Historic Structures

Sig Sautelle Circus Training House (George Satterly House), Homer New York

Date added: February 16, 2010 Categories: New York House Special and Unique

The building was built for circus training. The first two floors were used as living quarters for the Satterly (or Satterlee) family while the third floor was used as a training area for acrobats. A rope was lowered by a man standing in the cupola which was then attached to the learning acrobat. This contraption was called a mechanic strap and prevented the acrobatic student from falling to the hard floor below.

Before barns were completed behind the house, animals were kept in the cellar, where there was a training ring. A block and tackle was rigged to the covering over the outside cellar entrance which allowed larger animals to be lowered; there are no outside stairs into the cellar.

George Satterly was born in Luzerne, New York in 1850. His father was a shoemaker. In 1862, George enlisted in the Union Army and served as a drummer boy until discharged in 1865. Upon his return to Luzerne, he took a job as a printer's devil and then as a wagon maker. When he was 21, he decided to join the North American Circus, then wintering in Connecticut. George soon became so successful as a side show performer, magician ventriloquist and puppeteer that he decided to give himself the Italian name, Signor Sautelle. His friends called him Sig. In 1875, Sig bought a horse and wagon and started his own circus. From then until 1904, Sig Sautelle prospered as a circus man, owning ever bigger and more elaborate circuses. He finally sold his circus to James McCadon of the Barnum Circus when his wife's failing health forced him to give up such an active life. Later he started a new circus, but this too he had to sell in 1914 to pay his wife's medical expenses. He died In June, 1928, and was buried in Union Cemetery, Fort Edward, New York.