Leray Mansion[edit | edit source]
Leray Mansion as it appears today.
French aristocrat James Leray De Chaumont purchased a tract of Macomb's Purchase in Jefferson County towards the end of the 18th century. Leray built his original house on or near this location in 1808 but it burned in 1822 and this replacement was built. This stuccoed, limestone mansion has two added wings, a columned portico and many neoclassic and federalist style embellishments. Leray used his mansion as a showpiece to signify his importance as an early citizen in Jefferson County, early citizens having dubbed the house "The Grand Old Manor". The village of Leraysville was formed from settlement around the Leray estate.
The mansion was visited by President James Monroe, Joseph Bonaparte, Dewitt Clinton, and many other famous figures during the time Leray owned it.
The mansion as it appeared in the early 20th century
Financial hardships forced Leray to return to France in 1836, and ownership of the mansion passed to his son Vincent. Leray sold his father's mansion to the Payen family in 1840. The Payens held ownership of the mansion into the 20th century, making many significant changes. These included the removal of James Leray's 1820's embellishments, and remodeling the mansion to give it an Italianate style appearance. The Anderson family purchased the mansion in 1919, using it as the base for a large dairy farm operation. The mansion fell into disrepair under the Andersons, and in 1936 it was sold to the Remington family. The Remingtons took pride in the mansion's history and worked diligently during their five year ownership to greatly improve both the mansion and the surrounding estate.
During World War Two, the U.S. Army began a massive expansion of Camp Drum, and, in 1941, took ownership of many surrounding villages, including Leraysville and the Leray Mansion. The mansion was used by the Army as officer's quarters, but only performed routine maintenance on the mansion over the next 40 years. After the installation of the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in the 1980's, the U.S. Army has worked to restore, as well as modernize the mansion, which is now used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries.