History of the DAR Chapter House
Earlier writings about the house state that it was built in 1845, but this has not yet been documented. Joel Partridge was a carpenter, builder, and lumber dealer, so it is possible that he built the house about 1845 as he was living in the neighborhood at that time. From physical evidence in the older part of the house, the structure was there by the 1860s and included the part that is now behind the front two-story porch. The Village of Jamestown assessor records in 1865 indicate that Joel Partridge owned two lots and houses on the west side of Prospect Street.
Porter Sheldon purchased the house and 2 ½ acres from Joel Partridge on January 2, 1871. The 1871 assessment on the house and lot on Prospect Street was $2,100. In November 1873, the assessed value was $2,500, indicating something was done to the house. Physical evidence bears this out; it appears that the front door, hallways, staircase, and stained glass windows at the north end of the house were added at that time. In 1881 the assessed value was $3,000, and in 1882 it was $4,000, indicating some major changes to the structure: the addition to the north end of the house, including the two rooms and porches on the first floor and the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor. It was at this time also that the mansard roof was added, as well as the woodwork to some of the rooms.
Other changes to the house are seen in the porches that were changed to two-story porches with the columns, most likely around the turn of the century during the Greek Revival. The fireplaces in the two-story bay on the southeast corner were added at a later time.
Porter Sheldon was born in Ontario County, New York, on September 29, 1831. He went to school in Randolph and was graduated from the Fredonia Academy in 1852. He read law and established a partnership with his brother, Alexander, in Randolph. In 1856, Porter opened an office in Jamestown and the following year removed to Rockford, Illinois, where he was active in politics and the Republican Party. He married Mary Crowley of Randolph in 1858. Their daughter, Cora, was born in 1860 and their son, Ralph C., in 1863. Shortly after this, the family returned to Jamestown, and Porter again formed a partnership with his brother, Alexander. Alexander died about 1867. Porter's second son, Harry P., was born in 1868.
Porter practiced law and served one term in Congress. He retired from his law practice in 1887. When the formula for the Aristotype (photographic) paper became available, Porter Sheldon, Charles Abbott, and others formed the American Aristotype Company to produce the paper in Jamestown, New York. Porter sold some of his land to the company, and the factories were built on land north of the house. Porter retired from the company in 1898. His son, Ralph C., later became president of the company. American Aristotype was absorbed by what is now Eastman Kodak Company, and the operation was moved from Jamestown.
Porter Sheldon died on August 15, 1908. The house on Prospect became the property of his daughter, Cora, who had married Herbert Tew in 1886. Their only daughter, Dorothy, born March 14, 1890, and married to Oliver Johnson on May 20, 1924, inherited the house. The Johnsons had no children, and Dorothy bequeathed the house at 70 Prospect Street to the Jamestown Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, at her death in 1969.
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Last Update: Monday, 13 March 2017