he lot on which this
little house stands was sold by Nehemiah Higley to Cornelius Masten in 1818.
Higley was a partner with Elijah Haskell and Morris F. Sheppard in a fulling
operation using Jacob's Brook for power and water source. Fulling was the
cleaning and finishing of woven cloth, usually combined with dying.
Masten was a newcomer
to the settlement, having arrived only the previous year from Kinderhook
in Columbia County at the eastern edge of the state. He was a lawyer and
a speculator, and within a few years he owned quite a number of village
lots, along with farms outside its bounds. There's no evidence at present
that he built anything on this lot, except possibly the fact that he bought
it for $500 and sold it with other land adjacent on the north for $2025;
however, the sale wasn't until 1842, and changes in value over so many years
are quite hard to calculate. The adjoining land was that on which #355 and
#357 stood, and the latter certainly had a store on it in 1842, part of
the new brick block of Francis M. Potter.
house now standing on this lot is said to have been built by Henry Bradley
soon after his purchase of 1842. What can be shown is that when Bradley
sold the property in 1857 there was a "small white dwelling house"
on this lot, which no doubt had also served as a storefront. It's important
to remember that this area was the first commercial heart of the village,
and most storekeepers lived behind or above their premises.
It’s possible that
this is the lot Morris F. Sheppard’s so-called “yellow house” (built originally
at #346) was moved to at about the time the Brooks Block (on #358 and 360)
across the street burned to the ground, or maybe before that, in 1830 when
Sheppard built his stone mansion (at #342). If so, then this house is the
oldest in Penn Yan, having been built not by Henry Bradley but by Sheppard
in the first or (more likely) second decade of the 19th century.
When Masten had to
sell his extensive property in 1842, George Youngs bought this lot, which
included #355 to the north; along with #357 adjacent, the southernmost store
in the brick block of stores at the corner. He immediately sold it to Bradley,
who held on to the whole thing until 1857. In that year (which was a time
of economic depression) Ebenezer Lewis of Geneva paid Bradley half what
he had paid to purchase the three adjacent lots 15 years earlier. Lewis
subdivided, and sold this lot to Thomas Dunn of Penn Yan in 1862 for $300.
It passed through a number of hands over the following decades, D.W. Corcoran
and Delilah Chapin, and Melissa Brown who sold it to Emma Belle Nugent in
1886. Miss Nugent sold it to the sisters Margaret and Anna Gavin in 1898.
The Gavins, who owned the store in Henry Carley's building on the corner
(#359-61), retained it well into the 20th century.
The house had a porch
across the front as late as 2002, and it’s thought this was added in the
early 20th century to the original much simpler building. The
dormers were probably added about the same time as the porch, which has
now been enclosed, so the footprint is probably much the same as when it
was built, though probably larger. It was undoubtedly a simple rectangular