Walling Tavern (1834) – Page

From the book Arms’ Crossroads – Wallington pp 87 – 91 by The Wallington Cobblestone Schoolhouse Restoration Committee 1982

WALLING TAVERN—BUILT 1833 by William Walling

The Walling Tavern was known as the half-way house between Oswego and Rochester, a stage coach stop. The old stone house, by description in another section of this book, is established for all times as an important part of the Ridge Road and Wallington’s history.

Grace Reynolds Riggs Wrates, as a resident of Blossom View Nursing Home, Sodus at the age of 98 and keen of mind (as of September 26, 1981) recalls happy childhood memories in the stone house which was home. The daughter of William Edwin and Rhoda Reynolds remembers that Mr. Ackerman ran it as a hotel before they moved in and that there may have been a period between hotel and home during which it was unoccupied, as a photograph in the Hoffman indicates.

Grace’s sister, Sarah Mabel, younger by three years, always claimed she was born in a “bar room” (the south west corner of the former tavern). The year was 1886. For a few years the family lived in this field stone house which was owned by Uncle Spencer Dennis before moving for a short time to North Geneva Road, just north of the schoolhouse on the west side. It was from this house that little Sarah ran away from home to visit the school, and the teacher had to bring her home.

Upon their move back into the stone house they lived first on one side then the other. Although it was a two-family dwelling, Grace recalls there was just one main front staircase. Her parents partitioned the ballroom upstairs across the front of the house into three bedrooms. Her grandmother used the center room for weaving rugs. Grace lived in this house until her marriage in 1904. Her wedding reception was held here.

Carrying on the tradition of hospitality, both dinner and supper were served at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds on the dedication day of the new Methodist Episcopal Church building, March 1907. There was no fee set, but a free-will offering accepted for the church, per a newspaper article of the day.

Through family channels the house became Rhoda’s and in 1908 she sold the property to Jennie and Charles Whiting. Many dramatic changes were made by the Whitings, including the addition of the large frame barn north of the house. Leon Clark, neighbor across the road, can point out the remains of the foundation of the old stone barn east of the house where horses were housed during the stage-coach days. (See picture in the Hoffman paper).

During the ownership of the Whitings, Mrs. Bertha Reed was one of the tenants. She wrote in the 1960’s from Tucson, Arizona recalling the good times she and Jennie had together while Charlie was babysitting with her young daughter Irene.

Many parcels of land were sold by the Whitings through the years, including Arthur K. Vancey in May 1912; easement to the Department of Highways of the State of N. Y. July 1917; Wallington Cold Storage and Ice. Co. of Sodus, January 1922; Wallington Fire District February 1924 and Leon Martin of Williamson February 1933.

In April of l945 more Wallington land and the old stone house itself changed hands when John and Nellie Bestard purchased the remaining property, with an interesting part of the transaction giving permission to Jennie, then a widow, to remain on the west side of the house as long as she wished to stay. The Bestards resided on the east side.

In 1946 a small parcel of land went to Arthur Hardy and in 1962 another Wallington Volunteer Fire Company.

The Spring of 1950 brought many more changes to the structure when John Bestard, who was master of many trades, from Great Lakes sailor to plumber and farmer, installed bathrooms in both sides of the house, remodeled kitchens and moved to the west side, renting the east side to a young couple Flora and Edwin Murphy and their 3 year-old son Martin. These two families added to the happy memories of the old stone house over a period of 25 plus years.

John continued to work on the house partitioning a bathroom and bedroom downstairs while narrowing the archway between the living room and dining room. In I950 he removed brick by brick the old inside chimney on the east side and built a new one outside also repairing a crack in the northeast exterior corner with mortar and stones. His time and talent went into floors and entranceway refinishing. In his retirement, the vegetable and flower gardens and lawn occupied much of his time and painting, redecorating and repairs to all buildings.

John died unexpectedly Easter Sunday, 1973. In ill health, Nellie’s time was spent in hospitals and nursing homes. The house was maintained by the Murphys and Nellie returned from time to time to her Wallington home, a symbol of happier days. Upon the death of Nellie in August 1978, her house was willed to Flora Murphy. The bulk of the land was sold by her estate to the Wallington Volunteer Fire Company.

The Murphys are still residing in the old stone house which has been their home for over 30 years. Their move to the east side of the house again leaves the east side for another generation of young people. In 1979 Christine and Mark Kellet with infant sons Jeremy and Christopher made their home in the east side of the house until the purchase of their own home on Orchard Terrace in Sodus. Robin and Paul Christ are now taking up residence on the east side of this historic house.