We are leaving south Cuyler Street and where Hathaway Grove once stood and are heading west on Jackson Street. We are passing the Murphy Funeral Home built by Samuel Sawyer, and a number of old lovely homes that are now being decorated for the holiday season with lights and greenery. We stand at the corner of Canandaigua and West Jackson and as we look across the street, we see the large red brick home. St. Anne’s day care is on the left corner typically with youngsters playing out front on the park equipment. Back to the red brick house we stand at the corner and ponder the history of this place. The sign out front used to say circa 1840.
The front porch beckons, but is not the typical way of entry into this lovely home. The friendly atmosphere of this place now called the Woodlock home welcomes folks into the back porch area to the kitchen door. As you enter the home you are struck with the warm smells and natural colors of an old farm house. From the outside you get the feeling of a photograph from days gone by with the small muted yellow light on each window sill. What of this home when it was first built and what of the history? Actually the neighborhood had a far more interesting history then this particular home with Rev. Horace Eaton, minister of the Western Presbyterian Church for 30 years and a strong abolitionist living to the north. Then there is the Williams place where the famed “Riot and Outrage” happen in 1834. But, that is not our story and again, we go back to the house on the corner.
As this community comes to life from building necessary, basic homes for warmth and survival, we see these amazing large, beautiful homes cropping up dotting the streets. This home was built by Mr. John Green circa 1840 as his family home. This is a comfortable place to raise children and spend your older years sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch watching all the folks go by and the children at the school within eye sight playing at recess in the school yard. This began the cycle of life in this home with Mr. Green passing away leaving his wife Mrs. Green left to carrying on until her death. Then Mr. Nelson Drake lived in this house and died in this house in 1866. It is noted that Mrs. Green was the mother of Joshua Drake which raises a question and will take a bit more investigation.
After Mr. Drake died, John J. Shepherd rented this house and finally became its owner as noted on the 1871 Village map. Mr. Shepherd’s death in 1875 left his wife alone as the pattern continued and Widow Shepherd followed the fate of so many that preceded her. In 1922 the cycle was broken when Ed Mason bought the place and lived with his family and parents. Finally, Mr. Mason was the owner that had the choice of selling this house and not having it as part of his estate. It seems that Edwin broke the cycle. Edwin Mason sold this house to David Levi a produce purchaser. Mr. Levi felt that this house should be modernized and updated to the most current style.
The inside and outside of this house saw great renovation and change. So is the house today as it was in the 1920’s? The owners have kept the old with the new and create a beautiful interior. Today we know this house as a show place that stands erect on the corner of Canandaigua and W. Jackson Streets. It was owned by three families in the past 20 years who made many changes but as in the past left the old and original character. The home is plain but not too plain, considered more sophisticated in its striking simplicity. By day the red well painted brick looks neat and well cared for and when night falls, the lighted glow in each window is a welcoming site to those entering the village.
Since this is just an overview of the homes that will be part of the Historic Palmyra Homestead Candlelight House Tour, we are only touching the surface of their history and the happenings of so many years ago. These houses will be opened to the visitors of the house tour and the owners will greet you with the warmth of the early days. On Dec. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. you can visit this house with your ticket to the Candlelight House Tour. Call 597-6981 for your presale tickets.