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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.