Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District
Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District at the junction of Route 237 (original transit line) and Route 5 (old Indian trail) contains six buildings. They are two private homes, two stores, a church, and a seminary. These six structures form the heart of a small hamlet.
Sanders Store, now the Stafford Town Hall, is on the southwest corner. Built about 1850 the clapboarded wood frame building was remodeled as a town hall in 1907-1909. Today the rectangular building is an interesting combination of Greek Revival and vernacular influences. The gabled hip roof is unusual. Its well-proportioned facade with pilasters supporting a cornice and architrave of generous proportions and simple rendering has two large windows flanking a central doorway. In the gable over the central doorway is a large, leaded glass, fan window. There is a tower to the west of the main entrance. The plane of the hip roof is broken on one side by a dormer with 5 diagonally muntined windows.
Set back from the road southwest of the old Sanders Store is the Marvin-Radley-Diefendorf home. The oldest portion was built about 1809. It is one of the earliest extant homes in the county. A brick hip-roofed house, the Diefendorf House is two stories high and five bays wide. The central bay contains on the first story an arched doorway flanked by tall narrow lights, and above a vernacular detached Palladian window which has small lights placed several inches away from the arched central window. Over the main entrance, there is a large porch with clustered columns supporting a flat roof with cornice.
Across Route 237 on the southeast corner is the Radley-Worthington House, designed in the Greek Revival style and built about 1831 by the Rev. Richard Radley. The one story clapboarded wood frame house is entered through a small but imposing front portico. Fluted ionic columns support an architrave topped by delicate dentiling and a pediment of generous proportions. Even the interior of the ceiling of the portico bears careful architectural detailing. Flanking the doorway are two engaged pilasters. A cornice with architrave, blank frieze and dentils runs the entire length of the house. Within the dwelling, the doorways of the main hall have fluted engaged pilasters supporting an entablature and heavy flat cornices. A wide archway is decorated with engaged pilasters and molded architrave with keystone. As no architect for the house is known, it is highly likely that these architectural elements were ordered from a catalogue by the Rev. Radley, a practice not uncommon in this period.
Next to the Radley home stands St. Paul's Episcopal Church built in 1841. This clapboarded wood frame building successfully combines a Greek Revival architrave and pediment with the pointed Gothic windows, engaged side tower and entrance typical of the Gothic Parish Church Revival. The square tower is topped with a balustrade and four corner turrets. The interior has box pews along the side aisles with a central table in each aisle between two rows of pews.
Beside the church is a Greek Revival seminary, now used as the Parish House for St. Paul's. Built about 1848 as a schoolhouse, it became Stafford Seminary in 1852 when Rev. Radley established the school.
Across Route 5 on the northeast corner of the four corners is a park with three stone markers. One marks the site of the Hotel Stafford built in 1804 by Frederick Walther. In 1922 this structure burned. The other two markers in the park are military memorials.
On the last corner, the northwest one, stands the Odd Fellows Hall, built in 1890 and enlarged about 1915-1917. This wood frame structure stands two stories in height and is covered by a hip roof varied on the main facade by a gabled pediment. Twin towers with pyramidal roofs flank the pediment. Part of the structure is sheathed with scalloped shingles. The second floor window rhythm is an unusual 1-2-1-2-1. A metal canopy runs the length of the facade over the first story. It is supported by large metal brackets in a scroll design. Originally built as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge #222 and a store, the building still houses the lodge and a store, and today has, as well, a post office and barbershop.
Modern buildings abut the Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District, clustered mainly along U.S. Route 5, but do not encroach upon the visual environment of the heart of the hamlet.
The Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District is the heart of a nineteenth-century village in a good state of preservation. Stafford is the site of the first settlement on the Holland Purchase Tract. The Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District, containing one of the oldest homes in Genesee County, has no modern intrusions. The town has been continuously occupied since its founding in 1798. Structures in the Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District date from 1809-1890, and represent a variety of architectural styles and functions. There are two private homes, a church, a seminary, a store and Odd Fellows Hall, as well as a Memorial Park.
In 1798, Joseph Ellicott, the first resident agent of the Holland Land Company began his survey of the western part of New York State. By the close of that year the principal station on the east transit was established at what is now Stafford and was known as the Transit Storehouse. The name Transit was retained and a post office of the name kept until 1841.
In the spring of 1799, James Dewey, a surveyor in the employ of Mr. Ellicott, waiting at Transit with a gang of hands to start surveying as soon as the weather would permit, cleared land to sow the first vegetable garden on the Holland Tract.
Mr. Frederick Walther, the early tavern keeper who lived at Transit reported to Joseph Ellicott that the yield was a fine one, demonstrating the goodness of the soil in the region. A map dated 1800 of "Morris's Purchase or West Geneseo" marks the site of Stafford as "Walther," doubtless because that gentleman was the sole occupant.
The Stafford Four Corners is also architecturally notable: the buildings date from 1809-1890, thereby spanning over 80 years and several styles. The Federal Marvin-Radley-Diefendorf house is the earliest structure in the Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District. The present Town Hall, once Sanders Store, is a Greek Revival building with various later additions. Its roof, a hip and gable combined, is unusual and distinctive and a similar roof is found also on the Odd Fellows Hall across the street. The church is a typical parish church which combines Greek Revival and Gothic Revival architectural elements. The small Greek Revival seminary is a pleasing building. The most beautiful interpretation of Greek Revival in the Stafford Historic District is the Radley-Worthington House built about 1831. It is probable that the various architectural elements were ordered from a catalogue by the Radleys especially for this house. The Odd Fellows Lodge of 1890 is a large structure.
These six buildings represent the development of the heart of a small central New York village during the nineteenth century. They are in an unusually good state of preservation, and are all still used for their original purposes with the exception of the Town Hall (once a store) and the schoolhouse/seminary which is now used by the church as a parish house. Within this small Stafford Village Four Corners Historic District there are no modern intrusions. The crossroads meet at the heart of a rural hamlet which contains an historic district with good examples of nineteenth-century central New York architecture. The community continues today as a small viable heart of a rural farming area.
Beers, F.W. Gazetteer and Biographical Record of Genesee County. Syracuse: J.W. Vose, 1890.
Bingham, Robert Warwick. "Reports of Joseph Ellicott." Buffalo: The Buffalo Historical Society, 1941, v.32 and 33.
Kennedy, John. Robert Morris and the Holland Purchase. Batavia, N.Y.: J.F. Hall, 1894.
Silsbey, Robert W. "The Holland Land Company in Western New York," Adventures in Western New York History, Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, vol. VIII (1961).
Turner, O. Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York. Buffalo: Jewett, Thomas and Co., 1849.
Williams, Clara L.T. Joseph Ellicott and Stories of the Holland Purchase, Clara L.T. Williams publisher, 1936.