43 Main Street


The original part of this house was probably built about 1851 by (or for) Mr. and Mrs. James Vail. At the time the house stood back from the street, with a small red building that served as his office standing close to the sidewalk. Mr. Vail had settled in Geneseo in 1810 and started business as a stationer and bookseller. He later studied law and was made Commissioner of Deeds and was also elected Justice of the Peace.

In 1864, the Vails sold this property to Mr. and Mrs. Harmon Howe, who remodeled the house. They sold the little office building, which was moved to Park Street to a lot owned by the gas company. There it became part of the house occupied by the superintendent of the Gas Works. In 1899, it was moved to Oak Street by steamroller in five hours time.

 Harmon Howe was proprietor of the American Hotel, which then occupied the south corner of Main and Ward and extended south to include the building at 41 Main. Mr. Howe died in 1878 and soon afterward Mrs. Howe opened a dress shop in her residence. When the American Hotel burned in 1885 there was some damage to the house at 43 Main Street. It was repaired and an addition was put on the front, bringing it out even with its neighbors.

In 1900 the property was sold to Dr. and Mrs. Robert Green.  Dr. Green, a physician, added the piazza in 1901. In 1908, Dr. Green died and the property was left to his daughter, Millicent, who continued to reside here with her mother. Mrs. Green died in 1926 and when Millicent died in 1956, she willed the house to her cousins, Hildegarde and Helen Sherlock. Mrs. Green and Miss Hildegarde’s mothers were sisters. Helen Sherlock was the wife of Hildegarde’s brother, architect Robert Sherlock, who died in 1944. In 1958, the Sherlocks sold the house to Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Mills who operated the Three Bears Bookstore here for several years. It later housed The Holiday Store and other small businesses.