When driving along scenic Route 18 in the Town of Somerset, ones eyes are drawn to the beautiful cobblestone building that sits in the shadow of the Somerset Power Project. Known as the Babcock House, this amazing cobblestone farm house was built by Jeptha Babcock about 1848.
Babcock was a farmer, Somerset Postmaster, Somerset Supervisor and eventually a New York State Assemblyman. He was one of the largest wheat growers in the region. The Babcock homestead was eventually purchased by other families and was then acquired by NYSEG in 1982 during the construction of the power plant.
A good cobblestone mason would only build about nine inches of wall per day, allowing days for the mortar to completely set before adding another layer. For this reason, cobblestone builders usually had two or three buildings in progress at the same time and it would take about two years to build a single cobblestone house. For this reason, it became a real hardship to continue cobblestone building and the practice ended around the time of the Civil War.
The Babcock House is in the Greek Revival Style which Americans used to maintain an identity with the ideals of Greek democracy. In addition to the main cobblestone building, it contains an added wing of water-washed stones with double Greek columns flanking the front door. It also has very interesting grill work on the small “belly” windows on the fascia underneath the eaves. The bread oven in the Babcock House was found in disrepair and the Town of Somerset Historical Society, with the assistance of the Genesee Country Museum, set about restoring the bricks to their original configuration. Similarly, wrought iron fixtures were acquired through various artisans to provide replicas of authentic 19th century pieces. Also on the property, one can find a well maintained three-story Gambrel roof basement barn.
Starting in 1987, the Historical Society agreed to maintain the Babcock House Museum and to operate the Welcome Center for the Town of Somerset. Seasonal hours are maintained for public admission in the spring and summer.
Douglas Farley, Director
Ann Marie Linnabery
Erie Canal Discover Center
24 Church St.
Lockport NY 14094