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Landmark Award 2017: 11129 River Street, Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Cleo Mullins

This cobblestone home is the only one in Pavilion. William Henry purchased the land in 1829 and in a book about Pavilion it listed William Henry as a stone mason so it is likely he built this home. With its rectangular form, simple lines and ornamentation and the use of cobblestones, it is presumed that this residence was built shortly after 1829.

Over the years additions were added. Ten years ago Dave and Noreen Tillotson bought the house, barn and 160 acres as they owned a farm within a mile of the place and needed the land and barn. One of the first jobs on the house and barn was to clean up and make the barn ready for cattle. This is a present-day picture of the barn. Note the new roof, paint job and landscaping. Before there were only a few trees. This is a later picture but I wanted you to see the shape of the build. The larger cobblestones with less precision arrangement were used on the sides and back of the house.

The Gillard Construction Company of Berger was the contractor of this project. The roof was torn off and new rafters were put up in the house. This is the 2 story part of the house.

This is the one story part of the house where the kitchen will be. Note the square opening that they found in the house and retained it.

Now with the new roof the next year job was to replace all the windows (six over six) by Anderson.

The front door has been uncovered and now has a glass storm door to protect the original door. Notice the uniformed size cobblestones that were used on the front of the house. Note the original quoins, lintels, and windowsills that are cut from limestone. They had been painted over with white paint so it was removed.

This shows the addition to the house that have bedrooms, bath and entrance to the house.

Pictures of outside landscaping and the rail fence that is a type that would have been used in colony times. 21-22 They have added a garage and created a welcoming entrance.

When Noreen saw the living room of the house that featured the original mantel, original wood floors of old growth pine and the full original woodwork of the interior of this room she knew she wanted the home.

The fireplace uses carved limestone to line the front of the fireplace opening.

In this room, Noreen did all the removal of paint from the woodwork and then repainted them. She also stenciled the walls.

This is a picture of the original door and doorknob.

This is the room right of the entrance across from the living room.

In the kitchen they have left the original cobblestone walls exposed at the peak of both ends of the room and the beams that are exposed and running horizontally are original and part of the structure. It is a nice place to display crocks and other items. Note the square opening that we mentioned earlier, this was left so when you can see into the kitchen from upstairs. This is above the door leading to the upstairs. The steps were replaced to code and the upstairs has the old growth pine floors.

Note the deep windowsill due to the walls being over two feet thick.

This is pictures of the other end of the kitchen with the doorway going into the family room.

When the family room was added on, they left the original wall of cobblestone of the house as a wonderful work of art that could be appreciated and enjoyed each day.

A picture of this lovely home in winter.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is giving the preservation award of restoration to Dave and Noreen Tillotson for breathing new life into a 1830 cobblestone home. 

Mardell Lamb

Where are the rest of the pictures?! My mom grew up just down the road from this home. It was very dilapidated at the time in the 1940's. I drove by there a few weeks ago and was amazed at how beautiful it is now. Wow! It's absolutely stunning. I wanted to stop my car and stare, but was afraid they'd think I was stalking! Ha ha

Ed ~ do you remember this house? It's down towards the dead end of River Road.

Oct 9, 2017, 7:05pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Hi, Mardell. I sure do remember it. My parents bought their River Road house in '65, and, it's still in the family, today. I tried to guesstimate how many times I had driven past the cobblestone, and I would guesstimate somewhere in the multiple 10's of thousands ("wasted days and wasted nights"?).

I was only in it once, back in the early '70's. That was when "Buss" Putney owned it. I must say, it certainly has changed in the last ten years.

Good to hear from you. Be well!

Oct 10, 2017, 12:29pm Permalink
Mardell Lamb

Hi Ed! My mom said that she and her brother would get off the bus at the top of Hudson and walk home. They always stopped at "Mrs. Put Put's" house where she served them fresh baked cookies. And to warm them up in the winter before the next stretch of the walk home.

Which house was yours? My memory is mom and her extended family lived in the big white house. Then my grandfather built the little ranch next door in the 60's. (I think.)

Good hearing from you, too!

Oct 10, 2017, 3:01pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

Mardell. It was the one at the very end of River Road. When my parents bought it, there was only the one house after the 90º turn. In the late 60's, my dad sold about one-third of the land to my sister, Linda, and her husband, where they placed a mobile/prefab home. Not sure who owns that, now.

Yes, the Putney's were nice people. "Buss" was a one-armed farmer, and his wife, Mary, was the "homebody". They were your typical "salt of the earth" people.

Oct 11, 2017, 11:45am Permalink
Mardell Lamb

Oh, ok. I know where you're house was. I don't tread down there much; as it is private to an extent. If I lived on a dead end street and someone came pulling up and turning around, I might get creeped out.

Did Buss Putney lose his arm when a firearm went off? You're bringing back some memories here. Jumped over a fence and the gun went off and he lost his arm?

Oct 11, 2017, 4:49pm Permalink
Ed Hartgrove

I have no idea how he lost his arm, Mardell. I'm not even sure who in the Pavilion area to ask.

As for living on a dead end road, you get (kind of) used to people turning around.

Oct 11, 2017, 10:02pm Permalink
Mardell Lamb

Hi Ed,
I asked my mom about Buss and I was right. He was out hunting and while attempting to climb over a fence, his gun went off. She told me what kind of bullet it was, but I forget now. Obviously it was powerful enough for him to lose his arm! She said it never slowed him down, though.

Oct 12, 2017, 7:05am Permalink

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