125 Main Street: Hyland & Caviston Meat Market

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Bordwell homestead

Munger & Buckingham lot

125 Main Streetinally, we have come to the end (or the beginning, depending on which direction you're moving) of John Dorman's 4-acre homestead lot. It ranged from the north end of 159 Main Street (now the Post Office) to the south end of 127 Main. David Wagener sold this large parcel to Dorman in 1799, just before he died. South of that was another large plot, the homestead of Jonathan Bordwell, of which this is the northernmost lot; no deed was recorded for this transfer but it no doubt occurred no more than a year or two earlier or later. It ran from here down to and including 101 Main Street, that is, all the rest of the part of Main that makes up this block. South yet of Bordwell was Dorman's original lot, given to him by David Wagener and upon which he built his first log cabin, about 1795.

The quarter-acre upon which this building and 121 Main stand was once planned to hold what would have been, in 1814, one of if not the earliest stores in the downtown district. Bordwell signed a land contract with Jared Munger and Lester Buckingham, who already had a store on the north side of Head Street, east of the crossroads. They failed to complete their end of the bargain, perhaps because of the depression after the War of 1812, and Bordwell sold it again in 1819, to George Shearman. Shearman apparently did not build on this lot, though he had a garden here, at the south end. He sold the whole quarter-acre in 1828 to Eben Smith. It was Smith who subdivided it, selling this north half of the Munger & Buckingham lot to Alfred Brown in 1848.

Brown owned a number of parcels in Penn Yan, including for a long time the site where the Arcade was built in 1869. He lived on Boundary Street (now South Ave.) where Brown Street (named for him) ran into it. Jacob Fredenburgh had lived there before him, beginning about 1787, the village's first white inhabitant, on the sufferance of the Indians; after him, David Hall lived there, another very early settler. Eventually it was the home of Darius W. Ogden, whose mansion was razed when Brown Street was extended up the hill to become Rte. 14A, in the 1960s.

It was undoubtedly Brown who built the first store on this Main Street lot. Four years later, in 1852, he sold it to Thomas Hendrick, the first of many so-called "famine Irish" who e125 Main Streetmigrated from their green and hungry island to Penn Yan (and of course to other places in New York; millions of them and their descendants stayed in the city of New York, their port of debarkation).

Hendrick was a butcher and began the store's long, but interrupted, career as a meat market. His estate sold it to John Weed in 1855, Weed to Job T. Smith in the same year, Smith to Oliver Stark in 1858 (who ran a bank there), and Stark to John Hyland and John Caviston in 1864. The Hyland & Caviston meat market survived until both men retired about 1890, whereupon F. W. Ayres & Co. opened a flour and feed store on the ground floor, selling besides these two commodities, grain, baled hay and straw. A millinery shop, of all things, was upstairs.

In 1903 the Hyland and Caviston heirs sold the building and lot to W. W. Quackenbush, who with members of his family had a drug store here until 1944 when it was sold to Laurence F. Prouty. He sold the store in 1962 to Adelaide E. Holliday, whose "A Holliday Shop" many Penn Yan natives will remember.

Though still three stories. this building has undergone profound facade changes. It originally was just about the same height as the Eli Sheldon store to the south, which was built a few years earlier, and it was much taller than Baldwin's Bank to the north, built much later, in 1872. Both the bank and the Sheldon store were raised, to three and four stories, respectively, as is shown in the picture, which was taken just after the blizzard of 1929 (the white stuff obscuring the street is snow blowing off the huge drifts).

The facade of no. 121 was remodeled in 1901, making it seem even taller, but the bank was reduced again to two stories and lost its cornice. This building, no. 125, was not lowered, but it too lost its cornice, as late as the 1980s, so the proportions seem now rather stunted. Later on, its plate glass storefront was replaced with oak paneling. As far as can be told, the face of the second and third stories are nearly unchanged since it was built in, say, 1849. The second-floor rectangular windows have been shortened some time in the past, mostly by bricking up the lower portion; the beautiful little arched windows on the third floor survive nearly unchanged, except all six have lost their stone lintels, replaced by a course of brick.

 


Top: 125 Main Street as it looks today. The cornice was removed in the 1980s, the ground floor facade has been sheathed in oak, the second-story windows have been shortened and all six windows have had their stone lintels replaced with brick. The building thus looks quite different from the original, most evidently in proportion. The frame is original to its 1849 origins, and the rhythm of the fenestration.



People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Jonathan Bordwell
     George Shearman
     Eben Smith

Related buildings:

     121 Main Street

Related history:

     Before the Storm

 


Right: 125 Main Street in 1929, before the facade received its modern changes. The building had the typical local commercial Italianate style, with arched windows and a prominent cornice fronting quite a high false front. Compare the picture above to see how much was removed; this is why the building's proportions look so odd today.

 

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