The Phelps Community Historical Society maintains two historical buildings in the community of Phelps. The brick constructed Howe House became the home of the Phelps Community Historical Society in 1999. Located at 66 Main Street, the Howe House is our main museum and there are both permanent and rotating exhibits including household and farm equipment.
The Howe House is Open to the Public: 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday or by appointment throughout the year. The Howe House is even available for parties, receptions and showers. Rental of PCHS Form
The Howe residence was built in 1869 in the distinctive Second Empire Style. Elements of this style on this house are the slate mansard roof, dormers with elaborate surrounds, and symmetrical facade.
The most interesting feature of the house is the unusual two story privy with its flared slate hipped roof and finial. This is one of very few examples of a a two story privy that still exists in the United States. The house is constructed of local brick with limestone lintels, water table, and foundation.
In 1899, Dr. Howe added a tasteful office addition to the west side of the house, faithfully maintaining the three decades old style in design and materials.
In comparing the house’s current appearance with historic views, it appears that a canted one story bay on the west side was removed, probably at the time of the office addition.
At the same time, the front porch to the residence was modernized in the popular Colonial Revival style with a heavy ashlar granite foundation, deep porch, and short round columns. The ghost marks of the original porch pilasters are still evident on the brick wall.
The interior of the house reveals a combination of 1869 and 1899 decorative elements. Most of the trim and doors and the stair railing are from the earlier period but the parlor on the west side is lavishly trimmed in quartered oak paneling, trim and mantle. As was custom, the upstairs personal family spaces are simply detailed.
The Howe House was purchased in February 1999 and donated to the Phelps Community Historical Society by an
Bero Associates, in Rochester, was hired to inspect the property and give recommendations for renovation, keeping the age of this 1869 Victorian building in mind. A very comprehensive report was issued and the community was approached to aid in funding the costs.
Over the two year period of this project the membership and community raised over $100,000 to do the work. Not only were the contractors involved but hundreds of hours of volunteers were used on this project.
- Complete reconstruction of the front porch.
- Complete replacement of all roofs on the structure.
- Complete removal of rotted out northeast porch and reconstruction as per original details.
- Complete zoning of heating system.
- Pointing of two exterior walls with four more major surfaces to be done over the next four years.
- Rebuilding of west back porch.
- Refurbishing of all window shutters and installation of same. These had been stored in the attic and two story outhouse for over 75 years.
- Installed all new wooden soffits on the house.
- Painted exterior woodwork and shutters with recommended original colors.
- Replaced all sidewalks on the property.
- Installed an historic finial on the 2-story outhouse (the original was not found).
- Replaced the chimney that had deteriorated to the roof line.
- Re-papered and painted throughout the house as needed.
- Rebuilt driveway with crushed stone.
- Installed fire and burglar alarm throughout the house.
- Rebuilt two parapets on the north roof and copper coated same.
- Rebuilt all porch brick piers in original fashion.
The Country Lawyers Office, Phelps NY:
In 2005, PCHS acquired the “Country Lawyer’s Office”, a one-story red brick building with four white pillars. Built around 1835, this site became well-known after a best selling novel; The Country Lawyer (written in 1939 by Bellamy Partridge.) For almost 40 years, Bellamy’s father, Samuel S. Partridge, practiced law in this building. Currently this building is open on a limited schedule. We have recently refurbished this building for public visitation and use by visitors and the community. Phelps native Mary Hicks Preston purchased both buildings for the Phelps Community Historical Society.