You may have seen the paintings of S. Edgar George on our social media pages and in past art posts. While we have mentioned George in connection to the Dauber’s Club and other artists, we thought he deserved his own biography this week! 

S. Edgar George was born in Auburn in 1876. Upon finishing high school, he began working at Barker, Griswold & Co., one of the largest clothing establishments in Auburn.

Lamey’s Auburn Directory, 1900

Barker, Griswold & Co. Clothiers and Furnishers was established by Franklin L. Griswold in 1838. Griswold was born in 1816 in Troy NY and came to Auburn at the age of 16 to attend school. He became a clerk and then a teller at the Bank of Auburn but resigned in 1838 to found his clothing store east of the corner of North Street. Griswold had a prison contract allowing him to produce clothing for his store cheaply.  Because of this, his store was often called “the old prison clothing store.” In 1844, he partnered with Abijah Fitch and moved the store to 89 Genesee St. Initially a men’s clothing and furnishings store, the company expanded to include women’s and children’s clothing as well. They eventually became so successful, they expanded to include 87 Genesee St. and were one of the largest stores in Auburn. In 1905, the company was sold to Charles P. Mosher, a part owner, and the name changed to Mosher, Griswold & Co. The store remained at 87-89 Genesee St. until it’s closure in 1915.

George spent 15 years with Barker, Griswold & Co. before opening his own clothing store on State Street in 1907 which he ran for 36 years. In a 1916 Citizen article describing store window displays, George’s store is highly praised: “All of the latest in men’s wear is shown in the display at the men’s furnishing store of S. Edgar George, No. 10 State Street. The entire north window is given over to men’s and boy’s suits, while the south window is replete with neckwear and shirt styles to suit the taste of the most fastidious.

Early 20th Century Image of State St. in Auburn

S. Edgar George was well-known in Auburn and was very active in the community. He was a Rotary Club member for 27 years, Vice-President of the Retail Merchants Club, President of the Ad Club, and a member of the First Universalist Church where he served as superintendent of the church school. His obituary notes that the boys whom he taught at the church were so fond of him that they would always visit him when they returned to Auburn later in life. A Citizen article detailing a talk he gave to a high school salesmanship class highlights his ability to connect with his students. The article describes George opening his talk by acting as a salesman trying to sell the class their textbook. By the end of his sales pitch, everyone agreed they would have bought the book. 

Although his profession was in the men’s furnishing business, S. Edgar George loved to paint and was a longtime member and officer of the Dauber’s Club, offering space above his store as a meeting place for the club. George specialized in landscapes, and his woodland scenes were well received. S. Edgar George was one of many Cayuga County artists who were inspired by the beauty of the Finger Lakes region.

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