In May, I took a tour of the Babcock House Museum with members of the Grand Island Historical Society. The Babcock House Museum is located near Somerset, in Niagara County, about thirty-three miles northeast of Buffalo. It is an interesting and distinctive structure because it is made almost entirely of cobblestone.
Cobblestone houses were built mostly in the northeastern part of the United States, as well as in the upper midwest.
Many of the surviving cobblestone houses can be found within about 75 miles of Rochester, New York. If you travel to Canada in search of more cobblestone houses, you will find a large number of them in Paris, Ontario.
The Babcock House was built at about 1848, and the style is Greek revival. Constructing this type of building was a very slow and laborious process, taking up to four years to complete a house. Because of the labor intensive nature of the houses, this style fell from favor at about the time of the Civil War in the United States.
The original owners of the house were Jeptha and Mary Babcock. Jeptha Babcock owned one of the largest wheat farms in western New York.
In addition to farming, Jeptha Babcock also served his community as its first postmaster. He became the supervisor for the Town of Somerset and, later, was elected to the New York State Assembly. The Babcocks raised four children: Isaac H., Henry H., Sarah Elizabeth, and Mary Jane.
After Jeptha Babcock passed away in 1883, the house was owned by a series of farmers.
By 1982, the property was purchased by New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG). NYSEG worked on restoring the property to its former condition.
The property, which includes the house, the barn, and other structures, is now owned by AES Somerset, and it serves as the welcome center for the Town of Somerset during the summer and early autumn.