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.