311 Main Street: The Sarah Cornwell house


he house now standing on this lot bears little resemblance to its original form. Cleveland believed this was William Cornwell's original house, built when he arrived in Penn Yan about 1815. It was instead built sometime before 1824 by Cornwell, perhaps as early as 1819 when he married. The first house is the core of the present #325, and his second house forms the core of this one.

It was enlarged into an Italianate mansion after Cornwell died in 1848, possibly in the mid-1850s when that style became popular. It was then two stories, with a shallow hip roof. The remodeling may have dated however to 1863 when Sarah Cornwell's son George R. acquired the place for a nominal sum and leased it back to his mother for life. Sarah and her son continued to live there for decades.

She died in 1888, having outlived her husband 40 years. It was then that the third story and the present roof were added, and the front porch enlarged and embellished, turning the house into a Queen Anne mansion that was retained by the family until well into the 20th century. M.S. Lounsbury bought it in 1926 from Mary Cornwell Palmer, whose family had lived there for more than 100 years.



Above right: 311 Main Street, built about 1824 by William Cornwell Jr., and extensively remodeled at least twice, probably to maintain the position in society that his heirs sought to maintain. Its present appearance owes most to the Queen Anne elaborations added along with a third story in 1888.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Meredith Mallory
     The Cornwells
Related structures:

     325 Main Street

Related sites:

     309 Main Street

Related history:

    The county seat


Above: An older view of 311 Main Street, from Walter Wolcott's Penn Yan, New York. The Cornwell family still owned the house in 1917 when the picture was printed.