The Stone Barn Castle

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Chapter 1  Envisioning the Location
  3. Chapter 2  Charles W. Knight
  4. Chapter 3  Purchasing Land
  5. Chapter 4  Building the Barn
  6. Chapter 5  Eralaust Farm
  7. Chapter 6  1920 to 1970
  8. Chapter 7  The Hugel Era
  9. Chapter 8   Brody Era
  10. Chapter 9  Awe and Inspiration
  11. An Artist’s Muse
  12. The Two-legged Colt
  13. Witchcraft
  14. Bibliography
  15. End Notes


Located in upstate New York, hidden from the road, stands one of the architectural marvels from the early 1900s.  It’s been known by many names and had many purposes throughout the years, but today its most commonly referred to as the Stone Barn Castle.  As a youth, growing up next door to this structure, it was a place of fantasy and inspiration.  For over a century it’s been the muse of artists and authors alike.

This is the story of how one man’s vision evolved to become a legendary local landmark of rural America.  Its history continues to reveal itself as so many people share their memories of this place.  Great appreciation goes out to the many who have shared their stories with me and provided content for this piece.  It was inspired by my grandfather, Nelson J. Comins, and championed by Cleveland Historical Society’s own Kathy Darrow.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

— Gary M. Comins

1. Envisioning the Location

In the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s, America was in the throw of a period of time known as the Second Industrial Revolution.  With the evolution of technology, electricity and the internal combustion engine, goods and products could be produced in rural areas where natural resources and skilled craftsmen could be found.  Through the utilization of New York’s prominent canal and railway infrastructures , small communities were able find remote markets for their products, resulting in economic prosperity for small towns throughout the east.

On the north side of Oneida Lake, the landscape of communities such as the Village of Cleveland and Town of Constantia boasted a different constituent structure from what exists today.  In his book, “Oneida Lake, Place Names and History”, Jack Henke describes Constantia as boasting a vital economy revolving around horse trading during the canal era and a tourism trade during the rail era.[1]  He goes on to speak about hotels like the Stage Coach Inn, Hotel Vanderbilt, The Welder-Cole Hotel, The Dobson Hotel, The Practice Hotel, The Empire Hotel and the Lake Side House.

These hotels … were constructed during the initial boom in Oneida Lake tourism, the era from 1850 to 1900, when railroad connections made the lake communities attractive summer alternatives for upstate’s city dwellers.[2]

The neighboring Village of Cleveland was unique in that its prosperity was based on the manufacturing model rather than agriculture and tourism.  Capitalizing on the quality of sand and the abundance of forest resources, the town became renowned for its glass production.  Quoting a paper delivered by Francis Eggleston to the Oswego Historical Society in 1943, Henke writes:

The forty years from 1834 to 1874 covered the most prosperous days of Cleveland.  With its large tannery, two glass factories, numerous sawmills, its brickyards, chair factory, wagon shops, lake and canal traffic, it was a busy and hustling place, full of picturesque life and incident.  The tannery and glass factories consumed great quantities of bark, lumber and wood …[3]

Due in part to Cleveland’s economic prosperity, the Ontario and Western Railroad established a station in the town around 1870.[4]  As travel by horse and wagon was difficult in those days, freight shipments over roads were often slow and risky during inclement weather.  The emergence of the O&W station drew farmers from the surrounding areas into Cleveland to utilize the rail service and limit the maximum distance needed for delivery.  The hamlet of Jewel l was an example of this.

Neighboring the Village of Cleveland, Jewell, known as West Vienna prior to its name change around 1921, utilized the O&W to product shipment.[5]  Although known to some minor extent for boat manufacturing in the early 1800s, the town was primarily farmers and sawmills.  Henke’s claims are supported in detail by the summary “The Early History of Elpis School District No. 17” written by Mary Clarke Norton.[6]

Although I have found no substantiated information on why a prominent stretch of Elpis Road was selected as the future site of the stone barn, it is around this time and location where the farm would be conceived.  I can only hypothesize that the plethora of cheap farm land, familiarity of the area and the proximity to the O&W railroad were components his decision.

2. Charles W. Knight

Charles William Knight was born in Rome, New York on October 15, 1847, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Knight.[7]  By all accounts that I’ve discovered, he was widely regarded as a brilliant hydraulic engineer.  His obituary in the Utica Observer-Dispatch says the following:

Charles W. Knight
Charles W. Knight

Mr. Knight graduated from the old Rome Academy, his father was a carpenter and he worked with him most mornings and evenings, he studied civil engineering and became most proficient and he had been engaged in that line for 50 years and in that time probably had as many if not more contracts than any civil engineer in the United States, having planned and supervised construction of over 50 large waterworks and sewer systems in different states. Among the water plants built by him were those in Rome [and] Schenectady, [New York;] Altoona, Uniontown, Scotdale [and] Greensburg all in Pennsylvania and many others. He also built the sewer system for this city and his company completed plans for a sewer disposal plant for Rome.[8]

Completing his engineering degree in 1878, Charles acquired success with Adam Miller & Company and Stanwix Engineering.[9]  He later continued his success with the establishment of his own firms, Knight and Hopkins and then C.W. Knight & Son.

Charles’ first wife, Altay Elizabeth Potter, was a native of the Cleveland area.  Born on July 20, 1854, she was married to Charles on October 13, 1875.[10]  I’ve found no earlier references to C.W. Knight’s connection to the Cleveland area dated before his marriage to Altay.  Whether they met after his arrival or she was a catalyst for his presence is only conjecture.  Unfortunately, Altay died in 1884 and was not alive when Charles began to build the barn.

However, a symbiotic relationship between Knight and the Cleveland area had been formed.  In addition to his vision for the barn, he went on to serve as President of the Cleveland Water Company after its incorporation in 1897[11] and was involved in many other projects around the area including work on Fish Creek.[12]  The Rome Daily Sentinel is peppered with ads from 1900 to 1915 advertising the services of Knight and Hopkins Engineering.

Charles would go on to marry again on October 16, 1901 in Rome, New York to Charlotte Robinson Lyndon.[13]  Charlotte was born in Munnsville, New York in 1885.  She would remain married to Charles through his death on May 20, 1923.

3. Purchasing Land

Parcels of land owned by C.W. Knight
Parcels of land owned by C.W. Knight (Comins)

Knight’s primary residence would remain in Rome, New York.  However, prior to work on the barn, he purchased a home on Oneida Lake where he would spend weekends in the summer.

Mr. Knight owned a summer home on Oneida Lake and he dreamed up this castle which was to be operated as super-duper dairy farm … [14]

Anthony Hoover Portrait
Anthony Hoover (Hutchings) [118]
The actual date that work was started on the barn varies from 1896 to 1901 based on the resources.  In an excellent article by Mary K. Brown, she states:

In 1897, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Hoover, the parents of Mrs. Claude Harris of Jewell, sold their land to Charles Knight of Rome.  In the winter of 1896 Mrs. Harris recalls, the Hoover home, which stood about 400 feet west of the stone barn, burned to the ground during a severe storm, taking with it all of their possessions … In 1901 Mr. Knight gathered the rocks from the farm lands and began building the barn … [15]

The Hugel family, while operating the property as a museum in late 1970s until the late 2000s indicates: “Work on the Stone Barn, which was built to resemble a European castle, was begun in 1896.”[16]

Several other resources date the barn’s inception within this five year period.  Based on my research from the land deed records at the Oneida County’s clerk office, a sale of land from George B. Peabody and Sofhina P. Peadbody of Cleveland, New York to Charles W. Knight of Rome New York took place on August of 1887 and included 12 acres of land in the middle part of lots #44 and #48 in the Town of Vienna.[17]  This is the earliest transaction uncovered in the Town of Vienna and is most current known as the “Stone Barn Gatehouse”.  It was followed by a series of purchases from 1901 to 1906, all in the Town of Vienna, 10th Township of Scriba Patent, Monroe Tract.

Table 1: Deed Acquisitions to Charles W. Knight (1901-1906)

Year Grantee Grantor
1901 Michael Hoover & Jessie Hoover Charles W. Knight
1901 Michael Hoover & Jessie Hoover Charles W. Knight
1901 Lorenzo F. Bitz & Katherine Bitz Charles W. Knight
1901 Amanda Travis Charles W. Knight
1902 Sarah L. Brainard Charles W. Knight
1902 David Lockerbee & Wife Charles W. Knight
1903 Silas F. Potter & Wife Charles W. Knight
1903 James F. Murphy & Wife Charles W. Knight
1903 Hattie Latham Charles W. Knight
1906 William Hoover & Wife Charles W. Knight
1906 Frederick Collier & Wife Charles W. Knight

4. Building the Barn

Figure II - Eralaust Farm, Circa 1906 [18]
Figure II – Eralaust Farm, Circa 1906 [18]
Charles Knight’s design for the barn was inspired by those found scattered across the English countryside.  Although grand in design, many questioned the practicality of such a permanent structure.  In C.M. Long’s article, “Barns or Barnacles”, featured in Farm Quarterly, he describes the structure as such:

This class is well illustrated by the barns of England and the Continent.  They are built of stone and are as solid as a tomb and about as useful to the farmer.  They are so rugged and so bulky that it would be about as difficult to get rid of them as it would be to get rid of a pyramid.  Barns of this type are monuments to the ego.  Their usefulness may be lessened almost overnight by a new machine or a new method.[19]

Further, with the known intent of producing the model dairy farm, the land seemed less than optimal for dairy production.  According to letters posted in a 1947 column written by Joe Beamish:

[Charles Knight] realized that the location was not natural dairy land, and planned to treat it heavily with lime.  He never said why he chose the North Shore.[20]

Nevertheless, the grandeur of the structure cannot be denied.  The vast portion of the barn’s construction was comprised of Portland cement and field stones gathered within the area.  According to the Beamish column, “… the sand and stone cost him nothing except the expense of hauling.”[21]  Erwin Peck, a former worker at the barn in 1906, recalled in a 1979 interview with Lisa Harden (Brickey):

… all the stone used for the barn was taken from the territory around the farm.  To haul the fieldstone to the site, horses and wagons were employed.  Teamsters earned $3.00 a day, and a hand laborer received $1.00 a day.[22]

By 1902, the Fulton Patriot reported that after 18 months of construction, the exterior was completed and measured at “120 feet long, 42 feet wide, 28 feet to first plates and 51 feet to first peak [containing] about 500 cords of stone.”[23]  The article goes on to say that another year would be required before the interior would be completed.  In fact, the construction took longer than expected.  According to the Hugel family, “The date on the concrete floor of the last section completed suggests it took ten years to raise the mighty walls, crowned by towering chimneys, to their full height.”[24]

In November of 1902, several newspapers carried a description of the barn that was very similar or even identical to the following excerpt taken from the Rome Citizen:

The main part of the building is to be used as a stock barn having accommodations for fifty cows, arranged in two rows of 25 each facing the outside.  Under the cement floor and between the cows is a large ventilation tube with registers.  This tube extends the entire length of the barn and is connected with the [ventilating] chimneys at the east end, through which is forced a current of hot air which produces a suction in the ventilating tube, carrying away all impure air, the entire structure being by hot air by two furnaces.

In front of the cows are mangers built of stone and cement, with a drinking fountain for each cow, the fountains being automatically supplied with fresh water drawn by windmills from a spring book nearby and forced into a reservoir located in the tok of the barn.

At the west end is a creamery and living apartments, 30 [feet] by 42 [feet], under which is a root cellar.  In the creamery has been installed all the latest improved machinery for the manufacture of butter.

There are several other buildings in the course of construction adjacent to the barn, including two large solos, a hospital 30 [feet] by 60 [feet], also built of stone, tenant houses, etc.[25]

George Walter goes on to include that “A stone ice house and smoke house and several wooden-frame tenant houses were constructed on the property” and that the interior was made of “fine hardwoods and wrought iron.”[26]  “Under its vast roof could be found a residential section, recreational hall and dairy – in all covering 24,000 square feet.”[27]

With thought to the future, Mr. Knight even had the entire structure fully wired for electricity even thought it would not even be available for some time after construction.

At the forefront of the construction was a stone mason by the name of Frank Cottet.  He is widely recognized as the builder and is “noted for this kind of work.”[28]  Mr. Cottet’s background is still the topic of some ambiguity.  While several of the resources discovered indicate Mr. Cottet as being a native of the Cleveland area, others like those of Jim Howe[29] and Doris Matteson do not.  Matteson’s 1986 article reports a French lineage:

Apparently having considerable wealth for that time, Knight hired a stone mason from France by the name of Frank Cottet to build him his farm.  Cottet, probably an expert in stone masonry, had built buildings for the kings of France before the Revolution.  However, when the French Revolution began, friends of the kings of France were forced to flee the country.  Cottet travelled to Switzerland and then to the United States, where he was hired by Knight to build his dream farm.[30]

Subsequent conversations with individuals from the Cleveland area indicate that Mr. Cottet also designed and implemented many smaller projects in the area, some of which include fireplaces and other residential features.  However it is plausible that these projects were completed after the farm was finished.

Henry Griesmeyer was noted as being the stone mason boss.[31]  Although the actual number of stone masons employed in unconfirmed, the Hugel family indicated that “A visiting stone mason recently pointed out the style of at least six master masons.”[32]

Mr. Knight can also be credited with the improvement of the farm’s infrastructure.  Unhappy that his properties were not connected, he proceeded to update a road between the two locations.  The Rome Citizen noted in 1902:

[Mr. Knight] has his own idea about road improvement and is now engaged in macadamizing about three miles of roadway to connect his two farms that work being done at his own expense it being a public highway.[33]

Many years later, W.L. French, a real estate broker provided a description of the property when it was going up for sale.  This description helps to visual the barn’s setting:

… size, five hundred, thirteen and one-half acres; soil, loam, gravel and much; location, one mile out of Cleveland Village on Oneida Lake, with its barge canal terminal; main line of N.Y.O.&W. railroad.  Education advantages, excellent rural school on the farm, high school in Cleveland, one mile away.  Churches, Methodist Episcopal, Episcopal, Catholic and Advent.  Each well supported and maintained, also Baptist Church near farm.  Altitude about five hundred feet above sea level.  Water advantages, excellent wells and trout brook fed by never-failing springs, flows across the farm.  Besides wells at the dwelling, water is piped from barn supply.  Housing for help, four ample dwellings besides the annex to barns fitted with all modern conveniences of a city home, for the manager.  [The herdsmen had living quarters in the hayloft] Fuel, plenty of fuel growing on farm to care for needs of all employees … Fences, woven wire largely, with some barb wire.[34]

5. Eralaust Farm

Figure III - Cows on the Farm, Courtesy of Kathy Darrow[35]
Figure III – Cows on the Farm, Courtesy of Kathy Darrow[35]
The farm Charles Knight created has been referenced by many names and with many spellings including “Knight Farms”, “Earlaught”, “Earlaust” and in many references as just the “Stone Barn”.  The best explanation of the name’s composition comes from former employee Erwin Peck.  He states:

The name was derived from the letters of Knight’s family:  ‘Er’ from Erma, Knight’s wife; ‘al’ from Alta, his mother-in-law, ‘au’ from Arthur, Knight’s son; and ‘st’ from Steward, another son.[36]

Knight’s vision for Eralaust was to construct “a dairy barn-milk house combination that would be a model of cleanliness.”[37]  The farm manager he selected to run the farm was local farmer Anthony Hoover.  The Hoover family was one of the original landowners that Knight purchased the property from.  He would remain the farm’s manager for the eleven years that farm remained in business.  In a letter written to Syracuse Herald Journal columnist Joe Beamish, Mrs. Clinton Stinger, the daughter of Anthony Hoover, says:

This land was purchased from my father, Anthony Hoover, in 1897 by Charles Knight of Rome … I was born on the farm and my father was the manager for 11 years.  My mother did the cooking, washing, etc., for all the hired help.[38]

Mrs. Stinger’s recollection is echoed in Mary K. Brown’s piece:

For eleven years Mr. Hoover presided as overseer for Mr. Knight and Mrs. Hoover helped out by boarding the single men who worked on the farm in one of the tenant houses built for the employees.  The married men, with their families, lived in the other three houses.[39]

One of the unique aspects of the Eralaust farm was that it had its milk certified.  In the late 1800s, the United States was consuming a large quantity of raw milk.  As cities began to grow in population, demand for milk and products were on the rise.  Unfortunately, many farmers also maintained distilleries to supplement their income at time.  Farmers began feeding their cows swill left from the distilling process and, combined with unsanitary conditions of the facilities and the farmers, contaminated milk was making its way into the cities and was being fed to babies.   “In New York City during 1870 alone, infant mortality rocketed to around 20% and stayed there for many more years”[40]

Figure IV - The cow barn in its original form [41]
Figure IV – The cow barn in its original form [41]
With the formation of a Medical Milk Commission in 1893, a certification process was created that enabled dairy farmers to voluntarily meet the strict hygiene standards needed to certify their products.[42]  As Eralaust farm was the only producer of certified milk in the area, this provided sales demand for his product in New York City.

The Barn was kept immaculate.  The ceiling, which was covered with wainscoting was washed quite frequently by hand and the rest of the Barn was cleaned twice a day.  At milking time each man would take a shower and put on a white suit.  The cows were chained so they couldn’t lay down and then their flanks and udders were washed and cleaned.  The milk was handled as meticulously as the rest of the project.  It was strained, and sent to the bottling room.  Only one man was allowed [here], where milk was cooled, bottled, and iced, before being delivered to the train station.  The Ontario and Western Railway transported the ‘certified’ milk to New York City hospitals, hotels, and homes.[43]

Mrs. Harris [the daughter of Anthony Hoover] recalls that the milk from the Knight farm was the only certified milk in that vicinity at the time.  She remembers an elderly bacteriologist, a Miss Coke … who came from New York once a month to take samples from milk testing.  A man from Cornell made the print butter which was shipped to New York and is reputed to have sold for $1 a pound.

There was a cobblestone ice house near the barn which was, of course, stocked with ice hauled from the lake and much of the ice, no doubt, was used to keep the milk and butter cool on its journey to New York.  Produce was carried by horse and wagon down the dirt road, east of the Cleveland cemetery, to a privately [owned siding at O&W railroad].[44]

Jeff Otto, Chairman of the Archives Committee for Ontario and Western Railway Historical Society explained to me that a siding, also referred to as a switch, is any track besides the main track and these sidings could be paid for in full by the business owner to install, but they remained the property of the railroad.  He also goes on to say “The O&W used many milk cars, probably starting in the 1880s (possibly earlier), which really were refrigerator cars, but more specialized.  As with refrigerator cars for many years, ice (sometimes salted for lower temperature) was used for cooling.”[45]

In addition to the milk and butter, the farm also produced additional products for sustenance.  Mr. Hoover described the farms annual production as such:

Figure V - Eralaust Farm Production
Figure V – Eralaust Farm Production

Unfortunately, Knight was just not raising enough revenue to keep the farm going.  One article indicates that “… the dairy operated successfully for two years, but Knight knew little of the dairy business and its incidentals and was obliged to depend on others.”[46]  Once the barn was completed, Knight continued to expand the estate by adding a wing addition to the barn, investing in road improvements and land and rail transportation, the start of a new building to manufacture malted milk.  In addition to the purchase of a switch at the O&W railroad, he also completed a spur track from Jewell back to the farm via a special land right of way.[47]

It’s hard to say if the farm failed due to poor management, economic conditions or the large amount of debt.  In all, accounts place the final cost of the barn from $70,000[48] to $140,000[49] and by 1918 the property was up for sale.  Adjusting for inflation from 1908, this barn would have cost $3.5 million dollars in 2011.

Mr. Knight did retain his home on the outskirts of the Village of Cleveland until his passing.  In April 1923 he suffered a stroke and passed on five weeks later on May 23rd at his residence on Huntington Street in Rome.[50]

6. 1920 to 1970

Figure VI - Stone Barn abt. 1941 (Postcard 1941)
Figure VI – Stone Barn abt. 1941 (Postcard 1941)

On June 6, 1918, deed to the property was transferred to Edgar M. Wightman.[51]  Mr. Wightman, a former Town Supervisor for the Town of West Monroe,[52]  did little with the property as owner.  George W. Walter notes:  “The barn stood empty for a number of years, with the exception of a short period in which a family occupied the living quarters of the west end of the building.”[53]  At least one of the families know to reside there in 1925 was the Brockway family.  Walter goes on to note that the parents of Andrew H. Brockway were married on the premise in 1925 while they occupied the estate.[54]  Years later, Mr. and Mrs. Brockway would be witnesses to the Hugel family at the same location of his parent’s vows.

The property would transfer ownership several times in the late 1920s without much change to property.  In a deed dated May 19, 1926, ownership of the land would be transferred from Mr. Wightman to John Poppink of Rochester.[55]  John Poppink in turn appears to have tried to sell the property to Henry D. Coville and Olin J. Cock on March 25th, 1927 holding the mortgage through payment.[56]  John Poppink the sold the property with mortgage to Henry Poppink and William Verwey, both of Rochester, on July 12th, 1927[57] and they sold the property to E. A. Westcott of Rochester and L. J. Forester of Dansville.[58]  Included in this deed was the following wording:


Figure VII E. A. Westcott, circa. 1940s
Figure VII E. A. Westcott, circa. 1940s

Same premise covered by a mortgage from John Poppink and wife to Henry D. Coville and Olin J. Cock as executers dated March 17, 1927 and recorded in the Oneida County Clerk’s Office on March 25, 1927 at 10:25am in Liber 689 of Mortgages at page 431 … This conveyance is made and accepted subject to said mortgage upon which there remains unpaid the sum of $5,500 …[59]

Eugene A. Westcott, the former postmaster of Cleveland, had a connection with the property through his father, Lovell L. Peterson.  According to Mary Brown:

Mr. Westcott says his father worked on the barn during its construction, mixing cement and carrying it in hods over his shoulder, up ladders to heights from ten to fifty feet; that he worked ten hours a day, and hard, six days a week for $1.50 a day or $9 a week.[60]

At the time of acquisition in 1928, the stock market was booming.  “… the Westcott family, of local origin, hoped to turn the property into a rich man’s playground in the 1920s.  They wanted to set up riding stables and a golf course … “[61]  Unfortunately, the U.S. economy was swept into the Great Depression after the Wall Street crash of 1929, halting the Westcott family’s resort plans.

However, the property was utilized in pursuit of Mr. Westcott’s life-time passion, breeding racing horses.  In addition to being the home to famous trotter Dan Patch[62], Mi-harness.Net, a website archive for key harness racing profiles, says this:

Eugene A. Westcott, Sr., 88, an owner and breeder, died September 19, 1957 of a heart attack. Mr. Westcott drove and owned harness horses during most of his adult life. In 1928 he acquired Stone Barn Farm near Cleveland, N. Y., which he maintained as a breeding establishment. The Peter the Great stallion Great Governor 2:08½, a 2:05 sire, stood there. The broodmare Great Delwina 2:08 was bred at Stone Barn, and two of her foals, the gelding Prince Delwina 2:071/5 by Prince Regent and the Phonograph mare, Great Note, were raced this season at Vernon by Mr. Westcott’s son, Eugene A. Westcott, Jr.[63]

Figure VIII - Kolaneka Farm Dispersal – Eugene Westcott is thought to be amongst the crowd. [64]
Figure VIII – Kolaneka Farm Dispersal – Eugene Westcott is thought to be amongst the crowd. (Daniels) [64]

One of the largest buyers at the dispersal sale of Kolaneka Farm, Pittsford, N. Y., was the firm of Westcott & Eddy of Rochester, N. Y., who are establishing a stock farm at Jewell, N. Y., which will be known as Earlaust Farm. The stallions heading the stud will be Great Governor (4) 2:08½, by Peter the Great, and Prince Delgen 2:13¾, by Bingen, both of which have well established reputations as sires of speed and reliable race horses.[65]

Sometime between 1928 and 1938, Eugene Westcott had given ownership of the property to his father, Lovell L. Peterson.  As Americans were dealing with the effects of the Great Depression, it’s not surprising that little was done with the property.  In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt began the Civilian Conservation Corp. and by 1938 notable projects where being implemented throughout the country and Central New York was no exception.  Americans were also witnessing the rise of tensions in Europe, which was on the cusp of World War II.  Maybe because of Mr. Peterson’s sense of patriotism, his fondness for the memories of his youth, or simply because of his financial situation, Lovell Peterson decided to sell a considerable portion of the property to New York State.

A total of 450 acres made for the Conservation Department by Milton R. Salls, Junior Forester was completed on November 16th, 1938 and deed to a substantial amount of land, excluding the barn and a parcel of land that contained the schoolhouse was deeded to The People of the State of New York on December 10th, 1938.[66]  The transaction was in the amount of $1,800 and included the following clause:

The party of the first part reserves for the period of one year from the date of the recording of this deed the right to remove all buildings on above conveyed premises and to cut and remove all merchantable timber 12″ and over on the stump and at the aforementioned one year the party of the first partner forever waives all further right to said buildings and to any and all timbers remaining on the land.[67]

A second transaction was recorded on that same day from Lovell L. Peterson to Carson L. Doan of Auburn in the amount of $1.00.  This deed included the following verbiage:

It is the intention of the grantor to convey not less than 50 acres and all of the lands and residue remaining … after the grantor deeded the State of New York 450 acres of said ‘Cobble Stone Barn Farm’ also including any and all reservations, timber and fencing rights retained by said Lovell L. Peterson in his deed of 450 acres to State of New York.[68]

Mr. Doan’s intentions for the property are unknown.  However, the property did not remain in his possession for long.  On September 30th, 1940 the property was sold to Joseph Buda of Canastota.[69]  Mary Brown notes:

In 1940 Joseph Buda bought the property and made the hayloft on the second floor into a night club.  It too, failed after a short run of three months.  One wonders how a night club could have operated without electricity; unless perhaps, there was a private generator.[70]

Joseph Buda bought the property and transformed the barn’s hayloft into an exclusive night club.  This venture lasted only three months due to lack of patrons.[71]

In 1940 war had already broken out in Europe and America was thrust into the battle after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941.  Many men were called to duty and Joseph Buda was one of them.  He was drafted on April 27th, 1943.[72]  “Joseph Buda was killed in the second World War and in 1947 the property went to the county for non-payment of taxes.”[73]

Figure IX - Stone Barn after the fire of 1946 (Postcard n.d.)
Figure IX – Stone Barn after the fire of 1946 (Postcard n.d.)

During the evening of March 23rd, 1946, a massive fire overtook the stone barn, the origins of which are unknown.  What was certain is that all that remained were the stone walls.  The following day, the Syracuse Post-Standard wrote:

Altho the stone walls of the combined house and barn still stand, the roof and interior were destroyed.  The ground floor of the barn, which was formerly stable for valuable dairy cattle, was least damaged, since it had stone floors, walls and ceiling.  Bonfires of debris were still flaming in the stable in the late afternoon, and timbers burning slowly in other sections.

Nearest neighbors, a half mile from the barn, said that the only explanation of the fire, in their opinion, would be that it was started by humans, accidentally or deliberately, since there was no combustible material in the barn, wiring or other sources of fire.[74]

The magnitude of the fire cannot be overstated.  Brown says, “… the interior of the barn was demolished by a fire of such fierce intensity that not a splinter of wood remained”[75]and George Walter notes, “… the heat was so intense firemen could not stand within 500 feet of the structure.”[76]

Figure X - Stone Barn circa 1970 [77]
Figure X – Stone Barn circa 1970 (Lee) [77]
On December 6th, 1947 the County of Oneida deeded the property to Mrs. Esther E. Smith of Syracuse and George Martel of Constantia, although full title would not be transferred to Ms. Smith until November 16th, 1965 from Judith Ann Weloth, the only child of Joseph Buda.[78]   Within the deed comments is reference to the December 6th transaction.

Mrs. Smith and a George Martel, said to have come from Canada, formed a partnership for the purpose of manufacturing hardwood flooring on the farm.  On the 18th of January, 1948, Mr. Martel applied for electric service.  The line was built the same year, but before it reached the barn Mrs. Smith and Mr. Martel had cancelled the contract and dissolved the partnership.[79]

Still under the ownership of Esther Smith, an attempt was made in the late 1950s to turn the barn into a commercialized public park.  Ads were placed in the local papers to promote the venture.  Mr. Walter notes:

An attempt was made to commercialize the ruins as an amusement park in May, 1957, under the name of ‘Stone Barn Enterprises’, at an estimated cost of $25,000.  Although the park was opened, it did not last too many years.[80]

In August of 1966, Esther E. Smith transferred title to Donald F. Peck of Syracuse.[81]

7. The Hugel Era

Figure XI - Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Hugel [82]
Figure XI – Dr. and Mrs. Robert W. Hugel [82]
It was during the Hugel era that the Stone Barn realized its longest run of perpetual ownership and provided the most amount of public exposure.  Dr. Robert W. Hugel, a native of Saxony, West Germany, came to the United States around 1960.  By the late 60s, early 70s, he was a practicing psychiatrist in Syracuse, New York. [83] His future bride, Alison Ker, was born in Sheffield, Great Britain.[84]  She attended the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and the University of London.  At one point, she was the captain of the Scottish Women’s National Lacrosse Team, before settling in as a social worker at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.[85]  It was in Montreal that the two met[86] and while looking for a new home that was off the beaten path.  They found what they were looking for in Vienna.

In driving around Oneida Lake in 1970, the couple stopped at CD’s diner in Cleveland for lunch, and saw pictures on the wall of the remains of the barn after the fire.

Their curiosity aroused, the couple drove to the site and fell in love with the land and particularly the barn which evidently had a story behind it.[87]

Figure XII - Ad from C.D.'s Lakeview Dinette that is representative of what Robert Hugel saw on his visit to Cleveland [88]
Figure XII – Ad from C.D.’s Lakeview Dinette that is representative of what
Robert Hugel saw on his visit to Cleveland

Figure XIII - Barn pictures taken around 1960-1970 [89]
Figure XIII – Barn pictures taken around 1960-1970 (Bates) [89]
Robert Hugel purchased the barn along with 80 acres of land for $18,000 in 1970.[90]  On September 24th, 1970, Robert and Alison were married at the barn by Town of Vienna justice Arthur Sable and their vows where witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Brockway who were married in that same location in 1925.[91]   On September 22nd, 1971, the deed was officially transferred over from Donald Peck to Robert Hugel.[92]

Immediately, the Hugels went about the chore of cleaning and rebuilding the site.  According to Alison, “we took out about 12 truckloads of broken glass and beer cans”[93] and then they began searching for areas barns to be re-purposed for renovations.

After the purchase of a barn, they would tear it down and use the wood to rebuild section of their barn.  The use of the old barn wood had its desired effect; the rebuilt sections look all of 80 years old.[94]

In addition to barn purchases, area individuals donated wood and items from old barns and the Hugels obtained a century old sawmill to harvested timber from trees on their land.[95]

By 1971 stonemasons were at work again, repairing the walls which had survived 35 years of freezing and thawing.  The North Wing roof was the first to go back on, followed by the one of the silos and eventually the West Wing.  The second silo roof was the last to be completed.  Each winter another staircase was added to the West Wing.[96]

Figure XIV - West Wing Remodeled - 1991 [97]
Figure XIV – West Wing Remodeled – 1991 [97]
During the ‘cleaning phase’ many antiques were found on the grounds.  This served as the basis for the formation of the museum and antique store.  Subsequent years would bring them around the state finding pieces to add to their collection.

The Hugels often travel to auctions, looking for farm-related items for the museum.  When they find two of a kind, they choose the one they wish to keep and sell the other(s).  Several horse carriages are housed in the ‘horse section’ of the barn.  Another area has home utensils, such as a butter churn, a root cutter, a milk separator, blacksmith bellow, an old fashioned jig saw and even a wagon jack that was used to jack the old wagon up to change a wheel.

Several items in the museum have been donated by others.  When persons do so, the Hugels have a metal plate on that item noting the person who donated the item, the year and the Stone Barn Museum.[98]

Figure XVI - Chris Loveland takes visitors on horse drawn rides, 2005, Gary Walts [102]
Figure XVI – Chris Loveland takes visitors on horse drawn rides, (2005, Walts) [102]
Figure XV - Robert Hugel at Stone Barn's Trick 'n' Treat Village, 2002, Gary Walts [101]
Figure XV – Robert Hugel at Stone Barn’s Trick ‘n’ Treat Village, (2002, Walts) [101]
Around 1975 the barn was opened to the public.  In addition to the on-going renovations and antiquing, the Hugel family began presenting a number of special events.  An antique store, Stone Barn Antiques and Craft store and the Stone Barn Motel were opened in the Village of Cleveland.[99]

Under Alison Hugel’s direction special events blossomed, including an Easter Show, Horse Shows, Civil War Reenactments, a Car Show, Craft Fair and the most successful and only continuing event, a Halloween Show which still draws ten thousand visitors every year.[100]

Figure XVI – Chris Loveland takes visitors on horse drawn rides, 2005, Gary Walts[102]

Robert and Alison’s children, Helena, William, Robert and Katrina, all took active roles in the renovations and the special events held at the barn throughout the years.  In 2002 Robert and Alison moved into retirement and in 2004, the next generation of Hugels stepped forward to manage the property.[103]

By July of 2004, the barn was metamorphosing from the Stone Barn Farm Museum to the Stone Barn Castle Center for the Arts.  Eldest son William Hugel returned to take over the reins and direct the estate into a new direction.  It was his vision to turn the space into a residential studio for local and regional artists to create and show inspirational art.  Camden resident Christopher Lovenguth was brought on as acting director for the first wave of residential artists arriving for the summer with the first public works display sent for early fall.[104]

8. Brody Era

Figure XVII - Adrien Brody & Elsa Pataky, circa. 2008 [105]
Figure XVII – Adrien Brody & Elsa Pataky, (circa. 2008, Olivar) [105]
Less than two years after the attempt at an art center, the property was up for sale once again.  In 2007, the estate was purchased by Artifact Properties, a third party broker, for $650,000.[106]  Shortly after the purchase, rumors spread amongst the locals as to whom the new owners were as sightings of Adrien Brody began appearing in and around the Village of Cleveland.

It wasn’t long before the rumors were confirmed.  According to InTouch Magazine:

Adrien bought [the 19th-century farm] just last year to surprise Elsa, his love of two years … [he] found the jewel of a property on the Internet.  He bought it in secret and, in a truly romantic gesture, unveiled it to Elsa on her birthday.  “We came here together for the first time on Elsa’s birthday,” he says.  “I covered her eyes, and when she finally saw it I said to her, ‘Welcome home.’”[107]

With the help of celebrity designs like Giorgio Armani, the couple began remodeling the interior with a more modern look, while maintaining the traditional aesthetic of the original design.  Although they have acknowledged that there is still a lot of restoration to be done, I believe most would find their work to date truly stunning.  One might wonder what Charles Knight would say if he could see it now.

Figure XVIII - Brody renovations circa. 2008 [108]
Figure XVIII – Brody renovations (circa. 2008, Olivar) [108]

9. Awe and Inspiration

Figure XIX - "Stone Barn" by Tom Eagan [109]
Figure XIX – “Stone Barn” by Tom Eagan [109]

An Artist’s Muse

Throughout the research for this essay, it became quickly apparent that the Stone Barn has inspired painters, photographers, authors and poets for decades.  Artistic renderings of the barn exist throughout all of its various incarnations in time.  I’ve found images, mostly after the fire, scattered through various online repositories.  Several popular postcard images still circulate at antique stores and through online auction sites and these pieces often command a generous price.  As public access to the property no longer exists, this only raises the demand for these pieces.

Stone Barn Castle circa. 1901, Alexandra Nowack, 2015
Stone Barn Castle circa. 1901, Alexandra Nowack, 2015

In 1956, painter Laura Bender of Chittenango had her piece “Deserted Remains of Old Cobblestone Barn” exhibited as a feature piece in the Fourth Regional Art Exhibition at the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts.[110]  More than 50 years later, local artist Tom Eagan created a painting of the barn for Cleveland Historical Society’s “L’Air de Temps Art Auction” now owned by Kathy Darrow.  I’m unaware of many barns in the Central New York area that have garnered as much attention over such a long span of time.

Of course, through obscurity, truths become exaggerated and sometimes we’re led to believe inspiration came from places where it may not have originated.  I believe the references to Walter D. Edmonds’ novel “The Big Barn” might be such an example.  Mr. Edmonds is a very well accomplished Central New York author who is probably most noted for his works of historical fiction “Drums Along the Mohawk” and “Rome Haul”.  As a Boonville native, it’s easy to recognize the influence  locale had on his works.  It has been widely thought that the Stone Barn was the inspiration behind The Big Barn novel.  In fact, many of the people I’ve interviewed and sources that I’ve cited literally say just that.

The book is based around the Wilder family and their quest to build a stone barn larger than any in the area and there are many references within the text that might have coincided with Charles Knight’s vision.  For example, the stone was brought in from the area, large parcels of timberland were purchased to support the livestock and area farmers invested countless hours in the construction.[111]  Even many of the background accomplishments of fictional character Ralph Wilder bear some resemblance to Mr. Knight as both individuals where well established business men before embarking on their legacy constructions.  However, I think the story is so believable because it’s so well written.  Lionel Wyld, after personal exchanges with Mr. Edmonds and through thorough research, produced a well cited comprehensive biography on the author inclusive of a large body of his works.  Citing a work from Howard Thomas he indicates:

For his second published novel, The Big Barn (1930), Edmonds turned his full attention to the Black River farmlands that he knew during his boyhood.  Howard Thomas tells us in his Black River in the North Country that Edmonds’s novel is a fictionalized account of the building of a barn on the Lyon estate near High Falls, north of Boonville.[112]

Walter Edmonds offered the following quote in his review of James Boyd’s Drums in Harvard’s September 1925 issue of the Advocate:

As a narrative of the Revolution … Drums is of little value; as a picture of the times, Drums is a most vivid piece of work; as a presentation of pre-Revolution atmosphere, restless and hesitant, yet determined, Drums is overwhelming in its completeness.[113]

I think these same words could apply to Edmond’s own work, The Big Barn, as it applies to the narrative of Charles W. Knight’s creation.    Yet, other stories, like that of a touring two-legged colt, which seemed implausible, are draped in factual truths.

Figure XX - W.G. Ferguson's two-legged colt [114]
Figure XX – W.G. Ferguson’s two-legged colt [114]

The Two-legged Colt

I’ve run across several postcards featuring a two-legged colt that was raised on the Stone Barn premises in 1914.  Later I found references to it in newspaper articles and in tour guides created by the Stone Barn Museum.  Below are a couple of quotes that talk about this side show oddity.

William and Sarah Ferguson lived at the Stone Barn from around 1910 until shortly before his death in 1918.  The two-legged colt is shown here with the Stone Barn in the background.  It lived for about four years and Mr. Ferguson exhibited it at fairs.  When William and Sarah moved out of the house at the Stone Barn into a tenant house, Sarah wrote to her sister Laura: ‘I’ve lived in the barn long enough.  These are really nice rooms but there’s so much dirt to track in all the time.’  With the house opening right off the cow barn one can sympathize with her![115]

This side-show oddity must have proven to be financially lucrative for Mr. Ferguson.  A posting on the Burns Archive contains a rare business card that was stationed by the Allied Printer’s Trade Council of Utica, NY for Mr. Ferguson to use in the promotion of the display of his colt.[116]  Additionally many postcards of the animal were in circulation at the time.

W.G. Ferguson of Cleveland, N.Y., has a colt that was born with two hind legs only and it is well and lively.  The owner is building a box that will fit to an automobile and he intends to take the colt around the country in that box and exhibit it.[117]


One of the more often questions I’ve received about the Stone Barn deals with the practice of witchcraft.  Many people want to know if their suspicions about the goings on at the Stone Barn residence can confirm their beliefs that something wicked this way came.  Well, the truth is I can neither confirm nor deny their claims.

So many of these conversations begin with “I’ve been told …”, “Someone said they saw …”, “Did you hear about …”  When it comes right down to it, no one has come forward to admit to participating in, or confronting the owners about any of these events.  I’ve seen no pictures, heard no first hand accounts nor have I found any newspaper articles pertaining to witchcraft, murder or general mayhem.  I have heard stories about sacrifices and murder children in the tunnels that connected the barn and the ice house, but again have found no substantive collaboration for these accounts.

Additionally, I do have first hand knowledge of fraternities at Syracuse University that used to hold annual initiations at the barn and on the premises.  Often these included late night bonfires and people in robes … the theatrics one might expect of a fraternity anywhere in the United States.  On occasion, I was hired to help these robe clad men clean up the grounds the following day and have heard accounts of the festivities the night before.  It is also common knowledge that many teens held some epic parties before the property was purchased by the Hugels and the family itself hosted some well known Halloween events.  So it is easy to image how tales of evil could be spun over the years.  Therefore, unless some of the readers out there can provide some sort of solid evidence to the contrary, I’m leaning toward the myth side of things.



Albany Evening Journal. “Cleveland Water Company Incorporated.” Albany Evening Journal (Albany, NY), September 14, 1897.

Beamish, Joe. “City Life.” Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, NY), October 21, 1947, 19.

“A Brief History of Raw Milk’s Long Journey.” Raw Milk Facts. Last modified June 21, 2012. Accessed February 3, 2013.

Brown, Mary K. “Famous Old Stone Barn Is Only Ruined Shell Today.” Unknown Clipping.

Burns Archive. “Burns Archive Visual Treat Series: The Two Legged Colt.” The Burns Archive (blog). Entry posted June 18, 2010. Accessed February 1, 2013.

Churchill, John C., ed. “History of West Monroe, New York.” Rays Place: Explore New England’s past. Accessed February 4, 2013.

Daniels, Donald. “Frederick L. Van Lennep Thru Eugene A. Westcott.” Mi-harness. Accessed June 28, 2012.

Darrow, Kathy. Stone Barn Photographs. Photograph. Kathy Darrow, Cleveland, NY.

A couple of these pictures where taken of photographs that where displayed at the Stone Barn. The ad from C.D.’s Lakeview Dinette was also provided by Kathy. Although I’m uncertain if this is the actual ad the Hugel family saw that prompted them to discover the barn, it is at least representative of what they may have seen.  Photographs are being used with Kathy’s permission.

Draheim, Paul H. “The Press Scrapbook.” Utica Daily Press (Utica, NY), May 12, 1966, 3.

Edmonds, Walter D. The Big Barn. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1930.

Ellis, Suzanne M. “Oneida Lake neighbors abuzz over claims that actor Adrien Brody bought a castle.” Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), August 29, 2007, A1-A4.

This article features a couple of file photographs by Gary Walts. Trick-or-Treat Village was taken in 2002 and Prince and Penny taken in 2005.

Fairman, Roy E. “Cleveland, Noted for Public Spirit, Is Geared to All-out Effort to Help Win Victory.” Unknown.

This newspaper clipping provided by Kathy Darrow has no name or page information. It does feature a picture of postmaster E.A. Westcott that has been reworked in Photoshop in an attempt to reduce pixelation. The image is used within this essay.

Fulton Patriot. “Up-to-date Barn.” Fulton Patriot, November 19, 1902, 1.

Harden, Lisa. “Erwin Peck Relives Stone Barn Memories.” Queen Central News (Camden, NY), January 14, 2008.

Henke, Jack. “Oneida County.” In Oneida Lake: Place Names and History, 148-207. Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1989.

———. “Oswego County.” In Oneida Lake: Place Names and History, 92-147. Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1989.

In this book, Jack Henke talks about the history of the towns surrounding Oneida Lake.

Hoyt, Emily. “The Big Barn.” Mexico Independent and Parish Mirror, February 16, 1961, 6.

Hugel Family. “Stone Barn Castle History and Program: Special Events 1992.” 1992. Kathy Darrow, Cleveland, NY.

This pamphlet was originally provided to me by Kathy Darrow. A subsequent conversation with Robert Hugel, one of the children that lived at the Barn, approved use of the images in this piece.

———. “The Story of the Stone Barn Castle.” Stone Barn Castle. Accessed March 1, 2007.

This page has since been removed from the Internet.

Hutchings, Kathyrn. Anthony Hoover. Photograph. Durhamville, NY. Digital file. 

“Land Deed.” August 24, 1887. P.388. Deed Book #460. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” June 8, 1918. P.34. Deed Book #756. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” May 19, 1926. P.263. Deed Book #858. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” July 12, 1927. P.351. Deed Book #877. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” April 25, 1928. P.418. Deed Book #887. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” December 10, 1938. P.272. Deed Book #984. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” December 10, 1938. P.147. Deed Book #984. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” September 30, 1940. P.29. Deed Book #1009. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” November 16, 1965. P.495. Deed Book #1836. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” August 25, 1966. P.919. Deed Book #1843. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

“Land Deed.” October 7, 1971. P.143. Deed Book #1939. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

Lomery, Mark. “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone Barn.” Utica Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY), August 15, 1976, Sunday Observer-Dispatch edition, 7B.

Photos by Pat Corbett.

Matteson, Doris. “The Stone Barn: A World Apart.” Citizen Outlet (Central Square, NY), September 16, 1986.

“Mortgage.” March 17, 1927. P.431. Liber 689 of Mortgages. Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

Norton, Mary Clarke. “Elpis History: The Early History of Elpis School District No. 17 Township of Vienna.” March 1960. Betty McCulloch. Accessed February 2, 2013.

Otto, Jeff. “O&W Archives – Cleveland, NY.” E-mail message to author. December 12, 2012.

At the time of correspondence, Jeff was the Chairman of the Archives Committee for the Ontario & Western Railway Historical Society, Inc. Our thread of emails discusses different aspects of the O&W in Cleveland, New York.

Records Group 64, ed. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. College Park, MD: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Accessed February 4, 2013.

Rome Citizen. “Barn to Cost $30,000.” Rome Citizen (Rome, NY), November 21, 1902, Correspondence Page, 4.

Rome Daily Sentinel. “For the Fish Creek Water.” Rome Daily Sentinel (Rome, NY), July 22, 1907, 2-3.

RootsWeb. “Descendants of Richard and Sarah Rogers Knight and Others.” Knight Family Tree. Last modified January 22, 2013. Accessed February 4, 2013.

Syracuse Herald-Journal. “Twenty-Thousand-Dollar Cow Barn on Four-Hundred-Acre Oswego County Farm.” Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, NY), November 9, 1902, Sunday Herald edition, 21.

Syracuse Post-Standard. “Alison K. Hugel.” Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), July 4, 2010, Obituaries.

———. “Historic Barn Ruined by Fire.” Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), March 24, 1946, sec. II, 17.

Trotter and Pacer. “Dispersal Sale at Kolaneka Farm.” The Trotter and Pacer LXXXIX, no. 26 (June 27, 1929).

The image used from this magazine was provided courtesy of Don Daniels.

Unknown. Stone Barn Negatives. Photograph. 1960. Jodi Bates.

Jodi Bates found a roll of film in camera that was given and hand developed two photographs of the Stone Barn. Its estimated by Jodi that these photos were taken between 1949 and 1970. Based on the images I’ve collected for this project, I’d estimate the date to be around the 1960s.

Utica Observer-Dispatch. “C.W. Knight Passes Away.” Utica Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY), May 21, 1923.

Wagner, Daniel E., ed. Our City and Its People: A Descriptive Work on the City of Rome New York. Boston, MA: Boston History Company, 1896.

Walter, George W. Sinners and Saints. Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1973.

Waterville Times. “Here and There.” Waterville Times (Oneida, NY), June 11, 1914, 1.

Volume LVII, Issue 26.

End Notes

[1] Jack Henke, “Oswego County,” in Oneida Lake: Place Names and History(Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1989), 108-109.

[2] Ibid., 109.

[3] Ibid., 145-146.

[4] Jeff Otto, “O&W Archives – Cleveland, NY,” e-mail message to author, December 12, 2012.

[5] Jack Henke, “Oneida County,” in Oneida Lake: Place Names and History(Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1989), 153.

[6] Mary Clarke Norton, “Elpis History: The Early History of Elpis School District No. 17 Township of Vienna,” March 1960, Betty McCulloch, accessed February 2, 2013,

[7] Utica Observer-Dispatch, “C.W. Knight Passes Away,” Utica Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY), May 21, 1923.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Daniel E. Wagner, ed., Our City and Its People: A Descriptive Work on the City of Rome New York (Boston, MA: Boston History Company, 1896), 231.

[10]  “Descendants of Richard and Sarah Rogers Knight and Others,” Knight Family Tree, last modified January 22, 2013, accessed February 4, 2013,

[11] Albany Evening Journal, “Cleveland Water Company Incorporated,” Albany Evening Journal (Albany, NY), September 14, 1897

[12] Rome Daily Sentinel, “For the Fish Creek Water,” Rome Daily Sentinel(Rome, NY), July 22, 1907.

[13] “Descendants of Richard and Sarah,” Knight Family Tree.

[14] Emily Hoyt, “The Big Barn,” Mexico Independent and Parish Mirror, February 16, 1961.

[15] Mary K. Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn Is Only Ruined Shell Today,”Unknown Clipping.

[16]  “The Story of the Stone Barn Castle,” Stone Barn Castle, accessed March 1, 2007,

[17]  “Land Deed,” August 24, 1887, p.388, Deed Book #460, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[18] Hugel Family, “Stone Barn Castle History and Program: Special Events 1992,” 1992, Kathy Darrow, Cleveland, NY.

[19] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[20] Joe Beamish, “City Life,” Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, NY), October 21, 1947, 19.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Lisa Harden, “Erwin Peck Relives Stone Barn Memories,” Queen Central News (Camden, NY), January 14, 2008.

[23] Fulton Patriot, “Up-to-date Barn,” Fulton Patriot, November 19, 1902, 1.

[24] “The Story of the Stone,” Stone Barn Castle.

[25] Rome Citizen, “Barn to Cost $30,000,” Rome Citizen (Rome, NY), November 21, 1902, Correspondence Page, 4.

[26] George W. Walter, Sinners and Saints (Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1973), 120-122.

[27] Paul H. Draheim, “The Press Scrapbook,” Utica Daily Press (Utica, NY), May 12, 1966, 3.

[28] Syracuse Herald-Journal, “Twenty-Thousand-Dollar Cow Barn on Four-Hundred-Acre Oswego County Farm,” Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, NY), November 9, 1902, Sunday Herald edition, 21.

[29] Jim Howe, “Stone Barn Castle Museum Is a Study in the Unusual,”Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), June 18, 1987, Accent, 1,9.

[30] Doris Matteson, “The Stone Barn: A World Apart,” Citizen Outlet (Central Square, NY), September 16, 1986, 1.

[31] Walter, Sinners and Saints.

[32] “The Story of the Stone,” Stone Barn Castle.

[33] Rome Citizen, “Barn to Cost $30,000,” Correspondence Page, 4.

[34] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[35] Kathy Darrow, Stone Barn Photographs, photograph, Kathy Darrow, Cleveland, NY.

[36] Harden, “Erwin Peck Relives Stone.”

[37] Draheim, “The Press Scrapbook.”

[38] Beamish, “City Life.”

[39] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[40] “A Brief History of Raw Milk’s Long Journey,” Raw Milk Facts, last modified June 21, 2012, accessed February 3, 2013,

[41] Hugel Family, “Stone Barn Castle History.”

[42] Ibid.

[43] Harden, “Erwin Peck Relives Stone.”

[44] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[45] Jeff Otto, “O&W Archives – Cleveland,” e-mail message to author.

[46] Unknown, “$85,000 Cobblestone Home, Barn Built by Rome Engineer,”Unknown, September 10, 1932

[47] Ibid.

[48] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[49] Walter, Sinners and Saints, 120.

[50] “Descendants of Richard and Sarah,” Knight Family Tree.

[51] “Land Deed,” June 8, 1918, p.34, Deed Book #756, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[52] John C. Churchill, ed., “History of West Monroe, New York,” Rays Place: Explore New England’s past, accessed February 4, 2013,

[53] George W. Walter, Sinners and Saints (Utica, NY: North Country Books, 1973), 121.

[54] Ibid., 120.

[55] “Land Deed,” May 19, 1926, p.263, Deed Book #858, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[56] “Mortgage,” March 17, 1927, p.431, Liber 689 of Mortgages, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[57] “Land Deed,” July 12, 1927, p.351, Deed Book #877, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[58] “Land Deed,” April 25, 1928, p.418, Deed Book #887, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[59] Ibid.

[60] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[61] Mark Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone Barn,” Utica Observer-Dispatch (Utica, NY), August 15, 1976, Sunday Observer-Dispatch edition, 7B.

[62] Unknown, “Stone Barn Castle to House Gas and Steam Engine Show,”Unknown, August 21, 1988

[63] Donald Daniels, “Frederick L. Van Lennep Thru Eugene A. Westcott,” Mi-harness, accessed June 28, 2012,

[64] Trotter and Pacer, “Dispersal Sale at Kolaneka Farm,” The Trotter and Pacer LXXXIX, no. 26 (June 27, 1929): n.p.

[65] Ibid.

[66] “Land Deed,” December 10, 1938, p.272, Deed Book #984, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[67] Ibid.

[68] “Land Deed,” December 10, 1938, p.147, Deed Book #984, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[69] “Land Deed,” September 30, 1940, p.29, Deed Book #1009, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[70] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[71] Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone.”

[72] Records Group 64, ed., U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 (College Park, MD: Records of the National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), [online], accessed February 4, 2013,

[73] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[74] Syracuse Post-Standard, “Historic Barn Ruined by Fire,” Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), March 24, 1946, sec. II, 17.

[75] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[76] Walter, Sinners and Saints, 121.

[77] Kevin Lee, Old Stone Barn, photograph, Kevin Lee.

[78] “Land Deed,” November 16, 1965, p.495, Deed Book #1836, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[79] Brown, “Famous Old Stone Barn.”

[80] Walter, Sinners and Saints, 121-122.

[81] “Land Deed,” August 25, 1966, p.919, Deed Book #1843, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[82] Hugel Family, “Stone Barn Castle History.”

[83]  Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone.”

[84] Syracuse Post-Standard, “Alison K. Hugel,” Syracuse Post-Standard(Syracuse, NY), July 4, 2010, Obituaries.

[85] Ibid.

[86] Matteson, “The Stone Barn: A World,” 2.

[87] Ibid.

[88] Darrow, Stone Barn Photographs, photograph.

[89] Unknown, Stone Barn Negatives, photograph, 1960, Jodi Bates.

[90] Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone.”

[91] Walter, Sinners and Saints.

[92] “Land Deed,” October 7, 1971, p.143, Deed Book #1939, Oneida County Clerks Office, Utica, NY.

[93] Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone.”

[94] Ibid.

[95] Matteson, “The Stone Barn: A World,” 3.

[96] “The Story of the Stone,” Stone Barn Castle.

[97] Hugel Family, “Stone Barn Castle History.”

[98] Matteson, “The Stone Barn: A World,” 3.

[99] Lomery, “Vienna Couple Remodel Old Stone.”

[100] “The Story of the Stone,” Stone Barn Castle.

[101] Suzanne M. Ellis, “Oneida Lake neighbors abuzz over claims that actor Adrien Brody bought a castle,” Syracuse Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), August 29, 2007, A4.

[102] Ibid., A1.

[103] “The Story of the Stone,” Stone Barn Castle.

[104] Queen Central News, “Stone Barn Castle Has a New Lease on Life,”Queen Central News (Camden, NY), July 2004, 14.

[105] Jose Antonio Olivar, “At Home with Oscar Winner Adrien Brody,” InTouch, November 10, 2008, 91.

[106] Ellis, “Oneida Lake neighbors abuzz,” A1.

[107] Olivar, “At Home with Oscar,” 89.

[108] Ibid., 91.

[109] Tom Eagan, Stone Barn, illustration, August 2011, Kathy Darrow, Cleveland, NY.

[110] Anna W. Olmsted, “Great Barn in Ruins Has a Full History,” Unknown, April 1, 1956, Art.

[111] Walter D. Edmonds, The Big Barn (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1930).

[112] Lionel D. Wyld, “Canallers and Famers: The Big Barn,” in Walter D. Edmunds, Storyteller (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1982), 66.

[113] Lionel D. Wyld, “Other Contributions to the Advocate,” in Walter D. Edmunds, Storyteller (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1982), 18.

[114] Hugel Family, “Stone Barn Castle History.”

[115] Ibid.

[116] Burns Archive, “Burns Archive Visual Treat Series: The Two Legged Colt,”The Burns Archive (blog), entry posted June 18, 2010, accessed February 1, 2013,

[117] Waterville Times, “Here and There,” Waterville Times (Oneida, NY), June 11, 1915, 1.

[118] Kathyrn Hutchings, Anthony Hoover, photograph, Durhamville, NY, digital file.




  1. Hi there!

    Charles was my great-grandfather, my grandfather was his youngest son Edgar.
    Nice article!
    Thank you!

    1. Author

      Thanks for the kind words Katie. If you have any pictures or comments you’d like to add, I can float them into the post.

  2. While I enjoyed reading this wonderful history of Stone Barn Castle, everything that I remember and loved about it was covered in ONE SENTENCE! My parents took us kids to Stone Barn Castle in the summer of 1958 and we had a wonderful time. Kids today probably wouldn’t be impressed but we were delighted that we could play in the exhibits. My brother’s favorite was the crooked house but I just wanted to spend the whole day with the three billy goats gruff.

    1. Author

      My grandfather used to go there for outings, so I liked the fact that I was able see what he saw. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I live in constancia recently moved and I was researching castles for my sons project for school. Well to make along story short the castle is 10 mins from me. When I saw the castle pictures I couldnt belive this was in my backyard! I plan to drive by to take a peak…I would love to take my wedding pictures there its amazing! Dreamer:(..

    1. Author

      Unfortunately Tracy, this site is no longer open to the public. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I lived in Vienna my whole life and used to go to the Stone Barn for craft fairs and the Halloween events, but everytime I was there my friends which chuckle at me when I said “I want to live here! I want to buy it and renovate it. This would be my dream come true and my dream home. I could wear a tiara and sip champaigne and be a queen to my own little castle. And sit in the round room with the fire burning on a crisp, chilly autumn day and read books all afternoon.” Well I’m glad someone is getting to live my dream, even though it’s not me. I’m glad someone seen the beauty in this place and has put there heart into it so it didn’t just sit empty. I knew the potential was there. Wish I could see more of it. The one room that is pictured is beautiful. Thanks for sharing that, and hopeful that there will be more.

  5. I have been to stone barn castle for many craft fairs. Very disappointed when they stopped them. Just loved going thru the buildings and eating there homemade eclair. they were so delish. I have camped next door to stone barn castle for 22 years.

  6. This is a very interesting and thorough history. “Stone Barn Castle” the movie is premiering this week at SXSW festival and the hype and trailer imply that the barn was in horrible shape, abandoned, etc. I hope the actual movie is a more accurate portrayal of the work the Hugel family did to the barn. They are the ones who truly resurrected this treasure. I hope the Hugels get due credit in the film. I am not from the area, the only reason I got interested was a comment left by William Hugel following a PR release for Adrien Brody’s film. Another commenter link to your article.

  7. As a residence of nearby Camden, we used to take our children the what we called The Old Stone Barn for the Halloween exhibits. We were all fascinated by the Castle, and The Hugels. Thank you for the memories and the fascinating blog.

  8. My husband and I were friends of the Hugels and have attended some lavish soirees there! I used to teach 5th grade. For years, the Stone Barn Castle was the site of one of my field trips with my students. They absolutely loved the attention that they received. The chaperones remarked how special the place was. The talk that the guide gave was always fascinating to them, Congratulations on a well researched and very interesting history of this historical site.

  9. I was born in Bernhard bay in1945 but lived in cleveland most of my child hood.
    Spent a lotof time at the stone barn partying and parking in the moonlite.
    Lot of good memories I guess I wount reveal.
    Great article. Thank you

  10. This was an excellent article. Thank you.

    I knew the last generation of Hugels that owned the site scholastically and socially. I have great memories of the senior ball party of 1990 at the Hugel’s home as well as visits to the stone barn itself. I look forward to seeing the renovations Mr. Brody has done. The Hugels did a wonderful job as caretakers of the property and created many great memories for innumerable people.

    In an era of fiscal instability what better caretaker could there be than one with the finances of Hollywood behind him? Those of us with memories of this site would just ask Mr. Brody to respect the hard work and sacrifice of the previous generations of caretakers and keep it authentic. Hollywood and authentic may not be compatible words but one can hope.

  11. Author

    Thanks to all for the positive comments. It’s great to see so many personal memories posted in your comments.
    —- gmsc

  12. What a great article! This is my great grandfather. My grandfather used to tell us all about the Stone Barn and what a wonderful place it was!

  13. I, also, lived in Vienna as a child. We had picnics often at the barn. My parents were friends with Joseph Buda and his family. I is interesting to note that his wife (who moved to the Albany area after his death) had never seen the barn until sometime around the 1970’s when she came to visit and my parents took her there. Also, in scanning the blog, I did not see a reference to the tunnel. There was a tunnel from the basement of the living quarters out to the well, so they did not have to outside in harsh weather to get water. One other thing I found interesting is that the “outhouse” (built into the barn wall) had a fireplace for heat.

    We used the barn as a picnic area, and a landmark for road rallies, and, as youngsters, just a place to ride our bikes to and explore.

    1. Author


      Thank you for your comments. Joseph Buda was a difficult person to find information on while I was doing research. If you have, or know someone I could contact that might have a couple pictures of Joseph Buda and/or the Stone Barn, I’d love to incorporate them into the piece. I’ll send you an email with my contact information.

      Regarding the tunnel, again there isn’t a lot of information on it, at least that could be cited, so I didn’t include anything on it. Maybe I’ll add something about it on the next version. That is one of the beauties of publishing to this blog, some of these essays can be expanded as contributions, similar to yours, fills in the missing pieces.

      —- gmsc

  14. Also, I knew Edgar Knight, referred to by Katie Quattro as her Grandfather. He was a salesman for (I believe) Latrobe Steel, who used to come to the manufacturing plant where I worked. Great guy, and we had some long talks about the barn.

  15. HI what a lovely story me and my family use to work for the holloween and crafts shows and the horse shows.we loved it it was the best time of my life.and know I tell my son I worked at The stone barn Castle.

  16. My mother’s grandparents lived in Cleveland, so whenever we trekked there on Memorial Day to the cemetery where they were all buried, I often wondered about that big sign that used to be on Route 49 for “STONE BARN CASTLE”. At that time, it wasn’t “open” to the public. But in later years, after the Hugel’s bought it, I attended a horse show there…and later managed a Miniature Horse Show on the premises. I was thrilled to actually be able to go through the “castle” and see the insides, after only viewing the outside for many years. My husband and I attended a couple of the “events” that the Hugel’s had there, enjoying all of their antiques, vintage cars, and old farm equipment. Yes, there was a tale of the underground tunnel to the well, too!

    Thank you for this historical account of the “castle”…and for the inclusion of the “two-legged” colt. I actually have one of those post cards and didn’t know it was the Stone Barn Castle in the background!!!

  17. I really enjoyed reading about the “Old Stone Barn”. I was born and raised in Constantia and when I was a teenager (1959) I took my future husband to see it. We also went down the tunnel to the well. You had to be careful because you could fall in. There was no warning the well was there. I think everybody that went there before any restoration was done after the fire fantasied what it would be like to live there. We would go there on nights with full moon. What a beautiful sight. I don’t think any of us that lived in the area will ever forget about the Stone Barn. So much want to thank you for the historical account of it. It sure brings back memories.

    1. Author

      Thanks Edith. If you have any pictures of the barn that you’d like to share, I’d be glad to add them to the post.
      —- gmsc

  18. I first went to the barn with my Dad back around 1962. I was five years old. It was in ruins then and we went just to explore and hike around the grounds. I remember learning to shoot a .22 rifle there back in 1963. That annual hike became a yearly part of our summer vacations to our camp on the lake (Drive 21) until the mid 60s when we moved to the Midwest. Somewhere packed away I have some old home movies from that time.

  19. I was a participant as an artist at the craft fairs. They were quite successful and people came from around the area. They enjoyed the shows and so the the Aritsts and Crafters. The show was there in October and usually cool. We warmed by the fires in the Old Silo and enjoyed a reception for the participants put on by the Hugel’s.
    We visited there often as kids, it was a magical place.

  20. Over the years until my aunt died in 1969. We used to ride out and visit the property. When she found someone with a car to take us out there. She never learned to drive. The railroad was gone. The real estate and train ticket taxes were used to built the roads which killed the trains. I remember seeing the New York Ontario and Western track on our way to the barn. The next trip it had been ripped out. The smell of wild strawberries was really strong. The field was covered by them. I remember playing around the area as a kid. This was a well done article, and I was surprised to see my aunt mentioned in it. But I still have a few questions.

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing.
      —- gmsc

  21. 1932 to1943 summers in Jewell end of Depot rd. Many great trips to the Old Stone Barn. Record and Bernard family. Farmhouse right next to the railroad.

  22. Enjoyed reviewing the history of the stone barn. If the author (Gary) of these pages would be willing to contact me I would like to share some more info and an image of construction. Thank you. Regards, Nathan nathan AT oldpostoffice DOT COM

  23. Would love to watch the doucumentary filmed by Adrianne Brody 2015. Can’t find it anywhere and ideas?

    1. Author

      Sorry Marie. I’ve actually sent a couple of letters out inquiring about it, but haven’t heard anything back.

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