18 Vine & Carriage House » History
The History of 18 Vine Inn and Carriage House starts in 1860 with Jules and Catherine Mason, along with their eight children building the estate house and Carriage House. Jules mason was the first champagne producer in the U.S. for the Pleasant Valley Wine Company (the No. 1 bonded wine company in the U.S.) He is credited with producing Great Western Champagne and many other fine wines. Jules mason also dug out the shale in the hillside on Rt. 88 with his horses (housed in the Carriage House at 18 Vine) and the men working for him to form “natural cooling/refrigeration” similar to the original caverns in Europe. This site is the only one in existence in NY State. It is a national Landmark and a historical site is site used and functioning today.
The Mason family lived in the 18 Vine Street home for over 100 years. Everything is basically as it was “as if time stood still” the Carriage House was built for storage and shelter of horses and equipment for grape production. The original workbench area that was used for many U.S. patents, by Jules and his son, Victor, is still intact.
The Carriage House was built of a stone foundation and with a small stone cellar under the coachman’s home. The coachman and his family lived their in four rooms which still has the original dry sink in the kitchen area. The Carriage house was built with huge raw wood beams. The flooring consists of large raw deck boards. The second floor has huge ceiling beams and the roof is aluminum. The doors are made f plank wood and frame. The windows are large dormer windows, as the main house, except where the horse stalls were and they are the square windows used for light and horses of the day. The same stones used in the foundation and cellar are the same ones used for the original water pump, hitching post, and the two portcullis suspending the white wooden gateway to the back of the property. The same stone was used in the house for the cellar, foundation, and cisterns.
The original hitching post is at the rear (NE side of the Carriage House) where the horses were groomed and hitched to the carriage. The water pump is on the west side of the Carriage House. It provided water for the kitchen of the home (located in back) for the coachman’s house, located to the east side of the Carriage House and for the horses, etc. The original of the 1860 brick lining the path for the horses – both for the home and the Carriage House in the back are the same. These same bricks are used in the coachman’s house for his chimney and fireplaces; the four supporting the veranda and widow’s walk of the main house, and used for the borders of the formal gardens off the veranda and the main street.
Catherine Mason (Jules’ daughter) christened the “June Bug” on Keuka Lake for its first flight by Glenn Curtis when he was 16 years old. Catherine married and had a son, Charles Champlain. Charles became a famous author and wrote for the L.A Times, several articles, publications and books. He penned the book, Boy in a Small Town, about growing up in Hammondsport, N.Y. and all the great times he had staying as a small boy and visiting 18 Vine. Charles states “his dream was to have a library /study like his uncle Victor did at 18 Vine!” Charles’s book and the Curtiss museum archives go into great historical detail about 18 Vine, the Carriage House, and the Mason Family with Photos, etc.
Glenn Curtiss’, (NO. 1 licensed pilot in the U.S. and famous inventor of the airplane and motorcycle engines birthplace and home sits NW adjacent to the Carriage House. Henry Ford came to Hammondsport and frequented the property, among other famous dignitaries of the time.
In 1960, the home was purchased by the Ernest Pletz family. Ernest was a lawyer and became the County Judge. His wife was the head of Steuben Mental Health. Mrs. Peltz loved the gardens and grounds and they worked in then for pleasure, while maintaining a full time gardener. They have two children Cindy and Charlie. They built an in ground swimming pool for then and the children of Hammondsport to enjoy. It was the first pool in the area. Many a party, memories, and even engagements proposals were celebrated there. The Peltz family made the second floor of the Carriage House into a basketball court for the children to enjoy in the inclement and cooler weather.
After Mrs. Peltz passed away in the 1990’s, and the children were grown up and moved away’ Ernest Peltz sold the home to George Powell Jr. in December of 2001. George remodeled the home and returned to the grounds to its original splendor. He made it a Bed ad Breakfast in June 2002 for the public to enjoy.