39 Center Street


The original part of this house was probably built about 1830 by William H. Spencer who at that time owned considerable land in this area.  In 1832, he rented it to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Rice who conducted a tailoring and mantua-making business.  (A mantua is a woman’s gown, fitted above the waist, with an open front and draped skirt to show the underskirt. It was popular in Europe in the late 17th and 18th centuries.) They purchased the house from Mr. Spencer in 1836.  In 1838, it was purchased by Harry Clement who built a machine shop in the rear.  He died in 1849 at the age of 31 and his widow and their son continued to live there until 1852.  In 1853, it was sold to Mr. and Mrs. Levi Goddard, retired farmers from York.

Colonel John Strang purchased the house in 1868, repaired and renovated it, and in 1874 added a wing.  This was done under the supervision of a local builder named Squires.  The local paper noted in 1871 that “Mr. Squires, one of our best builders, has made house plans from gothic cottage to four-story mansard.”  Colonel Strang was a veteran of the Civil War.  He enlisted in 1862 with the 104th New York Volunteer Regiment, received many promotions and was put in command of the unit.  He served in the front lines and was taken prisoner.  Upon his release he again took command, and retired with the rank of Colonel at the end of hostilities.  After the war, he resumed the study of law at Albany Law School and returned to Geneseo to practice in 1866.  In 1867 he married Louise Whitcombe of Nunda.

The Strangs sold this house to Lydia Long in 1899.  Mrs. Long was the widow of Benjamin Long, a contractor who was in charge of the addition to the Courthouse in 1886 and who also built both the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in Avon.  She died in 1900 and her executors sold the house to Charles and Carrie Purchase.  They sold it to Willis and Nancy Willard in 1906 and in 1911 the Willards sold it to Frank Osborne.  In 1923, it was purchased by Walter Little of York.