Biography of Benjamin W. Wooster
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BENJAMIN W. WOOSTER
OF THOSE who have worthily represented a useful and indispensable industry in Albany, the specimens of whose skillful workmanship are scattered far and wide through the land, we have a notable example in the career of Mr. B. W. Wooster, the popular furniture manufacturer of Nos. 36-38 North Pearl street, and the efficient president of the Albany County bank.
Born in Albany County, N. Y., on the 24th of March, 1820, he is a son of David Wooster and Polly Woodbury, of New Hampshire. His parents, with a view of improving their financial condition, left the old granite state in 1816, and came to Albany.
Here, with the characteristic enterprise, economy and perseverance of New Englanders they started out to make an honest living by hard work. On account of their limited means their son Benjamin was obliged, early in life, to look out for himself. After receiving a good, common-school education, he found that the best thing for him to do was to learn some useful trade. From a small boy his natural taste was found to be altogether in the line of cabinet making, and even then he would cultivate his budding genius in this respect by making various miniature articles of furniture by which his own childish fancy was highly pleased. It was not hard even then to predict what occupation he would adopt and follow through life. Without any hesitancy, and of his own accord, he at once became an apprentice in the cabinet-making business, and for four years served in this capacity with all the faithfulness, devotion and enthusiasm of a true student of mechanical art, inspired by the hope that some day his youthful dreams of success might be fully realized. At the close of his apprenticeship he was ready for work on his own account, but with little means to start out in business. But having an indomitable will, a way was soon opened to him, when every obstacle was removed. In 1843, at the age of twenty-three, he courageously commenced business in a small store on South Pearl Street. His remarkable pluck, industry and honorable dealing soon brought him friends who extended to him a helping hand by liberally purchasing his goods and expressing kindly words of encouragement. He attended closely to his business, studied the wants of the public in his special line, manufactured goods of a superior style in material and in finish, and after eight years, marked by a steady and growing increase in his business, he found that real prosperity had come to crown his earnest endeavors.
In 1851 he was gratified to find that on account of his large trade, more ample accommodations were necessary for his wares than were to be found in the little two-story, wooden structure on South Pearl street. Accordingly he erected a new building four stories in height, at Nos. 57 and 59 South Pearl Street. Here for many years he carried on his cabinet making business with marked success, enlarging the capacity of his store from time to time, when more room seemed to be required.
Mr. Wooster was all this time establishing a wider reputation as the manufacturer of a higher class of work. He devoted his entire energies and his mechanical skill to building up a trade which extended not only through our own, but many of the eastern states. For years his house has been a leading one in the furniture business in northern New York, where his customers are perhaps, most numerous. He has fully gained what he set out for in earlier life, the reputation of being a first-class manufacturer of superb household furniture of all descriptions. The fine work which he makes has always been noted for its durability, its highly-polished nature, its elaborate, ornamental and artistic designs. Specimens of it are to be seen in many of the leading hotels, banks, offices and private residences in Albany as well as in numerous other places, both near and distant. As a designer and decorator of the interior of public and private buildings Mr. Wooster has won a reputation second to none in the country. This is principally due to his careful oversight of his work, his selection of skilled mechanics, his own love of the beautiful in art, his large experience as a manufacturer of so many different styles of furniture, and his excellent judgment in what is most pleasing to the eye and most appropriate and harmonious in ornamentation.
In July, 1889, Mr. Wooster moved into his new and beautiful store, Nos. 36 and 38 North Pearl Street, where he has one of the largest and finest assortments of all kinds of furniture to be found outside of the metropolis.
In 1878 Mr. Wooster was chosen president of the Albany County bank, a strong and well-managed institution, organized and chartered in 1871, and now located in the new, superb building corner of State and South Pearl streets, on the very site where for over two hundred years stood the historic Staats house as a striking specimen of the old Dutch style. This position he still holds, the duties of which he has all along discharged with much care and executive ability. Other offices of trust and responsibility have been offered to him, but declined. He has experienced great pleasure in attending to his own chosen and life-long occupation; and consequently does not aspire to offices of a political or municipal nature, which his fellow-citizens would cheerfully have conferred upon him.
Mr. Wooster possesses all the necessary qualifications of the successful merchant. He is a thorough master of his business in all its details. He is wide-awake to the wants of the present progressive and refined taste of the age in the furniture line. He is agreeable in his manners, prompt in his decision, reliable in his statements, and well-grounded in high moral principle. It is no wonder then that after so many years of toil and earnest efforts in the right direction he now enjoys the respect, confidence and esteem of Albanians, as well as of others with whom he comes in daily contact in business transactions. As a self-made man, commencing his business career on a small scale and carrying it forward to such large dimensions he has reflected great credit upon himself, while he has contributed no little toward pleasing the taste of the most fastidious in the selection of household furniture or in the decoration of buildings.
In the record of such an individual no small encouragement is held out to young men who, in a spirit of self-reliance, faithfulness and unyielding perseverance, ennobled by high character, are engaged in the same calling.
In 1878 Mr. Wooster erected a handsome private residence on the corner of State Street and Western Avenue, fronting Washington Park, which has attracted the admiration of our citizens and visitors. Constructed of brick, two stories in height, with a villa roof and standing on spacious grounds, it has a truly inviting appearance. Its interior is furnished and decorated in accordance with the fine, original designs of its owner.