by Mena Cerone
It’s been around for almost two hundred years, hosts many community events and is a charming residence for women. We’re talking about the WCA.
The recognizable federal style house on the corner of Jackson and Garden Streets has a long and noteworthy history. It was built in 1827 by Judge Nathanial Benton. Sounds familiar – Benton Hall Academy and Benton’s Landing! Benton was county judge, state senator, NY secretary of state, president of the Herkimer County Bank and the first president of Little Falls. In 1856, he authored a book about the history of Herkimer County containing first hand interviews with the few remaining veterans who served in the Revolution. He died on June 19, 1869.
In 1920 the Burrell family purchased the home and gave it to the people of Little Falls for a Women’s Christian Association. They dedicated it to the memory of their sister, Anne Louise Burrell, a pioneer who worked for the welfare and interests of women. The WCA became a meeting house and a home for working or retired women. It is centrally located within a short walking distance from Main Street shops, banks, restaurants, movie-theater and the Little Falls Public Library.
And so it continues in this fashion. The Board of Directors strives to preserve the graceful details that distinguish the federal style: symmetrically arranged windows, hipped roof, semi-circular fanlight above the front door and generous interior moldings. The recently refurbished entrance with its fluted columns and intricate ironwork invites you into the central foyer with its winding staircase leading to the second floor bedrooms. But most impressive is the original kitchen on the lower level reminiscent of what life was like in the early 1800s. The white washed stone walls are virtually untouched and the massive brick fireplace features a cast iron Dutch oven that was used in making bread. The hardware was hand forged and original benches and tables occupy the central area. A door next to the fireplace opens into an easily missed narrow stairway leading back to the first floor.
The first floor features a beautiful living room with fireplace and is furnished in Empire style. Each Christmas the home is transformed into a winter wonderland where Santa visits with dozens of enthusiastic children. Fortnightly, DAR, Girl Scouts, and LF Historical Society are among the area organizations that regularly use the large community room for meetings and presentations. During the winter months, bridge games are scheduled and the women are always looking for interested players. A minimal fee is charged for the use of the building. Second floor private bedrooms and bedroom suites are available by the month or for short stays. First floor common areas include the kitchen, powder room, dining room, TV lounge area as well as the spacious formal living room. A coin-operated washer and dryer are available and Wi-Fi is provided. All applications must be reviewed prior to acceptance and a security deposit is required.
If you are interested, please contact Bonnie at 315.823.0960.