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Digging into the history of Healy Hall

February 11, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

A couple weeks ago, a postcard image of Healy Hall was posted on one of the Facebook pages devoted to "Greater Things About Westfield NY" and caught my eye, and instigated my fingers flying across the keyboard about this little known (even to me) historic "gem" in Westfield.

Several years ago, ads for Healy Hall, with menus, were noticed, puzzled over, but not noted, during research for other topics from the first half of the 1900s; even a faded red-ink photo-postcard had been copied from a loaned postcard collection at that time. Then, in October 2011, when having the brakes on my vehicle replaced at the garage across from WACS, an auction sign was noticed a couple doors west, at 200 East Main Street. The auctioneer's website provided a bit of historic information, and despite my financial advisor's "NO! You cannot afford it!" admonition, the auction was attended (no bids on the house), and the home later toured with a real estate agent.

(Your Westfield Historian is ever hopeful of locating the perfect spot for a Westfield Welcome Center in a Historic Westfield Mansion, in which we could also have a specifically Westfield Historic Museum, a Tea Room/Coffee Shop, and areas for a Westfield Historical Preservation Society; and finding a group of like-minded locals who would form those organizations. State-appointed public historians are not allowed to "direct" such organizations, but are permitted and encouraged to guide private individuals and groups, and provide information regarding resources, and contacts persons and groups.)

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This photo postcard of Healy Hall is from the 1930s.

The auction description read, "Selling 1852-Built Italianate Victorian Home in excellent condition, fireplaces, chestnut floors - a must see" The tour of the house provided more interesting details - a warm dry attic, round radiators with marble tops, a dream kitchen, and a full basement. Over the years there had been a beauty salon in the basement, a legal office in the house, and of course, many years before, it had been a sort of Inn with lodging and meals as Healy Hall.

Research in 2011 discovered that the house had been built in 1852 by "Nathan" Patch. (Spelling of the first name may be incorrect, as a recently-located legal notice from about 1855 or 1865 gave the name as "Naham" Patch.) The 1854 Chautauqua County Map of Westfield shows the house and property with the name of Patch, as also does the 1867 Chautauqua County Atlas map of Westfield. By 1881, the Beers Atlas of Chautauqua County map of Westfield indicates that the property was then owned by C. Persons, at which time the land was 14 1/2 acres.

The home has twice been on the Holly Tour of Homes - the 10th in 1993, and the 23rd in 2007; both times during the time of ownership by Anthony and Rose Marie Spann. The Holly Tour description states, "At one time, the house was a bed and breakfast establishment known as Healy Hall. Previous owners have been the Bell, Baker, and Benson families."

Research of online digital copies of Westfield Republicans between 1855 and 1927 has turned up a few advertisements, and notices regarding the names of the owners and when the property changed ownership. According to the August 7, 1895 Republican "Utley Wedge has bought the Chandler Persons place on Main street, of the heirs, and has a force of men making improvements on the property." The Wedge family owned the property for almost 25 years, and the society or personals column indicates some rather interesting gatherings in their home at 200 East Main. In the December 17, 1919 newspaper, "Utley Wedge of Philadelphia, has sold the fine old Wedge homestead on East Main street to W. A. Knowlton." However, Mr. Knowlton does not move into the Wedge place until he sells has sold his home on South Portage street to a Mr. Hull of Sherman, according to the March 17, 1920 paper.

"The Wm. A. Knowlton at 200 East Main street has been bought by Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Healy formerly of Chautauqua. Mrs. Healy was a well known hostess on the Assembly Grounds and plans to keep her beautiful home open for tourists," was the notice in September 24, 1924 Westfield Republican. At first this seemed to imply that Knowlton had also run a tourist home, but none of the ads or articles between 1920 and 1924 indicate this, so perhaps the newspaper left out a word such as "home" or "place" between "Knowlton" and "at" in the sentence. Throughout the 1926 and 1927 papers, one can find ads such as this: "FOR RENT - Pleasant rooms, steam heated, with or without board at Healy Hall. 100 E. Main St."

With the Patterson Library closed for floor refinishing, access to the microfilm archives of the Westfield Republican have been unavailable for research, so the only other ad about Healy Hall is one located in 2011, from August 1934 that reads: "Lattice Tea Garden 200 E. Main St. Chop Suey Supper 40c, Thursday 5 to 7 p.m. You will enjoy this meal served in the lovely old dining room of Healy Hall."

 
 
 

 

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