208 Main Street: The A.H. Bennett house

208 Main St


talianate houses can be quite plain or very rich in detail, depending on the taste of the builder and on the time in which they were built. This one is very rich indeed, a beautiful example of the woodworker's art.

The lot was sold by Wagener in 1824 to Abraham H. Bennett, who was publisher and editor of the Penn-Yan Democrat, the first of the village's newspapers. Bennett bought a double lot, 8 rods (132 feet) wide. He sold a piece of it, the northern half, to David G. Caywood in 1825. Caywood lost the property to a Sheriff's execution in 1827, and the entire lot was again Bennett's. Sometime later the lot was again split, and by 1844 Bennett only retained the southern part of the lot; the north half was sold to Elisha Hopkins in that year and is the lot where #210 now stands.

It is known that Bennett built a house and lived here, and even printed off his newspaper in an upstairs room for a while. The present house is actually the same building, but so altered in 1873 as to look now so completely different it's hard to imagine the place with any other appearance. It was one of Myron Hamlin's sons, Charles A. Hamlin, who made the alterations that so transformed his house. He bought it in 1863 from Fanny Robbins, widow of Samuel Robbins.

Hamlin held onto the house for 15 years, selling it in 1878 to another representative of the village's mercantile class, George H. Lapham. It is often nowadays called "the Lapham house," though as far as can be ascertained Lapham did not contribute any more to the appearance of the house. He did live there however for quite a long time.

John T. Andrews 2nd bought the place from the Laphams soon after the turn of the century, and sold it in 1913 to his son Charles T. Andrews. It only passed out of the family's hands in 1965 when it was sold by Charles Andrews' widow Edith to John J. Cahill. After the Historic District was established in 1985 the house and its carriage house in the rear were renovated and restored. It's worth comparing it with 328 Main Street which is identical but has never been painted to show off the decoration.



Above right: 208 Main Street, remodeled to its present appearance in 1873 by Charles A. Hamlin. The house was first built in the 1820s by A.H. Bennett in Greek Revival style, acheived its square Italianate shape about 30 years later, probably by Samuel Robbins. Hamlin had the portico and the astonishingly complex window moldings added along with other Victorian-style decoration. The carriage house was added in 1879 by George H. Lapham.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
  Abraham H. Bennett
     The Hamlins
     The Laphams
     The John T. Andrews family

Related structures:

     328 Main Street

Related sites:

     210 Main Street

Related history:

     The County Seat
     Before the Storm
     Looking Backward