A Hall House History

The Research Center (Library) of the Fenton History Center has now moved into the Hall House, which fronts on Forest Avenue but is adjacent to the Fenton Mansion. The Research Center will reopen on Monday, but will not be completely operational in that the computers have not been installed quite yet.

We held our annual Volunteer Appreciation Reception in the new space this week so that our volunteers had a “sneak peek” of the facility and of the rest of the space in the Hall House, which will be used mostly for storage and other administrative activities.

The Fenton Mansion will remain the museum with exhibit space and educational activities. With the move and with the community more aware of the Hall House – the white house with the big pillars at the “end” of Forest Avenue – people have asked questions about the house and who owned it. This column will carry those stories every once in a while to acquaint the community with the house and the past occupants.

The house is said to have been built in 1846 by William Hall. William was born Aug. 17, 1793, in Wardsboro, Vt. His parents were William and Abigail (Pease) Hall, both natives of Massachusetts. It is from Wardsboro, Vt., that many families moved to the Jamestown area during the early 1800s. The Cheney, Braley, Hazeltine and Jones families, just to name a few, all came from Wardsboro or the neighboring town of Dover that had once been a part of Wardsboro.

William originally settled in what is now the town of Kiantone with his brother, James. Here he manufactured shingles and became involved in the lumber business. In 1816 he came to Jamestown and was connected with the store and hotel of Elisha Allen. He later built a hotel in partnership with Solomon Jones. On July 4, 1824, William married Julia Jones, daughter of Solomon Jones, so William was in business with his father-in-law. The Jones family also came to the Jamestown area from Wardsboro. William was active in many enterprises for the betterment of Jamestown including the Erie Railroad, the Cane Seat Chair Company and late in his life he became a part of the beginning of the textile mills in Jamestown. He was a partner in the Alpaca mill which eventually became the Jamestown Worsted Mill. William died in 1880, and his wife died in 1888.

William and Julia (Jones) Hall had five children, two of whom died at an early age. The three children who attained adulthood were William Charles James, Mary Clarissa and Elliot Chapin. Elliot Chapin Hall married Tirzah Strong Snell in 1867. Their youngest daughter was Tirzah Hinsdale Hall, born in 1881. She is the granddaughter of William Hall and was the one who donated the Hall House to the Congregational Church in the 1950s. That was the end of the house as a private home. More of the story of the Hall House will appear in a later column.

The purpose of the Fenton History Center is to gather and teach about southern Chautauqua County’s history through artifacts, ephemeral and oral histories, and other pieces of the past.

Visit www.fentonhistorycenter.org for more information on upcoming events.

If you would like to donate to the collections or support the work of the Fenton History Center, call 664-6256 or visit the center at 67 Washington St., just south of the Washington Street Bridge.