House on Top of Penfield Bldg.

See the house on top of the Penfield Bldg in this photo?


It has been the subject of more conversations than I would care to know. Was it built for tax purposes? Was it built to house the elevator? Was it. . .? Well, a patron of OHA came in on Saturday and told me that he met with a grandson of H.A. Moyer, who built the Penfield building to house the H.A. Moyer Carriage factory. H.A. Moyer’s son-in-law, famous Ward Wellington Ward, designed this building for him.

The patron just happened to ask me if I knew why the house was on top of this building. I told him my Dad worked there when it was Porter-Cable and he told me the elevator was housed in it. He proceeded to tell me the top of this building was used as a watch tower for the salt vats. When the weather was about to turn, the watchman would sound an alarm and the salt workers would cover the salt evaporation vats.  He proceeded to tell me there was quite  a bit of wood available to the watchman from the carriage factory, so they built this house.  The house is three stories tall, but hollow on the inside.  I don’t know if any of this is true (I haven’t verified it), but it sounds like a good explanation to me!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jayne
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 22:10:56

    Wow, what an interesting story Pam. Wouldn’t you just love to go up there and check it out? :c)


  2. SML
    Dec 22, 2010 @ 18:47:36

    What ever the case is, it definitely is a good conversation starter. One thing is certain after seeing it in person, many people will never forget the building.


  3. sandy
    Jan 04, 2011 @ 16:48:48

    We had a building like that here in Portland for a while. Not so fancy, though. I am pretty sure it was used for a home.


  4. Mary
    Mar 26, 2011 @ 12:42:05

    I have been inside the Penfield House in Syracuse. It is dark in there — not at all finished. There’s a stairway that goes up but it’s just a shell of a house with exposed beams and no lights or anything else. I was told that a security guard lived in it for a while. But only for a few weeks in the summer, since it isn’t insolated and has nothing inside. The inside looks kind of like an unfinished barn. No rooms, no bathrooms, nothing but a big empty shed and lots of spiders. The windows aren’t even real — they’re just painted on to look like windows so it is completely dark in there. Fabulously creepy!


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