The Glass Magnolia Bed and Breakfast resides directly in the center of the Finger Lakes region in scenic upstate New York. Carved from Ice Age glaciers, the lakes and local forests were once traveled by Cayuga and Seneca Native Americans along Sullivan's Trail, now a New York Historical Marker. Today, Amish and Mennonite farms dot the countryside with simplicity and harmony. Step into the past by touring one of the area's most historic homes!
The grounds of the B&B are a Revolutionary War tract parcel given in lieu of payment when the Continental Army had no money to pay their soldiers. Research shows that the main building may have been part of the Underground Railroad, as great abolitionist Harriet Tubman's home is not far from the top of Cayuga Lake. Not far up the road, influential activists Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Bloom and Elizabeth Caddy Stanton rallied for women's rights, when the region was a mighty force in the wine industry prior to Prohibition.
The stately Glass Magnolia mansion has a story of its own to tell. A curbside view of the main building exhibits a marvelous example of Greek Revival architecture, typical of the 1820's - 1860's. In the year 2000, as developers pursued renovations deeper into the upper 3rd floor, they discovered Federal-style Construction (representative of the 1780's - 1820's) in the center of the building. Uncovered was a half-moon rose window (still intact, but lacking the stained glass inserts), original clapboard siding and mustard-colored paint, and post/beam wood peg framing.
The front entry door tells only part of the story. Its deep recess indicates a "false front" built to extend to the two flanking wings, four large fluted center columns, and eight (four on each wing) smaller matching fluted columns, all with Roman Ionic Capitals. For over 100 years there were only six pillars supporting the front porticos due to its run-down state. Today, all twelve of the columns on the front are replacements made of Ponderosa pine from Medford, Oregon, transported here on flatbed truck in 2001.
In the 19th century, when families came into wealth or status, it was typical for them to "upgrade" their homes as we do today. We can only speculate when early owner of the home and wealthy merchant, John B. Avery, became the local postmaster, he wanted to show his position of importance, (postmaster from 1839 - 1888).
Between the years of 1854 and 1870, Mr. Avery built the second house on the southern adjacent property for his spinster sister and his ailing daughter. This was fortuitous for them, as it was difficult for women of any caliber to provide for themselves without a male presence during such a highly patriarchal era. The supplementary home is a lovely example of a period Victorian townhouse duplex. In 1924, the north porch was moved from the Hinman House (now the Interlaken Library) on Main Street, Interlaken, and rebuilt onto the 8347 Main Street property. Over the decades, this house has played host as an apartment building, nursing home, single-family home, and now a small business. In 1984, owners lovingly started the restoration process and completed the majority of their work by the early 2000's.
Rich with history, the small town of Interlaken is home to a myriad of accounts. The passage below is taken from the book page 133, Between the Lakes by Maurice L. Patterson:
"Shortly before the Civil War, a band was organized at Farmer Village, now known as Interlaken. The band played for parades and celebrations. When President Lincoln called for volunteers, the band played at a recruitment meeting held on the lawn of Postmaster John B. Avery.
The recruitment officer was so persuasive with his promises of promotion, 12 band members enlisted. The band members were assigned to the 126th Regiment at Geneva, NY, the official band for the Regiment and played while recruits drilled and paraded. The 126th was ordered to Harper's Ferry arriving there August 27, 1862 and met with Stonewall Jackson two weeks later.
General Jackson was guarding General Lee's flank near Harper's Ferry during the Battle of Antietam. The recruits were no match, and the band with 12,000 other troops were captured and sent to prison camp, Camp Douglas near Chicago. There they waited two months for a prisoner exchange. After the exchange they reorganized as the Third Brigade Band at Union Mills, VA.
In the Battle of Gettysburg the band "played" exclusively with their guns. They fought Little Round Top and Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard where some of the fiercest battles were fought. Of the 12 members of the band, 7 were wounded and 1 killed.
The Third Brigade Band continued to fight and play during the Army of the Potomac's Battles with Lee's Confederate forces. At the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the Third Brigade Band was ordered forward between the picket lines to wait for news of the signing of the surrender. An aide of General Miles brought the news and the band began to play.
Union batteries were waiting this very signal and the moment the band began to play, the roar of cannons began as battery after battery joined the celebration - the war was over!"