F. Sheppard built three houses in Penn Yan for himself and family. This
is the third, and the only one to survive. This beautiful house is also
the only stone dwelling in the village.
The stone was quarried
on Sheppard's own land, in the gulley near where he established his gristmill
at the head of Sucker Brook, or Chissom's Brook as it was known then.
The house was originally
built in classically simple Greek Revival style; the gabled dormer, the
porch and the lacy ironwork were all added later, when extensive Italianate
remodeling was done by then-owner Jeptha A. Potter.
Sheppard built his
first really dramatic commercial building on this site, the five-story Mechanics'
Hall, in 1824. It was a large wooden building housing a warren of small
shops and artisans' establishments. It burned to the ground only two years
after it was built, in December 1826, and Sheppard built his third and final
home on the site. The house was at the time of its building considered to
be about as extravagant a venture as Mechanics' Hall, and no one else in
the village ever emulated the beautiful Pennsylvania-style stonework used
Sheppard died in 1846
and his widow lived on there until her own death, after which it passed
into the hands of David B. Prosser, the lawyer who handled their estates.
No deed was ever recorded for this transaction, but it is mentioned in later
deeds as having occurred in 1853. Prosser is shown in this house on the
1855 census, with his wife Maria (Watson). Their daughter and a servant
filled out the household.
Prosser sold the place
to Jarvis M. Andrews of New York City in 1868; Andrews sold it a few months
later to Jeptha Potter of Penn Yan. He made the Italianate revisions to
the house in 1878.