33 Second Street
Before her death, Mrs. Esther Campbell gave us the history of her lovely house at 33 Second Street as contained in a book of reminiscences written by her grandfather in 1902. The following has been adapted from his book and from a visit with Mrs. Campbell.
About 1820, a Mr. Alvord purchased the property from James Wadsworth and built a small one-story house with a low attic, “the frame of hewed pine, the floors of wide, clean pine boards, the lathe of wide, thin stuff split by the hatchet when being nailed to the joists, the doors made by hand and all the work done in the manner of the day – by hand, except the sawmill work. This was the first house in this vicinity…”
Mr. Alvord sold the house, about 1836, to John Young (later Governor Young), who set about enlarging it, or, more accurately, building a new home around it. This was a “sort of double one-and-a-half story house; with two gables in front and a stoop, or porch between – a sort of recess – the front door standing about 8 feet, thus leaving a vestibule with a parlor on each side – the height 11 ½ feet.” The rooms behind these parlors were only eight feet high to allow for three half-story bedrooms over them. The entire Alvord home made up the kitchen in the rear. A few years later, Mr. Young made an addition to the north side to serve as a nursery for his growing family.
Governor John Young began the practice of law in Geneseo in 1829, and by 1846 had risen to the highest office in the state. Running on the Whig ticket, he easily won election by a majority of over 11,000 votes. The flattering majority of 1,450 given him in Livingston County indicates the high regard felt for him by those who knew him. On election evening when a special express arrived in Geneseo announcing the victory, an impromptu procession was formed. During the march to Mr. Young's house, cheers rang through the usually quiet village. Speeches were made, a cannon fired, and the rejoicing continued until dawn. John Young died an untimely death in 1852 at the age of 50, a victim of consumption. As Lockwood Doty says in his history, “it is risking little in saying Mr. Young died when only entering upon the brightest portion of his life."
About 1850, James Wood, a law partner, purchased the property at 33 Second Street and in turn sold it to another partner, Avenus Cone, in 1858. Mr. Cone, Mrs. Campbell’s great grandfather, began to renovate the house. The old kitchen was moved east and used as a separate wood house. A new two-story section was built for a large pantry and kitchen with a large fireplace and brick oven. A new roof was built over the rest of the house, making it two stories high with an attic and dormer windows and a cupola. Hugh McBride, Master Builder, built the lovely winding stairway leading to the second floor.
In 1861, Mr. Cone sold the mansion to his son Joseph for “the consideration of one dollar and the love and affection of a father.” The Joseph Cone family found the mansion inconvenient and expensive to live in. After the death of the senior Cone in 1879, they made considerable alterations. A wing was removed and a bay window added. The nursery to the north became a porch, as it remains today. The front door, originally a single one, was converted to a double door and the porch added.
In the early 1890’s, Joseph Cone sold the house to his daughter Anna C. Page, for the same consideration his father had to him a generation before. Mrs. Page kept the house much as it was, as did her daughter, Esther Page Campbell. A railing around the roof of the porch, which was too expensive to replace, was removed by Mrs. Campbell.
When Mrs. Campbell was forced to move to a nursing home, the property was purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Scherline who restored the railing and made other repairs.