The following historical facts relating to the Thornell Homestead are derived from Deeds, Bonds, Mortgages, as well as McIntosh History of Monroe County 1788-1877.
Joseph Thornell (originally Thornhill) was born in England in 1761 and came to Pittsford in 1804. I don't have information on what brought him here but he became the owner of a large farm. Joseph began the building of his house about 1806. It was and is a fine example of a vernacular Federal style building with several additions. The barns, privy, smoke house, and hog house were all original outbuildings as well as three large barns. One of those barns was donated to the Genesee County Village and Museum, one barn was demolished, and the present owner has acquired the remaining barn.
Joseph married Emily Beers, daughter of Edward Beers part of Beers-Billinghurst contingency who came to this country from England about the same time as Joseph. Probably their reason for coming was for religious freedom.
Joseph and Emily had numerous children, one of whom was William who married Catherine Maxfield, daughter of Barnett and Hannah Maxfield, and built the farm into a showplace and a fine working farm.
The interior and exterior of the home was carefully renewed and restored around 1951 by owners Arthur and Emily Heath who purchased the home from the children of William and Caroline Maxfield Thornell, (second wife of William). By that time the homestead had deteriorated considerably, The Heath family carefully removed old clapboards and replaced them with new cedar clapboards matching the originals. Windows, which had been replaced by 1 over 1, were restored to 6 over 6 to same specifications as originals. New boards for the porch floors were also restored to same specifications as before. Porch posts were replaced made to measurement of Lusk farmhouse. The originals were stored in the barn.
A northwest wing had been added by one of the Thornells to be a bedroom, but had no foundation. So the Heaths removed and rebuilt that wing with a crawl space and brick foundation to match the Northwest corner. On the interior, all woodwork, mantle, doors, and most of hardware are original as are stairs. Floors were original and care was taken to match original as far as possible.
All of this information was made available by Mrs. Emily Heath and I have no information about what changes have been made since her ownership. The current owners certainly seem to be fine stewards of this important historical property and it is again a showplace, albeit with slightly less acreage.
This lovely home and grounds will host the annual meeting and picnic for members of Historic Pittsford in July, 2006.