Prior to his retirement in 1850, Mr. Allaire’s main residence was on Cherry Street in New York City. He would only come to the Howell Works just about every other weekend for business purposes. During the mid 1830s, a cholera epidemic spread throughout New York City so James P. Allaire made arrangements to escape the sickness and moved into the Big House at the Howell Works. His wife, Frances, had been ill for many years and could not afford to be exposed to the epidemic. In 1836, James P. Allaire and his family spent a considerable amount of time at this residence.
Those living in the house included: Allaire, Frances, their daughters Maria and Frances, France’s daughter Franny, the two Miss Johnsons, and a cousin Calicia (later she became the second Mrs. Allaire). In March, Frances died, from what was probably tuberculosis. It was not until 1850 when James P. Allaire retired, that me made a permanent residence at the Big House. With his second wife, Calicia, and their young son Hal, JP spent the last several years of his life in this home.
The Big House was built in three sections. The first section, which contains the front porch, dates back to the Palmer Saw Mill circa 1790. The kitchen was added on after Mr. Allaire purchased the property, most likely during the 1820s. The three story brick dormitory was added on soon after. This structure housed the singe male workers of the village during the 1830s. When Mr. Allaire retired he converted the dormitory for private use. The upper rooms he used for guests while the first floor dining hall was turned into a ball room and banquet hall.
Mr. Allaire’s home is open for guided tours most Saturdays and Sundays from April to December 12pm-3:30pm. A guided tour takes about 20 to 30 minutes. As in all the buildings, no food or drink is permitted inside, nor is photography permitted.