Landmark article by Larry Barnes
The Sharon Johnson home is located on Roosevelt Avenue in the City of Batavia. According to deeds in the County Clerk’s office, it is a part of the Anna T. Mileham subdivision laid out by R. A. Wentworth in 1910.
The design of the house defies placement in any single category of architectural style. The City Assessor refers to it as a cape cod design. Laurie Oltramari, past president of Landmark, refers to it as a “mashup” of styles. She points out that the front gables with the finial or pinnacle at the peak make it look like a Gothic Revival cottage, especially with the entrance having a traditional Gothic pitch. On the other hand, the brickwork that surrounds the windows is more of an Italianate characteristic. Laurie concludes that it may simply be a vernacular post-World War I home with European influences. Whatever description one chooses, everyone agrees that it is a strikingly attractive house.
When the Historic Preservation Commission in Batavia designated the house as a landmark, it was thought that the date of construction was 1924. However, a review of the deed records in the County Clerk’s office leaves some doubt. When the property was sold by James and Monica Anderson in 1941, there is a reference to structures on the land. However, there is no such reference when the Anderson’s bought the property in 1937. Furthermore, the property changed hands several times in the 15 years before 1937 and in 1924 was in the hands of the Bank of Batavia in what appear to be foreclosure proceedings that date to 1922. In short, the house existed in 1941, but exactly when it was built and by whom is something of a mystery.
Sharon Johnson’s connections to the house begin with Walter and Charlotte Stevens. The Stevenses purchased 44 Roosevelt in 1941. They also operated the Rest Haven Nursing Home on Ross Street where Sharon’s mother, Shirley Johnson, worked as a nurse. When Charlotte became ill with cancer, Shirley Johnson became her personal nurse. When Mrs. Stevens died, her husband, Walter, invited Shirley and Sharon Johnson to live with him at 44 Roosevelt. Sharon recalls sleeping in a corner room behind this window.
Sharon recalls Walter telling her that someday the house would be hers. In fact, Walter willed the house to Sharon’s mother, Shirley Johnson, and then, years later, in the early 1980s, Shirley sold it to Sharon.
For the most part, the house has been kept faithful to its apparent original construction. (Picture 9) It is a single floor home of 1,232 sq. ft. with two bedrooms, two baths, and a full basement. A fireplace graces the northern wall. The exterior is surfaced with stucco and brick. The trim on the front entryway door and the lights at the two entrances compliment the overall appearance.
Foundation plantings further enhance the appearance of the house as do these Rose of Sharon bushes on either side of the front entrance. (Picture 17) Two lions stand guard at the head of the walkway.
The Landmark Society is pleased to recognize Sharon Johnson’s efforts to preserve this lovely home by granting her our 2014 Tender Loving Care Award.