nearly 60 years a substantial and graceful dwelling stood on this corner.
It was probably built by Ebenezer Raymond, who bought this lot and the one
adjoining from Miles Benham in 1828. Cleveland thought William Brownell,
who owned the lot in 1831 built the house; but its style as seen in the
photographs taken before the house was razed seems to be very plainly Federal,
and not the Greek Revival so much more current in the 1830s.
In any case, in 1840
the place was acquired through foreclosure by Nelson Tunnicliff, who with
Samuel Stewart had kept a store downtown since about 1820. Tunnicliff enlarged
the house and he and later his heirs owned it until it was taken down in
1878 to build the Presby-terian Church.
The Presbyterian congregation
had been especially peripatetic: it was founded in Benton in 1802 by a group
of mostly Scots-Irish settlers from northern New Jersey, with a church built
at Kipp's Hill in 1821. In 1823 a group of 48 persons founded the daughter
congregation in Penn Yan and built the first church in what would be the
village in 1825, at what is now 305-307 Main Street. This congregation split
in 1841, with the larger part along with the pastor founding a Congregationalist
church and erecting their own building, which was used by them until the
group disbanded in 1855. By 1879 the reunited Presbyterian congregation
had recovered enough to build a new church on the site of the Tunicliff
house. The structure cost $40,000 to build, with a 100-foot steeple and
a hall that could seat 1000 people.
The lot was originally
part of the land sold by Abraham Wagener to Jonathan Bordwell in 1819, and
then came into the hands of Miles Benham. Benham then sold the lot to Ebenezer
Raymond. In 1829, when Raymond sold it to Abel F. Terrill, he got $800 for
it, indicating there was probably already a house there. It was Terrill
who sold it to Brownell, for $1200 in 1831, and when Brownell sold it to
the hatter Ebenezer Jenkins only four years later he got $3400, indicating
that some further improvement had occurred, if not the building of an entirely
new house. It should be noted that Clinton Street was put through about
1835, which would also have increased the value of the lot.