342 Main Street: The Morris F. Sheppard house

342 Main Street


orris 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 in it.

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.



Above right: 342 Main Street in its Italianate modern dress. Built as a plain stone Pennsylvania dwelling, this house acquired its Victorian-era embellishments nearly 50 years later. The change in the front roof line can clearly be seen in the stonework, and the date of the changes was added to the "1830" on the cornerstone. The owner clearly felt he had rebuilt the house.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Morris F. Sheppard
     Abner Pierce
     The Potters
 William Babcock
     Cornelius Masten
     David B. Prosser

Other related structures:
  338 Main Street 

Related sites:

    343 Main Street 
    346 Main Street

Related history: