309 Main Street: The Henry C. Underwood house


ike a great many of the lots in Penn Yan, this one has a much longer history than the house that stands on it. William Cornwell had for many years lived in the house to the north, at #311. After he abandoned the practice of medicine and took up the practice of law, his law office stood to the south of his house, on the site where #309 stands today.

Cornwell's daughter Achsah married a young lawyer named Justus S. Glover, and the two men went into partnership. The law office served the two men until 1843, when Cornwell sold the southernmost part of his property to Achsah Glover, as "a tract for her exclusive use and benefit" amounting to about half an acre. The law office and a barn stood on the property and were included in the sale.

Cornwell died in 1848, and his heirs confirmed the deed to Achsa Ann Glover in 1858 with more precise boundaries. Mrs. Glover was apparently no longer living there, as it was occupied in 1853 at least by the portrait painter William Linsley, who advertised his services in the local papers. Later on the merchant James D. Morgan bought the property and lived there for decades. The property was bought in 1894 by George S. Sheppard, who had the house moved in 1898 to the land of the Penn Yan Gas Light Co. east of Jackson (now Linden) Street. It was described as a little one-story house, and was no doubt one of the small houses razed in that neighborhood late in the 20th century.

This land was back in the hands of the Cornwell family by the turn of the 20th century, and the lot was sold in 1909 to Henry C. Underwood, who built the house now standing there, an impressive example of Georgian Revival craftsmanship in the grand manner. Underwood lived there for 20 years before selling the house and lot to Clarence Andrews, who built the matching garage in the rear.


Above right: 309 Main Street, built about 1909 by Henry C. Underwood in magnificent Georgian Revival style, on the site of the tiny one-story house that once housed the law office of William Cornwell Jr. and his partner and son-in-law Justus S. Glover. The latter lived in the house for some years afterward. The detail in this house is wonderful: the little elliptical pediments and window trim, the palladian windows in the gables, the grouped columns with their ionic capitals. The house is a masterpiece of its kind.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
  Meredith Mallory
     William Cornwell, Jr.

Related sites:

     311 Main Street

Related history:

     The turn of another century


Above: An older picture of 309 Main Street, published in Walter Wolcott's
Penn Yan, New York, when the house was new.