Swann in his work on Main Street referred to this place as "a new house
on an old frame," which is about as good a description as one could
The house on this lot
is the one William Cornwell, Jr., built after his marriage. He was the first
physician after John Dorman; and one of the first lawyers, a remarkable
member of a remarkable family.
Cornwell bought a five-acre
lot from John & Sibyl Dorman of Benton in 1815, and soon afterward built
this house. It was described some years later as a "large story&
a half house ... well calculated for two families to reside in it. Also
has a barn and other out houses attached to it." He was living in it
by 1819 when he bought the lot immediately to the north; in the same year
he bought another 3-acre parcel to the south, and by 1824 when he sold the
5-acre lot with this house to John VanPelt, Jr., he and his family were
living in a second house on that lot some distance down the street, where
he died in 1848.
This first lot was
part of the property that VanPelt sold to John Plaisted, and his daughter
Rachel, wife of Samuel Crawford, lived here for many years, after which
Mary Jane Seymour lived in the house. Swann told and retold an old story
alleging that for decades the two Plaisted sisters, Rachel Crawford and
Sarah Scott lived next door with nothing but a wide lawn between them, but
never spoke to one another; this is manifestly impossible, because the Vosburgh
house was between them long before 1834, when Plaisted bought his lots from
VanPelt. The case does illustrate the truism that the truth is always getting
in the way of a good story.
The house has always
been attractive to doctors, apparently, and a number of them have lived
here since William Cornwell moved out. In 1925, when the renovations were
done that changed this from a vernacular Federal-style house to Dutch Revival,
it belonged to Dr. Charles B. Scudder. Scudder sold it to Dr. Bernard Strait
some years later, and in more recent years yet the house has belonged to
Dr. Wilfred McCusker and his widow.