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"Pittsford Style" homes - Past and Present


This term was used by Mr. Paul Malo, an architectural historian who spent some time studying the village and contributed to the publication called "Architecture Worth Saving in Pittsford, Elegant Village". This small publication is available through Historic Pittsford and offers a fine history of the community as well as more than adequate descriptions of some of the most interesting styles of homes.

Roughly between the years of 1816 and 1835, there appeared in the community a collection of residences so similar in design and style that makes one believe that they were designed by the same person. It was possible that the design was found in a catalogue, but it is more probable that it was the work of one person. The design seems to be earlier than the Greek Revival style that became so popular at a later time; it does seem to copy some of the Federal style designs. Whatever and whoever put their hand to the blueprint; they all had the same characteristics of two chimneys on each gable, an elliptical window or fan light in the ends of the gable, and the low pitch of the roof.

There are four of these homes in Pittsford Village. Some have been changed significantly, while others retain their original look. The Lathrop house at 28 Monroe Avenue is probably the most important. Situated on a well-landscaped lot, this home was built with proceeds from the Erie Canal. Lathrop was instrumental in designing the Great Embankment across the Irondequoit valley, albeit incorrectly. He suggested a large wooden trough running east to west. This did not prove to be effective and an alternative was found. That was a large earthen embankment that was literally build up from loads of earth brought in by farmers from surrounding fields.

The home Lathrop built in 1826 and was large by the standards of that day. When looking at the home from the street, the main portion has three windows across the second story of the front and the entrance is located to the right of the two windows on the lower story. There is a wing to the right and the four chimneys are very visible on the roof. The interior is of fine quality with excellent woodwork, large windows, and numerous fireplaces. The generous sized dining room was once connected by a dumb waiter to the kitchen that was housed in the basement.

The house across the street is very similar but the wing is on the left side of the main portion. There have been changes to the porch and the home is built of brick that was intended to be painted. Not all bricks were made to retain the reddish hue we so often believe is the "true" color. Sometimes sand blasting is done to remove paint and this process is very detrimental to bricks.

The earliest of the Pittsford style, built about 1816, is on Church Street and is now the administration building of the Presbyterian Church. Many changes have been made to that exterior, the most significant being the removal of chimneys. This home is purported to have been built by Dr. John Ray, the first town clerk of Northfield.

The fourth example of this style is located on South Main Street, next to Hicks & McCarthy's and is now a commercial shop. Built about 1835, the porch is not original nor is the front door. The lower windows are not the small paned sash as they were when it was built, but if studying this home with comparison with the others, one can see a marked resemblance.

These homes, all being used, illustrating that an historic home can be adapted to make a very livable and usable dwelling.