Goodsell Museum  
P. O. Box 513, Old Forge, NY 13420 ~ Phone/Fax: 315 369-3838
Museum Hours:  Tuesday through Saturday - 10am - 3pm  ~  or by appointment

Narrative Description

George Goodsell was the builder of the Main St. residence known today as the Goodsell Memorial Home, owned by the Town of Webb Historical Association (TOWHA) since 1995. George acquired Lot #22 in 1899 for $200 from the Old Forge Company. The deed described the lot as having 60' frontage on what was then Harrison Avenue, and it extended 158' to the rear along the west side of Gilbert Street. The nominated property includes the family residence that was built on this property during 1899-1900, and two contributing buildings. In 1902, George acquired a second parcel from the Old Forge Company adjoining the rear of his residential property, identified as Lot #7 on the west side of Gilbert St. for $175. The lot was described as 60' in width and 175' deep. On this lot, George built a carriage barn ca. 1904. A small ice house between the residence and the carriage barn completes the three structures on the nearly one-half acre nominated property. The surrounding neighborhood generally consists of early 20th century residential properties similar in scale to the Goodsell Home, although some have been converted to commercial businesses and have experienced compromising alterations to their historic integrity.


George Goodsell Home ca. 1904The principal historic feature of the nominated property is the Goodsell residence, a two-story, gable-fronted Victorian vernacular frame dwelling with a gabled ell extension on the east side of the building. The house rests on a hand-dug rubble stone foundation and the steep roof, built to shed heavy snowfall, is presently covered by asphalt shingles installed during renovation in 1995-1996. The original wood shingles (still visible in the attic) were replaced by asphalt after an upper story fire in the building. A standing-seam metal roof covers the one-story front and side porches.

The owner/building contractor, George Goodsell, subsequently enlarged the home with a one-story dirt-floor "summer kitchen-woodshed" - a 22' x 14' extension on the back of the building. The interior of this room was converted to a research room in 2004 by TOWHA with SHPO approval (##04-PR-008-01) via a matching $20,000 Legislative Initiative Fund grant from NYS Senator James Seward. George Goodsell situated the residence 20 feet from the roadway (which it retains) in accordance with a setback restriction in the Old Forge Company's deed. The building also hugs the western edge of the property, allowing for a maximum south-facing exposure to sunlight during the long winter months. The setbacks give the property today an unusually large lawn space. All of the windows, including a bay window in the dining room, date to the George Goodsell period except for the Main Street picture window, replaced in 1995 with thermopane. Two giant oak trees shade the front lawn on Main Street and an impressive row of mature trees enhance the landscape on the Gilbert Street side of the property. The one-story open porch, with its decorative spindled railing, wraps completely around the Main Street façade and partway along the Gilbert Street exposure.

The floor plan of the residence retains virtually complete integrity to its appearance in 1899. One senses an era of by-gone days walking up onto the Goodsell's front porch and stepping into the entry hall through a solid oak door. The focal point of the entry hall is an elegant oak staircase that arches upward to the second floor. Narrow bead-board wainscot and vintage lighting add to the historic feel of the building. The two parlor rooms on the left of the first floor, currently exhibit rooms, and the dining room decorated with Goodsell furniture, are entered by doorways framed with original oak moldings. The hardwood floors were refurbished during the renovations of 1995. The lathe and plaster walls were removed and replaced by sheetrock, simply painted off-white to enhance the vintage millwork. George Goodsell's small office has been converted to an office for the TOWHA Director, and the kitchen area renovated as additional space for a staff office. A small pantry off the kitchen was converted to a first floor bathroom for staff and museum visitors during the 1995 renovation. A built-in double-sided cabinet between the kitchen and the dining room remains.2005 Goodsell Home and Museum for TOWHA

George Goodsell's office desk, safe, portrait, and a quantity of Goodsell household furniture, memorabilia, photographs and personal correspondence are on display or in storage in the Historical's archives.

The integrity of the second floor floorplan remains intact. Three of the five rooms are used for exhibit space. Two back rooms, one a former bathroom, is used to store museum artifacts and other archival materials. A staircase with a pulley-weighted door leads to the unfinished attic space. Off the first floor dining room is the stairway to the basement. The George Goodsell family heated the house with a coal-burning furnace - the coal box remains in the basement. Wrought-iron heat registers throughout the house still served the modern oil-burning furnace.

The Goodsell home bears some similarity to the George Deis home on Main Street, designed by Deis's son and architect Levi Deis. No architectural plans for the nominated buildings have survived. The Goodsells bought quantities of millwork from the Deis & Son Mill two miles south of Old Forge. The Goodsell property was left to George's four children following his death in 1924. The property was conveyed to daughter Tena and son Robert Goodsell by their siblings, Thomas and Gerald in 1926, and from Tena to Robert Goodsell following her death in January of 1982. The pioneer Goodsell family was sole owner of the property for nearly 100 years until Robert's death August 6, 1994 when it was conveyed to the TOWHA in accordance to his last will and testament.

Historical Significance: Contributing Structure: The Ice House

The icehouse is a 12' x 12' square structure and 11' 7" high. It is sided with beveled-clapboard and has an asphalt-shingled hip roof. The building rests on the ground and has a dirt floor. The interior studs are covered with horizontal planks with an open- space below the roofline to pour in sawdust, which was used to insulate the walls to keep the ice blocks from melting. This is a typical period icehouse and is the only known one left in the hamlet of Old Forge. Ice-harvesting was an essential source of winter income for our founding fathers, not just for their own families, but for the region's seasonal hotels, camp owners, and the New York Central Railroad that purchased boxloads of local ice for the railroad and its customers downstate.

Historical Significance: Contributing Structure: The Carriage Barn

Rear of Goodsell Home-Carriage BarnThe two-story carriage barn is 24' wide, 36' deep and 26' high. It stands on a one and one-half foot thick rubble stone foundation. The structure is of balloon construction with 2" x 4" studs covered by ship-lapped siding on the exterior. The roof is a jerkin-head (hip on gable) with a hip on gable dormer on the south side only. The original sliding front doors were replaced at some point with a standard garage-type door. All of the wavy-glassed double-hung windows with diamond-shaped trim in the upper panes date to the 1904 period. The building was rewired in 2001 but knob and tube electrical wiring remains throughout the structure. Above the front entrance door is the top-hinged wooden doorway to the second floor hayloft. George Goodsell depended upon horse and wagon transportation to remote wilderness construction sites even as late as 1915-1916. A horse stall in the northwest corner of the carriage barn currently houses many of the tools used by George and Robert Goodsell in their construction business. The family owned a car by 1918, noted in a letter written by Robert from France during World War I, although his father had not mastered the art of driving it. The ice house and carriage barn are currently Town of Webb Historical works in progress and are primary used for storage.


Use BACK button to return to previous page

Information provided is from the best knows sources and is subject to change. Permission to copy any or all of this document must be obtained in writing by contacting the Town of Webb Historical Association, P. O. Box 513, Old Forge, NY 13420
These records are provided for not-for-profit research purposes only.
Please contact the Historical Association’s Director at 315-369-3838 or by E-Mail. To share additional information about information that can be added to our files.
Use BACK button to return to previous page or click HOME LINK.