Author: Nancy Cardillo
If you’ve ever traveled east on Genesee Street, past Transit Road, you’ve likely seen the stately federal-style stone house and the sign that reads, “Hull Family Home & Farmstead.” If you haven’t ventured through the gate and along the curved driveway to explore this popular tourist attraction, you don’t know what you are missing.
It was in 1804 when Warren Hull and his wife Polly, along with their 10 children, made their way from Killingworth, Connecticut across New York State to settle in Western New York. They built their home on what is now known as Genesee Street, on land they purchased from the Holland Land Company. (At the time, the land was considered part of the Town of Clarence; however, in 1831, the area was established as the Town of Lancaster.)
It is difficult to imagine how this family survived in this virtual wilderness in 1804. Warren and Polly, both intelligent and well educated, took advantage of whatever resources were available to them. They worked their farm and were able to take grain and wood to nearby mills. Polly homeschooled her children until the schoolhouse was built on the corner of nearby Gunnville Road. After Warren and Polly’s deaths in the mid-1830s, their daughter Polly, a widow, lived in the house with her six children. Several of her siblings settled nearby.
Today, the Hull Family Home & Farmstead remains the oldest fully restored stone dwelling in Erie County, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the New York State Register of Historic Sites. Built into a hill, two stories of the home are visible from the street while, from the back, the basement level is accessible and three stories are visible. Throughout the house, original woodwork, flooring, doorways, windows, stairways, fireplaces and other elements still remain.
And, from this site, 200 years of history can be told: the Revolutionary War; the War of 1812 and the burning of Buffalo; the opening and impact of the Erie Canal; early pioneer life; the Abolitionist movement, and much more on into the 20th century. Archaeological digs have revealed clues as to how the family lived, worked and played, and led to the reconstruction of outbuildings and the farmstead. Read more about the restoration here.
This Sunday, June 3, the Hull Family Home & Farmstead will host a Grand Reopening Celebration, following the completion of the most recent phase of its 14-year, $900,000 effort to return this important historic home to its former glory. The celebration is the first of many public, family-friendly events scheduled in the coming months at the House, located at 5976 Genesee Street in Lancaster.
Guests who attend this FREE grand opening celebration will have the opportunity to tour the meticulously restored interior of the home (including newly-installed period-correct custom light fixtures), learn about local history, play period games, enjoy delicious refreshments and enter their favorite baked dessert in the baking contest and hear more about additional restoration plans, which include rebuilding or refurbishing the threshing barn, privy, smoke house, root cellar and animal pens, as well as the plans for a kitchen garden and visitors’ center. Get more information here.
Photo(s) by Gary S. Howell courtesy of the Hull Family Home & Farmstead