By CRAIG FREILICH
POTSDAM – Two Facebook pages dedicated to saving the allegedly original “Nightmare on Elm Street” house from the wrecking ball have amassed more than 5,800 members.
And, a new not-for-profit Potsdam Historic Preservation Society is being formed, with its first project focusing on the 18 Elm St. former fraternity house. The idea is being supported by Clarkson University President Anthony Collins and his wife Karen.
Also known as the Frederick L. Dewey house, the vacant building was recently purchased by the Town of Potsdam, which plans knock it down and build a new town hall there. However, opposition has arisen from as far away as Phoenix, Ariz. at the idea of destroying what is considered to be a valuable historic landmark.
The distinctive house was built by the Dewey family in the late 1890s on land that had been owned by one of Potsdam’s first white settlers, Samuel Partridge.
“It all started with an effort on Facebook to save the house at 18 Elm Street and has snowballed into a formal organization, the Potsdam Historic Preservation Society,” said Ryan Meashaw, who is helping to organize the effort.
As explained on the Facebook page open to everyone, including non-Facebook members, “The Potsdam Historic Preservation Society is a broad-based collaborative initiative of members of the Potsdam Community, past and present. It works to preserve and renew areas of historical significance in Potsdam for the benefit of local residents, students, businesses and the visiting public.”
“We're trying to get the word out and set up a local meeting to gauge interest in such a thing,” Meashaw said.
More information is available at www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=129943303703720. The page, which is viewable by non-Facebook members, notes that while no date has been set, an organizational meeting of the organization will be held soon. It had 61 members as of Monday morning
Another Facebook page, www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=102831276434943&ref=ts, had more than 5,750 members. The page was brought to the attention of area residents last week by Mary Sherburne Ezell of Phoenix, Ariz., a member of the Facebook group.
She wrote about it in a Letter to the Editor of North Country This Week decrying the proposed new town hall site. Ezell, a 1964 Potsdam High School graduate and a graduate of SUNY Potsdam in 1968, said in her letter, “Haven't enough wonderful old buildings and houses been razed?”
Aside from the architectural interest and the history of its ownership, the house is said to have been the inspiration for Wes Craven’s 1984 horror movie hit “Nightmare on Elm Street” and its sequels featuring the character Freddy Krueger. Craven had taught humanities at what was then Clarkson College of Technology, now Clarkson University.