319 Main Street: William N. Wise house


illiam N. Wise, the "Fruit King," built this house in 1879 on part of the old Episcopal Church lot, where that building had stood since the 1830s.

The house was originally built in the Eastlake style, known for its elaborate pierced and carved woodwork, but much of that was lost when the clapboard was covered with shingles. A very striking panelled chimney remains on the north side.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church was built on lots 10 and 11 of the VanPelt subdivision, on land donated by John Plaisted, an English immigrant.

The congregation split, as did the Presbyterians and the Methodists, over the abolition of slavery, but unlikr the others they did not end the schism when the Civil War made the discussion moot. In the 1860s the part of the congregation that had seceded raised enough money to begin building a new church. The foundation was laid in 1870 for what was to be Grace Church on the south corner of Main Street and Clinton. The congregation finally got back together, but there was no money for church-building. The church on the corner wasn't completed until 1879, and it became the house of worship for the reunited worshippers belonging to the parish of St. Mark.

Meanwhile, the old church was razed and the lot sold. This house and the one next door at #317 were built on the church lot, and they remain there today.


Above right: 319 Main Street, built in 1879 by William N. Wise. The house was built in a subset of the Queen Anne style called "Eastlake." This style featured elaborate carved and pierced woodwork, which is pretty much missing from this house since it was shingled. Much Eastlake decoration was carried out in interior spaces, and the paneled woodwork can still be seen in the contemporary carriage house to the rear. The diagonally-set first-floor front windows are an interesting and unique touch.

Above: Another view of 319 Main Street, taken from Walter Wolcott's
Penn Yan, New York (1917). It gives a better idea of the building's elaborate Eastlake-style carving, and of course its enormous size.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
  Meredith Mallory
     John Dorman
     William Cornwell
Related sites:

    317 Main Street

Related history:

     Railroads and Queen Anne