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



Now populated by sleepy villages and bustling small cities, the section of Upstate New York on the northern edge of the Finger Lakes had another, more vibrant reputation in the 19th century. The region, with Auburn near the center, was host to a powerful and concentrated burst of social and cultural energy that is unmatched in American history. As the Erie Canal facilitated the transfer of goods, people, and ideas throughout the mid-19th century, waves of reform and revival emerged and swept over the region: the Spiritualist, Mormon, and Women’s Rights movements came into being here, and made the ground fertile for hotbeds of abolitionism, evangelical revivals, Native American rights, prison reform, and more. At the same time, the cities growing along the Erie Canal adopted manufacturing on a large scale, bring even more innovation, money, and new ideas to the region.

Auburn epitomized this explosive growth, as the home of Governor and Secretary of State William Seward, escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, women’s rights pioneer Martha Wright, intellectual and Transcendentalist Orestes Brownson, inventor Theodore Case, International Harvester founder David Osborne, and more.

Few houses in Auburn are more closely connected to the city’s fascinating history than 67 South Street. Within its walls, first built in 1833 and substantially enlarged and rebuilt in 1889, walked a medical pioneer, an industrial leader, a prominent religious educator and theologian, a reformer for working women in Auburn, and a future Secretary of State and CIA Director. The energy of the region is imbued in the walls of this house, extended through generations of fascinating owners and deep layers of history.

First settled in 1793 because of the water power on Owasco River, Auburn grew quickly after it became the seat of Cayuga County in 1805, and by 1820 was home to two institutions that shaped the early community: the Auburn Prison (now the Auburn Correctional Facility) was established in 1816, and the Auburn Theological Seminary (now a separate component of the Union Theological Seminary in New York City) was founded in 1818. These two institutions provided both state funding and intellectual ferment to the growing community, while the Erie Canal just eight miles north in Weedsport provided an outlet for the growing number of small factories. An 1836 map of Auburn shows how developed the village was by then, with today’s pattern of streets already in place.

While the bulk of the village extended north from Genesee Street toward the Prison and the Seminary, the 1836 map shows the early extension of residences to the south. Only three blocks of South Street lay within the village limits at the time, with Judge Miller’s house (now the historic Seward Mansion) on the west side occupying a large lot at the triangular intersection of South Street and William Street. In the block to the south of William Street, five small houses lined the west side of South Street. The second of these from the north, identified as belonging to C.B. Hotchkiss, is what is now 67 South Street.

The house was built by Amasa Curtis, a brickmaker and builder, in approximately 1833. Curtis was an entrepreneur and built several other houses on South Street, including what are now 64 and 66 South Street. Once completed, Curtis sold the house to Clark Beers Hotchkiss, a clockmaker originally from Connecticut. As seen on the 1836 map, it was a small house, with a narrow rectangular footprint. The house passed through two other hands through the 1840s before being purchased by Dr. Frederick Humphreys in March 1854. Another map of Auburn, published just a year before in 1853, shows that this section of South Street was beginning to fill in, with houses lining the entire east side of the street from Logan Street to Elizabeth Street. On the west side, Dr. Humphreys’ new house was by then one of a row of seven closely-spaced residences extending south from the intersection with William Street. What is now 67 South Street had been altered slightly from the original, with the addition of a porch on the north side of the front of the house.

Dr. Frederick Humphreys was a fascinating man, and typical of the type of adventurous man seeking to make his way in an American that was still largely a frontier. Born in 1816 in nearby Marcellus, NY and schooled in Auburn, Humphreys was the son of a physician and farmer. He first worked as a clock maker and then a farmer through his late teens. Married at 21, he and his wife moved to Ohio, where he became a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church. After his wife’s death in 1840, he returned to Auburn, remarried, and worked as an itinerant preacher while practicing medicine on the side. Later in the 1840s he and his growing family traveled to Philadelphia, where he enrolled in the Pennsylvania College of Homeopathic Medicine. He received his degree in 1850, and worked and taught in the Philadelphia area for several years before returning again to Auburn, purchasing 67 South Street from Paris Clark. While in Auburn, Humphreys became one of the state’s leading homeopathic physicians, publishing several books on health and developing a new approach to making safe doses of medicines available to individuals and families. In 1854, he established a company to produce these medicines, Humphreys Homeopathic Medicines. His children and grandchildren continued to run the company into the 20th century, and it remains in business as Humphreys Pharmacal.

Humphreys and his family remained in Auburn for more than a decade before moving again. In 1867, he and his wife sold 67 South Street to E. Delavan Woodruff. Woodruff was one of the sons of Harmon Woodruff, one of Auburn’s leading merchants in the early and mid-19th century and a wealthy man. Harmon’s oldest son, John, established the Auburn Button Works in 1877, having moved the company from New York City. John’s younger brothers, E. Delavan and Paul, soon joined the company, and together they expanded it to include the Logan Silk Mill in 1881. Delavan Woodruff then served as President of the Silk Mill for its short life and remained active with the Auburn Button Works as well, and also served as the Postmaster for Auburn.

With the successful new business ventures, combined with his family’s wealth, Delavan Woodruff was flush with cash through the 1880s. In 1889, having lived at 67 South Street for more than 20 years, he decided that it was time to update the house, by then nearly 60 years old. As an article in the Auburn Daily Advertiser noted in November 1889, the Woodruff’s house “is about to undergo a transformation, the new structure to be of a more modern and handsome architecture.” “Judging from appearances,” the article continued, “but little will be left of this time-honored and historic structure.” Woodruff’s renovations were indeed extensive, and included adding the porches, revising the windows, constructing a third floor, and completely renovating the house’s decorative finishes. By the early 1890s, little of the original 1830s building remained visible.

Delavan Woodruff died in 1899, leaving his widow, Dorcas with the house. In 1904, she sold the house to Allen Macy Dulles, recently arrived from Watertown, NY to serve as professor of apologetics and theism at the Auburn Theological Seminary. Thus began the most illustrious period of the house’s history, associating the house with national and international history and significance.

Allen Dulles was a native of Philadelphia who received his academic and theological training at Princeton University and Seminary, and later his doctorate from Hamilton College. In 1886, at the age of 32, he married Edith Foster. Edith’s father, John Foster, was a long-time diplomat who served as Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison; her sister Eleanor married Robert Lansing, who later served as Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. Following extensive travel in Europe, including conducting archaeological excavations in the Sinai Peninsula in the early 1880s, Allen Dulles served as the Pastor of the Trumbull Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit, MI until being called to Watertown, NY in 1887 to serve as the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. While in Watertown, he and Edith had five children, three daughters and two sons, before moving to Auburn in 1904.

Their oldest son, John Foster Dulles, was 16 years old when the family moved to Auburn, and left soon thereafter for Princeton. He spent enough time in Auburn, however, to catch the eye of Janet Pomeroy Avery, an Auburn native and relative of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The two were married in Auburn in 1912, as John was finishing his law degree and about to embark on a career as a corporate attorney and diplomat, eventually following in his uncle’s and grandfather’s shoes as Secretary of State under President Dwight Eisenhower. As Secretary of State through the late 1950s, he provided much of the ideological rigor of the United State’s response to communism in the early years of the Cold War. Their son, meanwhile, Avery Dulles, broke from the family’s staunch Presbyterianism and converted to Roman Catholicism, becoming an eminent theologian and the first American theologian named a Cardinal of the Catholic Church.

John’s younger brother, Allen Dulles, likewise reached eminent success in public service. After finishing school in Auburn, he followed his father and brother to receive a degree from Princeton University. Involved in intelligence work during World War I, he then followed his brother into the world of corporate law while maintaining a role in the nation’s diplomatic efforts of the 1930s. During World War II, he was recruited for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor to today’s Central Intelligence Agency. Allen Dulles remained with CIA and was named the agency’s first civilian director in 1952 under President Eisenhower, and served in that role until he was forced to resign in 1961 following the Bay of Pigs debacle.

The brothers’ younger sister, Eleanor, kept pace with her brothers’ accomplishments. After growing up in 67 South Street, she earned a PhD in economics from Harvard University. After a stint as a university professor, she too entered government service in the 1930s, moving into the Department of State in 1942. With her background in international economics and finance, and with her family connections, she played an important role in Europe in the years after World War II, gaining the nickname “Mother of Berlin” for her work in helping to revitalize Germany.

Their mother, meanwhile, was no slouch herself. Edith Foster, the daughter of a prominent diplomat and Secretary of State, traveled the world as a child and young adult before marrying Allen Dulles. Once in Auburn, she became active in charitable causes, in particular serving as the President of the Auburn Branch of the Woman’s Educational and Industrial Union for more than two decades. The Women’s Union, as it was called, which started in Boston, MA, worked tirelessly to provide educational and residential support to the young women who arrived in America’s growing industrial cities from rural areas. In addition to her charitable work, Edith also supported her husband’s educational work by regularly hosting dinners and get-togethers for students and faculty, with her husband holding informal discussions of books and ideas for Auburn Theological Seminary students on the third floor of their house.

Allen Macy Dulles died in 1930. A year later, Edith Foster Dulles sold their house at 67 South Street to the State of New York. For more than 60 years, the house served as the residence of the Warden for the Auburn Correctional Facility, with inmates regularly brought over to serve as groundskeepers and other functions. Two generations of Auburnians have therefore grown up thinking of 67 South Street as the Warden’s House, few being aware of the vital role that the residents of this house through the decades have played in the affairs of the city, state, nation, and world.

  • (c) 2015