Aug 3, 2015

The John Wells Pratt House in Fulton, New York

Even the most dedicated and compulsive travels often miss places
closes to home.  John and I have driven through Fulton for years and many times I often comment “I would like to see the Pratt House.” Finally, after all these years, I visited the John Wells Pratt House and I wasn’t disappointed. There are many interesting features and things to see. It is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 to 3 and on Saturday from 11 to 3. 

John Wells Pratt’s family was one of the earliest settlers in Fulton. Following the entrepreneurial spirit of earlier Pratts, John W. Pratt entered the shipping business at the age of 10 and it was where he made his fortune. He had an extensive boatbuilding business and transported products on his own boats between Albany and Oswego; in addition, he was also a successful farmer. In 1861 he was able to build the large two-story house in the Italianate style. It remained in the family until 1975. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Pratt residence is located on 177 South First Street in Fulton which in its day was a lovely residential street. Architecturally the house has several interesting features including several bay windows, a cupola with round arched windows, and a lovely Queen Anne style porch was added about 1880.  Upon entering take note of the original etched front door panels. They were ordered specifically for the house from Europe. The front staircase is typical of the era with a curve at the top that was referred to as a “coffin’s curve” making it easier to carry large pieces up and down the stairs. Off the entrance foyer there is a ladies’ and a gentlemen’s sitting room.  The circa 1826 dining room suite belonged to the Pratt family. 

The Music Room houses a pump organ that very well could have been played by the Pratt ladies as the most genteel women of the Victorian era played the piano or organ. Today the room houses changing displays.  During my visit I was intrigued by the display of miniatures. 

The kitchen is always a fascinating place especially for the youngsters who have never seen an apple peeler, an antique stove, an egg weigher, and other interesting items from a time gone by.  Looking at the dough bowl on the center work table I tried to imagine having to make all the bread my family needed. Nearby is a small display detailing “The Evolution of Lighting”
from candles to electric lights.  Most interesting and unique was the courting candle.  A young girl’s father could adjust the height of the candle depending on how long he wanted the suitor to stay. I think it could be considered a gage on how much the father approved of the beau. 

The upstairs is devoted to the history of Fulton detailing family life, farming, retail, manufacturing, recreation, and more.  There is a picture of the house that former First Lady Betty Ford lived in when her first husband was employed by Sealright.  Fulton had many businesses that have gone by the wayside including Sealright.  I was surprised to learn the L. C. Smith shotgun was manufactured in Fulton in the mid twentieth
century. While in Fulton check out the Lock 3 on the Oswego Canal for it was the canal that helped create the city of Fulton.