Wagener always exhibited an ambivalent attitude about the settlement
that started around his father's gristmill. On the one hand, he immediately
started selling off large portions at the north end of Main street,
but held onto prime commercial property at the foot of the street for
more than three decades. He was always identified with the group that
wanted the are at the foot of the street to be "downtown",
but his actions don't readily support that identification.
that as it may, as the land he was selling lay further and further south,
he sold it in smaller and smaller pieces. These last three lots in the northeast
quarter of lot 37 illustrate this pretty well.
lot marked "A" on the map was sold in 1815 by James Smith of Benton
to Asa Cole, for $100, marking it nearly certainly as unimproved land. Cole
was a tavern- and store-keeper at the head of the street, who clearly saw
opportunity to the south along Main street. Smith, obviously, bought the
land, amounting to one acre, from Wagener in the first place, but the deed
is unrecorded. He too was an entrepreneur at the head of the street; about
this time he apparently fell on hard times, and perhaps that's why he sold
this lot. The land was home to a succession of commercial enterprises, was
split about in half, reunited as a dwelling lot, and then was split again
into the lots that eventually became #s 310 and 312 Main street.
was also intended to be a commercial property. Wagener sold it to John F.
Ellsworth in 1817, for $150 (which seems to have been his standard price
for a single lot). It was sold a couple of times in quick succession after
that: to Amasa Holden, a cabinet-maker; to William Babcock; to Samuel Babcock
(probably a relative, maybe a brother); and then in 1830 to Henry Welles
who built the beautiful house that still stands at #306. The two lots on
either side were also made from the Welles lot near the turn of the 20th
is the only one of these lots that remained more or less intact. Wagener
sold it in 1823 to Abel F. Turrell, also intended to hold a store. The interesting
thing about the deed is that it doesn't mention Court Street. The lot abuts
the two-acre "Public Square" directly on the north; by 1824 the
street is mentioned in land transactions, thus giving us a pretty good idea
of when it was opened for traffic.