213 Main Street: The John H. Butler house

213 Main Street

o photographs show (as far as is known) the original house to stand on this lot; by all accounts it was very grand indeed. The lot it stood on stretched all the way east to Sheppard Street, and north behind the houses on Main Street to the boundaries of Eliah Holcomb's huge lot where #227 now stands. This was the house where Samuel S. Ellsworth lived, and where his son lived after him, until it burned in 1871.

The younger Ellsworth and his wife Hebe afterwards moved into the house at #227; she died while traveling abroad, in 1877; and at that time this lot was sold to John H. Butler. He built a house for himself that was a prominent feature of Main Street until it was razed in 1963 to make extra room for the new church on the lot next door to the south.

The lot was part of the property Samuel S. Ellsworth bought from Miles Benham in 1826; he sold this part of the bigger lot to Harriet, the daughter of George Brown in 1830, but she and her husband Brinton W. Hazard sold it back in 1834. At about that time the Ellsworth house was built, and the family lived in it for nearly 40 years. In September 1871 it burned to the ground; Stewart Ellsworth and his wife (known for her extensive and elaborate wardrobe), escaped almost literally with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Luckily, the place was so isolated on its large grounds that no other houses were damaged. The house was never rebuilt. The lot was divided and two new houses were built on the land facing Main Street. Eventually several more houses were built on Clinton and Sheppard Streets on land that once comprised the "Ellsworth Homestead."

Mrs. Ellsworth sold the land on which #215 stands to Charles R. King in 1875; and then the entire rest of the property to Butler, who built his own large house on Main Street there, and gradually sold off most of the rest of the property in house lots. Later on, Clinton Struble lived in the house. It was his in 1917 when Walter Wolcott's history of Penn Yan was published. Still later it came back into the Butler family's hands, as it belonged to John H. Butler's daughter Lillian when it was razed in 1963.



Above right: 213 Main Street in a picture taken about 1959 by Leland Welker and now in the collection of the Oliver House Museum. It was an exuberant display of Gothic Revival themes that meshed perfectly with 215 Main Street next door. The two houses were built about the same time, this one one the same lot where the Samuel S. Ellsworths had lived since about 1830.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Samuel Stewart Ellsworth

     John H. Butler
     Clinton V. Struble

Related sites:

     211 Main Street
     215 Main Street

Related history:

     The County Seat
     Looking Backward