Michael R. Franklin
Licensed Real Estate Broker
(o) 315-876-2262

1840 Dulles Inn

For Sale


Michael DeRosa
Licensed Real Estate Broker & Auctioneer
CNY Office 315.406.7355 NYC Office 212.757.1550


Photo 1.

Like people, houses often have better profiles, the view that reveals one’s character at a single glance. In the case of the former Dulles House at 67 South Street, that view is looking northwest, showing the east front of the house and the south side. With this view we learn almost everything that we need to know about this wonderful building. The core of the house was built in the early 1830s, probably in the fashionable Greek Revival style. What we see now, though, is the product of a complete renovation and reconstruction of the house in the early 1890s. Three features of the new, late-19th century house are clear here. First, the footprint of the house was changed. The original house is located on the north, to the right on this view. In the 1890s, the house was extended to the south, with the new wing set back from the original façade. Second, when the Woodruff family modified the house around 1890, they added new porches both on the front, visible here, and on the north side. Third, the height of the house was changed when a third floor was added. The larger dormer windows on the roof above the entrance on the east façade and above the south façade make this third floor a full and comfortable living space.

Photo 2.
The parlor is a large and ornate space that was, and remains, designed for public entertaining. It clearly is the center of attention for the entire house, accessed from the hall and occupying nearly all of the north side of the house. The current parlor likely was originally divided into two rooms, as two double sliding doors provide entrance into the parlor. Now a single room, the most prominent and most elaborate features are the two fireplaces located along the north wall. Both fireplaces were designed with similar design features that draw upon the mid-18th century designs of two Scottish brothers, Robert and James Adams. The Adams brothers were among the first architects and designers to take advantage of the new discoveries in the ancient Roman cities of Herculeanum and Pompeii, which gave Europeans their first complete look at Roman architecture and which kicked off a new wave of Classical Revival designs. These 18th century designs then had a revival of interest in the late 19th and early 20th century, as part of the broader Colonial Revival movement. The carved details on the mantel, including delicate swags, rows of cleanly incised lines, and delicate fluted paired columns flanking the fireboxes, are excellent examples of the new-classical revival of the turn of the century. Just visible in the mirror over the fireplace, the cornices of the two doors into the parlor clearly match the Adamesque designs of the fireplace, and make for a complete visual experience that drew upon the Colonial Revival for its historical associations.


Photo 3.
This elevation view of the east façade, the house’s principal entrance, also tells a great deal about what the Woodruff family created in the 1890s. The original portion of the house remains visible on the right; a slender rectangular building with the narrow side facing the street. The newer southern block, added in about 1890s, is recessed behind the principal façade and operates more or less independently with its own hipped roof that extends from the north block. This approach to massing, with more than one square or rectangular blocks that are offset, is one of the hallmarks of the Italianate style, which was immensely popular throughout America in the mid- and late nineteenth century. The purpose of such a design was to call to mind the rambling, charming farm houses of the Italian countryside. One of America’s most influential architectural theorists and designers, Andrew Jackson Downing, wrote in the 1840s about the sentiments that people at the time would associate with the Italianate style: “So, too, an Italian villa may recall, to one familiar with Italy and art, by its bold roof lines, its campanile and its shady balconies, the classic beauty of that fair and smiling land, where pictures, sculpted figures, vases, and urns, in all exquisite forms, make part of the decorations and ‘surroundings’ of domestic and public edifices.”

Photo 4.
In comparison to the parlor, with its delicate lines and profusion of ornamentation, the library is a quiet space with architectural details that are more robust and solid. Like the parlor, though, the fireplace commands the center of attention. The neo-classical details remain visible, with single fluted columns rising from the mantel to support the cornice, and beautifully carved wooden brackets beneath the mantel and the cornice in a classical leaf pattern. As is fitting for a room designed for quiet contemplation rather than for semi-public amusement, the design details are less exuberant, particularly the solidly proportioned wooden window and door surrounds.


Photo 5.
The front hall in the Dulles House, which was designed as a semi-public space, gives access to several private rooms. The level of architectural detail in the various rooms was planned to match their respective purposes, and this view shows the hierarchy of details. Looking from the library and looking across the hall to the parlor, we can see the relatively sedate nature of the architectural details in the library. The principal decoration in the room is the broadly proportioned wooden door trim, with a large cornice above it. This broad, classical styled molding features a bump-out in the door surround beneath the cornice and a projecting cornice with dentil moldings. The door trim that is visible in the hallway, however, while similar lacks the additional bump-out and the elaborate cornice, signifying a less-prestigious space. The parlor across the hall, however, reveals additional levels of ornateness, particularly in the fireplaces.

Photo 6.
This detail view of the east façade gives us even more insight into the Victorian-era renovations of house. In many ways the Dulles House is a typical Victorian residence, with a mix of design features that represent many historical eras. While not as elaborate as some other Victorian houses, a range of stylistic details are clearly visible on the exterior. These include the hints of the earlier Greek Revival house in the stone lintels beneath the front windows on the north block, and the Romanesque Revival style in the paired windows above the main entrance with their twin arches rising from a heavy central pilaster. Finally, the new porches were designed with an influence from the Arts and Crafts style, which in its early years drew in part from Japanese designs. This influence is visible in the paired vertical posts at the corners, tied together with a small horizontal piece near the tops, and the curved brackets at the corners. For a house with such a strong Victorian character, with its robust detailing, these simple designs and forms make a refreshing counterpoint.

Photo 7.
The principal front porch of the house leads into a stately and comfortable front hall. While this likely was the location of the entrance to the original 1830s house, it was completely renovated in the early 1890s to its present configuration. Front halls in Victorian houses were places of sorting-out. Houses had become refuges from the bustling, chaotic, and occasionally frightening world outside, the private domain of the smaller family unit in contrast to the public world beyond the doors. This was a shift from the early 19th century, when houses often served as places of both commerce and residence and the division between public and private was less distinct. By the 1870s and 1880s, the front hall served as the safe buffer between public and private, where visitors would wait before the family decided if the visitors could gain access to the private world within. As such, they were designed to be showcases to the outside world, places of beauty that pointed to the civility and gentility of the family that resided there.

Photo 8.
Rounding the rooms that open from the main hallway, the small office is located at the front corner of the house near the front door. Designed to be a functional space, it lacks the level of ornamentation of the parlor, or even the library. Instead, the decorations are simple, relying principally on the carved wooden paneling that lines the walls.

Photo 9.
This is the north side of the house, looking along the driveway toward South Street. The most important feature here is the terrific porte-cochere above the side entrance to the house. The purpose of this elegant porte-cochere, which like the front porches was influenced by the Arts and Crafts style, was to allow visitors to the Woodruff’s and the Dulles’ house to step out of their carriages and enter the house while being protected from rain and snow. In addition, the strong sense of massing is clear in this view, with the solidity of the brick house emphasized by the slightly overhanging eaves of the hipped roof, while the projecting stair tower, clad in shingles that were highly fashionable in the 1890s, is solidly proportioned and features its own hipped roof.

Photo 10.
The dining room opens from the library, which offers this view of the magnificent fireplace. Many Americans of the mid- and late 19th century were entranced by their perceptions of the Middle Ages, which they identified as a time of vigor and strength in comparison to what they considered was a weakening of American fiber caused by too much civilization and industrialization. Few things symbolized the Middle Ages to Victorian architects like a grand dining hall with a magnificent fireplace at one end, reminiscent of historical European castles. The fireplace in the Dulles House dining room clearly is smaller in scale, but retains the place and function of a medieval hall as a focal point for the room. Its importance is emphasized by the extension of the brick from the fireplace surround to the entire western wall beneath the flanking leaded windows, while the intricately carved mantel and its supporting brackets add even more visual emphasis. The ceiling of the dining room, with its deeply coffered wooden panels, likewise calls to mind an ancient English manor house. The window to the left, meanwhile, is a full-height sash window that can be raised to provide access to one of the house’s enchanting features, the solarium that allows for an elegant blending of interior and exterior living.

Photo 11/13.
This rear view shows one of the more delightful features of the Dulles House: the solarium, located at the rear corner on the right. While we like to think that the idea of blending interior and exterior in a house’s living spaces is an invention of the mid-century Modern movement, architects and writers were aware of the importance of this more than a century earlier. As the Industrial Revolution gained more traction and as cities grew larger and more complicated through the 1840s and 1850s, houses came to be seen as a refuge from the world of commerce and manufacturing, oases of calm where families could enjoy the refreshing world of nature that had not been corrupted by manufacturing, commerce, and grime. Such elements as verandas, bay windows, and solariums all allowed for an experience of more light and contact with nature than houses of the early 19th century typically afforded. The solarium here is accessed from a tall, full-height sliding window in the dining room, and allows for the enjoyment of coffee and conversation while reclining in the shade of the solarium roof, listening to the sounds of the large surrounding yard.

Photo 12.
The front hall of the Dulles House is very gracious and comfortable indeed. While it is likely that the original 1830s house had a hall leading from the front door, it was unlikely to be this wide or well-appointed. Instead, this hall is a product of the 1890s renovation, and reflects the comforts and awareness of beauty of Victorian America. A wide and welcoming hall, it is marked by two features in particular which set the theme for much of the first floor interior: an early application of the Colonial Revival, which drew upon the classical styles of ancient Greece and Rome that were the hallmarks of the early years of the American nation. First, the richness of the wood paneling creates an inviting feel, with excellent carving in the small classically-styled scrolled brackets that support the mirror shelf on the right side (one wants to check one’s hat before being admitted to the family’s private parlor) and the capitals of the delicate paired blind columns that frame the entrance to the back hall. Second, and more unusual, the ceiling is formed by a remarkable barrel vault, an invention of the ancient Romans, seen most vividly in the shallow arc above the wooden cornice at the entrance to the rear hall. This feature, which only rarely makes an appearance in houses, has the effect of creating a more open, inviting, light-filled space for visitors to wait.



Photo 14.
As a fully functioning, upper-class house of the mid-19th century, the Dulles House included a separate carriage house at the rear of the lot, with access from the driveway that passes through the porte-cochre. Unlike the main house, however, the carriage house was unpretentious and largely utilitarian. It is a large wood frame building, with a side gable roof. The roof is punctuated by a tall, prominent, steeply-pitched dormer that rises from the eave in the center of the building. Despite its utilitarian purposes, however, the carriage house includes several design elements that add beauty and indicate its lineage to the late 19th century. In particular, both the single door on the left side of the façade and the loading door beneath the dormer on the second floor feature broad projecting caps that are Italianate in style. In addition, the edges of the dormer feature subtle and delicate carvings.

Photo 15.
In many grand houses of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the staircase was a prominent architectural feature that visitors would see upon first entering the house. By the late 19th century, however, with their concern for protecting private spaces from public intrusion, architects began to place staircases that led to the private quarters upstairs toward the rear of the house, away from the prying eyes of visitors. This is exactly the case in the Dulles House, where the staircase is located in a separate hall from the main entrance, leading to the side entrance and the porte-cochere. Despite this lack of prominence, however, this staircase retains the elaborate wood carving that characterizes the entire first floor. The newel post in particular features a riot of naturalistic carving, which is repeated in a triangular portion of the stair rail. The remainder of the stair rail, however, and the wall facing it, is clad in wooden panels, leading up to a landing with two bright windows and a comfortable seating area for reading.

Photo 16.
The staircase landing, in addition to providing both a comfortable place to sit and admire the carving on the two newel posts, allows a view into the dining room on the first floor.

Photo 17.
The staircase continues its design to the second floor and beyond. Since the second floor remained a semi-public space, as the location of guest rooms, the decorative carving of the stair rail and the paneling on the wall opposition. The third floor, however, is a clearly private space. As such, no additional decorative treatments were required, and the walls leading up to the third floor, strictly a private family area, remain unadorned, while the stair rail features simple vertical balusters rather than the carved paneling of the lower floors.

Photo 18.
The difference between the first and second floor hallways is striking. While the first floor hall is a richly decorated and inviting space that was designed to be seen by visitors, the second floor is far more utilitarian. There are clear architectural touches even here, however, particularly in the simple arched opening that provides access to the hall from the staircase landing and to the guest rooms.

Photo 19.
Several guest suites open from the second floor hall. In the recent extensive renovation of the house to serve as a Bed and Breakfast and event venue, each of the rooms was named to reflect the history of the house. This is a view of the Dulles Room, which is named in part for Dr. and Mrs. Allen Macy Dulles, who purchased the house when Dr. Dulles was appointed as a professor at the Auburn Theological Seminary, and who lived here until 1931. The room also pays honor to their grandson, Avery Dulles. The younger Dulles converted to the Roman Catholic Church as a young man, and continued in the pattern of extraordinary success that his father (John Foster Dulles), aunt and uncle, and grandfather had set. Dulles became a highly prominent theologian, and in 2001 was the first American theologian to be named a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. The neo-classical design elements that characterize the first floor are repeated in this room which, like its namesake, is elegant yet unpretentious. The wooden fireplace surround remains the room’s focal point, with more delicate classical details including carved swags and fluted columns, while glazed brick surround the fireplace box.


67 South Street: Architectural Overview

The former Dulles House on South Street in Auburn is a fascinating blend of styles and periods. by Amasa Curtis, a brickmaker and builder. We know little for certain about what this first house looked like, aside from its general form as shown on an 1836 map of Auburn: a long, rectangular house with the narrow end facing the street. Influenced by both the English and the French, American colonists in the 18th century loved the early neoclassical styles of architecture. By the early 19th century, however, as the new nation gained its legs, American architects began to craft a new, national style. Drawing more specifically on actual Greek prototypes but transformed by the new American experience, the Greek Revival style reflected the new country’s awareness of itself as the worthy successor to the political and cultural ideals of ancient Greece: a nation of citizens deeply invested in the political culture, led by rational philosopher-statesmen who understood their vital place in history as the harbingers of a new understanding of enlightened freedom. Starting with nationally significant architects who were creating the nation’s new capital city in Washington, DC, the craze for Greek Revival buildings spread throughout the country. As one scholar has noted, “Adopted by the common man as well as the professional, it became the first style in American history to be consciously understood and embraced as a truly national mode of building.”

Classically derived themes had a particular resonance in the Finger Lakes and throughout Central New York. As settlers moved west from New England and New York along the new Erie Canal, they brought with them not only the new ideas from the coastal cities but also an enthusiasm for classical culture and education. The new communities of the region were give classical place names such as Utica, Marcellus, Cicero, Syracuse, Tully, Ithaca, and more. Greek Revival buildings, including stores, hotels, and houses like the ones built by Amasa Curtis, populated the farms and communities that had been named after so many of the classical world’s heroes.

Architectural detail photos




















  • (c) 2015