175 Main Street: The H.A. Wagener House


175 Main St.

ny reasonably sharp observer can see that this large house was dropped in between the church and the brick house to the south. It was in fact built in 1894 by H. Allen Wagener, who built several houses on Main Street and lived in several others.

The house was built on land owned by the blacksmith George W. Johnson from the 1850s right through at least the middle of the 1870s. A general blacksmithing and carriage-gear factory stood here, with a carriage shop to the south and Samuel F. Curtiss' chair factory to the north. It was in Johnson's shop that the fire started that destroyed all these buildings the night of 3 July 1867.

This property was originally part of the 14-acre plot that Miles Benham owned. He sold a little over an acre of this land in 1835 to a man named John Clark , with more than 190 feet of frontage on Main Street. Clark's plot included the present-day sites of 175, 173 and 171 Main Street. There's no evidence he built anything but a barn on the property, and Clark is listed on a tax roll of 1841 as the owner of a vacant lot and barn here, with a value of $700.

Henry Wood and John C. Bruen acquired the Clark lot in 1845 for only $395 (Clark had paid $2800 for the whole thing only ten years previously.) As far as is known they built the first carriage manufactory here, with a blacksmith shop in which to fabricate the iron parts. Wood & Bruen sold out before 1857 to Samuel Raymond, and he to George W. Johnson, who owned it when disaster struck in 1867. Johnson sold the south half of his property two months after the fire (now #s 173 and 171) to Andrew F. Chapman of Benton, but retained the site of his factory for some years. As can be seen on an 1874 pictorial map of the village, he rebuilt at least the wagon shop.

The brick house to the south (173 Main) was built in 1868, and the foundation of Grace Church to the north (no. 177) was started in 1871. It appears that when the reunited congregation of St. Mark's began to work in earnest on the new church in 1879, this lot was empty and part of theirs. In 1894 it was sold by the trustees to Wagener, who filled the whole frontage with this house. The driveway between it and no. 173 is a shared right of way.

Wagener lived here until 1927. He never had any children, and in 1915 at least no live-in servants. On the census of that year he says he was 45; and his wife was the only other person in the household. It's an amazingly large house for only two people, and one must remember that it was built specifically for them. Another time, a different view.


Right: The house is just a little old-fashioned for its period, being a Queen Anne structure built just as Colonial Revival was coming in. The latter style is reflected in the somewhat simplified surfaces and the Doric columns of the porch; the silhouette and massing, the oriel window, the leaded glass and other varied materials are Victorian. Most of Penn Yan's big Queen Anne houses are on much larger lots, though, with more room to display the exuberant style.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Miles Benham

     More Wageners

Related structures:

     166 Main Street
     167 Main Street
     169 Main Street

Related history:

     The Return
     Another Boom

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