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William Smailes House

William Smailes House

George & Main

—Written by Gail Drabant

Although William Smailes owned this house at the time of the 1872 plat book drawing, this house has had several other prominent owners. Edwin A. Lay, the fourth postmaster of Richmond, built this house in about 1850. He purchased the lot in 1849. The house is located at the southwest comer of George and Main Streets. In 1863, he sold it to John Wray, the hotelier for the Richmond House Hotel which was one block north of this house.

William Smailes bought this house in 1870. He was a prominent merchant in town, having a tailoring business. This business was located on the northwest comer of Broadway and Main Streets, and was one of the 20 buildings lost in the 1902 fire.

After William Smailes, Dr. Sanford Fillmore Bennett (1836-1898) lived in this house. Dr. Bennett, besides being a physician, wrote poetry and several songs including a famous hymn, In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Dr. Bennett was also the first Village President when the Village was incorporated in 1872 and was the first grade-school principal in 1861. Dr. Bennett married Gertrude Crosby Johonnott of Solon Mills in 1860.

The Bennett’s had three children: Edwin Richardson (1861-1902), who also became a physician; Robert Crosby (1866-1942); and May Ruth (1869-1946). May Ruth married John Frank Wray, son of a previous owner of this house.