DANSVILLE — The little yellow house at the end of West Avenue has a rich history.
It was around the 1790s when brothers Daniel, James, and Samuel Faulkner came to the village. The village of Dansville is named after Daniel.
Samuel would have a son named James who would come to own most of what we know as West Avenue and Jefferson Street. It is here a house would be built that would stand the test of time.
The yellow house on 37 West Ave. is deeded to James Jr. Faulkner in the 1850s. This would be Samuel’s grandson. James Jr. raised his family in his father’s house.
Alice Burdick has lived in this historic gem for five years now. Burdick told the Genesee Country Express she is trying to get it on the National Register of Historic Places.
Burdick believes the house belonged to the Faulkner family until the 1890s. It is also said to be part of the Underground Railroad. There is evidence within the home to suggest this is true.
Burdick discovered the home when her old friend, Rick Andrews, bought it about 15 years ago. Andrews is still the groundskeeper, and visits with Burdick once a week.
“This is an intriguing old house,” Burdick said. “I believe it was built in the 1830s. I am trying to find out who built it. It was all built by hand, and with natural material found in Dansville. James Faulkner owned a lot of mills. All of the material came from those mills. Everything is really beautifully finished.”
The oldest documents of the home said James Jr. Faulkner lived here with his wife and children in 1852, Burdick added.
“They were original charter members of the American Red Cross,” Burdick said. “I have just discovered this.”
Burdick mentioned Jefferson Street was main street in the early days, and all of the houses on that street are very old.
James Faulkner owned from Jefferson Street to Ossian Street. He owned paper, plaster, and lathe mills. The canal use to be behind them, and West Avenue was known as Canal Street.
“The football field use to be a pine woods, and in those woods was a trap door covered in brush,” Burdick said. “It went from the middle of the woods to this house. This was used on the Underground Railroad. This is mostly oral history, but I have been inside the tunnel. It was dark and scary with snakes and rats.”
Andrews had the tunnel blocked off for safety reasons, but there are several rooms in the lower level that show signs of being used to keep people hidden.
“Whoever built this house was very wealthy,” Burdick said. “They had several rooms and a root cellar in the lower level. There is a room that is always warm, and I believe this is where the people would come in through the tunnel. They could come in this room, and get warmed up before going to the attic. The attic has a weird space that could’ve hidden people.”
Burdick said this is a fascinating place, and she feels very lucky to live in it.
“I believe James Faulkner built this house,” she said. “He was a surgent in the War of 1812 and came back to buy land here since it was cheap. I have to jump through a lot of hoops to find out who built this house. The earliest I have is his son in 1852.”
Burdick mentioned the last house she lived in was owned by the McNair family, and she put it on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I have always lived in history,” she said. “This place suits me just fine. I have had a good time collecting things, and living in old homes. I grew up in one, so I got use to living in old homes. I grew up in Cohocton.”
Burdick added it has been an honor to live in the Faulkner home.
“It is an honor to be a part of history in the community,” she said. “To see how the family that first settled here built this community. They built it out of natural material found here in the village. It is amazing how they built the community and a home with their hands.”
Burdick is known throughout the community as a lover of history, and has been honored as such on several occasions.