In July of 1877, Col. Robert Furman looked north from his home at the corner of Smith and Lafayette streets in Schenectady and watched as the German Catholic community began building its elegant new edifice just a few yards away. A prominent member of the Stockade neighborhood’s First Reformed Church and a man described as “most liberal and charitable,” Furman undoubtedly welcomed his new neighbors. But if you told him that 50 years later St. Joseph’s Catholic Church would be in possession of his beautiful, two-story brick house and using it as the rectory, Furman — also referred to as the “Father of Greater Schenectady” — probably wouldn’t have believed it.
Col. Robert Furman was a prominent Schenectadian who lived from 1826-1894 and was called the “Father of Greater Schenectady.” (image courtesy of Schenectady County Historical Society)
Built for Col. Robert Furman in 1857, this yellow building at the corner of Lafayette and Smith streets now serves as the rectory for St. Joseph’s Church.
The Rev. Michael Hogan relaxes in the living room of St. Joseph’s Rectory, formerly the home of Col. Robert Furman. The area is now used for small parties and receptions held by the church.
The dining room area at St. Joseph's Rectory, once the home of Col.Robert Furman.
Just off the front entrance of the St. Joseph’s Rectory, this common room leads to the living room on the right, a staircase to the second floor, and the dining room to the left.
A stained glass window catches the light along the staircase to upper floor at St. Joseph's Rectory.
The office space now used by the Rev. Michael Hogan was once the study of Col. Robert Furman when he lived in the house from 1857-1894.
“Catherine” Furman, most likely the daughter of Col. Robert Furman and not his wife, etched her name onto a second-floor window sometime in 1894 when the family lived in the house.
The stone wall on Lafayette Street outside the St. Joseph’s Rectory was built in 1857 when Col. Robert Furman built the house.
Col. Robert Furman’s carriage house, behind what is now the St. Joseph’s Rectory, is used for storage space by the church.
A painting and a bust of Colonel Robert Furman are on display at the Schenectady County Historical Society. Furman is the man most responsible for bringing Edison's Electrical Works to Schenectady in 1886. (photo: Bill Buell/Gazette Reporter)