29 Second Street


The house at 29 Second Street was built for Calvin H. Bryan, a leading New York State lawyer of the nineteenth century. Calvin Bryan studied law in Otsego County and began practice in Geneseo in 1822 (one year after the formation of Livingston County), where he remained until his death in 1863. His house, built about 1824, was one of the first erected on Second Street. Mr. and Mrs. Bryan were regarded as fine upright citizens, Mr. Bryan as an esteemed attorney who neither sought nor desired public office.

The Bryans were the parents of four daughters, two of whom died in their early twenties. Cornelia, younger of the two surviving, married Frank W. Olmsted in 1854 but was left a widow in 1868. In that same year, she was appointed first librarian of the Wadsworth Library which had just been erected on Center Street. In 1877, Mrs. Olmsted was selected to attend a convention of librarians from all nations held in London, the only woman so honored. She died of pneumonia at the age of 48.

Caroline, ten years Cornelia's senior, married Samuel Treat, who studied law with her father and Governor John Young. Samuel Treat was principal of Temple Hill Academy for two of its earlier years. A graduate of Harvard, his classmates included Henry David Thoreau and R. H. Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast. After their marriage in 1840, the Treats moved to St. Louis where he became an eminent jurist and United States Judge. They returned to Geneseo often, and in 1914 Mrs. Caroline Bryan Treat, in her eighties, was honored as the oldest member of the reunion of Temple Hill Academy. 

This house has been considerably altered over the years. About 1850, the Bryans added the front porch, a bay window to the south, and an addition to the rear. A few years after her husband's death in 1863, Mrs. Bryan made other "repairs, additions, and improvements." The property remained in Mrs. Bryan's possession until her death in 1881. Since then it has had a succession of owners and occupants, many of whom were associated with the Normal School. The Honorable and Mrs. J. Robert Houston purchased the house in 1957. They returned the original brackets to the front porch and converted the attached garage into a second living room. The site of this house was made notable during the War of 1812. It was here that General Winfield Scott camped with his men during a trek through western New York in 1813. Colonel Scott marched his regiment into the village – down South Street, along Main, and up a lane then running east, where they selected this spot upon which to encamp. There were no Second or Center Streets yet, and the entire village was comprised of only about thirty buildings, both public and private.