164 Main Street: The Polly Lawrence House

164 Main St.

lijah Ryno, a local innkeeper, bought this lot from Abraham Wagener in 1824; he sold it exactly two years later to Samuel Lawrence for $1250, thus pinning down pretty accurately the date of the house's erection. Lawrence lived here with his second wife Polly Kidder Lawrence for the rest of his life. It was a brick gable-front Greek Revival dwelling, as was William M. Oliver's mansion next south on Main Street. Like Oliver, Lawrence was a local judge and politician (he is credited with naming the town of Milo and was its first Supervisor).

Lawrence died in the house in 1841 and in July 1844 his heirs sold it to Leander Reddy, who could conceivably have occupied it while building his own house next door. In any case, Polly Lawrence bought it back for the same $2300 she and her children had sold it for only a year earlier.

Polly lived a few more years in the house, selling it to Joseph Elmendorf in 1848, after she moved to Grand Rapids. Elmendorf was the village's first dentist and was succeeded in his practice by his son Charles, who also inherited this house. He sold it to Lyman Munger in 1863, and Munger to George McAllister in 1866.

It was McAllister who made the Italianate changes. He did not fundamentally change the shape of the house, but entirely altered its character. He added the delightful decorative elements around the cornice and in the pediment; and the two very elaborate porches. He was by profession a photographer, as was his daughter, in an upstairs studio downtown.

164 Main St. before 1911The house passed through a number of other owners, including the attorney and judge William S. Briggs, and at the turn of the century Lucius P. Wagener. Daniel Morris, a Rushville lawyer who moved to Penn Yan, bought the house next door to the north in 1867, and passed it along after his death to his son William Torrey Morris.

W.T. Morris made the final set of extensive changes to this house, as well as to the old Hamlin house next door. He was hugely expanding the Hamlin house, and needed more room. He bought this lot and had the house moved to its the south side and farther back from the street, and then had the brick covered with stucco (as he also did with the Hamlin house).

This magnificent row of houses was built to be the residences of single private families. None of them is that any more, but in the transition they have all been preserved. None is exactly as it was, but they all wear their various histories pretty well.



Wagener's individual sales

Far right: 164 Main Street, built by Elijah Ryno in 1825, but usually called after its most prominent early residents: Samuel and Polly (Kidder) Lawrence. At its core the house is a simple
brick gable-front Greek Revival dwelling, much elaborated in the late 1860s with Italianate decoration. The porches, the double brackets under the eaves and in the pediment, and the round window all date from the latter period. Note the fantastic carving and the multiple columns supporting the porches. The brick was covered with stucco in 1910, and the house moved to the south and further back on the lot, at the same time as the renovations were done on the house next door to the north.

At right is a photograph from The Oliver House collection showing both 164 and 166 Main St. before their renovation by William T. Morris (not to mention the very stylish brougham and pair). 164 was much closer to the street than it is now, and so close to 166 that it had to be moved some distance south so 166 could be enlarged.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
Samuel Lawrence
The Morrises

Related structures:

     166 Main Street
     130 Main Street

     The County Seat
     Boom Town
     The Return


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