Glens Falls in 1920: ‘Pioneer physician’ and South Street developer dies

A “pioneer physician” who operated the first hospital in Glens Falls more than a century ago died on Sept. 15, 1920.

In addition to his work as a physician, Dr. Lemon Thomson was part of a real estate investment group that constructed the historic building at 45 South Street, at the corner of South and Elm, that is expected to be redeveloped soon under the city’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Thomson, along with brothers Edward and Thomas Thomson and F.W. Morehouse, constructed the three-story brick and wood frame building in 1891 and ’92 as a mixed-use commercial and apartment complex, , according to an Architectural History Inventory Report Richard C. Youngken prepared for the city in 1980.

Most recently it housed the Hot Shots sports bar, and has been vacant for several years.

City officials expect it will be redeveloped as a mixed-use commercial and apartment complex.

Thomson operated his hospital there for several years before the opening in 1897 of Parks Hospital, now Glens Falls Hospital.

Thomson’s hospital also operated on Glen Street and several other downtown locations.

The Glens Falls Messenger reported on Dec. 5, 1890 that Thomson traveled to Germany to study the research of Robert Koch who that year discovered tuberculin, a treatment for tuberculosis.

It eventually turned out not to be effective as a treatment, but proved to be a valuable diagnostic tool.

Thomson, age 63, died at 1 p.m. Sept. 15, 1920 sitting on the front porch of his summer home at West Mountain.

He had been in poor heath since winter, but that morning was feeling well and planned to drive to Glens Falls.

“He had conversed over the telephone with a friend shortly before his death and Tuesday (the previous day) went to the polls and voted (in the primary),” The Post-Star reported on Sept. 16, 1920.

Thomson grew up in Johnsburg.

He graduated Albany Medical College in 1882 and studied surgery in Vienna and Berlin before establishing his practice in Glens Falls,

According to Youngken, he treated treated laborers injured while working on construction of Spier Falls Dam on the Hudson River, among other sick and injured patients.

He served as Glens Falls health officer and as a member of the Glens Falls School Board, The Post-Star reported.

He was a life member of Glens Falls Masons lodge №121.


Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY

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Maury Thompson

Freelance history writer and documentary film producer from Ticonderoga, NY