Phelps Mansion

Binghamton City, Broome County, NY

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The Phelps Mansion (191 Court Street) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]


The Sherman Phelps Mansion (The Monday Afternoon Club Clubhouse) is a two story brick structure noted for its elaborate interiors, which combine hand-carved rare woods, marble and glass in elegant patterns. Predominantly square-shaped in layout with an aspidal solarium on the east elevation, the building is five bays wide across the front or south elevation. A rectangular brick addition, housing an auditorium, added in 1905, is on the north or back side.

A masonry load-bearing structural system is employed in the building which has a truncated hip roof replacing the former third floor and high mansard roof, which were removed in 1941. Stone friezes stand alone in place of cornices.

Granite quoins at the corners of the structure break the simplicity of the brick work as do segmental keystones over the windows. Leading to the main entrance is a stone staircase and small square porch, the second story of which is an enclosed alcove of the house. Twin Ionic columns support the porch on either side. A single semi-circular head window with bracketed hood is centered directly above the porch, a similar hood is on the window directly to its eat, in place of the keystone.

In 1905 when the present auditorium was added, the original porte cochere was removed from its location at the rear of the house and reinstalled on the east side of the addition.

On the interior of the Sherman Phelps Mansion, architects imagination is reflected in imported marble for floors and mantel shelves, tiles for decorative use, and specially designed chandeliers.

Outstanding in the interior of the Phelps Mansion is the selection of choice woods. The drawing room is a display of the cabinetmaker's artful use of fiddleback, birdseye and quartered maple in the period mantel, accented with black walnut. Exceptional maple woodwork is installed around the entire drawing room, and repeated in window, casements, heading and doors.

Rare walnut was chosen for the mantel, the hand-carved mirror frame, the panelled doors and the inset folding window shutter, of the library.

In the dining room the choice was oak for the mantel and its large elaborately framed mirror, the carved mirror frame of the marble top serving table, the high wall panelling and window treatment. The adjoining President's room has fine American walnut skillfully manipulated to enhance the beautiful mantel, and its large framed mirror.

The mirror in the central hall is framed in African mahogany crested with a coat of arms bearing "S.P.", the initials of the first owner, and reflects the beautiful hand wrought black walnut staircase, created by a Binghamtonian, Orville F. Roth, for $10,000. Together the interiors form an outstanding feature of the structure.


The stately Sherman Phelps Mansion is an outstanding example of an architect's imagination and a craftsman's skill. The architect's ability to coordinate meticulously into the design beautiful woods, metal, and glass can be observed throughout the interior. One views luxurious use of rare woods, carved in the cabinet makers shop and transported to the building for assemblage into splendid mantels and panelled effects.

Even the etched design of the plate glass panels in the front doors, is reflected in the patterned brass door knobs and hinges of the massive doors leading from the hall.

Built in 1870 for Sherman D. Phelps a former mayor of Binghamton the house cost $100,000 and was designed by Isaac G. Perry. Perry, a local resident, was a nationally recognized architect and was appointed Capital Commissioner by Grover Cleveland. He became renowned as chief architect for the State Capitol Building in Albany.

John Stuart Wells, the builder for the Sherman Phelps Mansion, who constructed several of Perry's designs, later owned the house, which the Monday Afternoon Club purchased from him in 1905.

Orville F. Roth of Binghamton, a civil engineer, is credited with hand carving and building the famous $10,000 black walnut staircase in the mansion.

The Court Street entrance to the Sherman Phelps Mansion is through the gateway of the old iron fence, built and installed by the Titchener Iron Works of Binghamton and a fine example of its iron work.

When constructed, the Sherman Phelps Mansion was located in the finest residential section of early Binghamton, surrounded by the beautiful homes of the city's well-to-do. In a changed neighborhood it continues to reflect the elegance of its day.


William Foote Seward-Binghamton and Broome County New York, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc., New York and Chicago 1924.

William S. Lawyer-Binghamton 1800-1900, Century Memorial Publishing Com. 1900.

David Addison Harsha-Noted Living Albanians and State Officials Weed, Parsons and Co., Printers, Albany, NY 1891.

Cecil Roseberry-Capitol Story with photographs by Arthur John Daley. Published by the State of N.Y., Copyright 1964 by the State of N.Y.

Binghamton Republican-Nov. 14 and 15, 1878 a newspaper published in Binghamton, N.Y.

  1. Levy, Steven S., N.Y. State Department of Historic Preservation, Court Street Historic District,, nomination document, 1973, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
Court Street

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