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Remember 18 Elm Street Potsdam

Updated on January 24, 2012

Rumored to be Original Nightmare on Elm Street

Once a grand Queen Anne Victorian home with Onion Turrets now stands as an empty lot with spotty patches of grass. The historic structure located at 18 Elm St. in the Upstate NY village of Potsdam was razed to make way for a new Town Hall.

Passing through many hands over the years, it has built up a rich and storied past. Most often it was a Fraternity House, but also has connections to famed Horror writer Wes Craven. Some say it's the "Original Nightmare on Elm Street" house.

Visit the 18 Elm St. Facebook page

Historic Queen Anne Victorian Home - Photograph of how 18 Elm St appeared in its glory days

18 Elm Street back in the day
18 Elm Street back in the day

Photo courtesy Potsdam Public Museum

Learn More About Victorian Architecture

We lost the stately Queen Anne Victorian at 18 Elm Street, but you can still learn about the architecture styles and historic buildings that we can still admire.

Historic Dewey residence, Potsdam NY
Historic Dewey residence, Potsdam NY

The house was around 120 years old, built in the 1890's by Frederick Dewey. It was an example of Queen Anne architecture done in the Free Classic style, which have dentil moldings, which are still on the house and classic style pillars on raised brick platforms, which can be seen in the older photograph compliments of the Potsdam Museum. The house itself had wooden clapboard siding and "fish scale" shingles. Each Queen Anne built was done in it's own way with no two being similar. Very few of these houses are left in New York and few show the onion dome the house had.

This Queen Anne Victorian home was built by Dr. F. L. Lewey at 18 Elm Street, Potsdam in 1894. In recent times the house was referred to as the 1890s Dewey Mansion in honor of its original builder.

Most recently the house is well known among the Greek and College population of Potsdam. It served as Fraternity House to both the Theta Chi and Sigma Pi frats.

Photo courtesy Potsdam Public Museum

Residence of Dewey
Residence of Dewey

Photo courtesy Nan Sherburne Heath, scan of 1895 Souviner Book of Potsdam, N.Y.

Where is Potsdam NY? - Google map of 18 Elm Street Potsdam

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What Happened to the Historic Queen Anne? - Nov. 23, 2010 - Razed to the ground

What's left of 18 Elm St, Potsdam NY
What's left of 18 Elm St, Potsdam NY

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 23, 2010, Potsdam NY residents awoke to discover that the historic home at 18 Elm Street had been completely demolished. As of January 2012, nothing remains except for an empty, frozen lot.

Story of a House - Interesting dates in the history of 18 Elm Street

  • 1816 - Samuel Partridge, prominent resident of Potsdam, purchases the property
  • 1818 - Samuel Partridge builds the first structure located at 18 Elm St.
  • 1868 - H. D. Thatcher is listed in the Potsdam Director as residing at 18 Elm
  • 1882 - Ad ran in Potsdam Courier Freeman that read "Permanent or table boarders accommodated at No. 18 Elm St." with the name Mrs. A. W. Rutherford attached.
  • 1894 - Current Queen Anne Victorian home is built by another prominent Potsdam business man, Dr. F. L. Dewey. Original cost of building was $20,000.
  • 1922 - Private sale of home upon the untimely death of F. L. Dewey while he was away on business in Albany
  • 1923 - Bought by Clayton and Bertha Elliot
  • 1930 - Reference to being the home of a Miss Florence Seeley
  • - Reference to being occupied by the Clionian Society
  • - Reference to Frederick A. Stoughton residing at 18 Elm before purchased by the Sullivans
  • - Owned by the former St. Lawrence Power Corp. at some point
  • 1937 - House purchased by James M. and Gertrude Sullivan and used as a funeral parlor. Main floor consisted of 5 large rooms; 6 rooms on second floor; 4 rooms on third. Sullivans had plans to remodel some of the rooms. The large barn in rear was still present.
  • 1940 - Property purchased by Hamilton R. Clow and Jacob F. Clow
  • 1941 - Bit of conflict here in that WDT article reports that the Sullivans sold the house to Allan L. Gurley although my research indicates it had already been purchased by the Clows in 1940
  • 1941 - Gurley declares bankruptcy and sells house to the Citizen's National Bank
  • 1942 - For sale ad in Courier Freeman with an $8,000 price tag. Lot is recorded as being 99x330 feet.
  • 1942 - Purchased by William Anderson and sold a year later
  • 1943 - 18 Elm served as the private residence of William J. and Ruth Benjamin
  • 1952 - Residential garage lost in large fire that burned several other buildings in the vicinity
  • 1956/1957 - Mrs. Benjamin sells house to Delta Sigma chapter of the Theta Chi Fraternity
  • 1968 - Student film project is shot at 18 Elm, along with other locations in Potsdam, under the direction of Clarkson professor Wesley Craven. Wes Craven goes on to establish the highly successful "A Nightmare on Elm Street" film franchise.
  • 1974 - Theta Chi vacates the house after it experiences heavy damage in the Winter of 1973
  • 1975 - Theta Chi, with help from Alum, clean up the house, installing a new heating system, repairing plumbing and repainting.
  • 1976 - Theta Chi brothers move back into the home
  • 1997 - Theta Chi vacates after their Charter is revoked in response to the death of a Freshman student during a bid-night party
  • Sept. 1997 - SUNY Potsdam fraternity Sigma Pi moves in
  • 1999 and 2003 - Sigma Pi is suspended on two occasions on charges of underage drinking and inter-fraternity fighting
  • Sept 2006 - A student falls from the roof of the house after a night of drinking and becomes paralyzed
  • 2007 - Sigma Pi vacates the house
  • 2008 - Epsilon Omega chapter of Sigma Pi loses national charter and isn't officially recognized by SUNY Potsdam. They sell the house to the Blanchard brothers who proceed to gut the house of anything of value.
  • March 2010 - Town of Potsdam purchases the property for $61,781.74 without consulting the Potsdam community. $60,000 went towards the land and building and $1,781.74 for tax prorations, deed recording and real property transfer.
  • March 2010 - Subsequently, the Town of Potsdam puts up for sale 29 acres on Lawrence Ave. it had purchased previously in 2006 for $40,000 from Violet A. Cook in anticipation of the town hall project.
  • March 2010 - Building Blocks Day Care Center purchases Lawrence Ave. property for $50,000.
  • April 2010 - Town Council council authorizes the town highway department to clean out, tear down and haul away the old storage garage located in the rear of 18 Elm.
  • July 2010 - We take a stand against the Town of Potsdam who wants to raze the historic structure to build a new 1.8 million town hall
  • Early morning hours of Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - Residents of Potsdam wake up to discover that 18 Elm Street has been completely razed to the ground

Is Elm Street in Potsdam the Real Elm Street? - Connection to Wes Craven and Nightmare on Elm Street explained

Wes Craven, creator of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, was a professor at Clarkson University in 1968, as well as faculty adviser to the Clarkson Drama Club (the predecessor of the current Clarkson Theatre Company). As part of one of Professor Craven's classes, Humanities IV, several Theta Chi members wanted to make a spoof of traditional horror movies, about the strange occurrences in their fraternity's house at 18 Elm Street. The filming included CTC's home, Old Snell Hall, where the boiler room scene took place in the basement. While none of those involved had very much film experience, they made the film for about $300 and it was shown twice on campus.[3] Much of Craven's inspiration for A Nightmare on Elm Street came from this first filmmaking experience; the house in the movie, while not the house used in the first version, resembles this house and also resides on Elm Street. The town in A Nightmare on Elm Street is named Madstop, which is Potsdam backwards.

Courtesy Remember 18 Elm Street Facebook page

Share Your Memories of 18 Elm St. - Did you live in Potsdam or got to School there? Have stories about this house? Please share them below!

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    • meashman profile image
      Author

      meashman 5 years ago

      @chezchazz: Thanks very much Chazz, the support is appreciated! Our town officials couldn't recognize the value in this house, but hopefully others can learn from their mistake.

    • meashman profile image
      Author

      meashman 5 years ago

      @JanezKranjski: It was a shame to loose such a historic property.

    • meashman profile image
      Author

      meashman 5 years ago

      @Lemming13: Thanks so much for the blessing!

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      How sad and what a shame. As a board member of my local landmark and historical societies and the owner of an 1880 Queen Anne, I know what you must have went through to try to prevent this and hope this lens makes others realize what we lose by destroying the past. Blessings. This page is now featured on "Wing-ing it on Squidoo," a tribute to some of the best lense I've found since donning my wings.

    • JanezKranjski profile image

      JanezKranjski 5 years ago

      Incredible history of that house. Too bad that it was destroyed.

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 5 years ago

      I always hate to see a lovely and interesting building destroyed; my own city authority are horrific vandals and have razed half of my hometown in the most casual way. At least this place was recorded and preserved in pictures for posterity. Blessing this interesting lens.

    • meashman profile image
      Author

      meashman 5 years ago

      @sockii: I wish I could have written a different outcome. My hope now is that people can learn from this situation.

    • sockii profile image

      Nicole Pellegrini 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Great lens - interesting if sad subject. Too bad they weren't able to save the house.

    • meashman profile image
      Author

      meashman 5 years ago

      @Inkhand: It certainly was a pity and a lost opportunity. Thank you for your support!

    • Inkhand profile image

      Inkhand 5 years ago

      It's a pity that the historical Queen Anne Victorian house at 18 Elm St. Potsdam was demolished to make way for a new Town Hall. An interesting lens.