314 Main Street: Penn Yan Academy


asically, this large lot is still the same size and shape it was upon its sale in 1804 to John Dorman. A stone had been placed beside the road, marking the division line between Abraham Wagener's remaining land to the south and Dorman's two acres. This was, incidentally, the only land Dorman ever owned on the west side of Main Street. He paid $60 for it.

Twenty years later, after her husband's death, Sybil Dorman sold the identical two acres to Frederick H. Rhode, then of Oswego county. The price was $150. A few years later, in 1829, Rhode (who by then living with his family on the property) bought the tiny wedge of land between the two acre lot and the property of Jonathan Hall on the north. This was the School House lot, which once the decrepit old building was no longer in use as a school, had reverted to its original owner, Abraham Wagener.

Rhode, a shoemaker, and his wife and children occupied the property until 1857, when it was decided to build an institution of higher learning in the village. Rhode himself was dead by then, and the deed to the Penn Yan Board of Education in July of that year was from his heirs: Elizabeth Rhode, his widow; Frederick H. Rhode Jr., "now on a voyage at sea;" Lewis S. Rhode; Caroline, wife of Hugh Joynt; Maxwell W. Rhode; Emily Adelia, wife of Peter Shaw; and Henrietta Rhode. The price was $1603.57. The Rhodes had in the past 30-odd years sold off small parcels around the edges to make the boundaries straight, but it was still essentially the same lot sold a half-century earlier to John Dorman.

The Board of Education regained some of the land that had been sold to adjacent landowners. Charles V. Bush set his Academy right in the center of the lot, which must have been a very imposing sight. The building was remodeled and vastly enlarged in 1905.

Photographs (and the memories of people who went there, many of whom still survive) retain an image of a handsome and dignified building. It was razed in 1965, at the same time that the Morris Brown house next door was also razed, to make more room for playing fields and parking at the Junior High School (now the Middle School) erected on the same lot facing Liberty Street in 1925.



Above, far right: Penn Yan Academy as it looked when built by Charles V. Bush in 1857. It was an astonishing structure for such a small place, and for a self-trained architect's first work. The drawing is copied from one in Walter Wolcott's Penn Yan, New York; and can also be found on the title page of the Everts, Ensign & Everts Centennial Atlas, published in 1876.

Near right: The Academy as it looked after its major remodeling soon after the turn of the 20th century. Its core was the old 1857 structure, but of course it was much larger. Almost the only recognizable feature common to both periods was the belfry.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     John Dorman
     Charles V. Bush

Related structures:

     150 Main Street
     113-117 Main Street

Related history:

     Before the Storm