204 Main Street: The Dr. Andrew Oliver house

204 Main St


r. Andrew F. Oliver came to this area a year before his identical twin brother William. In 1818 he advertised that he was practicing medicine out of Giles Kinney's public house a few miles west of Penn Yan. He bought the property of which this is a part from Abraham Wagener in 1819. The original lot was 8 rods wide and 17 rods deep (132 feet x 280 feet six inches), about an acre.

The exact date when Oliver built and moved into his house on this site is unknown, but probably took place about 1820. At that time the village consisted of a cluster of houses and shops at the head of Main Street, the mills and a couple of shops at the foot of the street, and almost nothing else in between.

The doctor's house certainly must have dominated its neighborhood. It was a long (five-bay)Federal structure with chimneys running up inside the house, New England style. Each no doubt had at least two fireplaces, more likely a set on each floor. The three-bay gable end faced the street, and the whole sat towards the north side of the lot, leaving a wide yard between the house and one built about 1824 on the corner by shoemaker Alexander Hemiup.

It's known that Dr. Oliver had his office in a separate building.It was a small frame structure that stood close to the street and some distance south of the house. In 1827, when Dr. Oliver was appointed the County's Surrogate, his office was there. It was also used as a meeting-place for the Medical Society and, after 1860, the Yates County Historical Society. It was moved in 1872 to Chapel Street, behind 200 Main Street (Dr. William Oliver, Andrew's son, had his office in his home). In the 1920s it was moved again, to Commercial Avenue, where it served as a residence, then as an office for the Cotton & Hamlin plant there, then as a residence again. It was apparently taken down many years later, possibly as late as the 1970s.

former 204 Main StWhen Dr. Andrew died in 1857, the eldest of his surviving children inherited his house. This was Jane, who with her husband John L. Lewis Jr., had lived there with the old doctor. Their sons were born in the house, as had been all but one of their aunts and uncles. Jane's stepmother Almira went to Glendale, Ohio, after her only daughter married and moved there.

At that time the Lewises remodeled the old house, adding a wrap-around porch with curly decorations, eaves brackets and other Italianate amenities, giving the house its look as shown in surviving photographs and in drawings (there's one in the 1876 Centennial Atlas). In 1880, Judge Lewis was still there, with Mr. and Mrs. Charles Ketchum keeping and maintaining the place.

The lot was part of the property inherited by Carrie and Jennie Oliver in 1902, when their father Dr. William died. At just about this time the old house was either rebuilt or very completely remodeled. The porch was reduced to just the east (front) facade and a two-story bay window added on the south side. The place was occupied by a number of lodgers: in 1905 it was a railroad conductor named Wallace Stoddard, and seven others, and in 1906 an osteopath named C.M. Bancroft lived there (his office was in the Cornwell block downtown).

In 1935 the directory states that the house was in apartments. By this time Carrie and Jennie Oliver had sold it to Charles Kelly (the sale was in 1928). It was again remodeled after this, when the front porch was removed entirely and the east entrance doubled, with a single portico. The windows have been replaced and the clapboards covered with shingles, so that it's impossible to tell the building's age from outside; only the shape of the facade and the interior chimneys remain.




Far right: The present house at 204 Main Street. It was built about 1903, with a two-story bay window, and a porch on the east side only. More recently the porch was removed altogether. The house has been converted into apartments; notice the two front doors. It's possible this is at its core the same house; though the newer house is much longer, and has cross-gables missing in the older one.

Another picture, taken in between these two, about 1908, and showing a portion of this house, can be seen on the page for 202 Main Street.


Near right: The Andrew F. Oliver house, built about 1820 by Dr. Oliver, and later the residence of his son-in-law John L. Lewis Jr., who made some Italianate revisions, including the long wrap-around porch.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Andrew F. Oliver
     John L. Lewis

Related structures:

     200 Main Street

Related sites:

     202 Main Street

Related history: