HISTORY OF THE MANOR
Oak Knolls Manor was built in 1890. Edward Davin purchased 307 acres from a gentleman farmer from Caledonia, named Perhamis. Edward and his wife Mary Anne (Cullinan) set out to build their dream. They built the Federal colonial home first, and in the early 1900’s they had the Wells Barn created to handle their growing cattle farming business.
The Wells Barn at Oak Knolls is known to be the only one built where a smaller Wells Barn connects into a larger Wells Barn. This serves as a confirmation that J.T. Wells would build each barn based upon the specific needs of each Farmer. Oak Knolls was a large cattle farm and utilized the large barn to maximize their cattle production and milking parlor (housed beneath the large barn). The smaller front barn was utilized for hay storage up top and a tack shop underneath.
J.T. Wells came to upstate New York in the early 1900’s. He moved here with his family from Scotland where he had created a unique truss system for Barns. His Trusses were large enough and strong enough to eliminate the ordinary pole barn structures used to support the typical barn. With a cathedral style open area, farmers could move freely within the barn to load hay onto a conveyor system to move the volume of food necessary for the cattle, which lived below the open barn. Tractors could drive into the barns and move throughout it without having to navigate around poles. This beautiful barn structure revolutionized farming for those lucky enough to be able to afford to build one on their property.
J.T.’s marvelous trusses were actually created from a pattern. After the foundation of the barn was laid, and the initial deck put on, J.T. and sons would draw the pattern for the large trusses on the floor deck as a guide to make each truss for the size barn intended. Each truss was made on top of the original truss to duplicate each one. The trusses were stacked and built so that the last truss was the first to be raised. The trusses were then erected using a combination of pulleys and ropes pulled by men and horses, and once all were standing and secured, the hardest part of building the barn was complete. The roof and sides of the barn were then added onto the massive structure. These barns were built to handle the elements of weather brought to the upstate New York region and were favored by farmers throughout the Western New York area. Ranging from 35-60 feet in height from floor to peak, the remaining Wells barns serve as soaring testaments to the artistry and intelligence of John Talcott Wells, Sr. and his sons.
In the Early 1900’s Oak Knolls Manor was known to host weddings for family and friends. Route 5 & 20 was an old dirt road which many travelers on horse and buggy would traverse. For Weddings at the farm, the horse and buggy would drop off the bride, and after the wedding would take the newly married couple off to their honeymoon. The knoll out front of the home was larger and steeper in the early 1900’s as the road was narrow. When the state of New York made 5 & 20 a State Route, the knoll was cut back to accommodate the wider dimensions of the road as motor cars were now in use.
Dan and Julie Welch purchased Oak Knolls Manor in November of 2014. The Davin family ironically is related to Dan and Julie, as Dan’s grandmother was a Davin. Dan’s father (Dan Welch Sr.) would work on the farm as a child in the 1950’s to earn extra money in the summer.
Dan and Julie fell in love with the old barn and the history that came with it. It was a place of wonder and awe! The vision began during their first tour and slowly has evolved over three years. The barn was full of old furniture, leftover wood remnants, junk, car parts, carpeting, a car, and lots of bat and bird droppings. Over the summer of 2015, dumpsters were brought in and Dan, Julie and family began cleaning out the old large barn. By the summer of 2016, the barn was cleaned out and the work on the foundation began. The lower barn floor was cemented and cleaned out to look new. New floors were put in on the stage and main areas of the big barn and they were burned with a blowtorch and varnished.
The Spring of 2017 was an exciting time, as the barn which had only one outlet and light, was brought up to today’s lighting standards with multiple outlets and plenty of lighting. Large windows were installed on the East side of the barn to bring in natural light and to encapsulate the breathtaking views of the Genesee Valley. The barn continued to take shape and the vision kept growing as we navigated the codes and requirements to become an established business within the Town of Caledonia, NY. The plans became more detailed and the vision grew from being a basic wedding barn to an elegant country estate and event venue.
The story continues as the vision grows and the last stage of construction is now finished. For this final stage we have installed a new roof, adding two large decks, one to overlook the east and the other deck with views of the west. ADA compliance will be a “must have” as we will have ADA parking and indoor bathrooms to accommodate events for up to 250 guests.
The home has been remodeled and preserved with its old charm and character. Every detail has been thought out and carefully designed. The flow of the property and venue is critical to having a successful event. We appreciate and value hard work and ethical business, and we have created a list of companies that we work with who carry this same standard. It is our goal to provide a unique experience where family and friends can relax and enjoy quality time together. A lot of time, planning and money go into a wedding or event and the group that stays here should be allowed to take their time, enjoy the views and relax. We are excited to begin our new adventure and we hope to be a place where families can create memories for years to come.
Oak Knolls Manor is a unique timepiece with a rich history and story which have been maintained for over 128 years. We value and deeply respect the years of hard work, perseverance, and hours spent to maintain this beautiful masterpiece which speaks for itself. Since the day we purchased the home, we knew it was meant to be shared and enjoyed by many for years to come. Thank you for reading a little about the history of our property and thank you also for considering Oak Knolls for your special event.