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Save "Nightmare on Elm Street" landmark in Potsdam

The Dewey house, and inspiration for the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, Potsdam, NY
The Dewey house, and inspiration for the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, Potsdam, NY
Save the Nightmare on Elm Street Facebook page

The push is on to save the "Nightmare House," a historic building that is believed to be the inspiration of Wes Craven's Nightmare on Elm St. series. Located at 18 Elm St, the former fraternity was believed to inspire Craven as he studied at Clarkson University, then known as Clarkson College of Technology.

But aside from being the spark for the 1984 thriller, the Potsdam landmark is the home of some precious history. The house is sometimes referred to as the Frederick L. Dewey house, paying homage to the Dewey family, who built the house in the late 1890s. The house stands on land owned by one of Potsdam's first settlers, one Samuel Partridge.

Controversy was sparked when the Town of Potsdam purchased the landmark with plans on demolishing it to build a new town hall. From this, the opposition could be heard from the far ends of the country.

According to the North Country Now newspaper here in Potsdam, the controversy triggered the creation of two Facebook pages. The two pages together have gained the support of over 5,800 members, and has developed into the organization of a new, more formal society, the Potsdam Historic Preservation Society. This endeavor has been openly supported by Clarkson University President Anthony Collins and his wife, Karen.

According to an e-mail from Franco Zani Jr., who graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a BA in archeology in 2008, the Preservation Society is "a broad-based collaborative initiative of members of the Potsdam Community, past and present. Our main goal is to preserve and renew areas of historical significance in Potsdam for the benefit of local residents, students, businesses and the visiting public. The house on 18 Elm Street is just the first in hopefully a long line. We hope not only to save places of historical significance in Potsdam, but hopefully in the entirety of the North Country. We do not wish to step on the toes of other Preservation Societies in the North Country, but to work alongside them and do what must be done."

To view the Potsdam Preservation Society's Facebook page, please visit as it is open to even non-Facebook members. Also, to view the effort to save the Dewey hose, go to, which can be accessed by members only. Here you will be able to access a petition to save the historic 'Nightmare' house.


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