SMITHVILLE FLATS – Shortly before they married in 1976, Roger and Holly Connelly purchased their first piece of property in Smithville Flats. The Long Island natives had been introduced to the area by Mike Zimmer, a fellow down-stater whose family owned land in Smithville. The young couple was looking for a place to start their life together, and where Roger could open his own auto body shop.
“Property was really reasonable compared to Long Island,” explained Connelly.
After taking the time to research available properties which would suit their needs, Roger took a solo trip upstate prior to their wedding. He returned home to tell Holly he’d purchased their future home: a 2.5 acre parcel with both a garage and a mobile home. All for the paltry sum of $32,500.
What neither realized at the time was that there was another building on their property: the town’s old, run-down highway garage.
“It was in bad shape,” Connelly said, recalling the dilapidated state of the dirt-floored structure. It was possible to walk through the wall, according to Holly, and had been heavily vandalized.
The couple was married in April, and on May 1 moved in to their new rural abode. Holly admits she had reservations about the move. The self-proclaimed “city kid” vividly remembers waking up on their first morning to find a neighbor on their doorstep with a newborn kid goat in her arms. She said her first instinct, as she watched the baby goat wander through her new home, was to turn tail back to Long Island. But she stuck it out, and was there to support her husband every step of the way with his new business venture, Roger’s Auto Body. Next year, the shop will celebrate its 35th year.