Bellwood Farm: a hidden cobblestone gem
Cobblestones of the Finger Lakes
Bellwood Farm, an impressive country estate with a view of Seneca Lake, is on the east side of Pre-Emption Road, two miles south of Geneva. One drives through the gate of a cobblestone fence and along a winding drive to reach this stunning Greek Revival cobblestone house which bursts on the scene. It was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Ralph H. Poole in 1942.
The main two-story section of the house has an Ionic portico, and on either side are one-story wings with Ionic porches across the front. House-viewers will find that the west wing door is a false one, never used from the inside of the house, but added to the outside to give the two porches perfect symmetry. Two of the interior walls of the home are as thick as outer walls, 18 inches, so made to support the weight of the construction. The portal is enflamed by egg and dart moulding; the door fittings are German silver.
The land at Bellwood Farm was first cultivated by Silas Tucker, who purchased the property in 1826 from his prosperous father-in-law, Jeptha Earl. The original cobblestone house, which Silas built in the 1830s, was less than half the size of the present structure. The transformation from homestead to country estate took place in 1905. It was then that Perry Tucker, a descendant of Silas, sold the home to Mrs. Katherine Belle Lewis of Buffalo.
Using wealth that came from Pennsylvania oil and gas investments, Mrs. Lewis added the northern half of the house with cobblestones and mortar work of the “new” matching perfectly that of the “old.” The interior was changed at that time to the elaborate woodwork and spacious rooms of the present time.
The landscaped grounds around the house included both formal and informal gardens. The entire property was enlarged to 600 acres (from Silas Tucker’s farm of 150 acres) giving the later owner and extensive area for beef cattle feeding and breeding.
After passing through the cobblestone gate, first sight of the Bellwood Farm mansion takes one’s breath away. However, it is not open to the public.