McLallen House

The House


The house as we purchased it in October 2003


The house in October 2004.  Being repainted.

The house is an Italianate Victorian, which is almost emblematic of upstate New York. The abstract for the property shows that Joseph H. Biggs purchased the property in April 1855 from Margaret McLallen, the widow of John McLallen and sister-in-law to Mary McLallen Treman. 

Joseph Biggs had married Melissa Pratt of Covert in 1854. In the summer of 1855 Biggs deeded over the Trumansburg plot to his father-in-law, Chauncey Pratt. In January 1856 the deed was transferred to the name of Melissa Biggs.  It was during this interval that the original portion of what is now McLallen House Bed & Breakfast was built. 

It was a hipped-roofed cube with high narrow windows and a double front door on the right side of the house facing McLallen Street.  Three of our four guest rooms (McLallen, Bradley and Riford Rooms) are in the original portion of the house.

The Biggs' elder son, Chauncey, was born later in 1856. Their second son, Hermann, was born in the house in 1859. Perhaps in response to the growth of their family, the eastern rooms (right side of the photograph) were added to the original house. 

The eastern addition was built in the same Italianate style as the original, but it has a low gabled roof. My brother, a carpenter with experience in historical renovation, examined the workmanship in the addition and pronouced it identical to that in the original part of the house.  In other words, it seems to have  been the work of the same builders. Today this addition includes the Treman guest room.
Further additions were made to the back of the house later in the 19th century.  The realtor's listing (when were first looking at the house) stated that the house was built in 1870, which may (or may not) refer to the age of the latest significant addition.  This part of the house is gabled and has more modest Colonial-style proportions. We now refer to it as 'the annex' and rent it by the week.

The ceilings in the northern addition are lower and the trim is simple.  It may have been a servants' quarters, and as such represented the improving fortunes of the Biggs' family business. Joseph Biggs was in the retail busines with his brother David. In the early 20th century David's son William built the Neo-Colonial home on Elm Street that is now Juniper Hill Bed and Breakfast.

Between 1856 and 1870 Joseph Biggs bought three lots adjacent to his property on the corner of Bradley and McLallen Street.  He first purchased the so-called "Catholic lot" on his east boundary.  In 1861 he purchased the land between his north boundary and Seneca Street.  Finally, in 1870 he bought the triangular plot between McLallen and (Old) Main Street.

In the years after the Biggs family sold the property, the lot was subdivided and the adjacent properties sold. Houses were built on two of them (see map below). The triangular lot across McLallen Street remains a village park, and the lot on Seneca was added to the property at 26 McLallen Street.


30 McLallen Street in 1982.  Elements now absent include the fire escape, the stairs at the west end of the front porch.  Existing elements absent in the photo include the cupola, shutters, and front steps.  In the map at right the carraige house has been sketched in; it has since been torn down.  Source: Building- Structure Inventory Form from NY Division for Historic Preservation filled out by James Warren for the Preservation Planning Workshop at Cornell.

In 1904 Melissa Biggs sold the house and the property (Joseph Biggs died at age 50 in 1877) to the Wakeman family. The Wakemans transferred the deed to Clinton Osborn in 1911 and the house  remained a private residence through the 1920s. 

The most recent addition to the house, a single room tacked on to the north end, may have been built when the building had its first incarnation as a business.  In the 1930s it was a restaurant called The Colonial Inn. 

After a brief period as a rental property in the early 1940s, 30 McLallen Street became a rest home for the elderly and remained so through the 1950s.  This is the oldest stage of its evolution remembered by people in the village that we have talked with.

In the 1960s the house was divided up into four apartments and rented out.  It became 
increasingly ramshackle through the years until it was standing empty and derelict when Greg Hoffmire bought it in the late 1980s.  During the early part of Hoffmire's ownership the back of the carriage house fell into the next-door neighbor's yard and the rest of the structure was torn down.

Intending to make the place into a bed and breakfast, Hoffmire made major renovations.  He had the floor plan altered from four apartments to a larger inn portion and a smaller keepers' residence.  Fifteen years ago he was foresighted enough to realize that guests preferred private baths and had them built into each guest room.  Many walls were moved or added in order to accommodate the new baths and closets. 

In addition to new interior walls, new heat and hot water, plumbing and electric systems were installed.  But in the end the business was not begun and the house was rented out as two (very large) apartments.

December 3, 2004


The two-apartment arrangement existed when we purchased the property in November 2003.  A concrete ramp had been added to the west end of the front porch by enterprising tenants who wished to park their motorcycles out of the rain. 

The whirlpool baths in all the bathrooms had long since ceased functioning.  Carpeting was worn out.  Foundation shrubbery had become overgrown.  Lattice work had been broken.  It was, in short, a typical rental property.  Actually it was nicer than most because the extended family who occupied both apartments when we bought the house were quite fond of it.
Things that had come to the end of their natural life (e.g. carpeting) needed to be replaced, but most of the work was cosmetic, the imposition of  personal taste on this old house.  The Victorians favored deep saturated colors—inside and out—and the walls have been painted to reflect this predilection.  When it comes to furnishings though, the Arts & Crafts aesthetic trumps the Victorian, so interiors of the house look more like they might have in 1910 or so, with eclectic touches here and there because, let's face it, it's the 21st century.

Between February 2004 and October 2013 the house was used as a bed & breakfast.

  Background information on
  the Italianate Victorian style:

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:: McLallen House :: 30 McLallen Street :: Trumansburg, New York  14886

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