April 12, 2019

Preservation Personals: A Federal Farmhouse in the Finger Lakes

  • By: Emma Sarappo
The exterior of the Jethro Wood House.

photo by: Nathan Krause

Poplar Ridge, New York 13026.

If you’re asked to name the inventors whose creations powered the Industrial Revolution, you may not think of my first owner, Jethro Wood. But he was a major player, and I was his home when he manufactured and patented a cast-iron plow with interchangeable parts. Although he spent all his earnings trying to defend his patent, and his invention was soon overshadowed by John Deere’s steel plow, Jethro’s invention broke new ground for American farming. Now you have the chance to sleep where he slept—and maybe find a spark of inspiration all your own in his historic home.

Jethro was good at making things, obviously. He built me around 1800 using a method of framing often seen in barns; the posts he used to raise me are exposed in my attic. He moved to Poplar Ridge to farm, and I served as his farmhouse while he worked with the frustrating wooden plows of the time. His first model of iron plow, patented in 1814, was a dud, but five years later, he had a hit on his hands. Then he could plow the soil on my lot easily and efficiently.

Today, you can have that lot for yourself—I sit on 1.5 idyllic acres in the Finger Lakes region of New York. If you’re looking for a four-bedroom, you can’t beat my price. My current owners have lived here for 40 years and lovingly restored me so that I’m move-in ready. I’ll keep you warm and dry with my new furnace and roof, and if you’re a real history buff, there’s still optional restoration work to be done. Most importantly, I retain my charming, historic character. For example: Because I still have my original floors, you can literally walk in the footsteps of a great man.

If you're ready to move in, see my listing here. Looking for something flashier than a farmhouse? Check out our other historic real estate listings.

The Jethro Wood House as it appeared in 1962.

photo by: National Park Service

Wood's invention was so popular that he and his heirs spent years in court fighting copycats violating his patent.

Another angle of the Jethro Wood House's exterior.

photo by: Nathan Krause

Other inventors had created iron plows, but when the brittle metal broke, they had to be replaced entirely. With Wood's plow, you needed only to replace the broken piece.

Emma Sarappo is a former Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She can be found writing or in the kitchen of her century-old DC rowhouse.

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