Folk Houses: 1789-1850
Introduction by By Dr James Welch,
Village Historian & Curator of the Perinton Historical Society, 1978
In the spring of 1789 Glover Perrin, his wife Johanna and his cousin Caleb Walker walked from Rehoboth, Massachusetts, to what is now the township of Perinton. After surveying the township and dividing it into sixty-six lots of about 325 acres per lot, these early pioneers built the first log cabin.
Since only Seneca Indians inhabited the entire area at this time, the Perrins became the first white people to settle in the township. Caleb Walker spent the summer surveying the territory and building, with Glover Perrin, the windowless log cabin on Ayrault Road. It is said that during this period of the late 1700's, the surveyors, in return for their work, were able to homestead their own parcel of land, and that the cost of an acre of land was 20 cents.
By 1794, Abner Wight, one of the "Minute Men" who fought in battles against the English at Lexington and Concord, built a small tenant farmhouse on the southeast border of the Village of Fairport. His wife, Huldah Perrin, was the sister of Glover and Jessie Perrin, and their seventh child, Asa was the first white child to survive and grow up in Fairport, although a child of Jessie Perrin's had been born in 1797, but did not survive.
The Log Cabin
The first long cabin was built in this area by pioneers Glover and Johanna Perrin and cousin Calab Walker. The windowless log cabin was made of timbers left round and joined at the corners by overlapping saddles notches.
The Midland Log House
The log house became the dominate housing over much of the heavily wooded eastern half of the country. This style had walls of squared-hewn logs joined by carefully hewn corner notching.
Example of a early midland log home. Photo taken at the Genesee Country Museum, Mumford, NY.
The Midland log house was a building tradition introduced in the middle colonies (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland) by early Germanic immigrants from heavily wooded areas of central and northern Europe. Their technique used far less wood than a home built with solid log walls. Hand hewn square logs were placed horizontally, one on top of the other to make a solid wooden wall. The structure was held together with interlocking or notching timbers at the corners.
The pioneers who settled in Perinton quickly adopted the German's log building techniques but modified their three-room house into a one room deep linear plan with an external chimney. These homes were usually one room, with an end chimney and a sleeping loft.
There are very few early dwellings remaining in this area. The photo here is a log house - built c. 1809, from Scottsville, NY. The log home has been moved to the Genesee Country Village and Museum, Munford, NY.
In the photo you can see the squared oak timbers of the one-room log house built by Nicholas Hetchler (a native of Pennsylvania), who first settled in the Genesee Country in 1787. Dovetail joints where the timbers overlap at the corners are typical of log house construction. A portion of one wall of solid stone masonry that provides a fireproof back for the hearth is characteristic of other early log homes in the Genesee Country, as is the clay-lined wooden chimney.
Blockhouses were normally built for defensive purposes and were considered a fort, made of squared timbers with a projecting upper story.
The first blockhouse was built by Jesse Perrin in 1792. In 1817 Martin Sperbeck bought 100 acres of land and built a block house of squared timbers on the site. His brother, a trapper, occupied a cabin where the Village Hall is located. Village legend states that the path between the two residences eventually became South Main Street.
It is not known what he and Jesse Perrin had in mind when they built their blockhouses, but we assume it was for protection of some kind. Martin Sperbeck's blockhouse stood at 200 South Main Street where a beautiful Italianate home is now located (2010).
The Frame House
The New England area, settled as early as the 1600's had developed fairly large two-story house plans with double chimneys and central hallways. As settlers moved west and into remote areas they tended to build similar but smaller and less pretentious houses. They revived the one story linear plan of two rooms on the first floor or perhaps the deeper Cape Cod style, which allowed further space at the rear.
A frame house on Turk Hill Road, photo from 1910-1930.
Isaac Beers, built the first frame house in Fairport in 1817, on the site now (2010) occupied by the Deland House at 1 East Church Street. His house was moved to 39 East Church Street when Henry Deland purchased the property and built his home in 1874.
For an index of other styles that can be found in the Perinton area go to the Architectural Styles page in the History section.