Ken Gottry - Cambridge NY History

In 1947 the farm on South Park Street belonging to my great grandfather, William L Hitchcock, was sold to the newly formed Cambridge Central School district. The farmhouse pictured here stood where the CCS Science Wing near the north parking lot. The farm sprawled out where the school and athletic fields now lie.

(click on image to enlarge)

Mr. Hitchcock died in 1921 about 20 years after completing the Hitchcock Building on East Main. During the 1920’s and 1930’s the house was periodically occupied by two of his daughters, Lois and Charlotte.

During this time the grounds were used each spring to showcase the flowers of Rice’s Seed Company. The long sidewalk to the farmhouse was lined with beautiful flowers. The yard where CCS now stands was filled with a colorful assortment of flowers, welcoming visitors as they arrived in Cambridge.

According to John Briggs, who played at the farmhouse with my mother, uncle, and aunt, one such visitor to Cambridge who was amazed at the beauty of the Rice’s gardens was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

As the story goes, during his stint as Governor of New York from 1928-1932, FDR stopped to admire the gardens. He was informed that the gardens were the work of Rice’s Seed Company, still one of the largest in the country. The story ends with FDR, already semi-crippled by polio, being rolled around the gardens in his wheelchair.

While I’m not old enough to remember the Rice’s Display Gardens described above, I clearly remember the Asgrow Experimental Gardens on Washington Street pictured here..