Sarah LePlata Throop Miller

Reading more of the book I referenced in the last post, I found the following picture:


Accompanying text describes that house next door as having been built by “Washington Throop… in the early 1830s to provide his daughter, Sarah, with a clear sight of ships arriving and departing the busy port, a view of the lake John also appreciated. (Herman Melville described Lake Ontario befittingly as one of ‘those grand fresh-water seas of our,’ which ‘possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with many of the ocean’s noblest traits.’)”.

It’s a view we appreciate as well.

Emma Graepper

A name under the wallpaper.

Shortly after we closed on the house, Marj and Geri came over, because Geri finds joy in peeling off wallpaper… I don’t know why, but we have plenty of rooms to satisfy that compulsion. They started with the red paper in the master bedroom, revealing white plaster underneath that’ll do for now.


Apparently, one room wasn’t enough, so they want on to the dark wallpaper of Kendall’s room, which came off quickly.

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Under the wallpaper, were some notes from previous owners that had run the home as a bed and breakfast. This was “Emma’s Room”.


I did a search on Emma Graeper, but only found random listing for people across the country with that name. Searching for “Graeper Throop”, though, revealed a photo essay from Tom the Backwoods Traveller. Then, an entry for a book, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life (By Karin Roffman, page 42), came up with the following diary entry from a summer in Pultneyville some time after 1942:

“…his fifteenth birthday party – which he had looked forward to celebrating at Emma Graeper’s “Woodshed at the Captain Throop House,” a charming tea shop she had recently opened in the rear of her home to make extra money…”.



The former owner was nice enough to preserve some interesting documents with the house. Unfortunately, anything of significance from the home was previously sold off so there are mostly papers. One image, though, that shows the house as of some point in the late 1800s. The roof has been raised but the Victorian bump out hasn’t been added.

Closing Day

OK, so this was the official beginning. Closing day. Excited. Naive, it turns out. Happy to have it be official. We have one month of overlap with both houses – the idea being that we can get some clean up and painting done. There are a long list of projects to be tackled. It will turn out to have been a very incomplete list..

The journey begins

So, this isn’t actually the beginning, but it’s the first photo of us in front of the house. I’ll add some posts later to fill in the story so far – and some of the more interesting stories and pictures from the past few months.

This was “landscape demo day”, where we cleared out some of the overgrown brush and cut back the vines. I’d already taken a chainsaw to the wisteria that was growing in through the storm windows and weighing down the porch.

Bill Whitney (Whitney Designs) had tagged the landscaping that was appropriate for the early 1800s so we could keep that and clear out the rest to start fresh in the spring. Our new neighbor John volunteered not just his trailer to haul debris to the town dump but also himself. He put in a full day helping us remove three loads of brush and two loads of dried leaves for Tom’s compost pile down the street.

We also found that the bush in the driveway was covering up a well. Not just a dry hole in the ground but what looks like it could be used today for irrigation (if we ever needed it).

Some nice, visible progress and a chance to say “we’re here”. It’s also clear that this is not a project we can race through – not a sprint or even a marathon; it’s a journey.