History of The Beal House
The Beal House is one of the oldest homes in Perinton and was listed as a Historic Landmark by the Town of Perinton on January 22, 2002. We are proud of our home’s role in the history of Perinton and enjoy sharing the home with guests who love homes and buildings with history. The majority of this historical summary focuses on the beginnings of the Beale House, with references to current day layout and features.
In 1788, land speculators Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, who were members of the Federal Constitutional Convention, purchased 6 million acres of “new” land from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This is known as the Phelps and Gorham Purchase and also involved negotiations with the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy to obtain clear title to the land. This area spanned from the Genesee River on the west to Seneca Lake on the east, and from Lake Ontario on the north to the Pennsylvania State Line on the south.
On November 28, 1805, Joseph Beal purchased 160 acres of land comprising the southern half of Lot 15 of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. The core of the Beal House was built at this time by Joseph and his new wife Elizabeth, when Joseph was age 23. Joseph and Elizabeth were from Massachusetts and knew each other before they were age 17, and before their families separately moved to Macedon and Palmyra.
At this time, this area was still considered the “far west.” It is clear that Joseph bought land and built his home here to establish his family’s homestead and stay for a long time. When the Town of Perinton was founded in 1813, Joseph held the positions of assessor, school commissioner, inspector of elections and canvasser of votes. He went on to add the commissioner positions for common schools and highways to his duties. Joseph and Elizabeth had nine children between 1806 and 1824.
An ancestor of Joseph’s visited us some time ago and gave us their family genealogy research on Joseph. All of the factual information about Joseph and his family are from that document. Following is a quotation from his family’s biography regarding the immediate area around the Beal House:
“Route 31 was known by the Native Americans and fur trappers and “Mud Creek Road.” In 1805 when Joseph moved there, Route 31 was the Palmyra and Rochester Stage Road. Stagecoaches stopped at Egypt to change horses. In 1806, the state improved the road by laying logs across it, creating one of the early corduroy roads. Toll charges were created (6 cents for a horse, 25 cents for a stagecoach). The Beals would have used the road to go to the village of Egypt to shop, to go to the mill (Cyrus Packard, Joseph’s brother-in-law, had a grist mill, store and tavern in Egypt), and to visit relatives (the Packards and Laphams), to go to Macedon Center to visit brother Bernard Beal’s family and others and to go to Palmyra to visit other relatives, including two of Elizabeth’s sisters, Sarah and Lydia.”
The home that Joseph and Elizabeth built was 30 feet square, with a summer kitchen and a woodshed. That original building still exists and comprises most of the kitchen, the dining room and the “pool room.” In the “back room” there is a very old looking brick chimney face that was most likely part of the summer kitchen. Upstairs, the original home comprises the three guest bedrooms and two guest bathrooms today. There was a smaller fourth bedroom, which was our nursery that we incorporated into the master bathroom. In the kitchen and the upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms, we have removed plaster and raised the ceilings to expose the original 1805 handhewn posts and beams.
Joseph’s life took a dramatic turn in 1820s. On May 12, 1820 the sheriff, Phinehas P. Bates seized Joseph’s tenements and property for the “nonperformance of certain promises and undertakings” for Thomas Beals and Isaac S. Hone. The claim against Joseph was for $484.20. On April 11, 1821 Sheriff Bates sold the 80 acres of land and tenements at auction to Thomas Beals for $530. Thomas Beals was a merchant and banker in Canandaigua.
Joseph’s ancestor’s biography contained several unanswered questions about the events of the 1820s. We quote them verbatim from their biographical document:
What were the promises, etc. that Joseph failed to fulfill?
What were the costs of building the 1820’s addition?
What happened to the other 80 acres? Joseph had purchased 160 acres in 1805.
Was Thomas Beals a relative?
Where did Joseph Beal’s family live after they were removed from their home before they moved to Michigan?
A question we have is why would and how could Joseph improve his home at the very time he was losing it in a sheriff’s auction?
In the winter of 1829 two of Joseph’s sons walked through Canada to move to Adrian, Michigan. In 1830 Joseph, Elizabeth and six of his children moved to Adrian on wagons pulled by ox teams and one span of horses. Elizabeth was ill during the move and on February 12, 1831, during a total eclipse of the sun, she passed away from consumption. Joseph continued to live with his sons and relatives in Michigan until his
death on January 26, 1877.
We are fortunate to have such detail about the first 25 years in the life of this home and the life of its founder. From there, we have less information but on we shall go.
The following quotation is from the nomination for the historic designation from the Town of Perinton, written by Jean Keplinger, Town Historian, and covers the next 100 years.
“In addition to the Beals, other significant Perinton families, and other locally significant families lived in the house. According to the abstract for the property, George and Mary Mason lived in the house in the 1860’s. Since the property was originally 80+ acres, it is possible that the property line extended over to the current day Mason Road. In addition, in the 1890’s, Roswell, Clara and Amanda Ranney lived in the house. Finally, in the 1940’s the Hoyt’s of the former Rochester Case-Hoyt printing company, lived in the house. According to Louise Klinke, whose maiden name was Hoyt, and lived in the house with her family between the ages of 8-17, many of the current day features of the house date back to improvements made by her father, including the large living room and master bedroom on the west side of the house, all of the mullion windows, an expansion of the dining room with corner cabinets in two corners of the room and a bay window, and a 1700’s fireplace mantel brought to the house from New England.”
Indeed, all of the features mentioned by Louise Kline are still in the home today and help make it a unique and comfortable space suitable for your special event. The 1700’s fireplace mantel is one of our favorite features and looks beautiful next to a smallish Christmas tree with white lights each year (the “children’s tree”). We also have a large colored lighted tree framed by the west-facing window in the living room. Interestingly, sadly, the Hoyt’s moved into this home on December 7, 1941, according to Louise.
After the Hoyt’s ownership ended in 1954, the home passed through three owners named Fox, Pierce and McDonald without any significant changes. The Shillaci family bought it in 1976 and we purchased it from them in November, 1992 along with a lot of 1.3 acres on which the house stands. The home was in need of complete redecoration, which we have lovingly done over the past 20+ years, along with numerous mechanical upgrades. In 2002 we bumped out the kitchen and relocated the “front” door.
In 2006 we bought an adjacent lot of 2.5 acres from the Shillaci family and at that time relocated the driveway courtesy of the New York State Department of Transportation, from Pittsford-Palmyra Road to Aldrich Road. This precipitated a change of address. The former and original address of the Beale House is 7752 Pittsford-Palmyra Road.
In 2008 we built the patio room and patio, which has added immensely to our enjoyment of the home and hopefully yours as well. Over the many years we have enjoyed the endless yard and garden improvement opportunities presented by our 3.8 acres of paradise. Just like the house, the yard had some good bones with beds surrounding the house with bulbs and shrubs. But the rear half of the property was wild and required annual spring reclaiming at the rate of 6 feet a year. Then we finished the job one spring when a bushhog was inadvertently parked in our driveway (destined for the 2.5 acres we didn’t own then) overnight and we negotiated with the owner. Over the years we have planted over 100 trees and shrubs and seeded more than an acre of grass to create a park like setting for this wonderful historic home.
Please be careful at the intersection of Aldrich Road and Route 31. We have seen and heard several bad accidents over the years and can only imagine what occurred when stagecoaches were coming over the hill.