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If Walls Could Talk: 19 Adams Street

19-Adams

By Mary Fox

Brad and Nancy Taylor purchased the house at 19 Adams St. as their retirement home in 1999 knowing at the time the house would need an almost total renovation.

“I loved the house from the beginning because of the window in the parlor with squares of stained glass at the top and the bay window in the sitting room,” said Nancy.

Brad and Nancy met while at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. They were married in 1972 and lived in Ohio, Connecticut and New Jersey over the course of Brad’s career. Nancy was and still is a dental hygienist. They are avid skiers, hunters and fishermen.

“The house was a run-down skier’s party house,” said Brad.

“The burnt orange shag carpeting was the first thing to go,” said Nancy.

The old wood flooring was sanded and refinished by Eric Pommerneck.

“It was a classic rebuild,” said Brad “We kept it in the period when it was built, which Nancy calls Victorian farmhouse.”

The Taylors did a great deal of the restoration themselves, spending hours stripping and refinishing the woodwork, while Chris Woodarek replaced the roof and local carpenter, Mike Widger, electrician, Tim Halloran, and plumber, Rick Meister did their magic.

No owner appears on the deed until 1850 when it shows that Theodore Smith bought the land from the Holland Land Company. The house stands on the Holland Land Company’s designated Lot 64, which covers all of the west side of Adams Street. Brad discovered a stone while walking in Plum Creek behind their house with the number 64 engraved in it, possibly the lot marker from the HLC survey.

The lathe and plaster walls were patched where they could be and the rest were stripped down and replaced with new plaster. Ceilings were replastered in the same pattern as the original.

An interesting find for the Taylors was charred timbers in the attic, from a time when it was common to salvage planks and timbers from fires to reuse for building materials.

The original kitchen cabinets include a china cupboard with pass-through doors and drawers that open on both sides.

Widger could tell that a full porch once ran around the front of the house and rebuilt it in period style.

Vinyl siding was removed from the gables revealing the original fish scale siding. A faux balcony was added over the bay window, along with gingerbread trim, to bring it back to its Victorian style.

Along with old magazines in the walls, a picture was found and identified as Hattie and Gene Whitlock, owners of the Taylor’s house from the late 1800s until 1911.

In the1890s, Hattie and Gene Whitlock adopted an infant daughter, Bessie McPherson. Bessie wrote the story of her life in a book named “Consider The Sparrow, A story of Love.” According to the book, Hattie was a very unpleasant person and not kind to Bessie.

When Bessie died in 1976 at the age of 82, the manuscript was inherited by her daughter, Helen Mathias Miles, who finished writing it and published it in 2000. It is a true picture of what Ellicottville was like in the late 1800s to early 1900s.

Not every house can tell its history as well as 19 Adams St. has, but there are tales to be told by homes all over Ellicottville. The Historic District says homes must be kept in their original exterior style as much as possible. Ellicottville is extremely fortunate to have people like the Taylors that care about their old homes and have renovated them to preserve their original style.

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