, established William Smith College for Women.

When Warren Hunting Smith was only 28 his observations on Geneva were published in his first book An Elegant but Salubrious Village, named after Elkanah Watson's earlier description. Warren's doctoral dissertation at Yale (1934) was titled Architecture in English Fiction. Farrar & Rinehart published his The Misses Elliot of Geneva in 1940. Later books of his about people and institutions of Geneva were: Hobart & William Smith: The History of Two Colleges, published in 1972, Life and Letters of Adele Mali, in 1979, and Gentle Enthusiasts in Art, in 1986.

Warren Smith made many contributions to Geneva: renovations at Trinity Church, the Warren Hunting Smith Library at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the children's room at the Geneva Free Library, and his establishment in 1965 of the Fund for Historic Geneva to preserve the fine old buildings in Geneva.

Warren Smith carried on a family tradition of wide interests and active accomplishments in his life and work. He enjoyed doing modest things, too, like writing articles for The Crooked Lake Review. In The Chestnuts for the July 1990 issue, he recounted with amusing personal sketches stories of the occupants of the stone house built along Keuka Lake by Robert Selden Rose. His Finger Lakes Churches Fostered by the Rose Family came in the September 1990 issue.

Matriarchies Amid the Finger Lakes in the August 1991 issue was a tribute to Catharine Montour, Jemima Wilkinson, and Louise March, founder of the Rochester Folk Art Guild, and to the leadership of women in our area.

He readily granted the Crooked Lake Review permission to reprint The Misses Elliot of Geneva and it ran from December 1992 through December 1994. The August 1993 issue featured his account of the Smith family coming to this country and the story of the W. & T. Smith Nursery Company.

To learn more about this scholarly, gentle man turn to the February 1993 issue and read Bill Kauffman's Warren Hunting Smith: The Quintessential Genevan.

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