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A Map of Jackson Street in 1931

The map below is part of a 1931 Sanborn Map of the village of Penn Yan. These maps, several of which are in the collection of the Yates County Genealogical & Historical Society at the Oliver House Museum in Penn Yan, were made to document structures for fire insurance purposes, and thus are very detailed.

Jackson Street was originally a kind of back alley at the rear of the houses on Main Street, running more or less north and south between Court and Head Streets. This map shows the houses at the south end of the street, several of which were proposed for a National Register Historic District focussing on a reasonably well-preserved working-class neighborhood that served as homes to blacks and immigrant irish families in the 19th century. It would have nicely complemented the adjacent such district, which includes the homes of these people's employers between Main and Jackson Streets.

The structures at the left are the outbuildings behind the Wagener Hotel, originally a private house and later a girls' seminary and then a hotel and bar. The first Jackson Street property, number 101, belonged for several decades to Henry Garner, who probably built it. The porch in the el had an integral shallow-sloped roofline with the side-gable wing of the house, a style popular in the border South where Garner was raised. The building was razed by the County to provide more parking space for the Public Safety Building which replaced the elegant hotel in the 1970s.

In 103 Jackson Street next door lived John Minisee, born in Dutchess County NY and son of a man descended from at least several generations of free blacks from New York City. Minisee's parents had a farm in Jerusalem, and after his mother died the whole family went to Michigan to join relatives there. John Minisee returned to join a Civil War regiment in Penn Yan. His house was adjacent to the Gas Works built in the 1860s; this property was acquired by a successor corporation and razed soon after efforts began to nominate the neighborhood to the National Register.

The next two houses, 105 and 107, were razed years ago. They were built after the Gas Works moved to Water Street at the end of the 19th century.

Number 111 belonged to John Thomas and is still the original size and shape as the little house he built with his own hands in 1842. It has had aluminum windows added and was resided, however, though presumably the structure is intact. Number 115 next door belonged to John Saunders, a local teamster who arrived a little later than Thomas and lived there nearly as long. This house too is still more or less intact. The last house in the row, 117, was home to a succession of Irish immigrant families throughout the century, and stood adjacent to the lot where once stood the horse sheds of the Episcopal Church on Main Street. It was by all accounts a kind of hangout for the nighborhood kids, who hid behind them to smoke cornsilk cigarettes with the Thomas and Saunders boys.

The street was renamed Linden Street many years after this map was made in 1931, possibly in an attempt to erase its somewhat hard reputation. It's still very easy to imagine how the narrow lane must have looked a century ago, unpaved and lined with big trees, the big carriage horses standing to be hitched, the mixture of drawl and brogue, and barefoot children everywhere.

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