George Albert Smith (1862-1952) died at age 91, one year after he announced his vision for The Jason Russell House. The son of Reverend Samuel Smith and Maria Edes Smith, George Smith lived nearly his entire life in the home where he was born at 41 Academy Street. Samuel and Maria had three sons and a daughter, with George being the next to youngest child.
Richard A. Duffy, Arlington Historical Commission member notes: “George A. Smith was born and reared at 41 Academy Street. As a young married man, he moved into a newly built home that stood on the southern edge of the family property, numbered 47 Academy Street. George Smith and his family later moved to his childhood home. In the 1930s, he had number 47 moved to a separate adjacent parcel, where it still stands at number 49 Academy Street. (It happens to be the home today of David Baldwin, a former president of the Society). The new parcel at 49 Academy Street was at street grade, whereas its siting at number 47 was considerably elevated above it. George Smith’s reasons for moving the house are said to be that this enabled him to enjoy a long, unobstructed view of his gardens to the edge of his land, just as it had been when he was growing up there. Thus we can see that removing relatively modern structures to restore older vistas was an aesthetic and historical priority for Smith.”
In 1886, three years after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a stint as a chemist in Chicago, George Smith and a partner formed a successful wallpaper manufacturing firm in Chelsea. He was an ardent Unitarian his entire life, serving as parish clerk for 26 years, and an equally active member of The Arlington Historical Society. Elizabeth Abbot Smith, the youngest child of George Smith and wife Anna Putnam Smith of Lexington, continued her family’s generosity and commitment to The Arlington Historical Society and it is through her benevolence that the Jason Russell House and Smith Museum exist.