Historic Hannum House
Old-World elegance with upscale modern amenities.
Hannum House is believed to have been built circa 1840, as Skaneateles evolved from a farming settlement into a more diversified community. Sawmills, gristmills, and woolen mills were thriving, powered by water from Skaneateles Lake. Spencer Hannum, for whom Hannum House is named, moved to the village in 1828 to establish a foundry. He employed 20 to 30 men in the manufacture of machinery for the woolen mills. After marrying Abigail Huff of Skaneateles, Hannum built his home beside the Sherwood Inn, on the main thoroughfare through Skaneateles. Public-spirited as well as entrepreneurial, Hannum was twice elected president of the young village and helped steer it through a period of major growth.
In 1862 Hannum House was sold to Shuler D. Conover, a retired gentleman farmer. In 1898 it was sold to Norman Orlando Shepard, whose family had settled in Skaneateles more than a century earlier. Like many descendants of early settlers, Shepard preferred business to farming; in 1876, he established Hall and Shepard Dry Goods at 48 East Genesee St. in Skaneateles. The store advertised “three floors of goods, including crockery, glass, dress goods, and notions, as well as a full line of groceries.”*
As Skaneateles developed into a world-class resort, Shepard provided critical financial backing and business guidance to the community’s first boatbuilding venture, Bowdish Manufacturing Co., renowned for its rowboats, canoes, and St. Lawrence skiffs.
Shepard, a volunteer fireman and longtime village trustee, twice served as village president. In his subsequent role as town supervisor, he was an advocate for the Good Roads Movement and helped persuade the village to build the county’s first macadam roads – a welcome upgrade for cyclists and farmers transporting their products to market.
Shepard purchased Hannum House primarily for its proximity to Skaneateles Lake. His family was living at the time on Jordan Street in a house of similar size. A decade after moving into Hannum House, Shepard undertook a major renovation, altering the style from Greek Revival to Colonial Revival and raising the roof to create a second floor of living space. In 1923, the house was converted into a two-family house to accommodate the family of Shepard’s son, whose home had been destroyed by fire.
While Skaneateles is famous for “summer homes of wealthy businessmen and industrialists,”* Hannum House is listed on the National Historic Register as an example of an early twentieth-century home inhabited by a middle-class, long–term community resident.