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Helen Tompkins

Remembers Her Lake Road Neighborhood

An Oral History As told to Jim Evangelos

Have you ever wondered about the house (now painted blue) on the north side of Lake Road, located just across from the Country Store? Some think that it looks like a early condominium, others a double house. Today it is a single family residence. Jim talked with Helen Tompkins prior to her death in 1988. As a life long Lake Road resident and the original owner of the Country Store on Lake Road , Helen was well acquainted with the neighborhood and its history.

About 1806 Abram Foster, (one of Helen's ancestors) looking for a place to settle along the lake in what was known as North Penfield, chose the section of land near the great point at the mouth of Four Mile Creek. Today not much of the point remains and Four Mile Creek is much smaller. However, the land where the Blue House sits was part of Abram’s original farm.

Sometime in the mid 1800's the land which is now 1312-1314 Lake Road became the home of the Tompkins family. Helen relates that the store, dance hall, blacksmith shop and barn were added in 1870 and the site became a social center for the Lake Road Community.. About 1890 the Pellett family purchased the structure. The owner lived on the west side of the building. The store was in the lower center portion, and the blacksmith shop in the barn (east section). A dance hall was on the 2nd level (the area with the nine smaller windows).

Helen reports that "A stage was on the east end of the dance hall where a piano and fiddle player set. On the west end of the dance hall was a small room where the infants and small children were. The women took turns tending to the young while all the others danced."

The west end of the structure began as a tenement, built a few mile to the east and moved by log and oxen to its present location. The 1870 addition is of post and beam construction. The structure extends from one edge of the lot to the other leaving only 2 feet between the building and the lot line. Access to the back yard was directly through the center of the building under the dance hall.

Helen remembers working at the Pellett Store. The "P" for Pellett still remains on the chimney. She had always wanted to own a store of her own but the location of the old Pellett Store was not practical. In the late1920's most small grocery stores included gasoline pumps and there was not enough space in front of the Pellett Store. The old store became apartments and Helen built the "Tompkins Red and White Store" across the street. She retired in 1963 and her store passed to the Sippeans, then to the Martellas and then to Don Ostreichs who operated it with Andrea until the store was sold to the Frank Brothers in 1997.

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