Geneseo's Main Street, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, extends approximately 4 blocks from the Çounty Court House to the Village Park. It takes visitors past many historic 19th century houses, the historic bear monument, churches, an art gallery, B&Bs, a variety of interesting shops, and choices of restaurants. Shops offer enjoyable browsing for books, clothing, crafts, art, gifts, jewelry, music, and toys.
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The Homestead, the oldest building in Geneseo, was completed in 1804 by James Wadsworth and has been lived in to this day by descendents of the Wadsworth family. It is located across the street from the south end of Main Street. Originally closer to Main Street, in 1874 the house was moved 350 feet further back (by 40 yoke of oxen) to its present location, because it was too noisy for William Wadsworth’s widow. This is where Civil War General and patriot James S. Wadsworth was born. This house is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Please do not enter the driveway. The house is visible from points along route 20A.
The Village Park, on the corner of Main and South Streets, formerly the Village Green, was granted to the people of Geneseo for use in perpetuity as a park by Miss Elizabeth Wadsworth in the mid 1840’s.
The log cabin in the Park was erected in 1895 by the Livingston County Historical Society. It was constructed of logs brought to Geneseo from pioneer farms of the county and represents the type of dwelling used by the settlers in the Genesee country.
The Veterans’ Memorial was erected in 1954 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to the memory of all those Geneseoans who sacrificed their lives in the service of their country. The Veterans’ Memorial Garden was restored in 2003.
125 Main Street, the Concert Hall, was built in 1851 by James S. Wadsworth. The ground floor provided space for the Genesee Valley Bank. The upper floor was a beautiful auditorium, which served the cultural needs of the area. In 1859 the building was enlarged to house a music school. It now houses Conrad’s appliance store.
119 Main Street, the Geneseo Building, was built in 1908 after plans by Beardsley, an architect from Poughkeepsie, NY. The building has a particularly well designed portico. It originally housed fire trucks. The Geneseo Village offices and courts for the Town and Village now occupy the building.
118 Main Street housed a marble works in 1902.
The Wadsworth Fountain was designed by the world famous architect, Richard Morris Hunt. It is made of red granite from the Bay of Fundy quarries. The bear was designed by the prominent French sculptor Antoine Louis Barye. It was erected in 1888 by William A. and Herbert Wadsworth in memory of their mother, Emmeline Wadsworth. Because she was an animal lover, her sons had the fountain designed as a watering trough for horses. A tin cup also made it possible for passers-by to have a refreshing drink.
66 Main Street Antonio Aprile, who emigrated to Geneseo from Italy, was so proud of his bank, which catered to other Italian immigrants, that he planned a grand opening for his new building in 1911. Over 100 Geneseo businessmen were invited to meet the Italian Consul of Rochester. The April Royal Italian Band of Mt. Morris entertained a great crowd of people on the street for several hours. Then the group moved to the Big Tree Inn for dinner, where the Italians were congratulated on becoming American citizens and for the “aid they have given to upbuilding the country.” Now Key Bank and formerly the Genesee Valley Bank.
62 Main Street This brick block was erected in 1887. Preservation architect Paul Malo said: “Certainly one of the best commercial buildings in Geneseo is the structure dated 1887 at 62 Main Street. …” It is the upper portion, which is its special glory. Richly detailed of several materials, appearing to combine sheet metal with brick and terra cotta, it is an excellent example of the decorative work of its decade.” Now houses tanning and chiropractic businesses.
53 Main Street was built sometime between 1813 and 1822. Through the years it was occupied by a barber shop, dress and gift shop, beauty shop, shoe repair shop, restaurant, photography shop, laundromat, and residence. In 1986 Will and Louise Wadsworth acquired the property and remodeled the building to make it an architecturally pleasing companion to the other historic structures on Main Street.
6 Main Street, The Big Tree Inn, originally called Big Tree Lodge, was built in 1833 as a home for Geneseo banker Allan Ayrault. In the late 1880’s it was transformed into an inn of international note. In 1974 it was saved from demolition by efforts of the newly formed Association for the Preservation of Geneseo. Residents and visitors have enjoyed the restaurant for many years. In the summer of 2005 the Inn opened 8 rooms for guests.
38 Main Street, originally the Livingston County Bank, Geneseo’s first bank, was built by Allen Ayrault in 1830. From 1887-93 it served as the Geneseo Post Office.
34 Main Street This large Queen Anne house was built in 1887. Preservation architect, Paul Malo, considers this an outstanding example of Victorian “Queen Anne” architecture - “...the elaborate chimneys, rather chunky proportions of the building itself, the gables, and sculptured details combine to make it a picturesque reminder of that era.” The famous Geneseo Jam Kitchen was started in part of this house.
32 Main Street, one of Geneseo’s earliest buildings, was built about 1818 by Charles Colt in a Federal style. Charles Colt invented an iron mold-board wooden plow, considered a great advancement in agricultural technology. During the early part of the 20th century, Miss Nellie North owned the building and use the annex for her famous Jam Kitchen. Now an attorney’s office.
31 Main Street was built about 1816 by Samuel Butler, a cabinet maker. Subsequently, it housed harness making business, medical, and law offices. Now an attorney’s office.
28 Main Street The original part of this building was erected prior to 1836. Through the years it housed a select school for young girls, the Geneseo Club social organization, and a cheese factory. Now an attorney’s office.
26 Main Street was built about 1825 and rebuilt after a 1845 fire by the owner,Benjamin Angel. Mr. Angel, a diplomat, opposed bringing the college to Geneseo. Formerly St. Mary’s Catholic Church Parish Center, it is now the McClellan House, Lockhart Gallery, and Offices of Alumni and Parent Relations of SUNY-Geneseo.
23 Main Street Street, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church congregation moved into its house of worship in 1828. It has a beautiful interior – especially the Willam Morris and Tiffany stained glass windows. The Parish House, patterned after the gothic style, was completed in 1898.
20 Main Street was built in 1874 by Mr. William Brodie, a newspaper reporter and manager of Wadsworth Farms. A fine example of Italianate Victorian architecture, it features a mansard roof, gable roof, and a tower with finial. Now a residence.
16 Main Street was built in 1889. This building, used as a marble factory, is an interesting example of the Victorian “castle.” The mansard roof, gable roof and the tower with finial are typical of that period. Now the Annabel Lee B&B.
15 Main Street was built in 1896 and designed by the famous architect Claude Bragdon, who also designed the Livingston County Court House at the north end of Main Street. This classical revival house shows the Palladian window and the early Georgian style doorway. Now the SUNY Geneseo President’s house)
5 Main Street was built about 1855 as a foundry for manufacturing agricultural implements, including reapers, and later for making croquet sets, all of which were sold all over the country. Now a boarding house.
14 Main Street The original part of this house was built in the early 1820’s. One of the owners, a judge named William Kelsey, was one of the men responsible for bringing the Normal School to Geneseo. Now a residence.
1 Main Street was built in 1835 by General James Wadsworth as the Wadsworth Land Office. Here records were kept about the land owned by the Wadsworths. It now houses the Genesee Valley Conservancy office, a group that seeks to preserve open space and agricultural land in the Genesee Valley Region.
St. Mary’s Church was originally located on the site of its parking lot across North Street on land given by General James Wadsworth. The present structure, a traditional upstate Gothic church, was built in 1889. About 1928 the interior was remodeled and redecorated by the world famous architectural firm of McKin, Mead and White, who also did the east wing and restoration of the White House in Washington, D.C.
The large monument in front of St. Mary's Church honors the local Civil War veterans who lost their lives in defense of the Union. This Civil War Monument, a 40 foot granite shaft, was given in 1915 by the Honorable James W. Wadsworth. The smaller stone near the sidewalk bears the Gettysburg Address.
County Court House Livingston County was created in 1821 and named for Robert R. Livingston, an eminent jurist, statesman, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and promoter of agriculture. An earlier brick court house and 2-story jail were demolished in 1897 and replaced with a structure designed by the famous architect Claude Bradgon in a classic style. The large wooden columns weighed a ton apiece and were the largest ever made in Rochester. These stately columns can be seen the entire length of Main Street.
General James S. Wadsworth’s statue stands on the front lawn of the County Court House. The General, son of one of the original Wadsworths who founded the Village, was a philanthropist, landowner, politician and a Union general during the Civil War who died in 1864 from wounds sustained at the Battle of the Wilderness. He served the union with such bravery and distinction that the State of New York honored him in 1914 by placing a bronze statue of him on the battlefield at Gettysburg, where his contributions had proven invaluable. On November 9, 2008 this statue sculptured in the image of the 1914 original was dedicated and his bravery recognized in his hometown.
The Hartford House is located just north of the County Court House on the Avon Road. James S. Wadsworth, later General Wadsworth, and his wife went to England for their wedding trip. There they met the Marquis Hertford and were so charmed by his Palladian style villa, that they persuaded the Marquis to give them a copy of the plans. They selected a beautiful site overlooking the valley and the building project began in 1834. A third floor was added in 1851 to accommodate their family of six children. Since this home was built in 1834, it has remained in the Wadsworth family. The entrance gates to Hartford House are visible from the Road and the House can be viewed from Route 39, about one-quarter mile north. It is included in the National Registry of Historic Places.