came upon the decrepit old mansion in 1996. It was in an extremely
neglected condition and reminded me of the Bates House from the movie
"Psycho". I was traveling to Canandaigua to visit my daughter and had
missed the proper exit on the Expressway. Venturing down uncharted paths
led to Route 371 in Cohocton.
It was an awesome structure and more of a curiosity than a serious
desire to acquire that caused me to drive by again and again for the
next three years.
Meanwhile its condition got worse and worse. It was mesmerizing and when
the house finally was put up for sale in 1998 I was completely hooked.
I purchased the house, decided to convert it into a bed and breakfast,
it had all been so serendipitous I decided that I would name the
business The Villa Serendip Bed and Breakfast at the Woodworth House.
time I knew nothing about the history of the house or its original
The house was infested with raccoons, red squirrels, and field mice. The
siding was literally falling off and the inside was worse than the
outside. But The Villa Serendip had been born.
People came by and said, "You are going to do what?" They all told me I
was crazy. My family referred to the house as "Fran's Folly". But then
the magic began:
Goethe said, "The
moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All
sorts of things occur to help one that could otherwise never have
occurred. A whole strem of events, issues from that decision, raising in
one form or manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material
assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way."
that to state it simply: "God sends his angels!" We started on the brush
which had enshrouded almost the entire house and discovered walkways, a
hitching post and a large piece of quarry stone near the road that had
been used to dismount from carriages in an era long ago. On the front of
the stone was etched "WOODWORTH". The magic had begun. There are a
thousand stories surrounding the mystic of the mansion and I love to
share them with interested friends, all that is required is interest.
business became, The Villa Serendip Bed and Breakfast at the "Woodworth
House". Now it was time to begin the genealogy of the Woodworth Family.
Thanks to the
genealogical endeavors of Woody Woodworth and the internet the history
of this grand old house and its residents was revealed.
Woodworth is written up in A HISTORY OF STEUBEN COUNTY with the
following information: About 1860, Samuel, son of Calvin Van Kirk
Woodworth of Cohocton, moved his family from the top of Lent Hill in
Cohocton, (Steuben County) to River Road; midway between Cohocton and
North Cohocton, where he was engaged in the occupation of farmer. (State
Route 371 was originally River Road.) He was a direct descendant of
Walter Woodworth of Scituate, MA. Born about 1612, Walter Woodworth was
one of America's first settlers. He was a Man of Kent, is believed to be
buried in Kent Cemetery, and was a member of the First Church. He helped
to settle Scituate. He came to America from England as an indentured
person and became a Freeman. In payment for that indenture, Walter
received three pieces of land which he farmed. He had thirteen children
and his genealogy can be traced by visiting the Woodworth Genealogy
Website. He was a Man of Kent and a member of the First Church and
helped to settle Scituate.
Tour the Inside of the Villa>
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