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Canandaigua City

Canandaigua City Hall is located at 2 North Main Street, Canandaigua NY 14424; phone: 585-396-5000.

Beginnings [1]

The city of Canandaigua was initially founded as a late eighteenth century settlement base for the western frontier. In 1788, Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, representing a group of eastern investors, purchased a large tract of land in western New York. The Phelps and Gorham purchase was opened for settlement in 1789. Canandaigua, on the major transportation route from Utica through Geneva to Buffalo, was designated as the county seat of the newly created Ontario County. It soon became a busy and prospering village, providing the goods and services required by settlers heading west. The frontier's land offices, lawyers, speculators, churches, hardware stores, taverns, brickyards, and lumber mills were established in Canandaigua. Little evidence of the architecture of the earliest settlers survives intact; although, according to local tradition, the earliest sections of several extant structures date from as early as circa 1790. The earliest extant structures that retain substantial integrity of design, form and style date from the 1810s and 1820s. The unusually high number of substantial Federal style structures reflect the city's early nineteenth century regional prominence and the wealth and sophistication of its initial settlers. High-style dwellings which exhibit outstanding craftsmanship and elegant detailing are scatted throughout the area.

Gideon Granger was sent to Canandaigua in 1812 by his native state of Connecticut as its representative to the land office of Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham. Granger had, by this time, achieved national prominence as postmaster-general during the administration of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He and his wife, Mindwell, retired to Canandaigua in 1814 after a distinguished political career in Washington and began construction of the Granger Homestead with the fortune he had acquired through land speculation. Completed two years later, the mansion is a particularly distinguished example of Federal period architecture featuring elegant detailing on the facade and entrance.

  1. Janette Johnstone, N. Y. State Department of Parks and Recreation, Division for Historic Preservation, Canandaigua Multiple Resource Area, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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