57 Second Street


This handsome brick house was built by Charles R. Vance, one of the earliest merchants in Geneseo.  He came from New Jersey about 1820.  In 1822 he built the first section of the house, presently the apartment on the North.  The center section was added by Mr. Vance ten years later.  Rumor had it that the large solid wood pillars were ordered by Allen Ayrault, and floated down the river for use in his Big Tree Inn (then the Ayrault home on Main Street).  Arriving too late for their intended purpose, they were added by Mr. Vance to his high front porch.

Charles Vance was a popular man, prominent in Geneseo’s business and civic affairs for many years.  In 1853 his daughter, Elisabeth, married John Rorbach and in 1856 they added the south wing of the house for their residence.  John studied law and was admitted to the Bar.  After his marriage he became interested in the hardware business and he became successful.  Also interested in military affairs, after the outbreak of the Civil War, he was instrumental in recruiting the regiment known as “The Wadsworth Guards” and was commissioned Colonel in 1862.  During the years following the war, he was active in bringing the Normal School to Geneseo.

This Greek Revival mansion is one of the very few houses in the village which has remained for over 150 years the property of one family.  In excellent repair, it is unaltered, and thus remains an outstanding reminder of an elegant and gracious period in the history of the village. 

There is a resemblance between this house and the Big Tree Inn, built about the same time.  Note the brick structures with sandstone door sills and window ledges, and the similarity of the pillars and their placement.