303 Main Street: The Delancey Martin house


leveland thought this house had been built by Robert Beecher, who bought the property in 1829; it's actually quite likely that it was built by Israel Brown, who offered it for sale in 1825; the advertisement explicitly states that a dwelling house and a small barn were to be sold with the land; and subsequent deeds mention the same structures.

In 1825, the half-acre lot on which this house stands was next south from the Presbyterian Meeting-house, and included this lot and the lots to the south, one facing Main Street and the other Linden Street. It passed through two or three quick hands, and was purchased in 1829 by Robert Beecher, who turned it into a temperance tavern (a public house that did not sell alcoholic beverages). Cleveland notes that the enterprise "failed like all of its kind for lack of support," having been kept by Beecher and then by Hubbell Gregory, a noted local carpenter, who built the Methodist Church at Benton Center (among others; he was especially noted as a builder of churches). After a few years he left the area and went to the vicinity of Ann Arbor in Michigan.

Beecher continued to live in the house, though, and sold parts of the lot to the Presbyterian congregation on the north. Eventually it was acquired by Delancey Martin, a local hatter. After he died his widow Caroline stayed there and ran the place as a boarding house. It was Caroline Martin who sold the southernmost part of the lot to Theodore F. Wheeler in 1868.

Farley Holmes, the steamboat man, owned the property for a while, and then Sidney Seager. It's likely that one of these men had the unusual (unique in Penn Yan) square tower erected over the main entrance on the west side. The original door surround has been retained, giving the modern viewer a chance to see the Federal-style origins of the structure.



Above right: 303 Main Street, probably built in the early 1820s, possibly by Israel Brown. Its present appearance is very individual, being Federal in its origins, but overlaid with Italianate details added much later, including the unique square tower over the west entrance with its two sets of Palladian-inspired windows (one with the conventional round-topped sash, the other square-topped). The original Federal doorway remains, and the semi-elliptical windows in the side gables.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
  John Dorman

Related sites:

     301 Main Street

Related history:

     The County Seat