A HENRIETTA LANDMARK IS RESTORED – 2/15/06
Recently, I had the pleasure of touring the Abel Post building. This is the 1830’s era cobblestone house located at 5582 West Henrietta Road. The property was recently purchased by Mark Congdon as a location for his finance business, called the Horizon Group.
It is a gem! The new owner has restored the building, pointing up the cobblestone masonry, putting in new windows, restoring the entrance-way and establishing new landscaping. The deteriorating sheds attached to the house have been demolished and a new building put in its place in keeping with the Federal architecture.
The interior has been cleaned, painted and all has been given a new look. What would have been the large living room of the house is now a gracious reception area for clients. The old fireplace and mantle has been restored also. Stenciling and several murals decorate the walls, and upstairs in the offices, murals reflect the interests of owner and employees.
It has been speculated over the years that this house may have been part of the Underground Railroad, although this has never been documented. It is hoped that someday this will be accomplished. However, the owner has a great interest in Civil War history and as a result there are several items that reflect this.
In the new building addition, a mural depicts a map that traces the route slaves would take traveling north to freedom. In what would be Henrietta, a house that looks like the Post home is depicted. Also, in this room, a “slave” quilt has been made which had special instructions for those escaping. In a side yard a Civil War type cannon is displayed complete with flag. Everything is historic and has meaning.
Abel Post, who built the house, would be pleased with the way his home and property has been restored. Henrietta residents watched with interest as the changes were made. It has been an exciting thing to see its evolvement into a “new use for an old building.” Our congratulations to all concerned.
Cobblestone architecture is a unique form of folk art. These buildings are artistic masterpieces of exceptional strength and beauty. They will endure for a long time if taken care of properly.
In all there are about 700 cobblestone buildings with Rochester as the center of the region. Most were farmhouses but other structures such as schools, churches, town halls, stores, etc. were also built. Within a radius of 60 miles are 90 percent of all cobblestone buildings. These buildings were concentrated on the Lake Ontario plain (along Ridge Road) with Wayne County having over 150 documented buildings. Others may be found in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Vermont and Ontario, Canada. These were known to be built by masons who had been connected to the Rochester cobblestone area.
Cobblestone buildings were constructed of stones obtained from the fields or from lakebeds. A stone is deemed a cobblestone if it can be held in one hand. A board with a hole in it was used to sort the stones according to size and color. The stones might be laid in the mortar in various patterns, at first rather primitive and later more sophisticated. However laid out, these stones need sunlight to reveal their colors. To me these cobblestone walls are pieces of sculpture rising from the earth and standing tall and beautiful. Sculpture we can all enjoy just by taking a ride to where these buildings may be found.
Luckily, in Henrietta we still have 13 buildings surviving. The Tinker Homestead Museum on Calkins Road is one of them and can be visited six days a week. Others are located on various roads in town. We know that there were many more but their location is not known as records were lost. For this reason we must see that our thirteen cobblestone buildings are preserved. Thanks go to the people who live in them and keep them looking beautiful! (With the Abel Post home we know one will be preserved another fifty years at least.)
“Henrietta Heritage” by Eleanor Kalsbeck 1977
“History of a Village” 1790-1967 West Henrietta New York by Nancy Lu Gay 1967
“Our Cobblestone Heritage” by the Cobblestone Society Childs New York 1970