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 out.
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.