Déjà vu. Since relocating to upstate New York, I have come across numerous iterations of the Second empire architectural style, especially as it applies to residences from the early- to mid-20th century, when it was most prevalent.

On a recent road trip along the Erie Canal, however, I came across a near identical copy of the historic Wheeler-Knight House along the National Pike in Centerville, Pennsylvania. Named after Jonathan Knight, who served in both houses of the state legislature and in the United States Congress, he was instrumental in constructing the National Pike in the 1820’s and laying out two towns. The house was finished circa 1839 of brick.

Wheeler-Knight House

Much to my surprise, I came across a similar Second Empire styled residence in Weedsport, New York. The town, named after “Weed’s Basin,” a boat turnaround on the Erie Canal, was incorporated in 1831. The house most likely had wood siding, which would have been shipped from timber stands via logging railroads and the canal. It was long ago covered over with what appears to be asbestos fireproof siding.

Of the stories these grand mansions could tell.