Michael R. Franklin
Licensed Real Estate Broker
(o) 315-876-2262

Skaneateles Mansion

62 Genesee Street Skaneateles, NY 

Michael DeRosa
Licensed Real Estate Broker & Auctioneer
CNY Office 315.406.7355 NYC Office 212.757.1550


1. The Fuller House is a majestic one, its grandeur accentuated by its location in relation to the street. The house is set well back from the street, nearly 225 feet from West Genesee Street. The side street, Griffin Road, did not exist when the house was built. This distance gives the house a degree of aloofness, but it also required visitors to ponder the house during the drive up to the front door. This was the home of a farmer, but a progressive, forward-thinking one who sought to bring about reform and to improve the state of his own and the nation’s fortunes. This house, in the latest fashionable style, was meant to be admired, both from a distance and up close.


William Fuller House, Skaneateles: Historical and Architectural Overview
Bruce G. Harvey, Ph.D.

The following historical overview draws in part on research carried out by Jorge Battle, Village of Skaneateles Historian, and Kihm Winship


The William Fuller House, on Genesee Street in Skaneateles, was built in 1833. Skaneateles was then a new community, and Fuller’s house, now close to downtown within the village, was part of a large farm complex. Like the rest of the Finger Lakes area, the area surrounding Skaneateles was largely unpopulated by the end of the Revolutionary War in the late 1780s, most of the region’s Native Americans having been driven out and decimated by the Sullivan Campaign of 1779. The first American settlers after the Revolutionary War arrived in Skaneateles in the early 1790s, primarily in the area to the west of the lake and the outlet. Like many of the early settlers in Central New York, the first residents in Skaneateles arrived here from eastern New York and New England, coming here first along the various roads through the region, particularly the famous Seneca Turnpike and the newer Genesse road. The new community quickly drew new settlers, and by the late 1790s it had grown to the point of having a grist mill and saw mill on a dam along the outlet, a tannery, a distillery, and a tavern for tired and thirsty travelers. A school, church, and library came soon after, and the village was given a post office in 1804. By the early 1820s, the village had over 100 buildings, more than 20 mills of various types along the Skaneateles Lake outlet, and schools, churches, and a library.

It is not clear when William Fuller arrived in Skaneateles. He likely was here in the 1820s, when he worked for Isaac Sherwood, the creator of a tavern in the village that supported his extensive stagecoach business. Fuller purchased the Sherwood tavern, now the Sherwood Inn, in 1833 and owned it for the next seven years. At the same time, he built his new house on what is now Genesee Street as part of a large and prosperous farm. Like many prosperous men in this region, Fuller was a reformer seeking to improve the region’s agriculture. In his case, he used his farm to introduce new breeds of cattle to the area. In addition to serving as the Town Supervisor in the late 1830s, he was also active on a state-wide basis, taking part in the state agricultural association and serving a term as a representative in the State Assembly.

Fuller’s house is located now at the corner of Genesee and Griffin Streets. The cross street is named after Jacob Griffin, to whom Fuller sold the house in 1846. Griffin was one of the large and influential group of Quakers in Skaneateles throughout the 19th century. Griffin’s daughter Phoebe, with her husband William Slade inherited the house in 1872, and sold it to another Quaker, Caleb Allis. Allis was one of the community’s most prominent leaders in the mid and late 19th century, serving as Town Supervisor during the Civil War and forming the Bank of Skaneateles, and lived in the house until 1897. Under his tenure, the front of the house was altered by raising the center section, which meant that he had to extend the columns by adding plinths at the base and curved sections at the top.

Allis’ daughter Frances was nationally prominent as an advocate for Temperance, the drive to eliminate alcohol from American life. Frances and her husband, Willis Barnes, moved to Chicago where she became deeply involved in the national Temperance movement and held several national and international positions. Despite her travels, though, she always returned to the family’s house in Skaneateles, where her father had long invited Quakers to gather. Caleb Allis died in 1897, and his daughter sold the property in 1904. For a short time after that, the house was used as a sanatorium for “nervous invalids,” with interior renovations to suit these needs. This did not last long, however, and since the 1910s the house has remained as a single-family house.


When William Fuller built his house in Skaneateles in 1833, he used what was then the newly-fashionable style of Greek Revival. Influenced by both the English and the French, American colonists in the 18th century loved the early neoclassical styles of architecture. By the early 19th century, however, as the new nation gained its legs, American architects began to craft a new, national style. Drawing more specifically on actual Greek prototypes but transformed by the new American experience, the Greek Revival style reflected the new country’s awareness of itself as the worthy successor to the political and cultural ideals of ancient Greece: a nation of citizens deeply invested in the political culture, led by rational philosopher-statesmen who understood their vital place in history as the harbingers of a new understanding of enlightened freedom. Starting with nationally significant architects who were creating the nation’s new capital city in Washington, DC, the craze for Greek Revival buildings spread throughout the country. As one scholar has noted, “Adopted by the common man as well as the professional, it became the first style in American history to be consciously understood and embraced as a truly national mode of building.”

Classically derived themes had a particular resonance in the Finger Lakes and throughout Central New York. As settlers moved west from New England and New York along the new Erie Canal, they brought with them not only the new ideas from the coastal cities but also an enthusiasm for classical culture and education. The new communities of the region were give classical place names such as Utica, Marcellus, Cicero, Syracuse, Tully, Ithaca, and more. Greek Revival buildings, including stores, hotels, and houses like Mr. Fuller’s, populated the farms and communities that had been named after so many of the classical world’s heroes.

The Greek Revival style can be seen in many of the features of the Fuller House, although it has a number of unusual features as well. The house is formed of three distinct sections: a tall two-story central block, and a two story block on the left and a one and one-half story block on the right, both recessed from the main façade. Like most Greek Revival houses, the principal façade of the Fuller House in the central section is symmetrical, with three evenly-spaced bays, but it has an off-center entrance that led to what was then a side hall. In addition, it features a temple front, with a triangular-shaped pediment projecting from the front wall of the house with a strongly projecting cornice on all sides, and supported by fluted columns. The windows on the first floor are relatively tall and narrow in proportion and shorter on the second floor, with granite sills below and lintels above. The front door, on the right side of the original façade, is strongly classical in feel with a narrow band of windows along each side separated from the door by round fluted pilasters, and a narrow transom across the top.

All of these are standard features of high-style Greek Revival houses of the 1830s. No-one who walked along Genesee Street in the 19th century would mistake its classical origins. There are unusual features, however. In particular, the row of four columns that support the triangular pediment are very slender in proportion to the height of the porch. Two things in particular stand out here. First, the columns are set not on the porch floor, but on pedestals. Asher Benjamin, who published several books of plans for Greek Revival houses in the early 19th century, described how pedestals should be used, and their correct proportion. He warned, however, about their inappropriate use: “when columns are entirely detached, and at a considerable distance from the walls, as when they are employed to form porches, or porticos, they should never be placed on detached pedestals; for then they may indeed be compared to men mounted on stilts, and have a very weak and tottering appearance.”

At the top of the columns, moreover, another innovation has been added. The columns are Ionic in type with spiral volutes at the tops. Above these volutes, however, are curved blocks that then support the entablature above. These are unique features, and appear to be a specific solution for this house. According to records from the Village of Skaneateles Historian, a second story was added to the central block of the house by Caleb Allis, who owned the house in the late 19th century. Rather than have new columns built that would fit the new proportions of the front of the house, Allis simply re-used the original ones, and extended them by placing them on pedestals; the curved blocks at the tops of the columns filled the same function, to allow the old columns to fit in the new façade. It is likely that the right side wing, containing the library, was added at that time, and possibly the two story wing on the left as well.

The house has been enlarged since, primarily with extensions to the rear. None of these changes, however, deter from the powerful effect of the Greek Revival style of architecture, with its solid proportions, sense of stability, and reference to a political and cultural ideal.


by Bruce G. Harvey, PH.D. Click here for profile on Bruce



• 1833, William Fuller built the house on this site and established a prosperous farm. He introduced new breeds of cattle into the area and was active in state agricultural associations. Fuller spent one term as a representative in the State Assembly and was Town Supervisor a number of years.

• 1846, Fuller sold the house and land to Jacob Griffin who along with his family were devout Quakers. Griffin Street on the east side of the property is named in his honor.

• 1872, Griffin's daughter Phoebe, married in 1839 to a William Slade, inherited the property.

• 1872, Pheobe sold the property to Caleb Allis. He served as Town Supervisor during the Civil War and established the Bank of Skaneateles in 1869. He died in 1897. Allis was a Quaker. He added a second story and installed podiums beneath the columns to increase their height. He added a wing to the house to accommodate Quaker meetings in his home.

• The Allis family sold the property to Dr. Susan J. Taber in 1904, who established "The Pines" sanatorium. This name came from the large pine trees that were on the property at that time. Her business card stated "Home For Nervous Invalids" Some interior alterations were done to meet the needs of the sanatorium. The sanatorium ultimately failed.

• 1911, the property was sold to Waterbury family. It was jointly owned by Miss Elsie Waterbury and Mrs. Gavin Morton.

• 1937, the 1872 Quaker meeting wing was removed.

• 1964, the executors of the Morton Will sold the property to Kay and Windsor Price.

• 1996, Michael & Marylou Falcone proposed a 1488 sqft supplemental apartment in the garage/barn at the rear of the house

• 1997, the Falcones came back with a modified plan for modifying the rear of the house and the garage/barn. See Village Zoning files.

• 2005, Falcones sold the property to Karen and Dr. John Ryan for $ 2, 150, 000 .00

--- *JORGE BATLLE, Village of Skaneateles Historian*

Special thanks to JORGE BATLLE, Village of Skaneateles Historian & BETH BATLLE Town of Skaneateles Historian for their contributions to the historical documentation of this important property.

2. The principal façade that faces West Genesee Street is a partly a product of the late 19th century. The house originally was one or one and one-half stories tall. Caleb Allis purchased the house in 1872, and shortly thereafter he added the second floor, presumably on both the central block and the west wing. Allis kept the original columns, however, and made them fit the new, taller façade by adding square podiums at the bases and curved blocks at the top between the Ionic capitals of the columns and the entablature beneath the triangular pediment.

3. This sharp oblique view of the portico looking west shows the profile of the columns as they were raised in the 1870s. The curved blocks at the tops of the columns, designed to add the height necessary to support the new pediment, were balanced by similarly curved blocks on the intersection of the front wall and the pediment. Together, they create an intriguing, almost Moorish opening.

4. This view of the northeast corner of the house provide a good view of the foundation, which was built of cut and dressed stone, or ashlar. This masonry foundation, more than a foot thick, provides the support for the brick house above. As seen in this view, the house was built above a raised basement, which provided space for the original kitchen. Until the most recent renovation, the garage was in this basement, accessed in the rear beneath the two-story central block.

5. The west side of the house clearly shows the original front block, which was only one bay deep with an open gable roof on the side with an eave that projects slightly from the wall in a typically Greek Revival fashion. Since the house originally was only one or one and one-half stories tall, it likely had an extension to the rear. That original extension likely was enclosed when the height of the house was raised to two stories in the 1870s, and has now been replaced by the vast series of modern additions, all of which rest on a stone foundation which mimics the original.

6. The east side of the modern rear addition shows the relationship to the rear of the central block as it was enlarged in the 1870s.

7. This view of the modern open addition to the rear of the house shows how the Greek Revival theme of the original house was duplicated, using paired classical columns on pediments that support an entablature beneath a strong and simple triangular pediment.

8. Another view of the Greek Revival style open porch addition to the rear.

9. This view of the rear of the house, looking southwest, shows the full extent of the rear additions, now connected to the carriage house, a process that began with the enlargement of the house in the 1870s.

10. In the process of extending the house to the rear, to connect with the carriage house, the modern renovation converted an early driveway, leading to the garage in the basement, into a formal, stately courtyard.

11. Houses built in the Greek Revival style in the early and mid 19th century, like the Fuller House in 1833, went away from the early emphasis on symmetry, and instead placed the entrance hall on the side of the house rather than the middle. Nonetheless, the function of the entrance hall remained the same: to provide a public space where visitors would wait before being allowed into the private spaces of the house. Although this public space, the front hall, dates to the original house, the graceful curved staircase is a product of the 1870s renovation which created the second floor.

12. The front hall, the public space, gave access to the private spaces on either side, the parlors. This is the east parlor, possibly an office of sorts, with an elegant fireplace. It has now been refitted to serve as a library with modern shelving.

13. With the front hallway being off-center, the first floor has an unusual arrangement of a single parlor on one side and two parlors on the other. This sets up the architectural feature known as enfilade, or an arrangement of a series of rooms along a single axis of doors. This delightful view from the library looking west shows the front hallway, the living room, and the billiard room all in a row.

14. The living room, located across the front hallway from the library, features an early Greek Revival style fireplace, and shows the original classically styled door surrounds with corner rosettes. As with the library, this was a private, family room in contrast to the front hall.

15. What is now the billiard room, at the western end of the front of the house, also features a Greek Revival fireplace though one that is less ornate than in the other rooms. This room now provides access to the rear additions to the house, including the modern kitchen.

16. In contrast to the first floor, where the principal hallway runs directly back from the front of the house, the second floor hallway is parallel to the front. This hallway likely was created in the 1870s when the roof was raised to accommodate a second floor, and provides access from the new staircase to the bedrooms.

17. The master bedroom of the Fuller House is now located on the second floor, at the western end of the original second floor. This room likely was a loft area when the house was built in 1833, but was turned into a separate room when the full second floor was added in the 1870s. It was the rear of the house, however, until later additions extended the second floor to the north. An elegant arched opening now provides access to the modern master bathroom with windows that look into the side yard.


    Michael L. DeRosa, Licensed Real Estate Broker & Auctioneer
    The International Building 45 Rockefeller Plaza 20th Floor, Suite 2000 New York, NY 10111 Office: 212-757-1550
    P.O. BOX 391 Skaneateles, New York 13152 c. 315.406.7355 p. 315.685.7400
    7 South Marvine Avenue, Auburn, New York 13021

    Broker: Franklin Ruttan 1406 North State Street Syracuse, NY 13208
    (O) 315.876.2262 E-Mail: info@FranklinRuttan.com

    Brokers fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.

  • (c) 2015