The original resident of the Auburn Castle was Samuel Laurie and his family. Samuel Laurie was born in Glasgow, Scotland on December 12, 1833. He apprenticed to a manufacturer of woolen goods and developed a solid foundation and a good sense of the business. He came to America as a poor Scotch lad. He studied and applied his knowledge and gained quite a reputation as a woolen manufacturer during the 1850s. By 1868, he achieved much success and was superintendent of a mill in Rhode Island.
In 1868, Samuel Laurie came to Auburn, New York to review the Woolen mill’s operations and provide his expert opinion. He felt the mill had great potential and was convinced to take over the reins of the Woolen mill in Auburn. The mill later thrived and grew under the management of Samuel Laurie.
In 1871, stockholders spent $7,000 to build the castle on Owasco Street that overlooked the factory. The Castle home was designed by Nelson Hamblin and intended to be reminiscent of a Scotch manor. Mr. Henry S. C. Sweeting served as mason and Mr. White and Mr. Canniff were carpenters involved on the ambitious project. In March 1881, an addition was made to the castle which was said to add symmetry to the outside and increased convenience on the inside of the mansion. The company continued to flourish and owned a majority of the Big Dam water rights. Mr. Laurie became a majority stockholder of the company, which by then had acquired Cayuga Mill and Canoga Mill.
Mr. Laurie was dealt a severe blow on August 6, 1890, when his wife, Jeanie “Jane” [McAllister], died at the family residence on Owasco Street. She was said to have suffered a severe attack of the grip (similar to influenza) the previous January and had never fully recovered. She suffered complications over the next several months which resulted in her death. The funeral took place in the family residence on Owasco Street and was attended by throngs of mourners. She was laid to rest in a rich, heavy black broadcloth-covered casket which was covered with floral tributes. She was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery.
In 1893, a serious economic depression led to a national panic. Before 1893, Samuel Laurie was said to be worth $100,000. Under his management, more than 500 employees found steady work in the mills. The financial crash resulted in Samuel Laurie losing his interests in the Auburn Woolen and Canoga mills, as well as his home on Owasco Street. In 1895, it was purchased by outside investors.
Samuel Laurie died April 25, 1895 of Bright’s Disease (condition similar to nephritis; inflammation of the kidneys) in Mountain Valley Springs, Arkansas, where he had gone to recuperate from a poor health condition. His remains arrived in Auburn on April 29th and Tallman’s undertaking saw to the preparations. The funeral was held from his previous Owasco Street residence. Samuel Laurie was laid to rest in Fort Hill Cemetery alongside his beloved wife, Jane.