History of the Glen Manor Estate

In 1784, John Watkins Purchased  the land our business sits on.   In 1828, Dr. Samuel Watkins, a New York City doctor, inherited the Estate of his older brother John Watkins. Dr. Watkins came here to live and over the next 40 years constructed roads, homes, shops, flour, saw and plaster mills within what is now the famous Watkins Glen Gorge. He married Cynthia Ann Cass; his secretary in 1840. Dr. Watkins brought together small settlements at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in 1842 calling it the Village of Jefferson.  

        He built the Jefferson House, the first hotel in our Village, on the corner of 4th & Franklin Street and a mansion for him and his new bride on the corner of Fourth and Decatur Street. (where the Glen Manor Estate is today). Dr. Watkins died there at age 80 (May 1, 1851). Mrs. Watkins that same year convinced the Village fathers to change the name from Jefferson to the Village of Watkins after her husband. In 1926, the name was further changed to Watkins Glen.  Shortly after, she married Judge George Freer. Cynthia Ann Freer died in 1853 leaving Judge George Freer, her new husband, the sole owner of her vast estate which included Big Gully (Watkins Glen State Park). Under his ownership, the Glen at the southern end of our Village, began operation as a tourist attraction. It was called Freer’s Glen. In 1906, the State of New York acquired the Glen and opened it as the first State Park with free admission. Admission to the Glen is still free today and is the Number one tourist attraction.

          In the late 1950’s, the owners of the Jefferson House added a motel section next to the Hotel on Fourth Street and changed the name from “The Jefferson House” to “The Jefferson Motor Inn.” In the late 1970s the Historic Jefferson House built by Samuel Watkins was torn down leaving only the Motel section.   In 1986, the Franzese family purchased the Motel building and expanded the business by buying an adjacent property located on third street. They built a 12 suite room Hotel with an indoor pool.  The first Indoor pool in Schuyler County. In 2015, a new addition was added to the Hotel building with offices, a new Lobby and a Café room which is used as a gathering room for guests, year round. The Glen Manor Estate is on the southeast end of our property. Its mansion with its historic iron fence and Carriage House on third Street was purchased in 1991. The Glen Manor Estate, originally owned by the founder of our Village, became part of the Villager Motel, Inc. which now covers almost a block.

          The Historic Glen Manor is a perfect place to stay while enjoying the Historic downtown, tourist attractions, a wedding, a race, a wine weekend or just for a relaxing get away. All rooms come with free Wifi, TV, Phones, private bathrooms, and use of the Villager’s indoor swimming pool and outside deck. Guests have use of the parlor, dining rooms and porches. The Glen Manor has its own private parking lot. Guests check-in first at the Villager office located in the hotel building and then are escorted to the Glen manor by our staff for a tour of the House and then are shown to their room. A Continental breakfast is set out each morning in the dining rooms from 7:30 am to 10:30 am for  House guests. Coffee &Teas are available on the Buffet all day. The Glen Manor has hosted visitors from all over the US and the world.