A painting and a bust of Colonel Robert Furman are on display at the Schenectady County Historical Society. Furman is the man most responsible for bringing Edison's Electrical Works to Schenectady in 1886. (photo: Bill Buell/Gazette Reporter)
In July of 1877, Col. Robert Furman looked north from his home at the corner of Smith and Lafayette streets in Schenectady and watched as the German Catholic community began building its elegant new edifice just a few yards away. A prominent member of the Stockade neighborhood’s First Reformed Church and a man described as “most liberal and charitable,” Furman undoubtedly welcomed his new neighbors. But if you told him that 50 years later St. Joseph’s Catholic Church would be in possession of his beautiful, two-story brick house and using it as the rectory, Furman — also referred to as the “Father of Greater Schenectady” — probably wouldn’t have believed it.