Pictured is 116 Coleridge Avenue, former home of Joseph W. Dawson, once a prominent contractor and president of the Dawson Brothers Construction Company. Born in Kingston, Ontario in 1864, his family moved to Syracuse when he was a young boy. At the age of 19, his father, a master mason, was killed in the collapse of a blast furnace. With 9 siblings, he quickly took on the role of family provider and was employed in the construction of several buildings in the city, including on the campus of Syracuse University.
At the encouragement of those around him, he started his own business in the 1890s and thus began his career as a leading contractor in Syracuse. His first major contract was the Kasson Apartments, a complex constructed in 1897 and still standing at 622 James Street. Other structures that were built under his supervision include Danforth School, Crouse-Hinds plant, Trinity Episcopal Church, Slocum and Bowen Hall at Syracuse University, L.C. Smith and Corona plant, the Syracuse Trust Company, Crouse Hospital and countless others.
Dawson also held business interest outside of his construction company, including working as the president of the Dawson Coal Company and the Dawburn Realty Corporation. Beside his businesses, Dawson was known as a community-minded citizen, who was “always ready to co-operate in movements for the benefit and progress of the city.” He was a member of the Rotary Club a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Citizen’s Club, Elks Club, Bellevue Country Club, Knights of Columbus and Holy Name Society.
When he passed away at the age of 73 in 1932, his pallbearers were all employees of the Dawson Brothers Construction Company. A list of who’s who in Syracuse were listed as honorary pallbearers, including then Mayor Rolland B. Martin. His will directed the payment of $1,000 to each of his grandchildren, 35 of them in all.