71 Center Street
This house was built in 1862 by James Orton. The Ortons came to Geneseo in 1844 when Mr. Orton entered the County Clerk’s office under William Whiting. He served in that capacity until 1852 when he was elected County Clerk. A few years later, along with William Walker, he established a private banking office in a building on the west side of Main Street. Mr. Orton sold his interest in that concern in 1857 when he was elected cashier of the Genesee Valley Bank, a position he held for thirty years. In 1887, he was made president, and died while in office in 1892.
James Orton was an avid gardener who specialized in roses. His garden abounded with many rare species, making the house and grounds a showplace.
After Mrs. Orton’s death in 1904, the property was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Craven who made extensive improvements and repairs. The Cravens spent several hunting seasons in Geneseo along with their family, their staff, and a stable of horses. “Lord” Craven, as he was known in Geneseo, was an amateur painter of considerable ability. His portraits of Genesee Valley horses are nicely executed and are reputed to be good likenesses of his subjects.
About 1910, the Cravens sold the large house to Arthur Heurtley from Chicago. From that date until 1944, there were several absentee owners, during which time the house was occupied by a Miss Sprague. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Kennedy became the owners and occupants in 1944 and it is from their estate that Mr. and Mrs. Jon Porter purchased the property in 1973.
Mr. and Mrs. Porter made necessary repairs to the enclosed porches and rebuilt the side porch with its pergola.
Architect Paul Malo, in his evaluation of Center Street, called this house “an important and elegant Italianate house, rather classical in feeling.” He cites the six-over-six sash windows and center entrance as being traditional in character, while the cupola and hipped roof are Italianate. Mr. Malo considers the finely detailed side porch with its pergola as the building’s most distinctive feature and says that “the house ranks among the finest in town.”