Saturday, June 06, 2009

Uncle John's House

My brother John's is restoring a house -- the oldest house in Geneva, built in 1796 -- and it will be a stop on the Historical Society's House Tour next weekend.

The house is small and simple, a post-and-beam construction built originally as a duplex. The story is that it was an outbuilding for the Geneva Hotel and probably served as the bunkhouse for the stage coach drivers. The Geneva Hotel was quite elegant for frontier times and was for a time the only "real" hotel between Albany and Buffalo, the others being just pubs with bunks upstairs. Guests tended to stay for days if not weeks and drivers needed accommodations. The house has eight rooms and eight fireplaces, supporting the theory that it was built to provide a warm place to sleep for weary drivers.

John has been working on this project for more than three years, completely rebuilding the foundation, gutting the junky wall and ceiling coverings inside and out, pulling out all the insulation, rebuilding high-tech chimneys, etc. At least six roofs, estimated at over 12,000 pounds, were removed, causing the sagging ceiling beams to straighten out in just a few days.

He has preserved the basic structure and exposed parts of it where possible -- brick walls, ceiling beams, etc. He even recycled paving bricks from the Washington Street reconstruction (Washington Street is one of the oldest streets in Geneva) to create a great looking basement floor. He has been lucky to have some local craftsmen join in to do some of the heavy lifting on carpentry, masonry, and even black-smithing. The work is impressive!

John has some wonderful pieces of furniture that he has collected over the years already in place and has installed my mother's Aunt Alice's stove (wood, coal, or gas) and a wood stove from our White Springs Road house.

My mother and I had a preview tour today, and were really amazed at the progress. My mother even climbed the very steep and narrow stairs so she could advise on paint colors. (Pretty good for someone who was in the hospital just two weeks ago!).

This house is really nice, and while not quite ready for prime time -- more finish work, painting, floors need to be sanded, shelves need to be installed, etc. -- it is very close. John plans to live in one side, and use the other side for short term rentals or bed and breakfast traffic. If you're ever in the area, be sure to stop and see it. Uncle John loves to give tours.

More pictures on Flickr. Pictures of the exterior to follow.


Kate C. said...

Go Johnny! And go GrandMary!

jody said...

Wow, how beautiful! I want to see it in person.

Molly said...

This is so wonderful. Why can't everyone see the beauty in old homes?