115 Center Street
In 1848, James Wadsworth sold a plot of land since named Stonywold to David Bensley for $845.25. An 1858 map of Geneseo shows a house here belonging to D. Bensley, and a deed is recorded in 1864 transferring the property from David and Rebina Bensley to Martha Gitteau for $2,200. From this, it can be assumed that a house was built sometime between 1848 and 1852.
The Livingston Republican reported in 1972 that the H. H. Gitteau residence in the eastern part of the village was destroyed by fire caused by a candle in the window. However, in 1921 Honorable John Abbott, Livingston County Judge during the 1920’s and 1930’s and a long time Geneseo resident, reminiscing about Geneseo in the 1860’s said, “Where Professor Bailey and his family now reside, Heathcote Gitteau and his wife and daughter, Viola, resided for many years.” Whether the Gitteaus repaired or rebuilt, it is believed that they continued residing here until after Mr. Gitteau’s death. Heathcote Gitteau was a prominent lawyer who practiced in Livingston County for many years. In 1892, he suffered “an acute attack of brain difficulty” and was committed to the State Hospital at Ovid where he died two weeks later. Mrs. Gitteau sold the property the following year and moved to the Old Ladies Home in Fredonia where she died in 1896.
It is difficult to determine ownership between 1893 and 1907. A 1902 map lists it in the name of John Foley and a 1907 deed records its purchase by Aurelia Hooker. Two further deeds, both dated 1919, document its transfer from Aurelia Hooker to Charles Webb to Guy Bailey. At this time the property consisted of 11.27 acres.
The late Ira Wilson, in an article which appeared in the Livingston Republican in 1965, said of Professor Bailey that he was “without a doubt the foremost ornithologist of both migratory birds and of the native birds of New York State… Long before he retired he engaged in extensive commercial fruit growing. His orchard at Stonywold and on the Reservoir Road harbored tons of currants and cherries and peaches that were shipped to the markets of Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.” The Bailey Science Building on the Geneseo SUNY Campus is named in his honor.
Mr. and Mrs. Bailey, the former Katharine Carmer, made numerous additions and changes to both the house and the property. In 1919-20, they made a two-story addition to the south (now the living room and master bedroom). Later, they added a laboratory and woodshed with a sleeping porch and enclosed balcony to the north, built a porte-cochere at the main entrance and enlarged the porch to the east (now the sun room). The Baileys also purchased about 15 adjoining acres of land for a fruit farm. In the 1930’s, two large barns burned in separate fires. These were replaced by a barn used as a three-car garage and three utility sheds. The entrance to the estate was through large stone pillars just west of the present entrance.
After Professor Bailey’s death in 1946, the farm was managed by their son Willis. Following Mrs. Bailey’s death it was purchased in 1951 by the Bailey’s daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Herbert Gibbs who also made several changes and additions. The porch to the east was enlarged and enclosed. An adjoining terrace was added and later covered. The kitchen was enlarged by incorporating the existing woodshed and a swimming pool was added. When the Gibbs sold portions of the existing acreage, which was an encumbrance to them after the cessation of the fruit operation, the entrance was moved to the east. In 1994, the small porch and attached porte-cochere on the west was converted into an attractive porch which nicely balances a porch on the east and is in harmony with the architecture of the house.