226 Main Street: The County buildings

Clerk's office


he Court House is perhaps the aspect of this site that has changed the least since it was built in the year 1835, and even this most beautiful of public buildings is the second, not the original.

Abraham Wagener sold this two-acre site to the Board of Supervisors in 1823 for $5000; the consideration is clearly noted in the deed, as is the grantor's right to remove two buildings which already existed there. Until the first Court House was built, the courts met at Asa Cole's tavern on the northwest corner of the Head Street intersection; and the Board of Supervisors in Miles Benham's tavern, which may have been the house now at 165 Main Street.

The new County's seat of justice was built in 1824 and also included a two-cell jail. Previous to its completion, prisoners (and the Sheriff) had to ride into Canandaigua, as of course they had done since 1789, for their incarceration.

The Court House was burned in 1834, and since no records seem to have been lost, it's pretty clear that the records were stored elsewhere. The present building was erected in the year following, Cleveland says by Enoch Bordwell. Soon afterward a small stone building joined it for use by the County Clerk. The Board of Supervisors acquired the back half of the lot (facing Liberty Street, but with the same north and south lines) from Wagener for an additional $250. A new free-standing jail was built on this part of the site with the Sheriff's residence in the same building. It was of stone and covered with cement mortar or stucco.

The jail was replaced after a prisoner started a fire in the old one and burned it Court House 1857out. This was in 1857, and prisoners were housed in it until 1905, when it was condemned and a third jail built on the site of the first one. The second (1857) jail was farther south, but still on the same lot.

The next change came in 1889 when a new County Office Building replaced the tiny old Clerk's Office. The new building was of brick with stone arches and other decoration in the Richardsonian style so popular at the time. This is, like the 1835 Court House, still standing and in use by the County.

A great deal more building has taken place on this and adjacent lots, as County government has grown in the years after World War II.




Far right: A closer view of the original County Clerk's building, erected next to the Court House in 1835. This little building was the subject of many complaints on account of its stone floor, which made the place quite cold and damp.

Note also the matching brick privey in the rear, the unpaved and uncurbed street with its wooden or stone sidewalk and crosswalk.

Near right: A drawing made in the late 1850s showing the Court House and the County Clerk's building. Two people are crossing Court Street on a wooden crosswalk. The fenced Court Yard was the venue for the County Fair, traveling circuses and the like; it was, as can be seen here, fenced. At the edge of Main Street is a long hitching rack. About this time sheds were erected behind the Court House to shelter the horses of people here on business.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener

Related history:

     The County Seat