September 1991

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A Tour of

Historic Buildings in Canandaigua


Bill Treichler

The Ontario County Historical Society is hosting a tour of eight private residences and three public buildings in Canandaigua on Sunday, September 8, from 1 to 5 pm. The buildings represent the architectural heritage of Canandaigua and exhibit Federal, Queen Anne, and Craftsman styles.

Five of the buildings, built in the early years of Canandaigua, are examples of Federal-period classical architecture.

The oldest building on the tour, the First Congregational Church, was built with brick in 1812 by Abner Bunnell in the Federal style. The entrances are recessed under a large single-arched opening in the front wall. The church stands at 58 North Main Street.

Across from it at 61 North Main Street stands Mr. and Mrs. Peter VanDenburg's Federal-style residence, thought to have been built in 1813. Since that time it has been used for different purposes—in the middle of the last century it housed a private school on its second floor and an insurance business downstairs. The McClellands, a family of physicians, used the building as home and office from 1889 to 1973. The house does have a rear wing, a wrap-around porch, and a double-story bay window that were added in later style periods, but it is still strongly Federal with side lights at its entrance and stepped gables.

The third oldest building on the tour is the present Canandaigua City Hall. Abner Bunnell probably built it, too. The building was completed in 1825 as the Ontario County Courthouse and has classical styling showing with its portico increasing Greek influence. When the present Ontario Courthouse was completed in 1859, this structure became the Town and Village Building. It was renovated several times, but has now been restored to its 1878 appearance.

At 252 North Main Street is a Federal-style house whose rear portion and wings were built in 1816 by Frederick Norton. The front part of the house was added in 1834. In 1852 the grandson, and namesake, of Oliver Phelps purchased the house. It remained in the Phelps family until 1934 when the Christian Science Society of Canandaigua bought the house. The Society used the first floor as a church until 1982. The house is owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Sciarriatta. It has been a Bed and Breakfast since 1987.

The house at 128 Park Place also has Federal features, and was apparently completed in 1850. For 126 years members of the Antis, and later the Chase family, all descendants of pioneer Canandaigua gunsmith William Antis, and early journalist James Bemis, lived in this house. Mr. and Mrs. Fred MacNamara bought the property in 1987.

Orlando Foote designed an eclectic-style house for Canandaigua lumberman Edward C. Williams in 1896. It has a combination of colonial and Victorian elements both outside and inside. The house is at 251 North Main and is owned by Mr. and Mrs. John Gormly.

Another house probably also built in 1896, and for a local business man, merchant Thomas P Murray, has typical Queen Anne styling. The Murray family lived in this house until 1962. It is owned now by Dr. and Mrs. Edward O'Hanlon and stands at 84 Gibson Street.

At 17 St. John's Court is Mr. and Mrs. Richard Schwartz's house. Originally it was a carriage house for J. R. McLaughlin when he was president of the Lisk Manufacturing Company. In 1898, or a few years later, it was converted to a residence. The front entrance is in the Colonial Revival style popular at the time of its remodelling.

In 1912 Roda Hogan, a well-known Canandaigua builder, built a house at 261 North Main Street, supposedly for his family to live in. The design of the house was very much influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, and has many of the features of the Craftsman style: an open, flowing floor plan, built-in cabinetry, geometric detailing. The story goes that Mrs. Hogan didn't like the house and the family moved to another residence. The house is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Cook.

The youngest house on the tour was built sometime between 1905 and 1934 depending on how you accept records or interpret styling details. The building at 88 Gibson Street shows a number of Colonial Revival features that were popular from the turn of the centruy. It is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Rulison.

People who go on the tour are requested not to eat, smoke, drink, or take pictures in the houses, or to bring pets. All children must have a full-price ticket. Restrooms are not available in the houses, but are in the City Hall and the Historical Society Museum. Everyone is asked to wipe clean their shoes before going into houses. Please do not park in driveways. There will be parking spaces behind the County Courthouse, Wood Library, and at the First United Methodist Church on Main Street.

Tickets for the tour will be $14 a person on the day of the tour. Before that day tickets can be bought for $12 at the Historical Society, Granger Homestead, and Sonnenberg Gardens. The tickets are included in a booklet that contains a map showing the location of each building. The houses and the City Hall are pictured in the booklet with a brief history for each one.

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