Address51 East Broadway, Roslyn
Both the Walling Map (1859) and the Beers-Comstock Map (1873) show a house on the site of the Mott-Magee-Skewes House and identify it as belonging to "J. Mott." The Beers-Comstock Map, which is usually quite accurate, indicates a street frontage of approximately 100 feet.
Local tradition has long suggested that the house, for many years known as "Auld House," was a schoolhouse in Glenwood Landing which was moved to the present site in about 1870. This viewpoint is perhaps best described by Peggy and Roger Gerry in "Old Roslyn" which was published by the Bryant Library in 1953: "It is known that it was originally a house in Glenwood, a few miles north of Roslyn, and it later became Glen wood's first "one-room" schoolhouse. It was moved to its present location in Roslyn by James Mott, of Glenwood, and was re-established as a residence. In 1889 it was sold to Jonathan Conklin, who had taught its classes when it was first opened as a school, and who, in it, established Glenwood's first Sunday School. Because of his associated memories, Mr. Conklin refused to sell the house during his lifetime, but in 1916 his heirs sold the place to Mrs. Samuel Miller (sic) Magee, mother of a former owner. Mrs. Magee was a tenant in the house since 1874". The "former owner" at that time was Mrs. Edgar Skewes, nee Ella Mary Magee, who supplied the data for the foregoing description following repeated, carefully questioned, discussions. Mrs. Skewes had been born in the house in 1891 and had lived there her entire life. She was also the source of information contained in an article by Virginia Starr on page 41 of the New York Sun for Saturday, May 25, 1940, which states, in part: "The central part of the house, estimated to be 150 years old, was a one-room schoolhouse, the first in Glenwood, which was bought by one of the Mott family and moved to its present location many years ago. Mr. Mott raised the roof and put in two small upper rooms, later adding a kitchen wing." Examination of the deed for the sale of the house by heirs of Jonathan Conklin to Mary Ester Magee dated August 21, 1917, reveals that the property had been acquired by Jonathan Conklin from the estate of James Mott on November 20, 1889. The deed also discloses that the East Broadway frontage was 100 feet. Interestingly enough, the Wolverton Map (1891) shows the property as still belonging to James Mott and demonstrates the "hold-over" or lag time of these real estate atlases.
All the foregoing serves to establish that the property conveyed by the estate of James Mott to Jonathan Conklin and by the latter's estate to Mary E. Magee is the property indicated on both the Walling and Beers-Comstocks Maps as belonging to "J. Mott" and that a house was standing on the site as early as 1859. James Mott is listed in the Roslyn section of Curtin's Directory of Long Island for 1867-1868 and for 1868-1869. In the entries for both years he is described as the owner of a country store whose home was in Glenwood. While the location of the country store is not given, most likely it was the site of Mott-Magee-Skewes House.
While houses frequently were moved, even early in the 19th century, it seems unlikely that anyone would demolish an existing home in order to re-locate another addition on a steep slope above East Broadway, and moving a structure to this site probably would have been more difficult than building it from the ground up. Francis Skilman, in his letter to the Roslyn News written circa 1895, describes the origins of many local houses and their alterations during the 19th century. However, he does not mention the Mott-Magee-Skewes House at all. He could easily have been guilty of this omission as the house was a small one, in his time, and he may not have been interested enough to mention it. However, he does mention other re-located houses, changes in the grade of East Broadway, etc., and it seems unlikely he would have failed to comment on a procedure as dramatic as the moving of a schoolhouse from Glenwood and its man-handling up a steep slope. In the writer's (Roger G. Gerry, "R.G.G.") opinion, the existing house is the store which belonged to James Mott and which is indicated on the 1859 Walling Map, to which an upper storey and a lean-to have been added utilizing building materials obtained from the demolition of a school or other building. This reuse of earlier building materials may be the reason for its stylistically retarded configuration for a house which was extensively rebuild circa 1870.