59 Lucy Lane

old houseOriginally 59 W. 8th St., the house that sits at what is now known as 59 Lucy Lane is where Lucille Ball spent her childhood in Celoron, New York. The house belonged to Grandpa Fred and Grandma Flora Belle Hunt, and it is where they, along with Desiree ("DeDe") Ball (Lucille's mother), DeDe's sister Lola and her young daughter Cleo, and Lucille and her younger brother Freddy called home.

celeron parkThe house was several blocks away from Celoron Park, home to an amusement park and world-famous vaudeville shows appearing at the Celoron Theatre. Those acts helped spark Lucy's desire to get into show business, and Grandpa Hunt and DeDe supported those interests. Lucy's bedroom overlooked the spacious backyard with its large garden and beautiful lilac bushes, and when she wasn't dreaming of what the world had to offer beyond those boundaries, she was putting on her own productions in the entryway of 59 W. 8th St. A conveniently placed curtain that separated the foyer from the parlor became a place to put on homemade plays for Lucy and her friends. This would become Lucy's first taste of acting and taking on center stage.

The household was filled with priceless family memories up until the house was ultimately lost in a lawsuit in 1927. Grandpa Hunt had purchased a .22 caliber rifle for Freddy's 12th birthday, and, as Cleo, Freddy, and two neighborhood friends were shooting at targets under Grandpa Hunt's supervision, one of their friends ran in front of the target and was accidentally shot by the other friend.

The child was paralyzed from the neck down and died 5 years later. Grandpa Hunt was charged with reckless and willful endangerment, and was kept under house arrest near the county jail in Mayville. The house had to be auctioned to pay legal fees. The family members slowly went their separate ways during this traumatic time, DeDe, Lucille, and Freddy to an apartment in Jamestown, and little Cleo to live with her father in Buffalo, after Lola had passed away.

Throughout her entire life, Lucille Ball would never forget the devastating loss of that day in 1927. It took away the very family foundation that she had always known and come to rely on, but she never forgot those family ties and solid family values. Wherever her life and career would take her, she always made sure that DeDe, Freddy, and Cleo soon followed and were taken care of, just as they had all taken care of each other at the house at 59 Lucy Lane.

The house is now owned by Bill and Mary Rapaport of Greenhurst, New York, who have carefully and painstakingly restored it to its 1920s beauty, inside and out.

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