Honeoye Falls Village Historic District
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document.  Adaptation copyright © 2009, The Gombach Group.
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District encompasses 217 residential, industrial, commercial, religious, civic and educational properties in the historic core of the incorporated village of Honeoye Falls, Monroe County. The village is located in the southeast corner of Monroe County in the agrarian/suburban town of Mendon, approximately 15 miles south of the city of Rochester. The village is centered around the intersection of the Honeoye Creek and the community's five major streets (North Main, South Main, Ontario, East and Monroe Streets). The community developed along a series of falls in the Honeoye Creek, which has its origins at Honeoye Lake in Ontario County and then meanders for many miles to its drainage into the Genesee River. Developed originally as an industrial community, the village has now become a bedroom community for the nearby city of Rochester. The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District, approximately 130 acres in extent, encompasses portions of East Street, Episcopal Street, Lehigh Street, Monroe Street, North Main Street, Norton Street, Ontario Street, West Main Street, and York Street. The entire historic core of the village has been included within the boundary of the district. The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District, in general, and numerous individual buildings, in particular, retain remarkably high levels of integrity of design, setting, feeling, association, materials and craftsmanship.
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District is clearly delineated from the surrounding areas of the village by land use, density and age. The district is composed of a commercial core centered at the intersection of the Honeoye Creek the village's four major streets (i.e. West Main, North Main, Monroe and East Streets). This area is historically known as the "Four Corners." The commercial portion of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District is composed of substantially intact commercial architecture dating from ca.1825 to ca.1940. This section of the district is located along both sides of West Main Street beginning at Norton Street — the southern edge of the commercial area — and moving northward up to the Four Corners. The commercial district continues north from the Four Corners along both sides of North Main Street up to Harry Allen Park.
The area around the Upper Falls on West Main Street is historically significant as the site of the earliest settlement in the village. Zebulon Norton, a miller from Connecticut, established his grist mill here in 1791. Today the visually and historically prominent Upper Mill (ca.1827), a four-story Federal style stone structure stands on the site of Norton's original mill. Contributing commercial buildings along the creek side portion of West Main Street include a two-story, gable roofed, frame building at number 2 West Main Street (ca.1825) and a two-story, flat-roofed, frame building at number 6 West Main Street (ca.1825/1895). Despite alterations, these post and beam buildings are historically important as two of the earliest remaining commercial buildings in the district.
The commercial portion of the north side of West Main Street consists of a group of two Italianate style, brick commercial blocks (Wilcox-Dann Block at number 1 West Main Street, 1882, 15-17 West Main, ca.1872-77), three frame buildings with Italianate details (9 West Main, ca.1840/ca.1890s, 126-left side; 27 West Main, ca.1839/ca.1899, 29 West Main Street, ca.1840/1895), a Classical Revival style brick building (31 West Main Street, ca.1895) and a Colonial Revival brick post office building (39 West Main, 1940-41). The boundary has been drawn to exclude the north corner of Monroe Street and Main Street, which is occupied by three non-historic structures (7 West Main, a modern brick building, 19 West Main, an altered ca.1840 gable front, two-story frame building, and 41 West Main, an altered ca.1900 three-story frame carriage barn).
A number of buildings in the commercial portion of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District date from the early history of the village, though now incorporated within the fabric of late nineteenth century buildings. Examples of this nineteenth century remodelling trend include the buildings at numbers 9, 27, and 29 West Main Street. These are ca.1840 frame buildings which were extensively remodelled in the Italianate style during the 1890s. The original Allen Block building (ca.1828), located at number 4-10 North Main Street, was constructed of stone and had stepped gables at the front and rear. The structure was totally rebuilt in 1865, incorporating portions of the original stone walls within the new flat roofed brick structure. The Allen Block retains much of the original detailing from its 1865 remodelling including the rounded corner entrance, large display windows, recessed entryways, stone window lintels and sills, and decorative brickwork along the cornice.
North of the Four Corners, the North Main Street commercial section includes the Wilcox House at number 1 North Main Street (ca.1827/1861) and the Wilcox Block at number 11-19 North Main Street (ca.1880) on the east side of the street. The Wilcox House, (identified since 1920 as the "Masonic Temple"), a three story high, eight bay wide brick hotel located at the northeast corner of North Main and the East Street bridge. It was originally built as a two-story, gable roofed Federal style hotel around 1827. In 1861 the building was enlarged by the addition of the third story and a three-story porch across the front facade. The original front facade on the first floor has been altered by the removal of the original six-over-six windows and the insertion of large plate glass display windows. The adjacent two-story Wilcox Block (ca.1880) is an outstanding, intact brick Italianate commercial block. Much of the historic fabric of the original storefronts is intact and features a bracketed wood cornice, slender cast iron columns with Corinthian capitals, large display windows with wood panels below, and recessed entrances. The upper facade features one-over-one sash with segmental arches and keystones, a decorative brick belt course, and a boldly decorated brick cornice.
The west side of the street includes 12 North Main (ca.1830) and the Allen Block (ca.1828/1865) at number 4-10 North Main. This collection of buildings on North Main Street form strong and solid blocks, marked by the rhythm of repeating elements such as windows, cornice lines, and storefront openings.
Other significant buildings within the commercial portion of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District include the former Bank of Honeoye Falls building at number 31 West Main Street and the U.S. Post Office Building (National Register listed: 1986), located at the southwest corner of Episcopal Avenue and West Main Street. The bank building is an outstanding local example of the Classical Revival style. This two story, yellow brick building features brick quoins, semi-circular shell motifs over the second story windows, and a corbelled cornice. The storefront has been altered by the addition of a new aluminum doors and windows. The U.S. Post Office is a one and one-half story, Colonial Revival style building, which features a three bay facade with segmentally arched windows topped by keystones, a recessed entry with a segmentally arched doorway and pilasters supporting an entablature with fret molding, and triangular pediments in the gable ends.
North of the commercial core, the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District encompasses all properties on the east side of North Main Street from Harry Allen Park up to (and including) the Lower Mill building. Harry Allen Park is an open parcel of land between the Wilcox Block and the Honeoye Falls First Presbyterian Church. This area was originally the site of three different schools within the village (the last one being razed in 1931). Today there are several structures located in or adjacent to the park including: a gazebo (non-contributing, 1988), the former Mendon District No. 15 Schoolhouse (built ca.1900 and moved to the site in 1991, non-contributing), the Thompson Building (1 Allen Park Drive, built ca.1860 as a carriage barn and livery stable for the Falls Hotel and later the Wilcox House), and the Scout House (ca.1940). The Greek Revival style Presbyterian Church (1841) at 27 North Main Street, with its monumental Doric portico and two-tiered square tower, is a significant visual landmark in the streetscape.
A number of frame and brick dwellings from the Federal and Greek Revival periods as well as late nineteenth century vernacular residences are represented along North Main Street. The Federal houses were remodeled during the late nineteenth and/or early twentieth centuries with Italianate, Queen Anne and/or Colonial Revival details. Two front gable, one and one-half story vernacular frame dwellings with Greek Revival influences are located at number 57 North Main Street (not visible from the street) behind the Lower Mill. These residences may have housed mill workers at one time.
The Lower Mill (ca.1829, National Register listed: 1973), is a massive, four-story, stone structure which serves as the key visual element at the northern terminus of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District at the North Main Street bridge over the Honeoye Creek. It is also an important reminder of Honeoye Falls' prosperous industrial past. This portion of the district also includes the Honeoye Creek corridor, consisting of the creek (1 contributing site) and a former mill race (1 contributing structure, ca.1822) on the west bank. This area was once the site of a woolen mill (ca.1815) and later a woodworking company (ca.1870). The woodworking plant was destroyed by fire in 1923. Only the ruins of the foundation (1 contributing structure) remain, located along the mill race.
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District has been drawn to exclude properties on the west side of North Main Street, north of the commercial core. Although several of the buildings in this excluded area were erected during the period of significance, modern intrusions, including several recent commercial buildings, with deep setbacks and parking lots in the front have severely compromised the integrity of the streetscape, thus precluding their inclusion in the district.
Southwest of the village's commercial core, West Main Street becomes residential in character on both sides of the street. The first block of this portion of West Main Street (between Norton and York Streets) contains a number of early post and beam, one and one-half story houses (ca.1820-1840), many later enlarged and remodelled in the Second Empire, Italianate, and Queen Anne styles. The Second Empire style houses at numbers 51, 78, and 93 West Main Street are outstanding examples of the type with characteristic mansard roofs, gabled dormers, and decorative brackets. Notable intact examples of Italianate style architecture include 71 and 82 West Main Street which feature low pitched roofs, bracketed eaves, window crowns, and square massing. Almost all the residences in the second block of West Main Street (west of York Street) were built after 1875 in the Italianate style or as vernacular houses showing influences of the Gothic, Italianate and/or Queen Anne styles.
The West Main Street residential area is notable not only for its intact nineteenth century housing stock but also for the large number of contributing outbuildings, including 16 carriage houses, three barns, one shed, and four garages. Of special note are the two mid-nineteenth century post and beam English barns located on the lot west of the Palmer House at number 93 West Main Street. These were originally part of the Palmer farm and today are important visual reminders of a once prosperous dairy farm. Located on the lot behind 61 West Main Street is an intact late nineteenth century barn which was originally part of the William Lay Coal Yard, adjacent to the former New York Central Railroad yard.
York Street is a well treed, residential street with several late nineteenth century vernacular frame houses. The most architecturally significant house on the street is the temple fronted, Greek Revival style house located at number 9 York Street. The dwelling was constructed ca.1842 by noted local builder Martin Pierce. A number of altered nineteenth century dwellings as well as several modern houses and a recent housing tract (Stonefield Place), located off the west side of York Street, have been exclude from the district.
Heading east from the Four Corners the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District crosses the Honeoye Creek and follows East Street for about one and one-half blocks on both sides of the street. This portion of the district features a mix of late nineteenth and early twentieth century civic, religious, educational, commercial, and residential buildings. Prominent intact buildings on the south side of East Street include the Romanesque Revival style Village Hall (1886) and United Methodist Church (1874), and the Collegiate Gothic style Honeoye Falls-Lima Central High School (1927). A fire on May 31, 1885 destroyed the original frame Village Hall, a skating rink, a saw mill, and storage buildings located in this area. The two story Italianate commercial/residential building still standing at number 9-11 East Street (former Ashe Brooklyn Grocery Store, ca.1880) survived this fire.
The historic commercial buildings on the north side of East Street include several two and three story, frame, commercial buildings with Italianate style details. These buildings originally housed practical functions (furniture factory and shop, blacksmith shop, wagon shop/carriage works, marble works) and are relatively simple in their design and details rather than some of the more high style commercial buildings with elaborate materials found along North and West Main Street. The former J. Duffy Blacksmith Shop, the easternmost building in the block at number 6 East Street, possesses a high level of architectural integrity.
Following Ontario Street south from the East Street intersection and then southeast the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District includes all buildings up to Paper Mill Street on the north side and all buildings up to number 77 on the south of Ontario Street. The portion of Ontario Street beyond Paper Mill has been excluded due to the intrusion of a modern, two story house with a deep setback and three modern ranch houses. The district boundary on the south side of Ontario Street is drawn to exclude several altered nineteenth century residences, two ranch houses, a 1960s-1970s housing tract on Creekside Drive. The 1858 and 1872 village maps show that the portion of Ontario Street which runs directly south and is located closest to Honeoye Creek was well developed with houses. By the late 1880s and 1890s a construction boom took place along this street with former farmland being developed for housing. By 1900 Ontario Street had become a fashionable residential enclave. The former saw mill at number 17-1/2 Ontario Street is the only industrial building in this portion of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District. This building stands on the site of Zebulon Norton's first saw mill (ca.1791). The stone foundation of this frame mill dates from ca.1820; the upper two stories date from after an 1885 fire.
The earliest houses in this portion of the district include 14 Ontario Street (ca.1830) and 31 Ontario Street (ca.1827), which feature Federal door surrounds. Ontario Street is perhaps most notable for the quality and quantity of its late nineteenth century Queen Anne style dwellings. Representative examples of the Queen Anne style include the buildings located at numbers 17, 29, 37, 39, 41, and 45 Ontario Street. Mill owner Charles Fairchild hired prominent local builder Levi Hill to build Queen Anne inspired houses at numbers 15, 17 and 19 Ontario Street in the 1890s. Characteristics associated with this style include cutaway bays, patterned shingles, porches, steeply pitched roofs, and decorative vergeboards. Number 37 Ontario Street is an outstanding local example of the Stick style with bracket supports, king's post truss, and stick work railing in the projecting attic balcony. There are also some fine examples of transitional Queen Anne Free Classic houses located on the south side of Ontario Street, east of Peer Street including numbers 59, 61 and 69 Ontario Street. This section of Ontario Street was developed by local real estate developer Ben Peer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Twentieth century architectural styles represented along this section of Ontario Street include Colonial Revival (71 and 79 Ontario), American Foursquare (73 Ontario), and Craftsman (83 Ontario). The only commercial buildings on the street are the two flat roofed, frame buildings at number 4 Ontario Street (Otis Block, ca.1872) and 10 Ontario Street (O'Brien Publishing Company, ca.1897; non-contributing due to extensive facade alterations). There are 14 contributing carriage houses on Ontario Street; most are two story, front gable, frame structures with flushboard siding. The most prominent carriage house, located behind 23 Ontario Street, is a large scale, frame structure with a bracketed cupola and second story oculus windows. There are 15 contributing early twentieth century garages on Ontario Street; most are of frame construction with hipped roofs. The only non-contributing house on this street is a ca.1960 contemporary frame house at number 21 Ontario Street.
Moving northwest from the Four Corners the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District extends for one block along both sides of Monroe Street. Here early one and one-half story post and beam frame houses from ca.1820-1840 (some altered during the late nineteenth century) are found intermingled with later high style nineteenth century frame structures including a hipped roof Italianate style dwelling at number 13 Monroe Street, two late Italianate style houses with engaged towers at numbers 24 and 26 Monroe. A fine local example of the Second Empire aesthetic is located at number 23 Monroe Street, and a transitional Shingle style/Queen Anne home is found at number 20 Monroe. The Mendon Public Library (1936), located at number 15 Monroe Street, is a good example of the Colonial Revival style with its classical entrance and symmetrical facade. Contributing outbuildings on Monroe Street include four contributing carriage houses, one barn, and two garages.
The intersection of Monroe Street with Locust and Lehigh Street defines the boundary in this section of the district. In general, many of the nineteenth and early twentieth century houses located on Monroe Street outside the district boundaries have been altered to varying degrees thus compromising the integrity of the streetscape. This group does not greatly contribute to the architectural significance of the district and has therefore been excluded.
Properties along Lehigh Street up to Norton Street have been included for their ability to show the importance of the railroads in the development of the village. The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station (1909) at number 1 Lehigh Street is an outstanding example of an intact passenger station with Mission style influences. The one and one-half story, hip-on-ridge, stucco depot features wide overhanging eaves and a curved front dormer with semi-circular window. Railroad service into the station yard ended in 1981; the rails were removed in 1984. Despite alterations, the F.P. Jobes Milling Company buildings at number 2 Lehigh Street (present Beam Milling) and the former M.S. Pierce Coal and Lumber Company buildings (later the Despard Company until the yard was closed in 1960) at number 25 Norton Street (corner of Lehigh) are visual reminders of the various industries and commercial establishments which sprang up in the New York Central and Lehigh Valley Railroad yards during the late nineteenth century. The F.P. Jobes complex consists of a three story, side gable, gambrel roofed mill building (ca.1882), now sheathed in corrugated metal siding; and a small weigh building. The Pierce Coal and Lumber Yard buildings include a two story, front gable, frame building (ca.1865; 1890) with original wooden sliding track doors, and a front gable, post and beam clerestory barn (ca.1910).
All of the properties along Episcopal Avenue are part of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District including St. John's Episcopal Church at 11 Episcopal Avenue (National Register listed: 1988). The 1841-42 church features Greek Revival massing with a Doric order portico and Gothic arched windows and doorways. Adjacent to the church is a carriage shed, parish house (ca.1913), garage, central green, and parking area. The three ca.1875 vernacular frame residences at numbers 1, 3 and 8 Episcopal Avenue have been included in the district as part of the "gateway" leading up to the church.
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District retains a high level of visual and architectural integrity as well as an identifiable orientation and cohesiveness.
The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District is architecturally and historically significant as an intact village commercial and residential center, which retains significant streetscapes and buildings illustrating the growth and development of a small manufacturing center between 1790 and 1940. The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District encompasses the village's historic commercial/industrial core, including a previously listed stone mill (the Lower Mill, National Register listed, 1973), the Episcopal Church (National Register listed, 1988) and the United States Post Office building (National Register Listed, 1989). The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District includes representative examples of national architectural styles popular during the district's period of significance, ranging from Greek Revival to the Colonial Revival. The district contains concentrations of Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne and Tudor Revival commercial, residential, ecclesiastical and civic buildings as well as historic industrial buildings and associated industrial features. Together, the historic streetscapes and buildings of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District retains a high degree of integrity and recalls the development and evolution of the community.
The early development of the area that would become the village of Honeoye Falls is synonymous with the early development of the region. In 1788, Massachusetts sold six million acres of land, in western New York, it had purchased from the Iroquois to a group of investors represented by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham. In that same year Phelps and Gorham signed the Treaty of Buffalo Creek with the Seneca, which added an additional 2.5 million acres to the investor's land holdings. The Phelps and Gorham Purchase was then divided into areas, six miles square with ranges numbered one to fourteen (south to north) and from one to seven (east to west).
Honeoye Falls is located in the town of Mendon, which was part of Township XI, Range Number V. Phelps and Gorham sold this land to "Franklin and Boughton," who subsequently subdivided the land. Jonathan Ball, a native of Connecticut, purchased a section in the southwest portion of the town that would later become the village of Honeoye Falls. This area was known as the "Ball Tract" or "The Ball Farm." In 1791 Ball sold 1820 acres of land to Zebulon Norton, a miller from Connecticut, for $230. After the transaction was completed Ball returned to Connecticut.
In the spring of 1791 Norton erected his home (no longer extant), the first structure in the village, at what is now the corner of York and Main streets. In 1792, with assistance from residents of what became the nearby town of Lima and a small number of new settlers, Norton erected a grist mill at the upper falls on the west bank of Honeoye Creek (on the site of the present Upper Mill). He also established a saw mill on the opposite bank. This early settlement became known as Norton's Mills.
By the early nineteenth century Norton's Mills had developed into a self supporting community. It became a busy milling and commercial center for the surrounding rural township. The waterpower of Honeoye Creek was a key factor in the development of Norton's Mills for it supported a great variety of industrial sites and mills. Woolen carpets and blankets were woven at a mill built in 1807 on West Main Street along the west bank of the creek (near York Street). Another woolen factory was established by a Mr. Wicks along a mill race on the west bank of the creek (behind the Lower Mill) around 1815. Between 1800 and 1820 four distilleries were operating in the hamlet of Norton's Mills. During this period the principal exports of the community included whiskey, cider and potash. The majority of these goods were portaged overland to Albany and Charlotte. Surplus grain was purchased from area farmers by tavern keepers along the "State Road" to feed droves of hogs, sheep and cattle being driven to Albany. Later, beginning in 1823, flour and grain were carted north to Pittsford for transportation via the Erie Canal.
In 1822 Norton's Mills was renamed West Mendon with the opening of the United States Post Office in the community. During the 1820s West Mendon was the location of numerous businesses including: a saw mill, a gun shop, a carding machine shop, an ashery, two blacksmith shops, a wagon maker, a general store, a shoe store, a cooper's shop, and a woolen mill. However, grist mills remained one of the community's principle industries.
On March 13, 1838 the milling community that had begun as Norton's Mills was incorporated as the Village of Honeoye Falls. The area near the Upper Mill had evolved into the commercial center of the village with the intersection of North Main, West Main, Monroe and East Streets marking the central core. At that time the small village consisted of four churches, three flour mills, one gristmill, a sawmill, two woolen factories, a plaster mill, a manufacturer of agricultural implements and a stone quarry. The majority of the industrial establishments were situated along Honeoye Creek to take advantage of the abundant waterpower.
Architecturally, the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District reflects Honeoye Falls' development as a manufacturing center during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although few buildings survive from the earliest decades of the community's settlement and development, several houses and industrial buildings remain within the historic district to represent the growth of the village during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Prominent among these resources are the two massive stone mills located on North and West Main streets. The Upper and Lower Mills, key visual elements of the village streetscape, are architecturally and historically significant as distinctive examples of large scale industrial architecture in Honeoye Falls. The Upper Mill, located on Zebulon Norton's late eighteenth century mill site, was built ca.1827 by Colonel Henry P. Culver. This four story, gable fronted grist mill is constructed of locally quarried dolomite and features a three bay facade with a centrally place arched entry and fanlight. In 1829 Hiram Finch became the owner of the Upper Mill and built the Lower Mill (National Register listed: 1973). The Lower Mill is similar to the Upper Mill in scale, massing, and materials.
A number of races, impoundments and flumes powered the various mill sites in the village. One mill race branched off the west side of the creek roughly paralleling York Street. This race, believed to date from the 1820s, originally powered a woolen mill and later York's Foundry. Portions of this race are still visible. Another mill race, also believed to be from the 1820s, was built on the west side of the creek off North Main Street. The race ran to the Lower Mill and Finch's Woolen Factory and later Pierce Brothers Woodworking Company. Both of these mill races have been included in the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District as contributing sites of former industrial activity.
In addition to the industrial resources associated with this period several examples of Federal style residential architecture survive within the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District. Among the earliest example in the district is a brick residence, located at number 45 North Main Street. Built ca.1820-30, the two story, three-by-four bay dwelling features an elliptical fanlight in the gable and transom over the side hall entrance. A few modest frame residences with Federal influences also survive, throughout the village, with varying degrees of integrity. The house located at number 14 Ontario Street (ca.1830) is a typical example of a small scale, vernacular frame house with a simple Federal door surround.
By the mid 1840s the village had grown dramatically. Many new residences, religious, and commercial structures had been erected. A substantial portion of the housing stock from this period remains. The majority of these buildings reflect the strong influences of the Greek Revival style in this region. Many fine examples of local interpretations of this national style survive with varying degrees of integrity. The house located at number 9 York Street (ca.1842), a one and one half story, frame "temple fronted" residence with fluted Doric columns and ornate grillwork in the frieze. The First Presbyterian Church of Honeoye Falls (1841) is an outstanding intact example of Greek Revival ecclesiastical architecture as shown in its monumental temple front portico composed of fluted Doric columns supporting a triangular pediment.
In addition the industrial and residential architecture, associated with the first half of the nineteenth century, a number of commercial buildings survive from the period. The buildings located at numbers 2 and 6 West Main Street both date from ca.1825 and are the earliest extant examples of commercial architecture in the historic district. The ca.1830 frame commercial building at number 12 North Main Street is perhaps the best surviving example of a late Federal commercial building in the Honeoye Falls Historic District. This two and one-half story, post and beam, front gable building features the original twelve-over-eight and six-over-six sash and cornice returns. Other early surviving frame commercial structures from this period include the buildings located at numbers 9, 27, and 29 West Main Street. These were all built around 1840 and were remodeled in the late 1890s in the Italianate style. As originally built, these were two story, gable front, frame vernacular buildings with Greek Revival details. The remnants of an early stone structure still remain at the Allen Block located at number 4-10 North Main Street (ca.1828/1865). This building was originally a two and one-half story, front gable stone structure with stepped parapets at the gable ends. In 1865 the structure was rebuilt as a flat roofed brick building incorporating portions of the original stone walls within the structure (one of these stone walls can be seen at the exterior rear wall).
The advent of rail transportation (both passenger and freight service) in the 1850s was a major influence on the prosperity and expansion of the village during the second half of the nineteenth century. Honeoye Falls thrived on the rapid growth of an agricultural economy, the availability of natural resources, and the expanding railroad network which facilitated trade. The coming of the railroad to the village created rapid economic changes. Shipping costs for most goods were reduced, and agricultural products could be transported to urban markets without spoiling, thus opening new markets for local farmers. The railroad encouraged the development of industry by establishing year round access to raw materials and by providing a reliable network for the distribution of manufactured goods. Promotional literature from 1895 proudly boasted of the railroads in Honeoye Falls:
"Our railroad facilities are of the best, being located on two of the greatest trunk lines in the United States, gives us the lowest possible freight rates in all directions (as well as first class passenger service), thus giving our manufacturers and produce dealers an advantage in one direction, our merchants an advantage in getting supplies from trade centers."
The first passenger train through the village was via the Canandaigua and Niagara Falls Railroad, which established service through the village in 1853. This line created a link between Canandaigua and Batavia initially and later extended to Suspension Bridge at Niagara Falls. This route became a part of the New York Central Railroad in 1858 and was nicknamed the "Peanut Branch." The Peanut Branch was a great boon to the farmers, millers, manufacturers, and commercial establishments in the Honeoye Falls area.
The Peanut Branch served as the sole means of rail transportation until 1893 when the Lima and Honeoye Falls Railroad was completed. This four mile long route connected the town of Lima, where the prominent Genesee Wesleyan Seminary was located, with the New York Central line at Honeoye Falls.
In 1893, the Lehigh Valley Railroad entered the village from the north at Monroe Street (near Maplewood Avenue) as a branch of its new main line that ran from Geneva to Buffalo. The Lehigh Valley Railroad provided Honeoye Falls residents with a direct route to Rochester and became a popular commuter line as well as offering freight service. By 1894 the line was extended to a more central location in the village. Lehigh Street was built between Monroe and Norton Street and a house was moved there to serve as a passenger station. In 1909 the present Lehigh Valley Railroad Station located at number 2 Lehigh Street was built in response to passenger complaints about the poor quality of the old station. The station is significant as an intact example of early twentieth century railroad architecture. The one and one-half story, hip-roofed, stuccoed station features Mission style influences as shown in the wide eaves, stucco finish, and curved dormer.
In 1895 the Lehigh Valley Railroad built a line through the outskirts of Lima and on to Hemlock Lake. This extension forced the Lima and Honeoye Falls passenger and freight line out of business. It then reorganized as an electric trolley line running from 1898 to 1915. The Honeoye Falls terminus of this short lived railroad was located behind the still standing New York Central freight house on Norton Street.
The growth and prosperity brought by the railroads became the impetus for the establishment of several new industries in the community as well as the expansion of existing industry. The combination of available water power, abundant raw materials, and railroad distribution facilities resulted in a number of successful industrial and manufacturing companies in the village from flour and woolen mills to an iron foundry. William Peck notes in his 1895 history of Monroe County that "...Honeoye Falls is regarded as one of the most progressive villages of this county, and in point of manufactures and commercial interests is first in importance outside the city (of Rochester)." Many of the buildings associated with these industries survive within the boundary of the village historic district.
The produce warehouse and office building of Frank P. Jobes Grain and Produce is still standing at number 1 Lehigh Street near Norton Street. The complex consists of two gambrel roofed mill buildings and a small weigh building dating back to ca.1882. Despite alterations (corrugated metal siding) these buildings are important as representative building types associated with the agricultural economy of the village.
Other surviving buildings associated with the industrial/commercial/agricultural themes and located in proximity to the former railroad facilities include: a two story lumber storage barn (ca.1895) and a two story, post and beam, double walled produce storage barn (ca.1895) at number 7 Norton Street; and a two story, post and beam, bean storage/milling building (ca.1880) at number 9 Norton Street. The Pierce Brothers Coal and Lumber Company was established on Norton Street at the corner of Lehigh Street in the late 1800s. In 1911 W.E. Despard bought the business from the Pierces. Despard's Company, the last coal dealer in the village, was in business until 1960. Two frame buildings from this business still stand at number 25 Norton Street and have been included in the district. Still standing adjacent to the former New York Central Railroad yard (on the lot behind number 61 West Main Street) is a late nineteenth century barn, which was originally part of William Lay's farm complex. This side gable, post and beam barn with original sliding track doors has been included in the district.
The railroad also spurred the growth of the village's central business district during the second half of the nineteenth century. The 1858 and 1872 village maps show that the commercial core occupied the same position that it does today; located at the intersection of Main, East and Monroe Streets, and extending for several blocks north and southwest along Main Street. Honeoye Falls' railroad era vitality is particularly evident in the two and three story brick commercial blocks that survive from the period.
The Wilcox House at number 1 North Main Street is one of the key visual elements in the commercial district. The original building was erected in 1827 by Daniel Gibson as the Falls Hotel. It was originally constructed as a two story, gable roofed brick building with fanlights in the gable ends. In 1861 Sylvester Wilcox and Frederick Hubbell bought the building, renamed it the Wilcox House, and remodeled it by adding an upper floor with a corbelled cornice and installing a three tiered front porch (the porch is no longer extant). In the 1920s the hotel was purchased by the Union Star Temple Association (Masonic Order) for use as a meeting place.
Located behind the Wilcox House at number 1 Allen Park is the former livery barn (ca.1860) for the Falls Hotel and later the Wilcox House. The building is today the home of the Honeoye Falls-Mendon Historical Society.
Other commercial buildings within the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District include, the brick buildings located at numbers 11-19 North Main Street (Wilcox Block) and 1 West Main Street (Wilcox-Dann Block). Both buildings feature restrained Italianate style details and have substantially intact storefronts featuring large display windows with wood paneling beneath, cast iron pilasters, recessed entries, and a bracketed cornice above. A hand operated elevator and winch are still extant in the Wilcox Building.
The former Bank of Honeoye Falls, established by Alexander Holden, was located at number 31 West Main Street. Built in 1895, this two story, flat roofed, Neo-classical style building features a first story metal cornice with dentils and a Greek key design, brick quoins at the corners of the building, half round shell motifs over the second floor windows, an oriel window (south elevation), and a prominent frieze design with fanciful corbelled arches and dentils surmounted by projecting cornice. The storefront has been moderately altered by the addition of modern aluminum doors and windows.
The Romanesque Revival style was utilized for two of the village's most prominent edifices, the 1874 United Methodist Church, located at number 31 East Main Street and the Village Hall, located at number 5 East Main Street. The 1886, brick Village Hall features a prominent corner tower with arched windows and a belfry.
The renewed economy brought to the village by the railroad was marked by a large increase in the village's population in the second half of the nineteenth century and the need for additional housing during this period. The housing stock associated with this period reflects a large variety of styles and trends popular during the period. Representative examples of the nationally popular architectural styles including Italianate, Second Empire, Stick, Queen Anne are present in varying states of integrity throughout the Honeoye Falls Historic District.
The Italianate style is represented by a number of commercial and residential buildings in the village. Notable examples of the style include the residences at number 13 Monroe Street, 2 York Street, and 71 and 82 West Main Street. These buildings feature square massing, low pitched roofs with widely overhanging bracketed eaves, and window cornices. The dwellings located at numbers 2 York Street and 13 Monroe Street retain their original one story porches with chamfered, bracketed columns.
Noteworthy examples of the Second Empire style dating from the mid nineteenth century include the dwellings located at numbers 23 Monroe Street, and 51 and 78 West Main Street. The Second Empire style, which is characterized by a distinctive mansard roof, was contemporaneous with the Italianate style and features many of the same design elements including bracketed eaves, window crowns, towers, and cupolas. The Palmer House at number 93 West Main Street is a Greek Revival style house, which was remodeled in the late nineteenth century in the Second Empire style and features a large cupola with round arched windows, a bracketed porch, and a mansard roof with dormer windows. This house as once the center of a prosperous dairy farm.
Between 1875 and 1900 architectural tastes grew increasingly eclectic and ostentatious and were most often expressed in the Queen Anne, Stick, Romanesque Revival or Shingle styles and toward the end of the period, the Colonial Revival style. Representative and vernacular adaptations of these styles are located throughout the residential portions of the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District.
The most popular of these styles in Honeoye Falls during this period was the Queen Anne style typified by their picturesque asymmetry, steeply pitched, multi-gabled roofs, vergeboards, towers, spindled porches, irregular fenestration, projecting bays, and varying degrees of decorative woodwork. Notable intact examples of the style include numbers 39 North Main Street, 55 West Main Street, 29 and 39 Ontario Street, 19 East Street, and 30 Monroe Street.
At the close of the nineteenth century Queen Anne architecture in the village was augmented by the introduction of classically inspired architectural elements. The use of classical porch columns, Palladian or fanlight windows, and other classical features was common from 1890 on and can be seen as transitional to the Colonial Revival style. The residence located at number 41 Ontario Street is an outstanding local interpretation of this style. Built ca.1890 by local builder Levi Hill as his private residence, Queen Anne features include a complex roof plan, decorative verge boards, patterned shingles in the cross gables, and cutaway bays, while the front door features a classical door surround. Many fine examples of this transitional property type are located on the south side of Ontario Street east of Peer Street. This area was developed around the turn of the century by local real estate developer Ben Peer. Both numbers 61 and 69 Ontario Street feature unusual fluted porch columns with wrap-around garlands. Other typical examples of this transitional style elsewhere in the village include the buildings at numbers 50 East Street, 20 Monroe Street, and 39 North Main Street.
Construction of new housing began to drop off during the early twentieth century and continued to decline until the end of World War II. The Queen Anne style proved to be more popular in Honeoye Falls than the early twentieth century Colonial Revival style. Nevertheless there are a few intact, typical Colonial Revival houses in the district. Representative examples include the Dutch Colonial Revival inspired house at number 87 West Main Street with it gambrel roof, cornice returns and classical porch; 71 Ontario Street with a typical three ranked center entrance facade and gabled front dormers; and the two and one-half story frame house with cornice returns, arched attic windows, and front porch with Doric columns at number 74 West Main Street.
Public architecture during this period also reflected the Colonial Revival aesthetic as well as other popular architectural styles of the period. The Honeoye Falls High School, built in 1927, is a representative example of early twentieth century Collegiate Gothic inspired school architecture. With its prominent location and size, entrance towers, and ornate porticos the school is a strong visual landmark within the historic district. The Mendon Public Library located at number 15 Monroe Street built in 1936, and the Honeoye Falls Post Office, built 1940-1, (National Registered 1986), are excellent examples of Colonial Revival style civic architecture. The library features many characteristics of the style including a symmetrical center entrance facade, a classical entry with Ionic order half columns supporting an entablature, double-hung windows with multi-paned glazing, cornice line details, and an elliptical fanlight in the side gable. Colonial Revival forms shown in the Post Office include multi-paned windows, gable end pediments, and a pilastered entrance with a large transom over the door.
Other early twentieth century styles represented in small numbers in the Honeoye Falls Village Historic District include American Foursquare and Craftsman styles. The building at number 73 Ontario Street, built ca.1900, is a representative example of the Foursquare style featuring the characteristic box like shape and hipped roof. The house at number 44 Ontario Street, built ca.1930, is a Craftsman influenced house featuring a jerkin head roof, boxed eaves and full front porch.
In addition to the district's principal contributing buildings, a number of intact nineteenth century carriage houses and barns, and early twentieth century garages survive within the historic district. A total of 62 contributing outbuildings in the Honeoye Falls Historic District retain a high level of integrity of design, location, setting, materials, and craftsmanship.
Despite the loss of several historic buildings to fire, deterioration or demolition, very little post-World War II development has taken place within the Historic District. Several intrusions of modern commercial structures occur within the business core, however, the architectural strength of the remaining historic commercial and residential blocks and buildings diminish this impact. The Honeoye Falls Village Historic District retains a nineteenth century character that recalls the history and development of the village. The outstanding degree of integrity of the streetscapes and the many distinctive examples of intact historic architecture are distinguishing features of the village of Honeoye Falls.
"Ben Peer, 'Saga of Honeoye,' Dies; Had Colorful Career." Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, October, 1932.
"Bridge Goes, 'Peanut' Passes, Marking End of 1836 Railroad Venture." The Honeoye Falls Times, June 1, 1939.
Bullock, Anne. The Flavor of Honeoye Falls 1838-1988. Honeoye Falls, NY: Sesquicentennial Committee, 1988.
Business Growth in Honeoye Falls, Village Historian's files.
"Centennial Observance." The Honeoye Falls Times, July 28, 1938.
Cooney, Helen D. An Outline of the Development of Honeoye Falls. Ovid, NY: W.E. Morrison & Co., 1976.
French, J.H. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Syracuse, NY: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860.
French, Seward. 1902 Commercial, Business and Professional Review of Honeoye Falls.
Honeoye Falls, New York. Bird's eye view of the village as it appeared in 1892. Troy, NY: Burleigh Lithograph Co., 1892.
Honeoye Falls Fire Department. Centennial History 1885-1895. Honeoye Falls: L.T. O'Brien Printing, 1985.
Honeoye Falls Post Office - National Register Nomination, 1986. Incorporated into U.S. Post Offices in New York State Thematic Resources Nomination. Files of the State Historic Preservation Office.
"Honeoye Falls: A Thriving Village." The Post Express, Rochester, NY, March 28, 1896.
"Honeoye Falls Up to Date." Honeoye Falls, NY: Promotional publication compliments of The Model Shoe Store, 1895.
Honeoye Falls/Lima Central School, School Records.
Kreiger, Mrs. Amo. "Honeoye Falls in Early Days." Honeoye Falls Times, July 24, 1969. The Lower Mill - National Register Nomination, 1973. Files of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Maloney, David K. Honeoye Falls, New York: Its Beginning...Honeoye Falls, NY: O'Brien Bros. Printing Co., 1963.
Map of Honeoye Falls, 1877. New York, New York: Sanborn Map and Publishing Co., 1877.
Map of Seneca Villages and the Jesuit & French Contacts, 1615-1708.
McIntosh, W.H. History of Monroe County, New York. Philadelphia, PA: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1877.
Official Minute Books - Board of Trustee Meetings of the Village of Honeoye Falls, 1838 to Present, Village Office.
One Hundredth Anniversary of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Honeoye Falls, New York. Honeoye Falls. NY: Press of the Times, 1897.
"'Peanut' Quits After 85 Years." Honeoye Falls Times, December 29, 1938.
Peck, William F. Landmarks of Monroe County, New York. Boston, MA: The Boston History Co., Publisher, 1895.
Photo and Slide Collection, Village Historian's files.
Plat Book of Monroe County, New York. Philadelphia, PA: J.M. Lathrop & Company, 1902.
St. John's Episcopal Church - National Register Nomination, 1988. Files of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee. Celebrating...150 Years of Living in the Town of Mendon and the Village of Honeoye Falls 1813-1963. Honeoye Falls, NY: O'Brian Brothers Printing Company, Inc., 1963.
Totiakton - National Register Nomination, 1978. Files of the New York State Historic Preservation Office.
Turner, Orsamus. History of the Pioneer Settlement of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. Rochester, NY: William Alling, 1851. Reprint: Geneseo, NY: James Brunner, 1976.
Views in Suburban Villages of Rochester, N.Y. ca.1913.
Village of Honeoye Falls Citizens' Advisory Committee. "Housing and Public Services Recommendations, Vol. 3 of 3."
Western New York Gazetteer and Business Directory. Buffalo, NY: A.N. Marquis & Co., Publishers, 1880.
Worboys, Paul S. "The History of Train Service in Honeoye Falls." Honeoye Falls Weekly Times, July 30, 1984.
________, "Lehigh Valley Railroad." Honeoye Falls Times, April 4 and 11, 1985.
_________, A Railroad for Lima: An Account of New York State's Unique Shortline - A Steam Railroad Turned Interurban Trolley. Honeoye Falls, NY: Iron Man Press, 1991.