From a postcard with the inscription "New Years 1909 from Mr. Camp."

       
This mansion, situated on the south side of West Main Street, was constructed in 1816 for young Commodore (then Lt.) Melancthon Taylor Woolsey, who figured prominently in the First Battle of Sackets Harbor, which took place on July 19, 1812. It was from the masthead of his vessel, the brig Oneida, the only American warship at the eastern end of Lake Ontario at that time, that the approaching British fleet from Kingston, Ontario, was discovered.
        Woolsey (at left) brought the Oneida back to Sackets Harbor with all possible speed, moored her broadside to the land, caused the guns to be removed from her land-ward side and mounted in a battery on shore. It was her 32-pound cannon that put the British fleet to rout and saved the day.
        Lt. Woolsey had supervised the building of the Oneida at Oswego in 1808, and later brought her to Sackets Harbor to become the nucleus of the American war fleet of Commodore Isaac Chauncey on Lake Ontario in the War of 1812. Woolsey had served on the famous United States frigate Constitution on the Atlantic and in 1825 was in command of her historic sister, Constellation.
        The mansion's slender Tuscan columns, round-arched fanlight, and flush boards on the portico wall recall the earlier Augustus Sackett House, but its greater scale and Palladian three-part plan mark it as a post-War mansion -- one of three such examples in the village today.
   

        Like many of its high-style contemporaries in the village, the house is regally situated far back from its 621 feet of street frontage on fenced-in park-like grounds; yet it is relatively plain in detail, befitting the residence of a military man, with an unadorned pediment and a simple Georgian door surround. The mansion has eight eleven-foot high rooms on the ground floor and five large sleeping rooms on the second floor.
        In 1845 the property was purchased by George Camp, who founded the Sackets Harbor Gazette, a weekly newspaper first issued in March 1817. Camp added a second story to the east wing, re-landscaped the grounds, and re-christened it "Camp Haven."
        George Camp died December 22, 1850, and the mansion later went to his son, Walter Bicker Camp (at right), who figured prominently in this country during the Civil War, brought the railroad to Sackets Harbor in the 1870's, and was one of the founders and first presidents of the Jefferson County Historical Society in 1885. He died January 18, 1916, and three years later, Mrs. George Van Santvoord Camp, whose husband was a nephew of Col. Walter Bicker Camp, and son of Talcott Hale Camp, came into ownership of the property, which she used as a summer home.
        She was the former Miss Elizabeth Knowlton, daughter of George W. Knowlton, local paper manufacturer and banker. She died May 5, 1944, leaving her estate to her three children, Paul V. S. Camp of Altadena, California, Mrs. Frances Camp Brown of Pottsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Mrs. Elizabeth Camp Spencer of New Canaan, Connecticut.
        In 1944, after 99 years of ownership by the Camp family, Addison F. Wardwell, Sackets Harbor resident, member of the automobile department of the Agricultural Insurance Company, and son of Mr. Samuel B. Wardwell, purchased the historic home from the estate of Mrs. George V. S. Camp. He and his family have occupied the home ever since.


The Wardwell Home at dusk, July 2000.



From . . .

Harbor Walk: A Guide to the History and Architecture of Sackets Harbor. Prepared by Michael D. Sullivan for the Village of Sackets Harbor and Sackets Harbor Historical Society. Permission for reproduction herein granted by David Altieri, Historical Society Board Member.

Lane, David F. "Old Woolsey Mansion Sold." Published in 1944 (date unknown) by the Watertown Daily Times. Available in the Town of Hounsfield Binder at the Genealogy Department of the Flower Memorial Library, Watertown.
Article presented online with permission from the Watertown Daily Times.