A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Freeville History: My House

My house lies in the heart of Freeville.  This wasn't always the case, though.  Freeville started at the south end of town, near the location of the old mill (and modern-day Mill Dam Park) and worked its way north through the valley.  My house, according to the realtor's listing, was built in 1930.   If you look at the structure, it somewhat resembles a house, now that a brick porch has been added onto the front and a stone patio onto the back.  But with its triangular roof and long, narrow shape, it also looks a bit like a small airplane hangar or maybe a workshop of some kind.  When I bought the house, I was determined to find out something about the history of the house.  As I got to know my property and saw the lay of the land, I realized that the neighbors' house and property had likely been carved out of my land.  Like the history of the house itself, I wondered if there was any significance to this arrangement.

To learn more, I got in touch with the village historian, who's provided me with plenty of information about the history of Freeville.  She sent me a nice letter (written in cursive, of course) with some information on my home, and we later met to discuss the history of Freeville and of my property.  The property was once owned by a gentleman by the name of George S. Monroe.  Apparently, the middle initial was important in the Monroe family, as there were many generations with the names of George and William.  George S. had two daughters, one of whom (Ruth) lived in the aforementioned house next door with her two children.  George himself lived in Freeville, on Railroad St. (what is today Rt. 38).

George's house burned down, so he moved in with his daughter and grandchildren, next door to the garage where he repaired carts and wagons for the railroad, from 1932 to the mid 1940s - my house!  I pointed out in an earlier post that Freeville was a major railroad hub in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so much of the town's commerce was linked in one way or another to the railroads.  It's neat to think that my house had as close a link as any.

After some time of living with his daughter and granddaughters, things weren't working out so well, so George decided to move out into his workshop and converted it into a house.  I'm sure the house he lived in and the one that I inhabit today are very different.  Several people have lived in the house since George passed on, including an upholsterer and an electrician.  In the house next door lived a family who ran a car garage repair shop on their property...the large garage is still there.  According to the village historian, they "didn't keep things very neat, so you might find most any thing out back."  And yes, as I've pointed out in other posts, there is still quite a bit of junk in my backyard.

So that's about all I know about the history of my property.  I hope you've enjoyed this look at the history of my little piece of Freeville.  When spring rolls around, I'll get back to searching for junk in the yard, and maybe I'll be able to trace the stories of some of those little pieces of history.

Note: It figures that one of the few days when I plan NOT to post about snow and cold turns out to be the day of our largest snowstorm (potentially) of the winter.  I'll be posting about it tomorrow.

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