76, 78, 80 Center Street

Until 1884 the land fronting on Center Street between Prospect and Temple Hill was owned by the Wadsworth Library.  A dispute between the Library and Temple Hill Academy as to the ownership of the property was settled, and lots were put up for sale.  The houses on these three lots are distinctly different examples of the Queen Anne style popular in the late 19th century.  Each shows the imaginative use of detail, material, and arrangement of “mass” so characteristic of this period.


The lot on the corner of Temple and Center Streets (80 Center Street) was sold to Charles Fielder who had a large imposing home erected here in 1887.  Mr. Fielder was employed in the Genesee Valley Bank and for many years was a member of the local board of the Geneseo Normal School.  He left Geneseo to pursue a career in insurance and the house was sold to Frank Fishbaugh in 1903.  In 1907, he sold it to Dr. W. Fowler Bucke.  In 1922, Dr. Bucke sold it to George Vincent, an automobile dealer who lived here until 1944, when he sold it to Karl D. Harzell.


On the adjoining lot (78 Center Street) a new house was built in 1887 for Mrs. Mary Fielder Coffin. Her mother was a sister of C. O. Beach, former prominent merchant and grandfather of the late Mrs. Charles Hopkins.  In 1919, Mrs. Coffin (then living in Rochester) sold the house to Humphrey Stapley, who had owned and farmed land in Groveland but retired and moved to the village. He died in 1932, and his executors sold it to Henry B. Curtis in 1934.  In 1946, when still owned by Mr. Curtis, but occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Potter, the house was damaged by a fire that started in the basement and spread to the first floor, ruining the woodwork, floor and furnishings.  Mr. Curtis died later that same year. The house was sold to Arthur Holden in 1947.  Two years later he sold it to Willard H. Veeder.


In 1883 William E. Booth, a local merchant, contracted Edward Forbes of Geneseo to build a fine residence for him on the corner of Prospect and Center Streets (76 Center Street) where he and his family lived for many years.  In 1922, he shingled the house with “extra heavy slate asphalt shingles.”  The house remained in the hands of the Booth family until 1945 when it was sold to May and Grace Lanpher.

The house at 76 Center Street looks much the same as it did in 1884. Elements of its design were noted in Geneseo: A Museum of Historic Buildings in 1979.: shingles combined with clapboards, hipped roof, bay-windowed dormer, lathe-turned columns and various forms of lattice work. The massive, sculptured effect suggests the Queen Anne style.

The house remained the property of the Booth family for more than 60 years.  William Booth was a local merchant, who built the block at 62 Main Street (known as the Booth Block).  He engaged in the shoe business and then the grocery business.

76 Center Street  c. 1884
Courtesy of Anita Whitehead

In this picture, his children, Alice and Howey, are playing on the lawn.  In 1916, Howey Booth married Salomie Beckwith. To make room for a new home for the newlyweds, the Booth property at 76 Center Street was divided. The south portion of the lot became 5 Prospect Street. Local architect Robert Sherlock drew up the plans for the cottage.

William Booth retired and moved to Florida in 1927, and he turned over his business to his only son, Howey.  A year later, Howey moved his family to Florida as well. William died at age 85 in 1939, at the home of his son, John Howey Booth, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.