329 Main Street: The David Phelps house


ike a number of lots at the upper end of Main Street, this one's very early history is a bit obscure; ownership in some cases is by inference, not necessarily all that well documented. It's obvious from subsequent deeds that this was once part of the Lewis Vanderlip property (or one of them), the northern half of William Babcock's parcel south of Mill Street.

When John VanPelt Jr.'s property was sold up in 1834, this was Lot 6 in his subdivision, and as such was sold by VanPelt's agent to William M. Oliver of Penn Yan; Oliver paid $1317 for the property, which should indicate that there was a house (or other structure) on it, but none such is mentioned on the subdivision map. The Greek Revival style of this house argues that it must have been built soon after that, if it wasn't already there.

It came into the hands of David L. Phelps, who bought the lot from Oliver in 1839, and might have built the house, though its style seems early for that year, there were certainly Greek Revival houses built that late and even later in Penn Yan. Phelps lived there for some years and sold it to Jane Elliott in 1858. The 1857 map of the village shows the occupant as "Mrs. Brooks," probably Mary Brooks who was David Phelps' sister.

Charles C. Sheppard bought the lot and house in 1865, unquestionably as a rental, and he sold it a few years later to the heirs of John Powell, the blacksmith. Powell's widow is probably the "Mrs. P" who is shown as the occupant on the village map in the Atlas of 1876.Cleveland's notes on this house indicate that John Powell's widow lived here with her daughter Sarah Butterfield, another widow.

The little house was sold several more times until in 1911 it was acquired by Clarence Ferenbaugh, son-in-law of Claude Birkett who moved in next door at #331 in 1915. Ferenbaugh added the porch on the west (front) side about 1933. After his death it remained essentially unchanged for the next 50 years, until it was burned to the ground.



People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Morris F. Sheppard
     William Babcock
     Luman Phelps and family
     The Birketts and the Russells

Other related structures:

 333 Main Street

Related sites:

 341 Main Street
 331 Main Street

Related history:



Above right: 329 Main Street, said to have been built around 1834 by David L. Phelps. Its Greek Revival origins were very plain, though the front-gabled porch was added later, and enclosed later still, during the 20th century. Only a vacant lot with a truncated piece of sidewalk remains today; the house burned in the early 1980s, killing its elderly owner and only resident.