History of the Campuses and Buildings of the University of Rochester
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Prince Street Campus President's House | Harriet Seelye House

President's house at University of Rochester's Prince Street Campus, Rochester, N.Y
(from Rochester Public Library)

President's House, from The University of Rochester : buildings and grounds, Page 26 (1910)

The house was built in 1852 by John J. Van Zandt and purchased in 1868 for $19,000 as a house for the University's President.  Converted into a cooperative dormitory for fourteen women in February 1935 and renamed the Harriet Seelye House after the wife of Rush Rhees.  Demolished in 1956.

1868 "Sale of a Fine Residence," Rochester Union and Advertiser, April 27, 1868, Page 2
.J. Van Zandt has sold his elegant residence, corner of University Avenue and Prince sts., to the Trustees of the Rochester University.  Consideration, $20,000.  The purchase was made for a residence for President Anderson.  The house and the grounds will be made more attractive by further expenditures of money.

1870 John Jacob Van Zandt (1812-1870) grave. 

1910 The University of Rochester : buildings and grounds
Page 26:  President's House

1929 Laurenus Clark Seelye, first president of Smith College, by Harriet Chapin Seelye Rhees

1935 "Fascinating History Revealed as Seelye House Is Opened," Tower Times, February 15, 1935, Page 1 | Part 2 |

1949 "Mrs. Rhees Dies at 82; Widow or UR President," Democrat and Chronicle, April 4, 1949, Page 19.
A University of Rochester women's dormitory, Harriet Seelye House, residence of Dr. and Mrs. Rhees for more than 30 years, is named in honor of Mrs. Rhees.  Located at 440 University Ave., it was the home of University presidents until 1932.

1956 "Seelye House, former UR Prexy Residence, Undergoes Demolition," Campus Times, October 30, 1956, Page 1.

1959 Architecture and architects of Rochester, N.Y., by Carl and Ann Schmidt.
Page 38:  The house that stood at the northwest corner of University Avenue and Prince Street was built in the early 1850's by John J. Van Zandt. It was purchased by public subscription in 1868 as a home for Martin B. Anderson, first president of the University of Rochester. The home of several presidents, the last occupant was Dr. Rush Rhees.
The house was a frame structure of the Victorian Italian Villa type with very simple details, wide overhanging cornice and large windows. It was originally surrounded by four acres of landscaped grounds with a large pond for swans. It was demolished in 1953.

1977 History of the University of Rochester, by Arthur J. May (on-line version with footnotes)
Chapter 7, The Civil War Era
After expressing gratitude for "the spirit of generous... self-sacrifice" shown in Anderson's decision against going to Brown and raising his salary to $4,000, the trustees debated whether to erect a presidential home on the campus lot reserved for that purpose or to procure a suitable residence to elsewhere. In the end, a ten year old house and an adjoining three and a half acre lot belonging to John I. Van Zandt across Prince Street from the University were purchased in April, 1868, at a cost of $19,000, renovated, and furnished. It remained the home of University presidents into 1932, and thereafter it was used as a women's cooperative dormitory until it was torn down.

2021 Morris A. Pierce