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.

Forest Home grew from mills along Fall Creek to a residential neighborhood

By Bruce Brittain

Forest Home is a small residential hamlet located on the banks of Fall Creek in the Town of Ithaca. First settled in 1794, it quickly evolved into a water-powered industrial and milling community. Early names for the community included Sydney’s, Phoenix Mills, Phoenixville, and Free Hollow (aka Flea Hollow).

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Free Hollow Cider Mill, circa late 1800s.

In 1874, a letter to the Ithaca Daily Journal suggested that if street trees were planted in Free Hollow, it could deserve the name “Forest Home,” just as Ithaca was known as “Forest City.” In 1876, when a lodge of the Good Templars was formed in Free Hollow, it took the name of “Forest Home,” which was said to be appropriate, since the woods were increasing. Later in 1876, when a Post Office was established, it, too, took the name of “Forest Home.” In November 1876, the name “Forest Home” was painted on the end of the Empire Grist Mill, thereby cementing the change.

The hamlet that we see today is the result of four distinct phases of development:

1800–1850: Mill Era. This was a time of rapid development, using the strength of Fall Creek to power some 10 to 15 milling operations. Roughly 30 houses were constructed at this time.

FH Map v1
Map of Free Hollow circa 1866. The community was renamed Forest Home in 1876.

18501905: Stability. Milling continued, but water power was gradually giving way to other forms of energy, and improvements in transportation allowed more efficient, centralized milling elsewhere. Some houses were enlarged or updated, but few new houses were built.

Empire Grist Mill c 1880 Forest Home
Empire Grist Mill in Forest Home burned in 1886 and was not rebuilt. Today, remnants of the mill can still be seen adjacent to the downstream bridge.

19051915: Cornell-Related Growth. Under the leadership of Liberty Hyde Bailey, the NYS College of Agriculture grew rapidly at this time. Many of the new professors chose to settle in Forest Home, and around 30 new houses were built, doubling the population of the community. This was a time of social turmoil, as the established mill-related families took exception to the new University-related upstarts who were disrupting their neighborhood. The community’s two iconic steel truss bridges spanning Fall Creek were built during this period.

Car.On.USB copy
Bridge at Forest Home, circa early 1900s.

1915Present: Continued Evolution. The last of the mills shut down, and Forest Home became a strictly residential community, with infill development adding another 30 houses. The University acquired the surrounding farms, and the hamlet is now completely encircled by lands belonging to the Cornell Botanic Gardens and Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. This separation from other neighborhoods has allowed Forest Home to retain its distinct identity.

Forest Home bridge

Bruce Brittain is a native of the hamlet of Forest Home, in the Town of Ithaca, NY.  Dr. Brittain holds a PhD in engineering from Cornell University, and has taught at both Cornell and Ithaca College.  He has served as a trustee of the DeWitt Historical Society (now the History Center), and is the long-time historian for Forest Home.  He has been very active in the community, has surveyed and mapped all of the major roads in Forest Home in support of the Forest Home Traffic Calming Project, was instrumental in preserving the hamlet’s two iconic single-lane bridges, and prepared a Blue Form for every structure in the community as part of the successful nomination for State and National Register listing for the Forest Home Historic District.

Names on the Land–Tompkins County

Welcome to Names on the Land–Tompkins County!

This collection of place name histories takes its point of departure from Place Names of Tompkins County, the 2008 reference book created by Tompkins County Historian Carol Kammen and the county’s municipal historians. This guide to the stories of town, street, and other place names in turn drew on W. Glenn Norris’s The Origin of Place Names in Tompkins County, published by the DeWitt Historical Society of Tompkins County in 1951.

In October 2016, a core group of team members began work updating the Place Names book. Organized by themes, the new book will add to and update the place name entries and include an interactive online component as well.

How we name, define, and use a place changes over time. To capture the dynamic nature of place, residents and visitors are encouraged to share their stories about significant places in Tompkins County. Do you have a story about why a town or road or other place got its name? Do you have an informal name for a place in Tompkins County that’s not found on any map? Have you written about or photographed a place that’s dear to your heart and want to share it with others? We’d love to hear from you.

Contact tcplacenames@gmail.com to participate in the project.