The History of the Fouquet House

December 4, 2023

Today we can only imagine what the historic Fouquet House at 5 Macdonough Street, Plattsburgh, must have been in its heyday as a grand hotel four stories tall with a promenade on the roof overlooking Lake Champlain, the mountains of Vermont and the foothills of the Adirondacks, and a yard of flowing gardens below. Sitting across from the train station it must have been a majestic and welcome site for travelers.

Historians have documented an amazing beginning starting with the arrival in the United States of Jean Louis Fouquet from France with the Marquis de Lafayette sometime around 1784 and his son, John Louis Fouquet, landing in Plattsburgh by 1798. This date marks the beginning of the story of the historic site we see today on 5 Macdonough Street.

John Fouquet and his wife Abigail Douglass Fouquet first built and managed a boarding house which some referred to as a hotel on the site of today’s building. It burned during the Battle of Plattsburgh as a result of ground troop fire, being quite near Macomb’s forces at Forts Moreau and Scott. The hotel was then rebuilt in 1815 and was reported to have grown in size over the years receiving numerous important guests including Major Generals Scott and Macomb. John died in 1827 leaving the hotel to his son Douglass. His will, documented by Thomas Tredwell, clearly stated his wishes for the continued support of his wife and children with Douglass in charge. Douglass went on to be very active in the community.

The Fouquet Hotel once again burned in 1864. Douglass used insurance money and loans to rebuild. The Hotel again opened with fanfare as offering more luxurious accommodations with high ceilings, thick carpets, winding staircases, and ‘lavish’ fireplaces for up to 150 guests. The 1870Census lists 29 people living at the Fouquet residence, five of the immediate family, one teacher with his family and the rest were hotel employees, mainly of Canadian and Irish descent. However the hotel business was not to be a success for Douglass Fouquet. Unable to meet his mortgage payments, he lost his hotel at a public auction to Andrew Williams and died soon after. In 1875,Williams sold the property to Paul Smith and Charles Martin. It was under this ownership that the stagecoach line stopped at the Fouquet House. It was said ‘in the quiet of the late 1870’s, the sound of a signal horn announced the arrival of the stage, once at the Plattsburgh village outskirts and once again as it drew up to the entrance of the Paul Smith Fouquet House which served as the Plattsburgh Stage Terminal.’ At night the horses drawing the stage were black, during the day the horses were white. And soon the railroad arrived from the south.

The hotel was successfully run under the ownership of the Paul Smith’s Hotel Company until 1906 when it was sold to Horse Breeder James Farley. Farley made extensive renovations to the hotel and renovated the barns to stable his race horses. In 1908 the property was sold to Robert Clark, and Clark sold it to Henry Ricketson in 1914 who converted it to a modern bakery before reopening it as a hotel in 1916. In 1934 it was sold to the Plattsburgh National Bank and Trust Company. Among the tenants of the Fouquet House was the Canadian Chamois and Leather Corporation that openly advertised positions for girls at $9 a week and men at $13 a week and claimed they were supporting 55families with their business. Other tenants over the years were businesses such as the M.P. Myers & Company, Vincent Jerry & Sons and now spacious apartments. The third floor and upper roof were removed in 1953.

Today the Fouquet House remains a sturdy, well kept, albeit shadow of its former elegant self, holding many memories of times gone by. The Fouquet family is buried in Riverside Cemetery.

Helen Allen Nerska

Helen Allen Nerska is Director of the Clinton County Historical Association and Museum and historian for the Town of Peru. She is the editor and author of the Clinton County Suffrage Story and speaks regularly on local history topics. She is also the editor of the Heritage Corner published monthly in the SUN Community News and co-President of the League of Women Voters of the North Country.

Adirondack Coast Adventures

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