Aaron Wilson House, Ovid Town, Seneca County, Ovid NY, 14521

Aaron Wilson House

Ovid Town, Seneca County, NY

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The Aaron Wilson House (2037 Wilson Road), was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]


The Aaron Wilson House, built in 1835, is a remarkably intact, two-story, five-bay, center-hall stone dwelling in the rural town of Ovid in south-central Seneca County. A distinguished, late Federal/early Greek Revival style building, the large and imposing dwelling sits on the north side of Wilson Road a few hundred feet west of NY 414, the main north-south thoroughfare through this part of the county. Historically — and currently [at the time of this nomination] — the immediate vicinity is actively farmed, thus providing a remarkably intact rural agrarian setting composed of gently rolling fields interspersed with occasional copses of deciduous and evergreen trees. Pine, walnut, catalpa, tulip, birch, plum, sweet cherry, sour cherry, mulberry and apple trees and a variety of mature, ornamental shrubs and vines accent the yard surrounding the farmhouse. Several hundred feet west of the house is a collection of late nineteenth/early twentieth century farm-related outbuildings, including a massive dairy barn (one contributing building), a machine shed with attached corn crib (one contributing building), and a pump house (one contributing structure), as well as the extensively deteriorated remains of several additional support structures.

The main house, built ca.1835, is a two-story, five-bay, center-hall building constructed of roughly hewn, random-course fieldstone blocks. The rectangular superstructure rests on a slightly raised stone foundation and is surmounted by a medium-pitched gable roof sheathed with standing-seam metal and encircled by a simple wood entablature. Fenestration throughout the building is generally symmetrical: regularly spaced rectangular window openings contain six-over-six double-hung sash and are trimmed with roughly hewn sills and lintels. The front facade is distinguished by a simple, yet handsome, trabeated entrance: a massive stone lintel surmounts the deeply recessed doorway. Paneled reveals and sidelights flank the door.

A one-story, gable-roofed frame wing is attached to the east side of the main block; the front eave shelters a shallow porch along the south facade. Originally comprising a kitchen and carriage shed, the wing has been altered with external sheathing and internal reconfiguration. In its current condition, it does not contribute to the significance of the house; however, alterations appear reversible and could easily be remedied.

Little original fabric appears to survive on the building's interior. Although basic room configurations are readable, most spaces have been changed by the addition or removal of partition and or doorways. Some simple wood trim around several door and window openings survives, as do a few lath and plaster walls. However, a number of mid-twentieth century modifications have compromised the late Federal/early Greek Revival character of the building.

The farmhouse is complemented by several notable outbuildings, including a huge, gambrel roofed dairy barn (covered with asphalt shingle siding), a rectangular, gable-roofed frame machine shed (and attached corn crib) with vertical board siding, and a small, rectangular, gable-roofed frame pump house. All appear to date from the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. The ruins (or near ruins) of several other support structures are adjacent to the more intact farm buildings. The National Register listing also includes 187 acres of farmland currently associated with the farm buildings.


The Aaron Wilson House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of early nineteenth century domestic architecture in Seneca County. Built ca.1835, the house is an imposing and remarkably intact, two-story, five-bay, center-hall dwelling that embodies the late Federal/early Greek Revival modes popular in the Central and Finger Lakes regions of the state during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. In the context of rural Seneca County, the Aaron Wilson House is an unusually large and handsome example of the type and period: built of roughly hewn, random course fieldstone, it is a finely crafted vernacular adaptation of high style building trends in the region. The farmhouse is complemented by a collection of relatively intact support buildings, as well as expansive, rural agrarian setting: most of the 187 acres included in the National Register listing are still [at time of this nomination] farmed; several large farmsteads immediately surrounding the Aaron Wilson farm are also still active agricultural enterprises. In the context of Ovid, the Aaron Wilson House is an especially revered local landmark and remains an important reminder of the area's masonry construction traditions and the region's rural agrarian heritage.

The Aaron Wilson House embodies virtually all of the distinctive characteristics associated with late Federal/early Greek Revival building modes: like other vernacular interpretations of the classically inspired vocabularies, the Aaron Wilson House is a rectangular, gable roofed building with a symmetrical, five-bay, center-hall facade. Simple, finely crafted exterior woodwork, i.e., the wide entablature around the roofline, and bold stone decorative elements, e.g., the roughly hewn sills and lintels around the door and window openings, enhance the austere, yet handsome, character of the dwelling.

The land comprising the current farmstead was originally a section of Military Lot #17, which was first granted to Captain Benjamin Pelton of the Second Regiment following the Revolutionary War. The next owner was Joseph Wilson, an early settler of the area. Wilson fathered twelve children; the ninth, Aaron Wilson (born on May 13, 1808), married Julia Bennet of nearby Scipio (Cayuga County) in 1833. Two years later, Aaron acquired a 100-acre portion of his father's expansive holdings. Shortly thereafter, according to local historians, Aaron began construction of the imposing late Federal/early Greek Revival style farmhouse from locally quarried stone.

The farmstead remained in the Wilson family until 1941. (Subsequent owners included Wilmer S. Wilson and his spinster sister Henrietta Wilson; Wilmer S. Wilson's niece, Caroline Franklin and her husband George T. Franklin; and Wilmer J. Wilson and his wife, Lydia Wilson.) Between 1938 and 1941 — under the ownership of the Wilmer J. Wilsons — the house was sublet to a series of tenant farmers; The Wilsons sold the property to Aima E. Helander of New York City in 1941. Helander undertook several improvement programs, including the installation of electricity in 1945. In 1951 the property was acquired by another owner who continued to actively farm the land for many years. Additional changes were made to the house's interior during the late twentieth century, particularly in terms of removal of original trim, doors and floors, and the reconfiguration of several rooms. On the exterior, however, little was changed: in its current condition, the farmhouse is virtually intact to its 1830s origin. Complemented by an array of farm-related support structures, most of which date to the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, as well as expansive vistas of still-farmed land, the Aaron Wilson House is additionally significant under criterion A as an important reminder of the rural agrarian heritage of Seneca County.


"Administrator's Deed: Wilmer S. Wilson to Henreitta B. Wilson." Book 117. Deeds page 315. County Clerk's Office Waterloo, NY, 1898.

"Executor's Deed." Book 193. Deeds Page 19. County Clerk's Office, Waterloo, NY, 1938.

"In the Matter of the Estate of Julia M. Wilson, Dec'd." Waterloo, NY: Estate No. 4053 Waterloo NY. Surrogate's Office, 1897.

"Last Will and testament of Henrietta B. Wilson, Dec'd." Estate No. 8286. Waterloo, NY: Surrogate's Office, 1924.

"The Last Will and Testament of Wilmer S. Wilson." Estate No. 8410. Waterloo, NY. Surrogate's Office, 1925.

"The Matter of the Estate of Aaron Wilson, Dec'd." Estate No. 4028. Waterloo, NY. Surrogate's Office, 1892.

"Right of Way." Book 206. Deeds Page 468. County Clerk's Office: Waterloo, NY, 1945.

"Warranty Deed." Book 230. Deeds Page 65. County Clerks Office. Waterloo, NY, 1951.

"Warranty Deed: Book 182. Deeds Page 235. County Clerk's Office: Waterloo, NY, 1941.

"Warranty Deed." Book G2. Deeds Page 273. County Clerk's Office: Waterloo, NY, 1835.

Everts, Ensign & Everts, ed. 1786 to 1876 History of Seneca County, New York. With Illustrations. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1876.

Fischer, Carl W., and Harriet Jackson Swick, Eds. Between the Lakes: Cemeteries. Vol. 1. Interlaken: The Interlaken Review, 1974.

Kniffen, Fred B. "Folk Housing: Key to Diffusion. In Common Places: Readings in Vernacular Architecture, edited by Dell Upton and Michael John Vlach, 3-26. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1986.

Morrison, Wayne E. Town and Village of Ovid, Seneca County, NY: An Early History. Ovid, NY: W.E. Morrison and Co., 1889.

Patterson, Maurice L. Between the Lakes: The Settlement and Growth of South Seneca County, The Town of Covert, The Village of Interlaken. Covert, NY: A Town of Covert Bicentennial Project, 1976.

  1. Todd, Nancy L., New York State Division for Historic Preservation, Aaron Wilson House, nomination document, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Street Names
Wilson Road

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