Monroe Colonial once housed boys' school

Photo of Amanda Cuda

MONROE — At first glance, the basement at 754 Monroe Turnpike looks like a typical basement. It’s a little dark, a little forgotten, and mainly used to house the building’s mechanical fixtures and the occasional item that couldn’t find a spot elsewhere in the residence.

But then the eye falls on the huge fireplace with a wooden stove and beehive oven, with a sign bearing the word “Welcome” hung above it.

On the other side of the room is another slightly unusual feature for a basement — a rack of hooks on which one could hang a jacket, or perhaps a book bag. Yes, upon closer examination, it’s clear that this room was once used for something other than storage, or helping to keep the water heated.

In fact, in the mid-1800s, the home’s basement was Gray’s Academy, a school for boys run by Dr. Robert Gray.

But that’s after the residence was the home of Cyrus H. Beardslee, a lawyer who served in the state legislature for seven years, and was speaker of the House of Representative in 1846. And it’s before the house was used as a parsonage for one area church (St. Peter’s Episcopal) or the rectory for another (St. Jude’s Roman Catholic Church).

Today, the house is a private residence again, and it’s for sale at a listed $479,900. According to listing agent Diane Vidmosko, 754 Monroe Turnpike has had only a few owners in its long history, and it remains one of the more interesting homes in Monroe.

“The architecture is truly special,” she said of the 2,862-square-foot Colonial. “I’m calling it a brick masterpiece.”

According to town records, the home was built in 1825, and it retains many of its original features. Those include that magnificent fireplace in the basement — one of eight in the house. There’s original pine flooring in some of the rooms, and antique wrought-iron hardware on many of the doors. The house has four bedrooms, two and a half baths and a total of nine rooms overall.

Built by brick mason Austin Lum for the Beardslee family, the house is part of the Monroe Center Historic District, which itself is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to the district’s nomination form for the national register, 754 Monroe Turnpike is “distinguished by the high quality of its design and its red brick walls. It is one of the few brick buildings in this district largely composed of frame houses.”

There has been some modernization over the year, Vidmosko said, but much of the home’s original character remains intact.

“It’s got a great blend of the old and new,” she said. “I really love this house.”

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