By Derek M. Otto
Since last week, our area has rain and wind leaving most of the trees a little more leafless…which reminds me of one of my favorite Halloween stories I have.
A few ago, I had taken a part time job in the local funeral home and I was the one lucky enough to have to work calling hours on Halloween. It was a sad night— it was calling hours for a resident at the nursing home across the street. A 98-year-old, not as soul came to pay their respects. She had out lived all her friends and relatives. So it made for a lonely night.
Worse, it was Halloween. Trick-or-treaters do not visit the funeral home, though I could watch them busily go up and down the street. As the night progressed, the activity died down and the wind starting picking up. Inside, it was too quiet. The end of calling hours couldn’t come fast enough, so I could leave. The wind made the old brick building moan and groan. Tree branches scratched at windows. The more the night progressed, the more I wanted to go. Moan, moan, scratch, scratch constantly kept me from reading papers I working on.
Finally, the time came to lock up. One thing I had to do was go downstairs and turn lights off in the casket showroom. I hated that place. It was in the basement, though the showroom was nice and remodeled, other places reminded me of crypts you’d seen in horror movies. I wasn’t necessarily afraid, but I didn’t know what to expect. Shadows are shadows. The night was creepy enough.
Sure enough, just as I hit the last light switch, bang, bang, moan. I never thought I could move that fast up the stairs. I finished locking up and booked it. Yes, the furnace kicked on! Funny, how we can scare ourselves.
Sometimes, I think that is what can happen when we look at old houses. Are they haunted or not? Some houses have great stories, others more macabre and we add to it as time goes on. One of those house is the C. J. Shuttleworth House. It is the large brick house on Main Street next door to the Gardiner House, one of the houses I featured last Halloween.
Now first about CJ Shuttleworth: he was born in 1834 in Oneida County and settled in Springville with his family soon after he was born. His father operated a mill on Mill Street at Pearl. CJ would learn from his father the skill of a millwright; however, CJ was more industrious and creative. His first attempts in enterprise would also be in milling.
In the 1850s, he bought the Springville Rolling Mills with his brother-in-law, William Barckley. After a few years, he bought out the Barckley interest and continued to run the mill.
At the same time, he married Eliza Holland. If you remember the story on the Eaton House, Eliza’s father was the initial builder of that home. It is not known if Holland was the brick maker, but his house on Main Street was one first brick houses on Main Street-the old Presbyterian Manse.
CJ Shuttleworth saw the value of brick in the future. His enterprise led him to build a foundry on Franklin Street. This was quickly emblazoned. He soon bought the property of his father’s employer and built a new foundry. He filed several patents over his lifetime relating to milling and foundries. Here he would dam Springbrook by raising Buffalo Street and created a lot of water power for Springville and his foundry.
He continued his endeavors and kept building Springville. As the great builder of Springville, he is accredited for building the following buildings in Springville: The Olmsted House, The Holland House, The Union Block, the first water system, the Bargar House at the corner of Woodward and Buffalo Street, the Former Gramco building on West Main Street, The old First National Bank, he was one of the first organizers of Maplewood Cemetery and, of course, built his house.
It was the grandest house in Springville when it was built in the early 1870s. With little trees on Main Street, the house could be seen from every place in the village. The Shuttleworths lived in their house for many years; however, they left Springville in 1902, the same year his son Luther built Godard Hall. We know that after they moved to Massachusetts Avenue in Buffalo, CJ’s wife became an invalid. She died in 1911 and CJ in 1920; both are buried in Maplewood Cemetery.
What became of the house? The house would transfer to several owners before becoming the Trevett Home in the 1930s. It would be a typical early convalescent home, a place for disabled and the elderly to be taken care of around the clock. The house, with its large rooms and windows, would be a place to retire for the area’s elderly. The Trevett Home was sold to the McKerrow family, who operated the home as the Springville Nursing Home until 1973. The house was then divided into apartments.
Suddenly, renters told stories of odd and strange things going on in the place—weird noises at night and strange lights. If anything, we know places like hospitals, nursing homes and sanatoriums are always haunted. Are there sad souls from the days of it being a nursing home still wandering the grounds? Was it a spirit of despair that fell over the place that caused the house to age? Or was it combination of squirrels and tenants hearing them that would begin stories about visions and ghosts haunting the building?
Whatever the case before the house was auctioned off last year, the house would be classified as haunted. Thankfully for the historic preservationist, new life is promised for the house and luxury apartments are planned. I am curious to know if the new owners are finding things that go bump in the night as they work on the house.