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Historic South Seneca properties featured in upcoming tour

  • / Updated:
  • Concetta Durso 

On Saturday, September 24, from 1 to 4 p.m., the public will have the opportunity to get inside three of the ten known siltstone houses in the towns of Ovid and Lodi in southern Seneca County.

Sponsored by the Ovid Historical Society, at a cost of $10 per adult, people will see what these rather unique stone houses look like inside, as well as driving by and stopping to take close looks at the exteriors of the other 7 known siltstone houses in the area.

Tickets are purchased the day of the tour at the Ovid Historical Society Museum, 7203 South Main Street (NYS Route 414), Ovid, NY 14521, starting at 12 noon. Advance sale of tickets, to guarantee you a spot on the tour, can be arranged by contacting Dave Eastman at 607-592-7785. This is a self-driving tour—no transportation will be provided by the Ovid Historical Society. With each purchased ticket, a brief informational brochure will provide the addresses of all the siltstone houses, with a suggested driving route.

Also available for purchase  the day of the tour will be a new book titled Siltstone Houses in Ovid and Lodi authored by Seneca County Historian Walter Gable. The book is filled with many visuals and provides much detailed information about the nature of siltstone houses and the main features of the 10 known siltstone houses in Ovid and Lodi towns and some history of the people who built these houses. Gable will be available to autograph the books purchased. The cost of the book is $10.

Siltstone houses are built of cut pieces of siltstone which is a special form of mud rock with a low level of clay content. Siltstone is unlike shale which can easily flake into thin pieces or layers. Siltstone can be in different colors, but usually is a gray or brown or reddish brown color. The siltstone that exists in the Ovid-Lodi area was caused by the glaciers that covered this area. The last such glacier was about 12,000 years ago. These glaciers were about 1 mile deep of ice, causing such tremendous downward pressure on silt that the silt was compressed into a sedimentary rock. There is an east-west band of a layer of siltstone that extends through southern Seneca County and the Taughannock Falls gorge. With the siltstone layer so close to the ground surface, the siltstone was easily quarried and cut into pieces to use for building the exterior walls of houses.

Siltstone houses are sometimes confused with cobblestone houses. While cobble stones are used in their naturally gathered-up sizes and shapes, siltstones are cut pieces of siltstone quarried from underground.

This tour of siltstone houses builds on a July 21, 2021 program hosted by the Ovid Historical Society. The program was so popular that there were several requests by the public for a tour of at least some of these houses. Some current owners of these houses were gracious in offering to open up their houses so that the public can see what the interiors of these houses currently look like. The tour is probably a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to see first-hand what these houses are like.

Proceeds from this tour will used by the Ovid Historical Society to defray costs in upgrading its technology.

For further information, contact Dave Eastman at 607-592-7785.