June 1990

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Historical Architectural Evaluation of the

McCay/Balcom House


Bill Treichler

In January 1970 the Steuben County Planning Committee and the Steuben County Buildings and Grounds Committee completed an Historical Architectural Evaluation of the Pulteney Square County Building Complex in Bath. H. Merrill Roenke of the New York State Council on the Arts was consultant for the report which recommended that the four county buildings facing the square by retained and used as a basis for establishing the architecture and construction detail of any new office building considered for the remainder of the site. The report included an evaluation of the Supervisor's Chambers or the "Balcom House" and assessed its architectural value as follows:

The Supervisors' Chambers is a wooden structure of excellent Greek Revival design. Though the use of a wooden building of residence design is hard to incorporate into County Building use, this house is one of the architectural gems in Bath, New York. The exterior of this building is of very fine detail, such as door ways and window trim, both of which are superior and earlier in style to those found on most such houses. It is an early Greek Revival House and has been well preserved on the exterior. Some rear wings could be removed without destroying the purity of design if desired, in order to reduce upkeep and gain needed space. This house has significant historical interest to Bath, New York, as well as to all the Pulteney Estate History. This building should by all means be preserved and somehow incorporated into any County building plans. One possibility would be to see it preserved and restored as a Pulteney Estate Museum, incorporating the history of the development of the Pulteney Estate under successive agents. This 1820 Greek Revival House deserves every consideration for preservation. It is a building of architectural merit.

Mr. Roenke further commented on the Balcom House in the summary of the report: "The Supervisor's Chambers, of the early Greek Revival period, was found to possess the greatest degree of architectural merit of the buildings surveyed.". Merrill Roenke is the administrator and curator of Rose Hill Mansion, and has been the person most closely associated with the carrying out of the restoration of that glorious example of Greek Revival architecture."

The committees suggested in 1970 that the Balcom House be preserved and used as a museum of the Pulteney Estate. Many of the documents in the County Historian's collection came from the Pulteney Estate, and would be among those stored in the Balcom House if the Historical Society receives permission to establish a history study center there.

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