Preserving the History of Marcellus, NY Since 1960.
Town of Marcellus, New York
Historic Home Was Donated to Marcellus Historical Society
Lewis T. and Alma B. Steadman, former residents of Marcellus
and now living in Lake Bluff, Illinois were the owners of the historic
Tefft House, located at 18 North Street in the Village of Marcellus.
In 2006 they gifted the property to the Marcellus Historical
Society to house its vast collection of local artifacts.
18 North Street was the home of Dr. Lake I. Tefft who settled in
Marcellus in 1823, and practiced medicine in the community.
He acquired the property about 1827, and built the house in the
1830s where he and his family lived and he tended to farming as
well as his medical profession. On April 1, 1864, Tefft, because
of ill health, sold the property and moved to Syracuse where he
remained until his death in 1880.
The property had been sold to Robert F. and Mary Rhodes North and for several years they and their family occupied
the house and farmed the land. The property was sold to Thomas Hill in 1880 and then to Jonathan Chrysler in 1881,
pieces of it sold off to other individuals in the years to come.
Mr. Steadman’s parents, Prof. Robert F. and Calista Anne Steadman, acquired the property and the house in the
winter of 1934 and it was in this house that Lewis Steadman grew up, attending the new Marcellus school that was
built on what is today Reed Parkway. It was at this school that he met his future wife, Alma, daughter of William and
Alma Bailey of Marcellus.
Lewis Steadman and Alma Bailey were 1943 graduates of Marcellus High School and
following their graduations from Syracuse University, were married in the house at
18 North Street on May 11, 1946. The couple moved to Detroit where Lewis took a job
with the Ford Motor Company, and Alma, after attending Wayne State College,
earned a Masters Degree and became a teacher of Latin. They moved from there to
Washington D.C. where, from 1948 to 1951, Lewis worked in the Patent Office while
attending George Washington University Law School.
Following graduation, the couple moved to Chicago where Lewis began a successful
practice as a patent attorney and where, although semi-retired since 1998, he still
Meanwhile, in 1947 the property at 18 North Street was sold by Robert F. Steadman to
Dean and Mrs. Wesley C. Clark, who resided there in the 1950s and 1960s, altering the
front entry of the house - styling it after those found in the South, with stairs leading on
both sides of a porch.
The house went through a succession of owners for the next thirty years, and when it became available, Lewis
and Alma Steadman purchased the property in 1996 in celebration of their 50th anniversary. Since then they have
been busy with restoration projects - most significantly, the replacement of the four grand columns for the front
portico, which had been removed in 1890. Mike O’Brien of Marcellus meticulously crafted these, using early
photos as his guide and erecting them on bases of limestone found in the yard.
The home of Lewis and Alma Steadman is a fine example of a Greek Revival style house. It stands out as one of
the exceptional village houses in terms of architectural integrity. It is also significant because it is made of brick,
which was an uncommon building material in rural New York. Some suggest that the brick was imported from
England and used as ballast on the ship, sailed up the St. Lawrence River and then down the Black River as far
as possible before being hauled overland to Marcellus. Others say that the brick could have been made in
Marcellus, as was the case with the American Legion Hall, the construction of which dates from an approximate
The Steadmans with their attention to detail and authenticity have restored the entry to the grandeur it was
intended. When Mr. Steadman lived in the house in the 1930-40’s, the front porch had a tin roof over it - the
remains of this are still faintly visible against the brick. The front door has a full stone surround with flanking stone
pilasters and a projecting stone cornice. Many of the six-over-six double hung windows have original sash and
narrow stone sills and flat stone lintels. The home is constructed on a 3’ thick foundation of native stone with the
interior walls being of 1 ½” plaster and a single 30’ tree, 12 by 16 inches thick, beam supporting the roof. Random
widths of pine paneling comprise the flooring, still in use today. Indoor shutters add charm to the living quarters.
The home features 6 fireplaces (3 with marble liners and one on the lower level with the original crane), a carved
circular staircase with cherry baluster and railing and elaborate Greek Revival style moldings which are featured
on the exterior and then replicated around the door frames, windows and fireplaces. The Steadmans have
furnished the home with period pieces as well as with artifacts from Marcellus. They have on display an original
painting of the house done by Ruth Reed Cummings, and a Philip L. Smith clock locally made ca. 1833.
The acquisition of the Tefft House presented an excellent opportunity for the Marcellus Historical Society to fulfill
the mandates of its New York State Charter - to preserve the artifacts, history and records of the Town and
Village of Marcellus - as well as display its collection of artifacts and historic documents. With its nearness to
the Marcellus Central School campus, the Society is also afforded the opportunity to fulfill another of its charter’s
educational mandates - to foster the study of history.
The society, whose search for its own museum and location has been long and patient, is deeply indebted to and
grateful for the generosity of Lewis and Alma Steadman. In addition, the enthusiastic efforts of former Mayor Fred
Eisenberg and MHS attorney, Bernard Reagan, in helping to finalize the property transfer must be acknowledged.
We can all be justly proud of such citizens, whose concern for Marcellus, its history and its future, is yet another
example of their selfless commitment to community.
Marcellus and the Tefft House at 18 North Street have always been a welcome home for Lewis and Alma
Steadman - an emotion that is strongly echoed in their remarkable generosity to the community.