The following concerns the Conklin Farm in the Town of Hounsfield, Jefferson County, N. Y. and its placement the "National Registry of Historic Places." Having been born and brought up on this farm, I have been intrigued with the hearsay that our family farm was on an unidentified registry. My family members didnít seem to know about it and if they had known, they werenĎt about to tell me. To this day, I donít know how this all came about. Numerous attempts directed to the State of New York offices produced not even the courtesy of a reply. In about 1998 my daughter found a listing on the Internet of farms and homes that had been added to a registry of state or national significance -- one in which numbers were assigned to the properties. That sighting is no longer available and Iíve lost the site address

So, last Fall, Mark Wentling, historian and professional researcher, searched National Archives and came up with a document concerning the Conklin Farmís selection as an historic preservation property. It appears that this document was prepared for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Dept., Division for Historic Preservation. It extends from the Hounsfield Multiple Resource Area and was finalized in September of 1989. The bibliography and source information appear not to have been filed with the document.

In my opinion this is a poorly prepared piece of work and whatís more, it seems a complete waste of money and time. I feel so helpless when I know there are mistakes of an historical nature within the document, particularly involving the date the farmstead was built. I wonder how much care was taken in procuring the remaining information or if there was an endeavor to check out the contributing information. To that end, I feel that the most enlightening part of this feature is the last paragraph. Be sure to read that.

Mr. Gladwyn, the builder-designer-carpenter, was the father of Minnie Gladwyn Conklin, Herbert Conklinís wife. Her diary regarding the construction period of this doublehouse is available on the Internet.

I thank Mark Wentling for digging up this document out of National Archives for me. Mark, you are a true professional.

A photo of the farm is displayed on my homepage. Also, see comments and letters received after posting this item.

by Shirley Farone - 1-27-2003


BUILDING STRUCTURE INVENTORY FORM                   USN: Stamped - "1624" &nsp;               September 05 1989                  
                   NATIONAL REGISTER NYS OFFICE OF PARKS, RECREATION 7 HISTORIC PRESERVATION DIVISION FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION (518) 474-0479 YOUR NAME: Tania Werbizky DATE: October, 1988 YOUR ADDRESS: Ithaca, N. Y. TELEPHONE: 607-277-5879 ORGANIZATION (if any): St. Lawrence-Eastern Ontario Commission ************************************************************************************* IDENTIFICATION 1. BUILDING NAME(S): Conklin Farm (component #11) 2. COUNTY: Jefferson TOWN: Hounsfield VILLAGE: Sackets Harbor vic. 3. STREET LOCATION: Evens (sic)Road 4. OWNERSHIP: a. public ___ b. private X 5. PRESENT OWNER: William Conklin ADDRESS: RD 2, Dexter, N. Y. 13634 6. USE: Original: residence Present: residence 7. ACCESSIBILITY TO PUBLIC: Exterior visible from public road: Yes X No __ Interior accessible: Explain No; private res. DESCRIPTION 8. BUILDING a. clapboard X b. stone___ c. brick ___ d. board and batten____ MATERIAL     e. cobblestone___ f. shingle__ g. stucco ___ other: ____________ 9. STRUCTURAL                        a. wood frame with interlocking joints___ SYSTEM:       b. wood frame with light members X (if known) c. masonry load bearing walls __ d. metal (explain) __________________________________________ e. other __________________________________________________ 10. CONDITION:   a. excellent__ b. good X c. fair __ d. deteriorated__ 11. INTEGRITY: a. original site X b. moved __ if so, when __________________ c. list major alterations and dates (if known): _________________________ See attached item #18____________________________ 12. PHOTO: See attached 13. MAP: See attached 14. THREATS TO BUILDING: a. none known X b. zoning __ c. roads __ d. developers __ e. deterioration __ f. other _____________________________________ 15. RELATED OUTBUILDINGS AND PROPERTY: a. barn Xc b. carriage house __ c. garage X n/c d. privy __ e. shed __ f. greenhouse __ g. shop __ h. gardens __ i. landscape features: _________________________________ j. other: milkhouse (1), chicken coop (1 ruin) cattle barn (1 ruin) all contribute. 16. SURROUNDINGS OF THE BUILDING (check more than one if necessary) a. open land X b. woodland X c. scattered buildings __ d. densely built-up__ e. commercial __ f. industrial __ g. residential __ h. other __________________________________ 17. INTERRELATIONSHIP OF BUILDING AND SURROUNDINGS:
(indicate if building or structure is in an historic district)

See attached continuation sheets

(include interior features if known)

See attached continuation sheets

SIGNIFICANCE 19. DATE OF CONSTRUCTION: 1905     ARCHITECT: unknown     BUILDER: William Gladwyn, Dexter, N. Y. 20. HISTORICAL AND ARCHITECTURAL IMPORTANCE: See attached continuation sheets

21. SOURCES: See cover document, Bibliography, Item 9 22. THEME/AREA(S) OF SIGNIFICANCE: Agriculture, architecture CRITERIA: A, C LEVEL OF SIGNIFICANCE: a. local X b. state __ c. national __

17. The Conklin Farm is situated on Evans Road in the northeast corner of the town of Hounsfield, approximately two miles south of the village of Brownsville(sic). Included in the nomination is a parcel of 194 acres on both the east and west sides of Evan (sic) Road historically associated with the farm as pasture land. Once an active dairy farm, the acreage now consists of overgrown grasslands alternating with wooded areas. This same landscape characterizes the stretch of Evans Road from the Lord farm west to the Muscallonge Cemetery, with virtually no modern intrusions.

The farm complex consists of a double-farmhouse facing the road, three outbuildings, and two ruins. The house, horse barn, milk house, and garage, are arranged in a rough courtyard around the dirt driveway. The ruined cow barn and its silo sit on a knoll above and to the southwest of the house, while the ruined chicken coop is situated just east of the barn. The setting of the farm itself remains intact; fields, grasslands and a lawn remain, recalling the farm as it was in its peak of production.

Contributing Buildings: 3
Non-contributing Buildings: 1
Contributing sites: 2

18. The Conklin Farm consists of a wood frame farmhouse dating from 1905; two contributing outbuildings, a wood frame horsebarn and milkhouse roughly contemporary with the house; two contributing sites, ruins of a wood frame chicken coop and a cattle barn; a contributing structure; a non-contributing building, a ca. 1920 garage, and 194 acres of farm land.

The Conklin farmhouse is a two and one-half story gable-front double-farmhouse. Conceived of and executed as a doubled upright and wing building, the core ground plan is T-shaped but the original one-story rear wing establishes a cross-shaped plan. The light wood frame building rests on a prominent, regularly coursed quarry faced (rusticated) foundation and is surmounted by a steeply pitched cross-gable roof sheathed in asphalt shingles. A single brick chimney, its cap altered sometime during the twentieth century, marks the intersection of the ridges, which feature original lightning rods. The walls are of clapboards, double-hung sash with two-over-two and one-over-one lights at the first and second stories, ornamented with simple casings with prominent crowns. Windows in the gable peaks are also narrow but feature more decorative multi-pane upper sash of colored glass and are topped by pedimented hoods. Twin one-story porches with turned posts and ornamental friezes occupy the intersection of the upright section and the wings and shelter the entrances. The porches and entrances are further emphasized by the use of horizontal flush boards under the porch roofs. The corners and foundation are emphasized by thin cornerboards and a watertable, while under the eaves is an unornamented frieze board. A one-story, nearly square, light wood frame gabled wing containing the shed extends from the east elevation.

The front (west) facade is bilaterally symmetrical with the three-bay-wide gabled upright section flanked by the wings, each of which features a single window at both stories centered on the portion of the elevation. The windows of the upright section are identical except for the sash, while the first story window of each wing is much larger than that of the second story. As the primary elevation, the west displays the most ornament; the overall vertically is expressed in the pedimented hood over the gable peak window, which features applied decorative molding. The hipped roof porches, approached by a straight run of wooden steps, are embellished with turned posts, spindle friezes and brackets. Original glazed and paneled doors survive within the porches.

The north and south elevations are identical and when viewed straight on, appear as upright and wing facades. In both cases, the gabled elevations of the wings are identical to the gabled front (west) facade in fenestration and ornament. Also visible on the north and south are the side elevations on the rear shed with twin paneled doors.

The rear (east) elevation features the one-story gabled shed centered on the wall plane. The slope of the gable roof is uninterrupted and lacks the gable peak of the facade.

On the interior, the original plan remains intact. A mirror image of the same plan was used for each side of this double-house. Entrance doors on the twin porches lead to dining rooms, with living rooms to the front of the house and kitchens and bathrooms to the rear. Enclosed straight-run stairs off the dining room lead to three bedrooms above. The houseís only common area is the woodshed at the rear, accessible through twin exterior doors and twin doors into the kitchens. In this shed are stairs to the cellar; the wall enclosure was removed some years ago by the present owner and the opening sealed with a trap door. Overall, original hardwood floors and plaster walls survive. Six-panel doors, fluted surrounds with bullís eye corner blocks and simple picture moldings are intact throughout both units.

The most prominent outbuilding is the horsebarn (contributing), located to the rear of the house and apparently contemporary with the farmhouse. Rectangular in form, this massive timber frame building rests on a rubble limestone foundation. The medium pitch gable roof is covered in asphalt shingles, which, like those of the house, are deteriorating. Sheathed in flush horizontal boards, the corners are marked by the cornerboards. The major entrance is centered on the gabled-front and is flanked by double-hung sash windows with single lights. The horsebarn is noticeably leaning to the west, apparently due to the rotted sills in the southwest corner of the structure. However, the frame itself appears sound.

To the north of the house across the driveway is a small one-story milk house (c. 1910, contributing), built on a rubblestone foundation and sheathed. This gabled, rectangular building, located close to the road for convenient pick-up of fresh milk by dealers, has remained virtually unchanged.

Two original agricultural structures (c. 1905) are in ruins on the Conklin farm and are considered contributing sites. East of the horse barn are the remnants of the roof and portions of the sidewalls of a small rectangular one-story wood frame gable roofed chicken coop. Its date of collapse is not known.

Similarly, the collapsed remains of the cattle barnís roof, sidewalls and foundation (contributing) are located southwest of the house. The barn was a 100-foot-long, rectangular, one-and-one-half story gable-roofed wood frame building and was contemporary with the farmhouse. Its site is now nearly inaccessible due to plant growth. Its silo remains in good condition and serves as a visual landmark for the former barn.

One non-contributing building is included in the nomination. A one-story wood frame garage is located adjacent to the milkhouse. A rectangular building, sheathed in novelty (shiplap) siding and surmounted by an asphalt shingle gable roof, the ca. 1920 garage has been altered to accommodate larger automobiles and is in a very deteriorated condition. As it is outside of the period of significance and has lost architectural integrity due to structural alterations, it is considered non-contributing.

20. The Conklin Farm (1905-1910) is an outstanding collection of farm-related architecture in the town of Hounsfield. It is architecturally significant as a largely intact example of an early twentieth century dairy farm which has retained its original buildings, agricultural setting and much of its original acreage. The Conklin farmhouse (1905) is architecturally significant as a unique example in Hounsfield of an unusual building type, a double-farmhouse. Among the very last farmhouses to be constructed in the town, its significance is heightened by its unusual plan, a doubled gabled-ell building with mirror interior plans, constructed by an identified local carpenter/builder.

An intact collection of two contributing farm related building sites in addition to the farmhouse and the intact farm acreage enhance the significance of the Conklin farm as an excellent example of a farmstead which developed at the end of an historic period of expansion of the local dairy industry and farming in general. As such, the surviving farmhouse, horsebarn, milkhouse, and ruins of the cattle barn and chicken coop attest to the areaís once vital economy. The historic acreage, retaining former grazing fields, farmyard and orchard, provide an appropriate agricultural setting for understanding this intact group of related buildings and sites.

In 1830, Daniel Conklin settled in Hounsfield. He constructed a small farmhouse on his property, which was situated on Evans Road, approximately one mile west of the present farmhouse. At the time Evans Road served as a secondary route between Brownsville (sic) and Sackets Harbor. By the mid-nineteenth century Danielís son Theodore had established his own farm east of the old homestead. In 1905 Theodoreís sons, Herbert and William, established another farm east of Theodoreís farmstead.

The first step taken by the brothers was to hire local builder William Gladwyn to construct a double-farmhouse for them. Like most carpenter/builders of the day, Gladwyn relied on popular buildersí guides for technical and stylistic information. Thus the house Gladwyn built for the brothers, with its bracketed turned porch columns and the Queen Anne sash detail in the gable end windows, resembles many other examples of local farmhouses. Yet itís (sic) outstanding level of integrity of setting, feeling, association, location, design, materials and workmanship distinguish it from its contemporaries.

By 1900, the agricultural economy of Hounsfield had shifted away from the hay based economy of the mid and late nineteenth century and developed into a dairy poultry economy. This shift in crops was primarily due to the installation of a reliable rail system that could transport these parishable (sic) products. This shift in the local agricultural economy became the impetus for a change in the rural farmscape of Hounsfield. Fields that were once used to grow hay and other course grains were now used as cow pasture, while such crops as were once shipped to the New York hay market were now used as fodder for the dairy herds. Also at this time, the architecture of the farm was changing. The shift in production required the adaptation of buildings or the construction of new buildings to house animals and equiptment (sic) needed for these new crops. The Conklin brothersí 194-acre dairy farm, with pastureland behind the ruins of the original cow barn and fields of hay and grain, raised as fodder, across the road clearly illustrates the early twentieth century shift in the local farm economy from hay to dairy and poultry production. The construction of a dairy/cattle barn, chicken coop and milk house as original components of this complex attest to the strength of this market in Hounsfield at the turn of the century. The Conklinsí farm remained an active dairy farm through the middle of the twentieth century, but due to the fact that they never installed a bulk tank in the cattle barn for milk storage, the operation remained relatively small. The farm continued to produce until New York State outlawed the use of the milk cans for storage in 1970. This act forced the Conklins to suspend operations.

NOTE BY TYPIST: There were three maps attached - the URL's for viewing these are within the form above:

1. Hounsfield Multiple Resource Area - Conklin Farm
2. Hounsfield Multiple Resource Area Conklin Farm (No. 2)
3. Hounsfield Multiple Resource Area Conklin Farm (No. 3)

The cover document and bibliography mentioned in Item 21 was not included with the material sent to me. Since it contained source information, I would be particularly intrigued to see this part of the document. (by Shirley Farone - 1/2003)



*NOTE (1/30/2003) As a result of posting this item on my website, I was honored with a letter from Jack Jowett. Jack filled me in on the address I had lost and also advised me that the Historic Registry identifies properties over 50 years old that have historic interest or integrity. He also indicated that the intention is to preserve information on the properties before it is lost. You may view the Jefferson County properties by clicking here. Thank you, Jack, for all the information.

Also, the matter of the National Registry of Historic Places was discussed quite thoroughly by Linda Eastman in her letter to the NY [email protected] Mailing List. Linda's letter is a gem. I use Linda's helpful letter here:

"From my background in historic preservation, it looks as if the Conklin Farm was evaluated as part of an areawide survey to identify historic, architectural and landscape resources in Hounsfield and Jefferson County. It was done by the NY State Historic Preservation Office or someone under contract to them."With the interest of people on the Jefferson County list in history, perhaps you'd like to know more about the National Register of Historic Places. Citizens lobbied for protective legislation (which became the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966) as a result of their concern that so many places important to our nation's history were being destroyed by private and public development, such as major roadways and public works. Financing was structured to benefit new construction over redevelopment. People in many communities and individuals had taken actions themselves to maintain certain properties, but wanted recognition at a national level that the physical fabric of our country was significant to our past, as well as documents and stories and artifacts.

"In "Grapes of Wrath", John Steinbeck wrote about Oklahoma migrants who had to leave much behind, "How do we know it is us without our past?" The National Trust for Historic Preservation is an allied, non-profit group, which encourages the preservation and restoration of significant buildings and areas. There's recognition that larger landscapes, as well as individual buildings in towns,can by key to our understanding the past.

"The National Trust has also sponsored the Main Street program, which has been extremely successful in bringing private investment and redevelopment to many historic areas, from small towns across the country to parts of larger cities. It encourages the management of historic properties as assets to places - for they can't be replaced.

"In the last decade or so, there's been a growth of what's called "The New Urbanism". Interestingly, it calls for development of new places as walkable areas, like 19th c. or early 20th c. towns, where a variety of uses can be clustered together, rather than making every aspect of life dependent on the car. Management of existing historic fabric in towns allows better use of existing resources where a human scale already exists. Many individuals prefer to live in well-built historic houses.

"While social mobility and change have been important in American life, we have also begun to value more a sense of place, of history, including that of ordinary people as well as heads of state or wealthy industrialists. Many of the first properties identified for the National Register of Historic Places were significant as magnificent architectural creations or were linked to the most important leaders of the country.

"More recently, genealogy and history online (especially the wonderful wealth of materials contributed by Jefferson County listers such as Shirley Farone) are examples of the democratization of historic research. Millions of people like us are doing research in their pasts. Similarly, on the national level, the reach of the National Register of Historic Places has been extended to include buildings and sites where ordinary people lived, and worked and played. That's why properties such as the Conklin Farm are now included.

"It's often difficult for us to see what is familiar as significant. The nomination of the Conklin Farm identified it as significant for the area in terms of agricultural history and economy, landscape, and history, regardless of the current conditions of the buildings. If the state or county had sufficient funds, they might want to restore the main buildings to ensure they could be preserved. Historic farms have been preserved in other places. Lacking the money, they documented the farm - for citizens of the area, future area visitors, students of history and architecture. Perhaps in the future monies might be found to preserve the farm. In some areas, such properties are preserved under land trusts - which help to preserve open land as well as working farms.

"In Sackets Harbor, my ancestor Edmund Luff established the first meetinghouse in the early 1800's. Used as a residence for years, it still stands, and is on the town's walking tour. It's a small building, significant for what it represents about the early history of that particular town. Having grown up far from where my parents or grandparents grew up in the Midwest, I was glad to see a piece of my past in that town. Another house still standing that is connected to my past is the Joseph Luff house (Shore Farm), built in the early 1800's, added to in the late 19th century as the town became a summer resort, and owned for years by the Wardwell family.

"Cities, towns and villages have found preservation of historic assets integral to the growth of historic tourism - Americans newly interested in history want to see how their ancestors lived. In addition, municipalities have found management of historic assets can lead to a renewed sense of place and identity, and renewed private investment in towns which seemed passed by in recent "progress". Significance depends on context and change. The historic preservation movement has attempted to identify, document and preserve parts of our constantly changing society before the physical fabric disappears."

Linda Eastman
(former) Director of Planning
National Capital Region, US General Services Administration

NOTE FROM SHIRLEY - this website host

I'm sorry if I have offended those who work or have worked in this discipline. I'm a very, very conservative Republican and I stand by my theory that a lot of money could be better spent elsewhere. If these things are considered necessary, then let volunteers and the community donate their time and effort to the cause. We all need to work a little harder and take less from the government. I know who nominated this farm for placement in this program? I really don't think a thing about the architecture of this farmhouse was ever recorded in the records of the Town of Hounsfield. Does that mean that someone with the organizations mentioned above just passed by and saw this house and knew that it was a double house? No, I don't think so. Still a mystery. (by Shirley--website host)


Photos taken around our farm..................

The above photo shows just one of the many handhewn barnbeams from the once-beautiful barn on our family farm. These beans were etched by 19th century hay-pressers -- one shows the name of a Mr. Snow, from Omar, who left his traces in September of 1890. Unfortunately, I have no other photos of the beams -- and sadly, when the barn fell because of neglect, it is supposed that the beams rotted away. There's a story here, too, but I'll write about that in my Sights, Sounds, Signals of my Childhood section. (by Shirley - 3/2003) (As of December 2005, I'm not sure I wrote about this. Will make a reminder.)

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