WCA Foundation Home Tour

By Brigetta E. Overcash

“I had a dream and this is what we made of it,” Mary Rapaport said of her self-proclaimed castle in Greenhurst. The home and carriage house she and her husband, Bill, built on Chautauqua Lake in Greenhurst is 10,000+ square feet of the WCA Foundation Home Tour.

Jamestown’s housing treasures – past and present – are the focus of this Saturday’s four-stop tour which stretches from Lucille Ball’s childhood home in Celoron through Jamestown and on to Greenhurst. Each venue has historic value and offers tours of community homes that we pass frequently but may never have seen the less public areas that will be opened to tour visitors.

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The Rapaport Castle and Carriage House

rappaport castle

Great views of Chautauqua Lake greet the visitors to “The Castle” from most of the rooms in the 10,000 square foot home at 3750 Heineman Road, Greenhurst, N.Y. Diane Hendrix did the original architectural drawings based on the specifications and design plans of Mary Rapaport.  Other engineering and architectural firms were involved in detailed implementation of this dream house, which is handicap accessible.

Anderson Builders of WNY – Larry Anderson, built the home with the assistance from other contractors.  Sivak Stonemasonry – Jason Sivak, did the stone masonry which was enhanced by the work of Ground Control Excavating & Landscaping.  Laurie Shults owner of Brick Elephant Design in Lakewood worked with the owners to complete the breathtaking interior design.  Art lovers will be amazed by the outstanding collection of one of a kind artwork by James Coleman, Jim Barton and Lucy artist Michael Isreal.

The Rapaport’s Carriage House was built by the couple to be their Chautauqua County home during the construction process.  It now houses their adult children during family gatherings while the grandchildren stay in the Castle to enjoy the many special features created just for them.  While the Carriage House boasts an authentic fireman’s pole, “The Castle” houses a two story curving slide in one of the turrets.  The children’s playroom houses desks for each precious grandchild, giant doll houses, a billiard’s table hide-a-way, craft area, play restaurant and a special race track room.

The size of “The Castle,” and Mary Rapaport’s enthusiasm of for it, is equaled by her generosity to the community and her passion for Lucille Ball.  Her workroom in “The Castle” displays a portion of her Lucy artwork and memorabilia.  Much of her collection has been already been donated to the Lucy Desi Museum, but other pieces decorate the historic 59 Lucy Lane – childhood home of Lucille Ball, which the Rapaports also own.

The Sheldon House, 9 Falconer Street, Jamestown

Addison A. Price was deeded the land in 1848 building the original small house on it in 1860. A. Harrison Reynolds was its owner when extensive rebuilding and remodeling was completed in 1925.  Ethel Collopy Reynolds imprinted the house with Spanish and Moorish architectural influences she saw during visits to South America.  It became Levan’s Tea Room in the late 1930s.

Isabelle Sheldon lived in the house from 1941 to 1951.  Her daughter, Julia Sheldon Ludwig Livengood, a prominent civic leader, owned the house until 1978.  She willed the home to the City of Jamestown in trust for Jamestown Community College.

Touring the house, which is being prepared for transfer to its new owners Lynn Development, will offer glimpses of the Sheldon House’s once grand existence. While some furniture and artwork of old will have been removed, the unique architecture will stand as a testament to the historic beauty of such houses in Jamestown.  The first floor foyer, living room, solarium, morning room, dining room are handicap accessible.  The foyer’s grand circular staircase will allow the viewing of the second floor bedroom suites.

The Marvin House, 2 West Fifth Street, Jamestown

In 1935, a dream was put on paper as Elizabeth Warner Marvin bequeathed her home and its furnishing to her executors with instructions that a corporation was to be organized and named the Elizabeth Warner Marvin Community House.  She stated the house was to be used by women’s groups whose purpose is “the moral or mental improvement of women and are engaged in literary, musical, educational, patriotic, scientific or historical work.”
The boards of directors of this reality have graciously offered a tour of the home which is used extensively by the community. Members will guide the WCA Foundation Home Tour guests throughout the club house including the second floor rooms which can be accessed by the grand open staircase of the home or an elevator for handicap accessibility. Using one’s imagination, it isn’t hard to dream of what it was like to live in such a gracious home – especially with a fireplace in the middle of the second floor landing surrounded by built in seating.

The Marvin House originally was an eight-room farm house with an address of 503 North Main Street.  In 1897 Robert Marvin bought the building and added rooms in front and on the south side spending a small fortune on it.  It was designed by Dietrick, a famous architect from New York City.  No expense was spared in the use of rare wood for the various rooms. The library is mahogany throughout, the living room figure birch, the dining room quarter oak with high paneled wainscoting. Antiques and oriental rugs gave the house a Victorian atmosphere of elegance and comfort.

The tour’s hosts will be offering homemade light refreshments in the spirit of the graciousness of Mrs. Marvin.

59 Lucy Lane, Celoron

Originally 59 W. 8th St., the house that sits at what is now known as 59 Lucy Lane is where Lucille Ball spent her childhood. The house belonged to her Grandpa Fred and Grandma Flora Belle Hunt, and it is where they, along with Desiree “DeDe” Ball – Lucille’s mother, DeDe’s sister Lola and her young daughter Cleo, Lucille and her younger brother Freddy called home.

The house was several blocks away from Celoron Park, home to an amusement park and world-famous vaudeville shows appearing at the Celoron Theatre. Those acts helped spark Lucy’s desire to get into show business, and Grandpa Hunt and DeDe supported those interests. Lucy’s bedroom overlooked the spacious backyard with its large garden and beautiful lilac bushes, and when she wasn’t dreaming of what the world had to offer beyond those boundaries, she was putting on her own productions in the entryway of 59 W. 8th St.
Guided tours of Lucille Ball’s childhood home will be given in smaller groups to allow for an historic description of the home.

Home Tour hours are 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., June 18. Tickets for the event, which supports grants to UPMC Chautauqua WCA, are $20. Pre-sale tickets are available the WCA Hospital Gift Shop or by clicking here. On Saturday they will be available at any of the homes on the tour. Patrons may go to one or all of the venues on the tour in whichever order they choose.  For more information, contact Brigetta Overcash, executive director of WCA Foundation, 716-664-5461, Brigetta.Overcash@wcahospital.org or Megan Barone, WCA director of development, 716-664-8423, Megan.D’Angelo@wcahospital.org.

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