Connected to the 3,000-square-foot home, known as the Plummer Pumphouse, are 3,600 square feet of underground caves.
Both the house and the caves below are included in the property’s $550,000 list price.
“The caves are about 15 feet wide and about 9 feet tall. Two of the the legs go about 50 feet back, and then the main leg goes 150 feet back,” says Michael Korby, who is listing the property with Julie Glass-Yares. “You essentially walk from the living room into this little vestibule, you slide open a patio door, and you’re in the caves.”
Built in 1926, this home originally served as the water pumphouse for the much-grander Plummer House.
Dr. Henry Plummer was one of the founders of Rochester’s famed Mayo Clinic. The 49-room English Tudor mansion where he lived with his wife, Daisy Plummer, sits on the hill above the pumphouse and is now owned by the city. The massive mansion, with its distinctive water tower, is a popular spot for tours, weddings, and local events.
While the background of the pumphouse is known, it’s not clear why the caves exist. It’s possible they predate the pumphouse and could have stored beer for a nearby tavern.
The caves were later used as a convenient conduit.
“[Plummer] built this pumphouse at the base of the hill and ran pipe down one of the caves, which eventually led to the base of the water tower that serves the hill,” Korby explains.
Above ground, the house is in great shape and offers an abundance of charm.
“When it was the original pumphouse, there was one main-floor finished room,” Korby says. “Upstairs, there were three rooms which were essentially living quarters for the gardeners and caretakers.”
The current owners have owned this unique piece of property for 34 years and renovated and expanded it over the decades.
“They carved into the hillside and added some modern amenities—such as the attached garage and a couple of extra bathrooms, a laundry room, and a rear terrace.” he says. “They also preserved the original home itself. They turned the living quarters into bedrooms and finished off what was once the carriage hall and turned it into their living and dining room.”
As currently configured, it has four bedrooms and three bathrooms.
“It’s absolutely ready to move into. It has been beautifully cared for,” Glass-Yares says. And although there’s no trace of it now, she adds, “The kitchen area is where the original pump was, to the water tower.”
The listing agents note that a new owner has a number of options for putting the caves to use. Perhaps an artist’s studio? Or a one-of-a-kind home office?
“Storage for wine, beer, or meditation space,” Glass-Yares says.
“Or if you’re really into canning—or people have mentioned mushrooms. We’ve heard all kinds of things,” Korby adds. “I think someone could get in there and finish it off if they want to. I’m not quite sure the extent of what it would take, but right now, it’s sort of like an unfinished basement.”
There’s been plenty of interest in the property in just over a couple of weeks.
“It was listed on Thursday. By that afternoon, we reached out to the family and asked them if they were comfortable with an open house, because we could see the momentum, the intrigue, and the interest,” Glass-Yares says, adding that about 500 people came through during that first open house.
“I just hope the next buyer is interested in the preservation of the property, like the current owners have been,” she says.
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