Terrace Place has its rocky roots in Ithaca’s McClune Terrace quarry

By Carol Kammen

Terrace Place is the small lane that leads across the slope on East Hill heading toward the lake.  It spans the land between East Buffalo Street and Linn Street, spilling in at the junction of Court Street and University Avenue. Terrace Place is easily overlooked but has an interesting history.

Original Lane
A sign at East Buffalo Street and Terrace Place honors the earliest known United States settlers to the Ithaca area. The marker is also near where Simeon DeWitt, New York’s surveyor general, most probably camped when making his survey of the land that would become Ithaca.

When conducting the survey of the Military Tract, that land that had been the home lands of the Cayuga Nation and was not to be given to veterans of the Revolutionary War in payment for their service, Simeon DeWitt, New York’s surveyor general camped somewhat above what is now Terrace Place, most probably on DeWitt Place, where he looked down at the flats below. Horace Mack, writing in the history of the county published in 1879 remarked that DeWitt “selected a beautiful and elevated spot on the east hill for a house on which there is a small grove of white pines from which you have a fine view of the lake and country.” Below is a precipice of 100 feet and from DeWitt’s perch, he could see over the rocky cliff, to the lake beyond. This is where DeWitt, who died in 1834, was first buried: he was later reburied in Albany among members of his extended family.

When conducting the survey of the Military Tract, that land that had been the home lands of the Cayuga Nation and was not to be given to veterans of the Revolutionary War in payment for their service, Simeon DeWitt, New York’s surveyor general camped somewhat above what is now Terrace Place, most probably on DeWitt Place, where he looked down at the flats below. Horace Mack, writing in the history of the county published in 1879 remarked that DeWitt “selected a beautiful and elevated spot on the east hill for a house on which there is a small grove of white pines from which you have a fine view of the lake and country.” Below is a precipice of 100 feet and from DeWitt’s perch, he could see over the rocky cliff, to the lake beyond. This is where DeWitt, who died in 1834, was first buried: he was later reburied in Albany among members of his extended family.

DeWitt would have known of the trail that led to the lake as it skirts the high ground and cliffs overlooking Cascadilla Creek below him his campground, and it was part of the Martinus U. Zielie tract of 1,400 acres that lay at the bottom of East Hill.  [See the essay about Zielie by Peter Marks at http://toursixmilecreek.org/Zielie.php].

That tract of land was conveyed from Zielie to Abraham Bloodgood and then the title passed to Bloodgood’s brother-in-law and then to Simeon DeWitt. The evidence for these transfers, and the reason Zielie received the 1,400-acre tract seem to be lost. What is interesting is that the 1,400 acres are those that DeWitt saw in the late 1780s when he headed the survey of this portion of Central New York and was land he thought most suitable for a small city. That he ended up with that land is `Curiouser and curiouser!’ as Alice said when she looked down the rabbit hole.

According to the 1879 history of Tompkins County, Simeon DeWitt “came into possession of nearly all the domain which is now embraced within the bounds of the village corporation and other lands outside it.”

In 1807 DeWitt drew a map of his property, showing his plans to create a village. His drawing shows Beull Street and it did not, at that point extend up the hill. But as the population of the village of Ithaca grew, Buell became Buffalo Street, which transected the old pathway across the hill.

Terrace Place MapMcClune Terrace was renamed Terrace Place in the early 20th century.

The useful lane became the site of Gideon McClune’s quarry in 1859 and was known as McClune’s Terrace as he chipped away the stone for sale from his office at 53 West Seneca Street. He advertised “flagging, platforms, curbing, door and window sills and caps, horse blocks, hitching posts, &c., &c.”

 

GC McClune Advert
Gideon McClune began his quarry at McClune Terrance in 1849. According to his June 9, 1909 obituary, McClune operated the businesses for 48 year and the quarry supplied many of Ithaca’s original stone sidewalks.

By 1898 there were seven residences on McClune Terrace and the Ithaca Directory continued to carry an ad for McClune’s flagging and cut stone, noting that he employed “competent and Experienced Workmen,” and he kept in stock “thoroughly seasoned Stone.”  [page 211]

In 1908 Gideon McClune was still in business but he died the next year. In 1915, the Ithaca Directory only listed two residents on McClune Terrace, Henry Van Orman and Albert Alexander and identified their location as from 319 East Mill heading south which is the area where the original lane spills out into Mill, now Court Street, and blends into University Avenue.

The remainder of the 11 residents of the street, located from 317 East Buffalo north to Linn Street, were identified as living on Terrace Place and that is how the small street is identified today.

Full obituary: Obit Gideon McClune

OBIT McClune Screen Shot

 

carol-kammen-new

Carol Kammen is the Tompkins County historian and the author of several books on local history.

The Mapless Map of Tompkins County, New York

By Jim Rolfe

Mapless MapThe background for my involvement in The Mapless Map project goes all the way back to my childhood. The creator of the pocket-sized Mapless Map book was Robert Eastman (1919-2006),[1] who lived over on Central Chapel Road in Brooktondale and owned Ithaca-based Eastman Advertising Company.[2] His brother Don was my childhood neighbor on Bostwick Road, where I grew up.

I’ve been with the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office for almost 30 years, first in the jail as corrections staff and since 1995 on the road patrol. Back when I started on the road patrol we didn’t have computers with maps loaded onto them the way we do now, and if officers needed to confirm a road location, the original 1990s-era version of Eastman’s Mapless Map was sometimes used. By the early 2000s that edition was getting very out of date, as you can imagine.

In early 2004, I had some medical issues that ultimately required surgery, with a month-long convalescence period where I was literally stuck at home, unable to drive myself anywhere.

With nothing to do, and not a huge fan of daytime TV, I thought I would spend my convalescence on an update of The Mapless Map book. I reached out to Robert Eastman, who gave me his blessings on taking over the project, but he couldn’t otherwise support my updates by giving me his old Microsoft Word files for his original print run. Those had been lost with the passage of time.

Mapless Map PageSo I spent my month reviewing a bunch of different paper maps, going from memory, using a copy of the original version of The Mapless Map as a guide, and recreated the base document from scratch. I expanded from Mr. Eastman’s original focus, which was mainly roads and a few major buildings, to include things like references to various “corners” and many more buildings and locations that I thought might be of interest to potential users. I spent a fair amount of time at The History Center and local historical societies, bugging town historians for input. My ex-wife would get me out of the house and I’d sit in the balcony of Wegmans typing away. I never liked going to the grocery store, but when you’re stuck at home involuntarily for a prolonged period of time, the simple things in life can take on new meaning.

My original version of the project was a limited-edition, law-enforcement-only printing that had a section of cheat sheets and reference pages at the end of the book for police officers. That edition sold pretty well and I had enough positive feedback that shortly afterwards I came out with a general-circulation version that I sold in bulk to various taxi drivers, FedEx drivers, utilities, ambulances, etc. I sold individual copies to the general public through Mayer’s newsstand and smoke shop in downtown Ithaca. I did a handful of annual updates to my original version of the book until 2007.

In 2008 I was deployed with my Army National Guard brigade to Afghanistan. I extended for a second year and came home at the end of 2009. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, coming home. I hadn’t even heard of Twitter while I was overseas, and the smart phone with its built-in maps had come onto the market in large numbers while I was gone. Sales of the Map book tanked.

Over the past five or six years I was pretty sure that the smart phone, tablets, etc. had killed off any interest in updates to the book. I did continue to get the occasional request for an updated version, but I wasn’t sure there was adequate interest to support the costs of another print run and the associated work that goes into updating the book. The closure of Mayer’s in 2014[3] cost me my only retail outlet.

Finally, this year, I decided that as the requests had continued to come in, I would consider doing an update. After a decade there have certainly been a lot of road changes, and I’ve spent the last month going over the last edition of the book, making updates, and reaching out to my past bulk purchase customers to gauge their interest in purchasing an updated version of the book. So far there’s been enough of a positive response from past customers that I have continued my efforts to update the book to current conditions. My intentions are to continue working on updates through the 2017 summer construction season, finalize any changes in the fall, and come out with a new book in early 2018.

Jim Rolfe is a life-long resident of Tompkins County. He’s worked for the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office for almost 30 years and has deployed stateside and in Afghanistan as part of the Army National Guard. In February 2015, the Ithaca-Cayuga Kiwanis Club presented Deputy Rolfe and two other sheriff deputies with the Frank G. Hammer Officer of the Month Award for their role in the investigation and arrest of a murder and robbery suspect.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] “Obituary: Robert Eastman,” Ithaca Journal, March 22, 2006, http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/theithacajournal/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=87919777.

[2] Tompkins County Clerk’s Office, Deed Book 877, Page 256, Brampton to Eastman, June 19, 2000.

[3] Bill Chaisson, “Mayer’s Closing After 117 Years of Business in Ithaca,” Ithaca Times, May 8, 2014, http://www.ithaca.com/news/mayer-s-closing-after-years-of-business-in-ithaca/article_8da1c85e-d62a-11e3-8c1b-0019bb2963f4.html.