|History of the Campuses and Buildings of the University of Rochester|
|United States Hotel||Prince Street Campus||Eastman School of Music||Medical Center||River Campus||Mid-Campus||South Campus||Mt. Hope Campus||Graduate, Family and Veteran Housing||Central Utilities||Other Off-Site Buildings|
|United States Hotel|
The former United States Hotel was the first home of the University from 1850 to 1861..
States Hotel, from Sketches of Rochester by Henry
O'Reilly (1838) follows page 376. Note the observation platform on
Click on image for larger version.
The building that became the University's home was reportedly built sometime between 1826 and 1828 by local mason Martin Clapp (1795?-1843) at a cost of $25,000, and although no primary source for this information has been found an 1852 newspaper article references an early court case against Clapp that remains undiscovered, while an 1868 memoir states that the building was highly speculative and resulted in Clapp's financial ruin. The building currently has a prominent "1826" sign facing West Main Street. The Erie Canal had fully opened in October 1825 near Clapp's property, but the initial use of the building is unknown. A manual training school, the Rochester Institute for Practical Education, was organized by the Rev. Gilbert Morgan and occupied the building for about a year starting in May 1831. Female seminaries or academies were conducted from 1832 to 1834 by the Misses Smith and Sarah T. Seward. Miss Seward's Female Seminary moved to Spring street in 1834 and then to a new building on Alexander in 1835.
The property on which the building was built was owned by Martin Clapp in 1820. An 1832 map shows the building and the 1837 Tonawanda Railroad was shown on the west side of Elizabeth Street in an 1838 map.
|Map of the village of Rochester in 1820: as drawn by the publisher from actual survey published by Horatio N. Fenn (1856)||Map of Rochester from a correct survey by Valentine Gill (1832)||Map of the City of Rochester, drawn for O'Reilly's Sketches by S. Cornell. (1838)|
The notable artist J.L.D. Mathies moved to Rochester in 1823 and managed the Arcade House and Clinton House, where he displayed paintings by himself and others.
|Paintings by J.L.D. Mathies|
|Jemima Wilkinson/Publick Universal Friend (1816)||Seneca Veterans of the War of 1812 (1819-1820)||Red Jacket (1820)||Wreck of the Walk-in-the-Water (1821)|
Mathies opened the City Hotel in this building on April 25, 1834 and received a tavern license in July.
|Rochester Daily Democrat, April 24, 1834, page 2||"In the Looking-Glass of 1834," by Major Wheeler C. Case, Centennial History of Rochester, New York 2:155 (1932)||"United States Hotel," Rochester Daily Democrat, August 28, 1837, Page 1.|
Mathies died of consumption on November 25, 1834 and the hotel was renamed the United States Hotel in June 1837 by new proprietor George Gates, about whom little is known. The Tonawanda Railroad opened in May 1837 and terminated just across Elizabeth street from the hotel, which became the train depot. The Tonawanda Railroad rerouted its tracks in December 1844 to connect directly with the Auburn and Rochester Railroad's station on Mill Street to facilitate connections between the two railroads, causing the hotel's fortunes to decline rapidly. By 1845 it was a large boarding house and what was described as a "second-rate" hotel, but the only one in the city operated on temperance principles. By May 1850 it had been renamed the Hamilton House and was "undergoing a thorough repair, from summit to base, which will refit it for one of the most commodious boarding houses in the city."
|Rochester Daily American, May 15, 1850, Page 1.|
That same month the trustees of the new University of Rochester voted to "hire the United States Hotel for three years on the terms proposed by Mr. Tallman, the receiver of said property, namely $800 pr. year, and make such repairs as necessary for the accommodation of the institution." The trustees decided "to purchase the property, for $9,000 from George F. Talman of New York City" for $3,000 in cash and a $6,000 mortgage that was probably held by Talman, who was vice-president of the Farmers' Loan and Trust Company of New York City. The deed was dated March 1, 1851. Classes began in November 1850 and continued until 1861, when the University moved to its new home in Anderson Hall on the Prince Street Campus.
|Photo credit J. Adam Fenster|
The only known image of the building while occupied by the University is this 1853 lithograph:
by John William Hill, lithograph published by Smith Brothers,
(click on image for full view)
Carpenter's Collegiate Institute, headed by 1852 UR Graduate Elisha M. Carpenter, occupied the building from 1864 to 1867 and had George Eastman as a student in 1865. Carpenter moved the school to a new location shortly after the University sold the building to Giles B. Rich in May 1867.
On June 17, 1928 the Associated Alumni dedicated a bronze tablet on the building to honor its role in the University's founding, This tablet has since disappeared although the building is still standing at 212-224 West Main Street in Rochester.
|The University of Rochester: A Story of Expansion and its Background, by Hugh A. Smith, Page 29 (1930)|
1820 Map of the village of Rochester in 1820: as drawn by the publisher from actual survey published by Horatio N. Fenn (1856) | also here |
Property of M. Clapp, lot 223 on Buffalo Street at west edge of the Hundred Acre Tract
Sales," Rochester Telegraph, November 14, 1820, Page 3.
By virtue of an execution issued out of the county court, and to be delivered, against the goods and chattels, lands and tenements of Martin Clapp, I have seized and taken lot No. 223, in the village of Rochester, agreeable to the plan of said village, which I shall expose to sale at the house of John G. Christopher, in said village, on the 26th day of December next, at one o'clock P.M. Dated Nov 14, 1820. For P. Adams, Sh'ff. S. Close, dep.
Directory of the Village of Rochester, March 1, 1827.
Page 10: Householders - Clapp, Martin, Mason, Buffalo-st.
Water," Rochester Democrat and Advertiser, November 1, 1827,
J.L.D. Mathies, March 27, 1827
in 1827. With a map of the village, by Jesse Hawley and Elisha
Ely, February 1828
There is no mention of the building or Martin Clapp in this book.
1829 "Arcade," by J.L.D. Mathies, The Craftsman 1(23):185 (July 14, 1829)
Public Houses," Rochester Gem 3:39 (July 2, 1831)
Eagle Tavern, Clinton House, Rochester House, Mansion House.
Annals of Education and Instruction for the year 1831
1(10):489-490 (October 1831)
The Rochester Institute of Practical Education
1832 An act to incorporate the Rochester Institute of Practical Education, April 14, 1832.
1832 An act to incorporate the Tonawanda Rail-Road Company. April 24, 1832.
of Rochester from a correct survey
Shows building that became City Hotel and United States Hotel on Buffalo Street.
Clinton House," Rochester
Daily Advertiser, January 18, 1833, Page 3.
J.L.D. Mathies, June 27, 1832
Hotel," Rochester Daily Democrat, April 24, 1834, Page 2..
J.L.D. Mathies, owner announces opening
Mathies," Rochester Daily Democrat, July 26, 1834, Page 2-2.
Granted tavern License
1834 John Lee Douglas “J.L.D.” Mathies (1780-1834) grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery
1834 "Death of J.L.D. Mathies," Rochester Daily Democrat, November 26, 1834, Page 2
and Directory of the City of Rochester: Also Statistics, Population,
City Officers, Publick Buildings, Institutions, Fire Department,
Page 2: Principal Publick Houses. City Hotel, Buffalo-st. Keeper - J.L.D. Mathies
Page 28: Clapp, Martin, mason, Buffalo-st.
Page 80: Seward, Jason W., Rochester Female Seminary, Spring-st.
of the Tonawanda Rail Road From Rochester to Batavia," Rochester
Daily Democrat, May 11, 1837, Page 2.
The Morning Train will leave the Depot at the City Hotel every morning at 6 o'clock, and arrive at Batavia at 8. The stages will leave Batavia at 9 and arrive at Buffalo from 3 to 4 P.M.
States Hotel," Rochester Daily Democrat, August 28, 1837,
The subscriber would respectfully solicit the attention of the traveling public to his New and Splendid HOTEL. George Gates.
of the City of Rochester for 1838
Page 10: United States Hotel, corner of Buffalo-st. and Rail Road, Geo. Gates
in the West: Sketches of Rochester by Henry O’Reilly
Page 376: United States Hotel by George Gates and engraving of the hotel on pages following.
of the City of Rochester, drawn for O'Reilly's Sketches by S.
Shows United States Hotel (#20) and Tonawanda Railroad terminus across Elizabeth street from hotel.
Rochester City Directory and Register 1841
Page 19: Hotels. United States Hotel, 174 Buffalo, Proprietor Geo. Gates.
1842 "U.S. Hotel Burned," Rochester Daily Advertiser, July 28, 1842, Page 2-3
1843 "Martin Clapp died," Rochester Daily Advertiser, April 25, 1843, Page 2-5
1843 "Martin Clapp died,"
Daily Democrat, April 26, 1843, Page 2
In this city, on the 22d inst., Mr. Martin Clapp, and old resident, aged 48 years
1843 Martin Clapp (-1843) Grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery
Directory and Gazetteer of the City of Rochester for 1844,
Page 30: Hotels. U.S. Hotel, (Temperance,) 174 Buffalo, Proprietor J.R. Parker.
Journal and Advertiser, November 27, 1844, Page 2.
The connecting link between the Auburn and Rochester and Tonawanda Rail-ways has been completed; a train of cars passed over on Tuesday last.
Hotel - Buffalo St.," Rochester
Daily Democrat, June 26, 1845, Page 2.
This House, having "gone down," in consequence of the removal of its railroad facilities, has recently been taken by a company, chiefly mechanics, for the purpose of keeping a Boarding House on a larger scale than usual, and at a cheaper rate for the same accommodations. In addition, to the Boarding department, this House presents to the public the accommodations of at least a second rate Hotel, and will be in readiness to entertain parties on the coming 4th of July. It is the only House in the city (known to us) that is kept on the strictest Temperance Principles.
& Warren's Directory of the City of Rochester, for 1845-6.
Page 166: United States Hotel, 174 Buffalo
House," Rochester Daily American, May 15, 1850, Page 1.
This spacious building formerly known as the United States Hotel
University," New-York Daily Tribune, September 24, 1850,
This institution, we learn from the Daily Advertiser, will be opened on the 1st Monday of November. The following Professorships have been established:
"Moral and Political Science,"
"Latin Language and Literature," Prof. John F. Richardson,
"Greek Language and Literature," Prof. A. C. Kendrick, D.D.
"Natural Sciences," Prof. Chester Dewey, D.D.
"History and Belle Letters," Prof. John H. Raymond.
"Hebrew and German Languages," Prof. Thomas J. Conard, D.D.
"Mathematics and Natural Philosophy," Prof. S. S. Green
The Advertiser adds, the price of tuition has been fixed at $30 per annum. The advantages to be enjoyed students in this locality, as enumerated by the officers, are many, and will doubtless tend largely to increase the patronage of the Institution. we understand that thd commodious brick building on Buffalo st. formerly known as the United States Hotel, has been secured for the temporary use of the University. It is elegantly situated, and we think it would accommodate nearly two hundred student. The University of Rochester, of which there had been so much said, seems now to have assumed a tangible form, and our citizens will shortly see it in the full tide of successful operation.'
The names of the Executive officers of the University have not yet been announced. The offices of the Board of Managers are, John N. Wilder, President, and Wm. N. Sage, Secretary.
of Rochester," New-York Daily Tribune, September 26, 1850,
We are pleased to see that a noble effort is being made by the Baptist Denomination to do their share of the Collegiate Education of the State. The position they have selected as the location of a large University has no superior in the State of New-York. Rochester is a rural, beautiful and growing city. It it natural center fur the large section between Syracuse and Buffalo. Its surroundings are filled with an enterprising and intelligent farming population Its citizens are mainly of New England descent and favorable of course to education. The interest of the county in which Rochester is situated, has been expressed by a subscription from parties entirely responsible, amounting to about seventy-five thousand dollars. Fifty thousand dollars is expected from New-York and Brooklyn. From what we know of the enterprise and pecuniary ability of Baptists in this city and vicinity, we think this sum will be easily and speedily secured, and a great and useful institution of learning be given to the western section of the State by a body of Christians who have hitherto been somewhat delinquent in this department of Christian benevolence. The friends cf the University hold a meeting this evening at 7˝ o'clock in the Oliver-Street Church. We hope it may be well attended.
1850 "University of Rochester - Opening of the College," Rochester Daily Democrat, November 6, 1850, Page 2.
1850 University bought the building on December 2, 1850, 1891 regents report. The deed was Talman was dated March 1, 1851.
Buildings," The Annunciator 2(1):3 (January 1, 1851)
Under the whole is a large basement used for cellars, and a refectory for such students as choose to board with the janitor. The rooms of the literary societies are on the lower floor of the main building, and are being tastefully decorated and conveniently and elegantly furnished. Adjoining these rooms are the reading-room and the library. On the opposite side of the hall from the reading-room is Professor Raymond's recitation room. On the second floor of the main building are the recitation rooms of Professors Conant, Maginnis, Richardson, Dewey, Smith, and Kendrick. All these rooms are complete; have comfortable seats, window shades, carpets, etc. On the second floor of the main building is the trustees' room of the Education Society. The third and fourth stories of the main building are occupied by students. The rooms in the wing are principally occupied by students. In the wing is Professor Kendrick's valuable classical library. Professor Raymond, Dr. Conant, and others have libraries of more or less value in different rooms of the front building. The chapel is a light and pleasant room 70 feet long and 30 in width. On the east side is a carpeted rostrum. On the rostrum is a suitable reading-desk, and chairs for nine professors. Comfortable seats have been provided for the students, and for morning prayers and evening lectures no more convenient or appropriate chapel is needed for the present. The materials have been furnished for a geological cabinet, and a museum for whatever is rare and curious will soon be commenced. Rooms will be appropriated for both of these purposes.
Three Eras of Buffalo Street," Rochester
Daily Democrat, October 4, 1852, Page 2.
Era No. 1 - Or from the opening of Buffalo street in 1814, to the time of opening the Burying Ground upon it in 1822 - 8 years.
Three Eras of Buffalo Street," Rochester
Daily Democrat, October 8, 1852, Page 2.
Era No. 2 - Or from the opening of the Burying Ground in 1822, to the completion of the City Improvements in 1836 - 14 years.
Cross over to the U.S. Hotel, so long in law; ------ vs. Clapp
Three Eras of Buffalo Street," Rochester
Daily Democrat, October 12, 1852, Page 2.
Era No. 3 — Or from the so-called Improvement of the City Council in 1836, to a broken and sinking condition in 1852.
by John William Hill, lithograph published by Smith Brothers, New
York. | another
This view is looking east down Buffalo Street, United States Hotel is the taller building just beyond the bridge over the canal.
Institute," Rochester Union and Advertiser, October 15,
1864, Page 1
This school will re-open on Wednesday next, Oct 12, the middle of the first term.
New Collegiate Institute," Rochester Union and Advertiser,
October 15, 1864, Page 2
Re-opens the Collegiate Institute in the University building
Annual Report of the Western House of Refuge for Juvenile Delinquents,
December 1, 1864
Page 8: In October last, Mr. Elisha M. Carpenter, who for nine years previous had discharged with fidelity and ability the duties of principal of the senior department of the school, resigned his position in order to open a collegiate institute in this city.
1865 Letter from George
Eastman to his Uncle Horace Eastman, November 19, 1865
"I go to school to Mr Carpenter in the old University building near the corner of Bufflo and Elizabeth Streets he has about seventy scholars and it is the best private school for boys in the city. I study Algebra. Geography. Arrithmetic. Reading and Spelling. school is called at quarter of nine we have a recess of 5 minutes at half past ten and fifteen minutes at half past twelve oclock then school is dismissed at two.".Reprinted in "Early Letters of George Eastman to Horace H. Eastman, his Uncle," Genesee Country Scrapbook 5(1):2-14. (1954)
School," Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 30, 1867,
We learn that Mr. Carpenter has removed his school for boys to the spacious hall in the Marble Block, 73 Main street.
New York State Business Directory and Gazetteer
Page 970: "Carpenter's Collegiate Institute, E.M. Carpenter, Principal
notes and reminiscences of the city of Rochester: its early history,
remarkable men and events, strange revelations of the murders,
mysteries and miseries, casualties, curiosities and progress of this
young and growing city, for the last 50 years, by an
Octogenarian. [Lyman Barker Langworthy]
Page 14: A building of some remark on Buffalo street, is the large structure lately known as the University, built by Martin Clapp in 1828, and thought in early days to be a wild speculation, as it did eventually turn out — ruining the builder. It was afterwards kept by J. L. D. Matthies as the United States Hotel, at the front door of which the Tonawanda Railroad, as it was then called, ended and landed its passengers, which is now one portion of the great Central New York road.
ca. 1870s Picture of United States Hotel building
1883 "George F. Talman," The New York Times, June 12, 1883, Page 4.
History of the City of Rochester: With Illustrations and Biographical
Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers, by William
Page 304: Miss Smith subsequently married Martin Clapp, who nearly sixty years ago was the builder of the United States Hotel, which is yet standing on the north side of West Main street near the corner of Elizabeth street. Within a few years after its completion it was successively used for a hotel, for the Tonawanda railroad depot, for a manual labor institute, for Misses Blacks' and also Miss Seward's female seminaries and then for the University of Rochester. It is of the experiment in the United States Hotel building of a manual labor school for Rochester, about the year 1828, that brief mention is next to be made. The school was designed for the higher education of young men, and for a time it had a goodly number of students. A few hours each day school exercises were suspended and the students applied themselves, and whatever mechanical skill they had or could acquire, to making barrels for the flour mills of Rochester. Rev. Gilbert Morgan, an accomplished scholar, was the principal. The standard of scholarship in the institution was high. Although it was a laudable effort to assist young men of limited means to obtain an education, and much interest was manifested in the institution by many citizens, it did not succeed, and Mr. Morgan subsequently engaged for a time in teaching in the High school on the east side of the river. Afterward he removed from Rochester to South Carolina, where he continued to reside for many years.
Page 305: During the period from about 1830 to 1834 there were two notable schools established on the west side of the river for the higher education of young ladies. The first was the school of the Misses Black, which was commenced about 1830, in the Sill building on the west side of South Fitzhugh street, near the corner of West Main street, and afterward removed to the United States Hotel building. The Misses Black were English-Canadian ladies. One or both of them had been educated at Miss Willard's famous Troy female seminary. Both were well qualified as teachers and were in all respects accomplished ladies. Their school was attended by many then young ladies who in after years graced society in Rochester and in other places. Some of the peculiarities of the school in matters of etiquette and methods of instruction were English rather than American, but the school was a flourishing one while it continued and was satisfactory to its patrons. Marriage, again, as in so many schools having female teachers, occasioned an interruption to the Misses Blacks' school. The elder Miss Black early in 1833 married a Canadian gentleman and returned to Canada to reside.
The other school above alluded to and immediately succeeding the Misses Blacks' school was that of Miss Sarah T. Seward, afterward Mrs. Gen. Jacob Gould, who was also a graduate of the Troy female seminary, and who came to Rochester from Lebanon Springs in this state early in March, 1833, and almost immediately opened a school in the United States Hotel building. There had also come from the Troy female seminary Miss Sayles, afterward Mrs. William S. Bishop. Miss Sayles became the assistant of Miss Seward, as she had been of the Misses Black. Miss Seward's school speedily achieved great success. After continuing in the United States Hotel for one year it was removed to the large stone building at the corner of Plymouth avenue and Spring street, the present site of the First Presbyterian church. During its continuance at that place for nearly two years, and till its removal to Alexander street in the autumn of 1835, it continued to flourish, and there followed an awakening of the people of Rochester to an appreciation of the value of higher female education. As the result of this awakening, two new female academies were projected and new buildings for them were erected in 1835 and 1836. Auspicious and favoring circumstances attended both institutions and both were meritorious. One was Miss Seward's Alexander street female seminary, the building for which was completed and the school opened in October, 1835.
of Village Days: Rochester 1822-1830," by Jesse W. Hatch, Read
before the Rochester Historical Society December 8th, 1893. The
Rochester Historical Society 4:235-247 (1925)
Page 243: North of the Mansion House on Carroll Street was the Monroe Garden kept by the late George Gates, who subsequently conducted the City Hotel on Buffalo Street at the terminus of the Rochester and Tonawanda R. R., now known as the old University Building, which was built about 1827 or 1828.
Dyer Hamilton (1817-1895) Grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Proprietor of the Hamilton House in 1850.
History of the City of Rochester from the Earliest Times, by
the Rochester Post Express.
Page 256: Jason W. Seward. In 1833 he came to Rochester and with his sister, Sarah T. Seward, opened a school for young ladies in the United States Hotel building on Buffalo (West Main) street. The school was so successful that in 1835 a building was erected for it on Alexander street, where the Seward seminary was long conducted.
of Monroe County, N.Y. by William F. Peck
Page 125: As all things grow, Rochester outgrew its village condition, and on April 28, 1834, the act of incorporation of the city of Rochester, containing its charter, was passed. This action was not premature, for the the population and the volume of business fully warranted it. The number of inhabitants was 12,289, there were thirteen hundred houses, fourteen churches or meeting-houses, nine hotels---the Eagle, the Rochester, the Clinton, the Mansion, the Monroe, the Arcade, the Franklin, the City and the Rensselaer
1902 Elisha M. Carpenter (1831-1902) grave. Graduate of the University of Rochester 1852; Principal of Carpenter's College Institute in 1864-1867
1902 "Obituary of Elisha M. Carpenter," New York Observer, February 13, 1902, Page 212.
Might Have Been Clappville," Democrat and Chronicle,
September 19, 1912, Page 13.
Martin Clapp was pioneer. He erected the old United States Hotel, which was destroyed by fire many years ago.
ca. 1916 United States Hotel building
- Background of Its History," by Raymond H. Arnot, Publications
of the Rochester Historical Society: Publication fund 1:93-111
Page 108: United States Hotel
at Seventy-five: Address Before Iota Chapter, Phi Beta Kappa,
June 14, 1925, by John Rothwell Slater
Page 14: For the Age of Foundation I will take you first out West Main Street, between North Washington and Elizabeth Streets, where the old United States Hotel stands dishonored and neglected in shabby old age, with no tablet to mark the spot where the University of Rochester began. The ground floor, cut up into small shops, retains no trace of the old chapel, a room seventy by thirty feet, where, we are told, on November 5, 1850, the formal opening exercises were held. Likewise the old classrooms on the second floor have been cut up into tenements, so that only the arched hallways and worn wooden stairways afford any pathway for the imagination, as we try to picture those old-time teachers and students passing from one grade of Parnassus to another. But on the upper floors, where the boys lodged (notwithstanding the determination of the trustees to maintain no dormitory), there may still linger the ghost of a freshman, or the echo of some nocturnal diversion. When you make your pilgrimage step around through the alley to the rear of the building, where the courtyard of the old inn, erected in 1826, still preserves something of the gray dignity that has vanished from the street front. It is not easy to repeople this old caravanserai with scholars, and it retains little of the odor of sanctity, but the fact remains: there we were born, and you may still see the cradle.
the making of a university, by Jesse Leonard Rosenberger, with
an introduction by President Rush Rhees.
Pages 28-32: The "first duly called and notified regular meeting of the trustees" was held on September 16, 1850, in the committee room of the First Baptist Church of Rochester. The organization of the board, "under the charter," was perfected by the unanimous election of John N. Wilder, president; Frederick Whittlesey, vice-president; William N. Sage, secretary; and Edwin Pancost, treasurer.4 (On December 9, 1850, Mr. Pancost offered his resignation as treasurer, which the executive board accepted. That was followed by the appointment of William N. Sage as treasurer, after which Mr. Sage rendered service as secretary and treasurer for practically half a century.) A resolution was then passed:
"That the proceedings of the informal meeting held in Rochester May 15, 1850, be approved and ratified by this board." What was to be called the "Executive Board of the University of Rochester" was created, to be composed of nine of the trustees, three to be elected annually after the first year. The first members of that board were John N. Wilder, R. S. Burrows, E. F. Smith, Edwin Pancost, E. Huntington, D. R. Barton, Everard Peck, F. Whittlesey, and William N. Sage, and most or all of them were kept on the board as long as they remained trustees, which meant many years for several of them. To that board was committed the immediate superintendence of the university, with power to enact and enforce every regulation required for the immediate good of the university, and, in general, to take such measures as might to them seem expedient for the well-being of the institution.
The trustees directed the executive board "to hire the United States Hotel for three years on the terms proposed by Mr. Tallman, the receiver of said property, namely $800 pr. year, and make such repairs as necessary for the accommodation of the institution."
It was fortunate for the university that this building could be obtained for it, and on moderate terms, too, for after an expenditure of about $1,500 only, for repairs, changes, and necessary furnishings, it supplied at once, and for a decade, all that the university absolutely needed in a building. In fact, it not only met the early requirements in that respect of the university, but also, from the same date, those of the Rochester Theological Seminary, for the use of which the university sublet a part of the building.
The building was on the north side of Buffalo Street (now Main Street West), a little east of Elizabeth Street, and near the Erie Canal. It had a frontage of one hundred feet on Buffalo Street and a capacious wing which extended back from the west end of the main part, the whole structure being four stories in height. When ready for use by the university, there were on the lower floor of the main part a commodious chapel, rooms for two literary societies, a library and reading-room, and one recitation room; while on the second floor there were all the other rooms of good size needed for recitation and lecture purposes. On the third and fourth floors of the main part and in the wing generally there were about sixty-five or seventy rooms suitable for the accommodation of that number of students. Besides, there was a basement under the whole which provided rooms for the janitor and his family; a dining-hall to be conducted by him for such students as might wish to take their meals there; and cellars.
The executive board ordered purchased, for use in the building, five pine tables, six arm chairs, one hundred common wooden chairs, thirty settees for the chapel, seven box stoves, and seven boxes for wood. It also approved of an expenditure of $25.81 for lamps, and approved a bill for carpeting. The rostrum in the chapel was carpeted; while the recitation rooms, it was said, were carpeted and furnished with chairs, tables, window shades, and everything necessary to make them comfortable. Another account said that the recitation or lecture rooms had "an air of homelike neatness and elegance that could not fail to have an influence in correcting the careless personal habits so often fostered by the condition of college lecture rooms."
The building was constructed with walls of brick and stone, in 1826, at a cost of about $25,000, by Martin Clapp, who was listed in the Rochester directories of 1827 and 1834 as "mason, Buffalo-st." Financially, it proved to be a disastrous undertaking, as apparently did almost every other early enterprise in that part of the city. At certain times the building, or, more likely, a portion of it, was used for a manual training school, for two different schools for girls, and for the station of the Tonawanda Railroad, the terminus of which road was for some years, from 1837, in Buffalo Street, or on one side of it, near Elizabeth Street. But some time prior to 1850 the station was removed to a location some blocks away, which was given as the main reason why the property could be acquired so easily when it was wanted for the university. The building is still standing, being used for small stores or shops, and tenements.
Just what was meant by the reference to Mr. Tallman as "the receiver of said property," in the resolution which directed that it be hired, is not clear, for when it was decided to purchase the property, for $9,000, for the university, the deed therefor, dated March 1, 1851, was made by "George F. Talman, of the city of New York," in whom the full title was apparently vested. Again, it is interesting to note that the description of the property in the deed indicated that the hotel had not always been known as the "United States Hotel," but at one time had been called the "City Hotel." With even greater clearness, a deed made by Giles B. Rich, in 1891, specifically referred to "premises formerly known as the City Hotel and then the United States Hotel afterwards owned and occupied by the University of Rochester and conveyed by said university to Giles B. Rich by deed dated May 20th, 1867."
Survivors of Class of 1860 Will Attend Tablet Dedication at First Home
of University," Democrat and Chronicle, June 15, 1928, Page
21. | part 2 |
The hotel building is now owned by Mrs. Mary E. Furlong, and is occupied by apartments, stores and lunchrooms.
University of Rochester: A Story of Expansion and its Background,
by Hugh A. Smith
Page 29: Back to the Source - First Home of the University with Enlargement of Bronze Place-marker Which Now Distinguishes It.
in Rochester," by Walter H. Cassebeer, Centennial History
of Rochester, New York 2:261-298 (1932)
Page 286: Then came the United States or City Hotel, on West Main Street, built in 1826, of brick and stone, by Martin Clapp, at a cost of $25,000. After having been the station of the Tonawanda Railroad, it was taken over by the University of Rochester, when it was in its infancy, in 1850, and is still standing.
University of Rochester: Its Place in the Civic Century," by
Edward Reuben Foreman, Centennial History of Rochester, New York,
Page 127: Responding to the urge of Jesse Leonard Rosenberger's book, Rochester: The Making of a University, the Associated Alumni, on Sunday, June 17, 1928, dedicated a bronze tablet marking the old United States Hotel building on Main Street West, the cradle of our college.
Herald-Mail, June 4, 1936, Page 8
Court case to compel the determination of a claim to the property that was once the United States Hotel on West Main Street, involving Martin Clapp, his wife Clarissa Clapp, their heirs at law and devisees.
the Educational Frontier," b Blake McKelvey, The Rochester
Historical Society Publication 17:1-36
Page 20-21: The Finney revival of 1830 prompted the creation of another and quite novel school, the Rochester Institute of Practical Education. It was opened by Gilbert Morgan in May, 1831, for poor boys desiring to prepare for the ministry. Fifty young men were soon housed in a building at the east end of Buffalo Bridge, and equipment for the manufacture of flour barrels was installed to enable the boys to pay their expenses. Apparently the theological emphasis did not last, for Professor Oatman, a science teacher, took over the school that fall. The day's schedule was carefully divided into study, recitation, and work periods, each boy devoting ten hours to his subjects and three to labor in the shops. The work was organized into three shifts in order to facilitate a continuous use of the limited equipment. A bill to incorporate this Institute for "free" education was pushed through the legislature, but a decline in the price of barrels destroyed the margin of profit. Professor Oatman attempted to eke out his own expenses by offering a course of public lectures, but the school was soon forced to close its doors.
1950 "J.L.D. Mathies,
Genial Host of Early Rochester,” by Dorothy Dengler, Genesee
Country Scrapbook 1:21-22, 32.
In 1834, at the time the Legislature granted Rochester's petition for incorporation as a city, Mathies moved once again, this time to open a new public house on Buffalo Street, which he named the City Hotel to commemorate Rochester's mark of progress. He then invited all the citizens to come and partake of his hospitality and enjoy the entertainment he would provide to honor his new house as well as the new City.
Scarcely seven months later, on November 26, 1834, the Rochester Daily Democrat came out with ·a brief notice that J. L. D. Mathies had died of consumption the evening before and that the funeral was to be held at the City Hotel he had opened with such enthusiasm in April of that year. Thus ended the brief but varied career of J. L. D. Mathies, connoisseur of fine foods and genial host to citizen and wayfarer in the early days of Rochester's history.
Portrait of Red Jacket,” by John Warner Brown, Genesee Country
Page 7: The portrait probably also hung for a short time in Mathies' City Hotel in West Buffalo St., now W. Main.
Mathies, Western New York Artist," by Herbert A. Wisbey, Jr., New
York History 30(2):133-150 (April 1958)
John Lee Douglas Mathies
and architects of Rochester, N.Y., by Carl and Ann Schmidt.
Page 38: The four-story brick building still standing on the north side of Main Street just east of Clarissa Street was built by Martin Clapp in 1826 at a cost of $25,000. It first housed the United States Hotel which proved to be financially a disastrous undertaking. Later it became a manual training school. It subsequently was used by the Misses Black for a girls' school;then by Miss Sarah T.Seward, also as a girls' school. In 1832, upon the completion of the first railroad, the old hotel became a railway station for the Tonawanda Railroad. Then, in November, 1850, the building became the home of the University of Rochester and the Theological Seminary.
The Executive Board of the University of Rochester leased the old United States Hotel for three years at $800, per year. It was necessary to make certain alterations and repairs to house the new institution. On the first floor were the chapel, library, reading room and one recitation room, as well as two rooms for literary societies. The second floor provided space for recitation and lecture rooms, and the third and fourth floors provided nearly seventy rooms for the accommodation of students. In 1861 the University removed to Anderson Hall - the first building to be erected on the University Avenue campus.
in Rochester’s History," by Blake McKelvey, Rochester History
30(4):1-28 (October, 1968)
Page 4: Rochester & Tonawanda Railroad. By May 1837, when the first engine arrived by canal boat from the east, the 32-mile stretch of tract to Batavia was ready for use, and a gala celebration inaugurated service on the new road. A throng of citizens assembled on May 11 at the terminal west of the U.S. Hotel (later the first home of the University of Rochester) on Buffalo (West Main) Street to cheer the departure of the first train.
Rochester Theological Seminary In the Old United States Hotel," by
Doris M. Savage, Rochester History, 31(3) (July 1969)
Page 2: An old, four-story building on Buffalo Street (West Main Street), formerly the United States Hotel, which had served for a time as a railroad station, was purchased for $9,000. Additions and repairs brought the total cost to $10,500. The university rented to the seminary four recitation rooms, originally the public rooms of the hotel, and living accommodations for its students. This was done according to an arrangement made with the New York Baptist Union for Ministerial Education, which agreed to pay one-third of the rent and the janitor's wages.
Stagecoach Taverns to Airline Motels," by Blake McKelvey, Rochester
History 31(4):1-24 (October 1969)
Page 7: The Ensworth Tavern at the Four Corners, with a horse trough in front to refresh thirsty stage horses, had the central location, but its limited facilities prompted the construction in 1828 of the Morton House nearby on Buffalo Street and of two additional hotels before the close of that booming year. The United States Hotel opened its doors two blocks farther west on Buffalo Street near the canal crossing, and the Rochester House took its stand south of the canal on Exchange Street.
Page 10: Although the United States Hotel on Buffalo Street failed to attract the canal trade, it found a new function with the opening of the Rochester & Tonawanda Railroad in 1837. That first steam line butted on Buffalo Street adjoining the hotel, which became in effect its depot and served its early travelers until 1844 when the main line was extended into the Auburn & Rochester depot on Mill Street. That action prompted the conversion of the United States Hotel into a temperance house, which however failed to sustain it, and the property was sold in 1850 to the new University of Rochester and became as a result the birthplace of that institution and also of its twin, the Rochester Theological Seminary.
its too late," by Vaughn Polmenteer, Democrat and Chronicle,
November 20, 1977, Upstate insert, Page 4. | part
A UR plaque which once adorned the building has long since been stolen. Boise Cascade is the owner. Arthur R. Hoff of Boise Cascade said, "We've tried fixing it up a little, we've tried giving it to the city, and we've tried giving it to the U of R. Now the building's condemned. It's really a shame."
of the University of Rochester, by Arthur J. May (on-line
version with footnotes)
Chapter 4. A College Opens
Solidly constructed about 1826, the Hotel was a rectangular brick and stone pile of four stories with a frontage of a hundred feet on the north side of Buffalo (later West Main) Street close to Elizabeth (later Clarissa) Street; a stone wing of three stories, attached to the rear on the west end, extended fifty feet. Hallways were spacious; molded casings lined the walls and carved corner blocks decorated the doors. Stairs led up to the roof, where a lookout was available.
Altogether the United States Hotel was an impressive structure in the young Genesee city, erected to attract the patronage of Erie Canal travelers who wished to break their journey, but it was never a financial success. Ceasing to be a hostelry in 1846, the building was used successively in whole or part, as a manual training school, a young ladies seminary, the Tonawanda railway station, and a Methodist chapel.
The University trustees engaged the former hotel at a rental of $800 a year and placed orders for necessary alterations and repairs and for modest furnishings, which involved an outlay of $1,500. Purchased were five pine tables, over a hundred chairs (a few with arms), thirty wooden settees, boxes to hold wood for fuel, lamps, and wall-to-wall carpeting for the rooms, very desirable in the cold months.
Notwithstanding the antipathy to dormitories that had been so frequently expressed in trustee circles, the upper floors and the wing to the rear furnished lodgings for sixty-five or more learners who cared to hire them, and they might take their meals in a spacious cellar refectory, which was conducted by the janitor and his family; the latter lived and cooked there at a huge, brick fireplace, and washrooms were also fitted up in the basement. Ladies of the community helped to furnish student rooms. Barns at the back of the hotel were made into wood-sheds.
So satisfied (or so hard up) were the trustees that within a few months after the opening of the college, it was decided to buy the hotel for $9,000, two-thirds of it a mortgage--a real bargain since the original cost was nearly triple that sum, and a little more than $3,000 was appropriated for further alterations.
Chapter 6: A Critical Decade
The vicissitudes which the United States Hotel had known before it became the cradle of the University reappeared after the removal to the Prince Street tract. For several years the Theological Seminary occupied sections of the building and then acquired a campus of its own; for a time, a private school was conducted in the former Hotel and among the pupils was George Eastman, the twentieth century Maecenas of the U. of R. Some University students rented rooms there--and indulged in roistering hijinks. In 1867, the University disposed of the property, and the new proprietors partitioned the first floor into small shops and cut the upper stories into some thirty little and cheap tenements. The transom over the principal entrance was salvaged, happily, and ranks among the treasured memorabilia of the U. of R. With appropriate ceremonial in 1928, alumni placed a permanent bronze tablet on the original University center, which reads:
IN THIS BUILDING
THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
BEGAN ITS LIFE 1850
AND REMAINED UNTIL 1861
A legal agreement with the owner at that time specified that the chaste plaque should stay there as long as the building stood and that "the same or a similar tablet" would be implanted on any replacement that might be erected on the site in the future. Guests at the dedication of the marker listened to diverting anecdotes on their college experience by two of the three surviving men of the class of 1860, and then wandered inquisitively through the decaying structure.
When the present writer visited the building in June of 1965 (after a century and more of urban change), the ground level contained five small stores, two rented occasionally by charitable organizations for rummage sales; "Sam's Used Appliances and TV's," "Platock's Men's Tailoring and Alterations," and "The Second Hand Clothes Emporium" occupied the other shops. Walls and wooden beams looked as though they would hold up for many decades; the basement, whose floors were littered with miscellaneous debris, preserved the outlines of over a hundred years earlier. In the upper stories, broken windows admitted clouds of wasps and flocks of pigeons; a notice, dated January 15, 1958, proclaimed that Rochester health authorities had prohibited renting quarters to tenants any longer.
Chapter 33: The First Century Ends
Acute housing shortages bore heavily upon faculty newcomers and staff technicians, but their plight was eased by the development of University Park on a thirteen acre parcel of ground south of the Medical Center near the Barge Canal. By agreement with the University, which sold it the land, a corporation of seven banks--one of them the Community Savings Bank of Rochester--undertook to construct an apartment complex of 184 permanent dwelling units of one or two bedrooms on an investment of around $1,500,000. Completed in 1949, preference in tenancy was reserved for families connected in some way with the University. It is a pity that no one proffered a suggestion to investigate the possibility of acquiring and rehabilitating the old United States Hotel on West Main Street, the first home of the University, for young faculty couples or graduate students.
Eastman: A Biography, by Elizabeth Brayer
Page 20: The extra money allowed her to send George to "Mr. Carpenter's ... the best private school for boys in the city," as the youngster wrote Uncle Horace. Mr. Carpenter's school with its "seventy scholars" was housed in the old United States Hotel where the University of Rochester had made its debut in 1850.
© 2021 Morris A. Pierce