About the Sheldon House.


Contributing Writer
Paul Leone

That would be the two Sheldon Houses, I would think. The first, the Partridge-Sheldon House at 70 Prospect Street, just featured in local media due to the Eagle Scout project recently completed by scout Alex Pashkow (Frewsburg BSA Troop 133), recalls to me pleasant hours I have spent there reciting poetry on invitation of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) ladies who manage the house. Edgar Poe has been the rage particularly around Halloween time. Evidence of Alex’s work is visible with the new signage visible in the front yard.

The name Partridge attached to the house is new to me. According to the historical record a Mr. Joel Partridge, described as a carpenter-builder, occupied a building at the site as early as 1846. He, perhaps, built the house himself. Porter Sheldon, hot shot Jamestown attorney, took up ownership and residence in 1880 by which time the building would have undergone substantial renovations.

The name Porter Sheldon is prominent in the local historical record. To me the name conjures a rather formidable person about whom I know little other than that he held a seat in Congress for a single term (1869-1871), and he became very wealthy as a result of the purchase by the Kodak Company of a business he was invested in. His political career seems to have been a bust, but he co-founded the American Aristotype Company which produced photographic paper in Jamestown. The remains of the company factory can be seen on the slope below the Partridge-Sheldon House toward downtown.

I am a big fan of the Mansard roof and the stately rise of it on the Partridge-Sheldon House. The house is an amalgam of architectural styles. Perched prominently on a rather steep hill it is lovely to look at.

To most Jamestowners the Sheldon House means the enormous brick building set back from Lakeview Avenue at the corner of Falconer Street on beautiful landscaped grounds surrounded by blossoming trees whose perfumes permeate the spring air. I live close by. This Sheldon House was for a long time owned by JCC. Julia Livengood, descendant of Porter, was the last Sheldon family member to live in the house. She deeded the house to the college. The college offered the house for community socials many of which I attended. Visiting scholars and artists, many of whom I met and played with, were housed there. I have fond memories of Gene Danielson who was caretaker.

It would be remiss of me if I did not mention my part in the debacle surrounding the sale of the house not ten years ago by JCC. It was clear the JCC Board had found a buyer in the Lynn Corporation, property developers in Jamestown. It was clear the Board was looking for a speedy consummation of the transaction. Problem was, since the house is located in a residential district, the sale was dependent upon a variance to the zoning code. The code states that a variance can only be issued if hardship applies to the sale. Hardship didn’t apply. More than one private party wished to buy the house. I am thankful that legal action in the form of the appellate court in Rochester resolved the issue so that today the Sheldon House is owned by a private party.