Jedediah Barber House, Homer New York

Date added: February 13, 2010 Categories: New York House Greek Revival

Jedediah Barber was a pioneer merchant banker who established the "Great Western" store on Homer's Main Street in 1811. This venture grew into a very extensive and lucrative business, enabling him to exert a considerable influence on the physical and cultural development of the community. Governor Clinton was a long time friend and frequent visitor of Barber's and he had Clinton Street along which lay 100 acres of his land named for him. Samuel Woodworth, President of Oberlin College, was also a friend of Barber, as was Andrew D. White, President of Cornell University, whose father had been in Mr. Barber's employ. Commodore Vanderbilt, President of the New York Central Railroad, was a friend who visited Mr. Barber in Homer.

Numerous changes were made during the Barber era, especially during the remodeling of about 1850. Few changes have been made since, except for the installation of central heating, plumbing, and electricity. Renovation between 1968 and 1973 included removal of a rear frame ell, the second floor balcony of the side portico, the installation of a kitchen in the rear northwest room and minor changes in the partitions on the rear second and third floors to accommodate new bathrooms and closets.

Renovations done by Mr. and Mrs. Nichols (the owners in 1968) revealed much of the earlier construction. Apparently, the first construction consisted of a Federal style house, five bays wide, one room deep plus a lower two-story brick rear ell extending back to the rear wall of the present house. The ridge of the roof of the ell was perpendicular to the main hipped roof. The window above the front door originally had an arch and sidelights. The woodwork in all the rooms is original except the northeast first floor library where a blade marble mantel with Ionic marble columns has replaced the earlier Federal style mantel. Evidence of the original construction includes a brick bearing wall that runs the length of the present house north to south forming the rear wall of the front rooms and hall. About 1850, the house was remodeled to the Greek Revival style. A new hip roof was built over both of the original roofs and over the south west space between the house and ell that became the new three story tetrastyle Ionic portico. In order to provide space for the monitor windows, and a new third floor on the ell, the new roof had to be higher than either previous roof. In the present attic, the new higher plate for the roof and the line of the older roof on the brick chimneys can be seen. This change made the former attic of the ell a full floor in height with an attic above it. Probably at the time of these changes, a new frame ell was built at the rear of the house for a kitchen and woodshed. At least two frame ells have been attached to the back of the house. Many of the features of the house can be traced to architectural pattern books, such as those by Asher Benjamin.