KEESEVILLE — The Santor farm stand heads to its new home at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.
The quaint wooden structure with its metal "Fresh Vegetables" sign was a Keeseville landmark. Several years ago, Tommy Santor sold a section of his ancestral property to George Moore, a Keeseville entrepreneur. Moore resold the property.
When Adirondack Architectural Heritage Executive Director Steven Engelhart learned that the stand would be razed as part of a new Dollar General store construction, he asked Moore to donate it to the Adirondack Museum.
"Steven Engelhart facilitated the whole thing," said Laura Rice, the museum's chief curator. "He alerted us this was available."
The Santor farm stand fills a niche in the museum's extensive collection.
"It's an ephemeral form of architecture," Rice said. "These things were not meant to last, and they are starting to disappear. This is one very typical of a mid-20th century family farm stand and a part of Adirondack history and something we don't currently have in our collection. It fills a hole in that."
The saga of the Santor family in America begins with Michael Santoro, who left Sacco, Italy, for New York City in 1875.
"He was hired to work on the railroad built from New York City to Whitehall and on to Port Kent, where he settled," Tommy Santor said. "He got enough money and got his wife-to-be (Johanna Barone). They arrived in the United States in 1877."
In 1905, Michael divided his real-estate holdings between his two sons, Alfred and Michael, who is Tommy's grandfather.
"My father was Alfred J. Santor. He took it over in the 1930s," Tommy explained.
The farm stand was started in the late 1940s by Eugene Santor.
"He had the little stand built on his side coming from Plattsburgh on the right side. It was built by a local man. They had the big garden. He didn't keep it that long," Tommy said. "We got it because he couldn't do it anymore. We got it in the '50s. They rolled it across the street, and that was it."
In their large gardens, the Santors grew it all — corn, tomatoes, peppers, green beans, yellow beans, squash of all kinds, radishes, onions and melons.
"It's river-bottom land back here," Tommy said. "It's very rich. Deep, good soil."
Alfred ran the stand until the mid-'80s when Tommy took it over. He was assisted by his brother, Carmen; an uncle; nieces; nephews; and hired help.
"We had various floods. The river broke through the tail end of our garden. That was in '96. It did quite a bit of damage," Tommy said. "We put it back together, and I did it one more year. 1997 was it."
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