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Profile of Reuben Gridley Wright House continues series on historic Westfield homes

November 5, 2015
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

A very large sign in the yard at 233 East Main Street, Westfield, heralds an even larger auction to be held this coming Saturday, Nov. 7, 2015. "Once in a lifetime opportunity to view this unique and magnificent estate," exclaims an on-line advertisement of the auction company. "The 'Wright Estate' has always been occupied by the Wright Family since the early 1880's. The basic architecture form is Queen Anne, built in the late Victorian periodprime lumber for this home was taken from the Wright brothers many land holdings in Jefferson County, today known as Cooks Forrest, Pa." This on-line historical description is highly detailed and well worth reading. In addition to the mansion itself, there are also "an elegant barn for keeping carriage horses," an unoccupied additional home, a detached 6-bay garage, several other out-buildings; the caretaker's home will NOT be included in the auction sale of the rest of the rest of the 72 acres property and buildings.

In 1975, "An Historical Survey - Architecture in Westfield" was published as a public service by The Westfield Republican, in which the Reuben Gridley Wright House is described as originally built (1882-1884), and including later remodeling in 1923 by C. Paxton Cody. R. G. Wright broke ground in the summer of 1882, for house; contractor was John Ard; Harry Wratten was head carpenter. The major portion of the structure was constructed in 1883, and the interior completed in 1884.

Although essentially all the currently living residents have only seen the house painted white, it "was originally done in tones of brown, and without shutters." The house had a central dormer, and different porches, with a "porte cochere" projecting to the east. An illustration of the original house can be found in the 1891 "Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Chautauqua County, New York." The central dormer, elaborate front porches, and porte cochere were removed in 1923, and Classical style porches were added to both the east and west sides.

Article Photos

Submitted photo
The Reuben Gridley Wright House has stood at 233 East Main St. in Westfield since its completion in 1884.

The interior details remain, to this day, in excellent condition, woodwork being primarily of carved cherry, as well as oak and walnut. Since the home has stayed in the Wright family, many of the furnishings are original or family pieces. The 20-room home was on an Historic Homes Tour on July 28, 1976. At that time, the owner was Richard Wright, grandson of Reuben Gridley Wright. (Also, this home was on one of the Holly Tours in recent years - date has not been verified).

In the 1976 article describing the Wright House, some historic information is provided by R. G. Wright prior to his building the 1880's home. "In 1855 Reuben returned to his native Westfield from the gold fields of California with about $15,000. Buying and selling timber lands as far west as Wisconsin and lumbering in Pennsylvania, he increased this to $100,000 with which he retired to build the fine old home which perpetuates his name and memory. He accumulated huge piles of lumber which was allowed to air dry for many years. As a result the doors inside have never to this day (1976) needed attention for warpage or sticking."

The "Seventieth of a Series - Westfield Past and Present" article about the "Reuben Wright Homestead" adds some more interesting history, commenting that, "the father of the builder of this house was Reuben Wright who came to Westfield by ox-cart from Connecticut in 1814 and built a carding and cloth-dressing mill on the west bank of Chautauqua Creek south of the present Rorig bridge[He] one of seven children, was three years old when his father bought a farm on East Main Road and built the brick house at 309 East Main Street when gold was discovered in Californiayoung Reuben Wright went overland to to seek his fortune[leaving] Westfield on April 24, 1849...left California in 1855 by boat and sailed around the Horn for home."

AHA! So we have another "Wright House" - the brick house at 309 East Main Street, Westfield, which will be the subject of a future BeeLines article.



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