931 Hartford Rd, Dryden

The road to the one-room-schoolhouse-turned-cottage at 931 Harford Road takes you past hay fields and hoop houses, Greek revival farmhouses and farm stands, and an inviting pond.  It is relatively flat, and only mildly curvy, but traveling the four miles that lead from busy Route 79 to this cottage in a glade helps toss off the stresses of the day.  You have arrived in the country, at a red bungalow bathed in dappled light and surrounded by sweet woodland smells and sounds.

The 1863-vintage building, converted to a home in the 1940s, then updated and renovated in 1995, has a magical quality: it seems to be larger inside than out. The great room is approximately 19 X 24, enclosing space for a dining area, a sizeable living room, and a set of stairs leading to an approximately 10 X 12 sleeping loft. An 11 X 15 addition, a well laid out kitchen, was originally a woodshed, its contents used to fuel the woodstove that kept the classroom warm – vestiges of the original chimney remain in the dining area, but the home is now heated by a clean baseboard electric system. The room’s wooden ceiling, thought to be the original, is painted white, giving that large room an airy feel.  It is also high enough to accommodate a standing human or two in the upstairs sleeping loft. The great room also contains built-in bookcases, burnished pine flooring, and plenty of closets. 

Outdoors there is a good-sized modern shed, its doors articulating off of iron strap hinges; a fabric “instant garage”; and a storage shack that looks very much like an outhouse – oh, wait, it IS an outhouse.  Now used for garden storage, its original use was rendered obsolete by installation of the home’s airy white bathroom with antique clawfoot tub and laundry.

The kitchen is roomy and practical, with its propane-fueled stove, chest freezer, kitchen center, and pot rack, all of which put the cook’s tools within easy reach, and which will remain with the house.

The house backs onto hardwood forest, and in the foreground, with only a small lawn to mow, the last blooms of lavender and white dame’s rockets brighten the surrounding forest undergrowth. Immediately across the street you’ll find tens of thousands of acres of state forest, and, not too far away is the Finger Lakes Trail.  The owners find it’s 10 minutes to Dryden, 20 to Cornell, and 25 to Ithaca. But with the quiet of  its surroundings, the tall hardwoods and pines, it feels like an altogether enchanted place. • 

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