History of Brambles Inn

Built in 1842 by a pioneer settler of Potsdam, the Brambles Inn has seen a long and storied past


Portrait of the Knowles family


The Knowles Family

The house now known as The Brambles was originally built in 1842 by Judge Henry Liberty Knowles. H. L. Knowles was a noted attorney and the Judge of St. Lawrence County for eight years. As one of the first settlers of Potsdam, Judge Knowles was a respected member of society known for his high Christian principles.

With his passing in 1892, Judge Knowles left behind a beautiful Greek Revival frame house. The transoms, pediments, pilasters, dentil frieze, heavy cornices, and ionic columns that adorn the house are all trademarks of this grand architectural style. Heralding the ancient temples of Greece, the Greek Revival style was popular between 1820 and 1850. Most public and private buildings built during this time contained Greek Revival elements as it was seen as a symbol of the new burgeoning democracy.

More onĀ Greek Revival Homes


Helen M. Hosmer

After the Knowles, the property passed into the hands of Helen M. Hosmer. She graduated from Potsdam Normal School in 1919, became an instructor at the Crane School of Music in 1922, and then was appointed Director of Crane in 1930. The Brambles was Helen Hosmers personal residence while she carried out her office of Director from 1930-1966.

As an accredited music educator, Helen Hosmer travelled extensively across the globe, often visiting such nations as Africa, Morocco, and Yugoslavia. Helen opened her home to music students and important foreign dignitaries alike. The famed French composer Nadia Boulanger worked with Helen at Crane and the Von Trapp family of The Sound of Music fame once stayed in the house as Helen’s guests.

The Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at Crane is named in her honor.

more about Helen M. Hosmer