145 Main Street: The A & P Store

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John Dorman homestead

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The Stewart Sisters

145 Main St.veryone alive in Penn Yan in 1968 remembers the fire that destroyed this building. The fire started next door in the Engine House, and both structures are naturally vivid in recollections of the event.

The store occupied by the A&P in 1968 was built in 1884, shortly after then-owner August Klube made an agreement with the village trustees to rebuild on the site where he'd sold furniture since soon after 1856, when his old store was erected.

Both buildings stood on a piece of land sold by Simpson Buck to Mercy and Lydia Stewart, who built a house and lived there after 1836. They owned half of a larger piece of which the northern half was sold to Henry Bradley. The latter was part of the double Benham House lot originally put together by Dewitt C. Benham. The whole thing was the southernmost part of John Dorman's 4-acre homestead lot, sold to him in 1799 by David Wagener. Dorman's house stood at the southern edge of the Benham House lot, and this quarter-acre or so south of the house was his garden. North of the house, all the way to George Benham's cottage at 145 Main St.what is now 163 Main St., was his orchard.

After his father's death in 1821, Joel Dorman sold off the properties which were not included in bequests, and then after his mother's death in 1827 he sold the homestead itself. Buck was a tailor, who bought the entire southern half of the Dorman homestead and built his own house on it. Eventually he moved to Detroit with his wife, and by his attorney A. H. Bennett sold his home lot in pieces, including this one in 1836.

The Stewart sisters' place was just over 48 feet wide on the street. Apparently their house was right up by the sidewalk, in about the same place as the eventual store. They lived above their millinery shop, or at least Lydia did, for just about 20 years. Mercy married and sold her share to Lydia in 1839.

Another sister, Elizabeth, sold the lot to the village trustees in 1856. Previous to this time, the village's one hand pumper was housed in what most people described as a "shack" on Head Street, a little east of where the Ambulance Corps building is today. This was eventually replaced by a proper brick firehouse on the same lot but facing Main Street; before then the acquisition of another pumper required erecting another building farther downtown, just beginning to grow into a commercial district in the 1830s. The trustees bought the Stewart sisters' lot and built a small brick engine house on it in 1856, at the same time selling the larger part of the lot to Elisha G. Hopkins, who made and sold furniture and coffins from a store where the Public Library is now. On a map of 1855, the lot was occupied by a single building in which "Mrs. Sackett" lived (probably in the apartment upstairs); and in 1857 there were two buildings: the Engine House and S. F. Curtiss' chair and furniture store (he made the inventory in his factory at the north end of the block, 177 Main, where St. Mark's church is now).

Presumably it was either Hopkins or Curtiss who built the little two-story brick store. In 1865 it belonged to James Burns, who won local fame when as County Treasurer in 1873 he absconded with all the public funds in his care (more than $42,000). In 1876 the owners were "Tiensen & Klube," actually Matthias Theisen and August C. Klube. Theisen eventually sold his share to his partner and moved away. Klube continued at the same site until 1900, when - having rebuilt his store - he sold out to Clarence H. Knapp. Sometime before 1961 it became the A&P, and remained one until the building burned in 1968.


Top: 145 Main St. in about 1890. This building was one of Charles V. Bush's masterpieces. It was built a few years earlier than the Lown's block, but shares its battlemented fancifulness at the cornice. Both buildings had (and Lown's still has) cast iron fronts, here needed to support the huge windows. Their shape owes something to Richardsonian Gothic, something to Renaissance Revival, and a great deal to the prevailing Italianate in the rest of the business district.


Right: 145 Main Street before rebuilding. This picture was taken no later than 1884, when the building was destroyed by fire and rebuilt. It was taken after the village installed fire hydrants, as there is one right at the edge of the sidewalk.
      The crosswalk just this side of the hydrant was of stone, and with its many fellows made a kind of washboard surface for unpaved (and still grossly muddy) Main Street. The facade of the Engine House next door was set back, or rather not extended forward with the lovely wood-frame porch, so it's invisible in this picture, but one can see the ramp leading down from its wide doorway to the street. The trees beyond, at the extreme right, are in Eben Smith's yard.



People related to this lot and structure:
 

     David Wagener
     
John Dorman

     The Stewarts
     Charles V. Bush 
     Samuel F. Curtiss

Related sites:  

     143 Main Street
     137 Main Street
     177 Main Street
     214 Main Street

Related history:  

     Before the Storm
     Looking Forward

 

145 Main St.


Right
: A closer view of No. 145. Its address then, (until 1903,) as can clearly be seen, was No. 59, and it belonged to Theisen & Klube, a furniture shop. The simple brick facade with its dentil molding is visible in this picture, and the very fanciful Queen Anne porch. The second floor housed a part of the shop where awnings and fancy upholstering could be had. A few pieces of furniture, presumably for sale, can be seen on the gallery. The alley between this building and the Benham House was on the hotel's lot, and wasa right-of-way to the buildings behind this front row on Main Street, and led eventually to what was then Jacob Street, now East Elm, behind 101 Main.
Modern Jacob Street lies where 143-145 stood, on property owned by the village after the 1968 fire. Two small storefronts occupy the space where 133-141 stood; their addresses are 133 and 137. The Benham House was 151, the same as the bank that replaced it.

18571865187418861896190919502008

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in 1884 in