Explore some of the noteworthy sites — and sights — on the east side of town

 

Part One: East

So many interesting people have lived in Richmond, leaving their mark on the landscape — homes, schools, mills, businesses — that it cannot all be told at once.  Part One of the Driving Tour will focus on the east side of the township, Part Two on the west side.  There may even come to be a Part Three: the Hamlet of Honeoye.

On the east side of East Lake Road, just south of Wesley Road, is the site of District School Number One. Built about 1830 to serve the families of the “pan handle," the frame schoolhouse remained in use until the 1940s.  In 1997 the school was moved to a lot on Main Street in Honeoye, restored, and painted a vibrant red. It now functions as an Agricultural Museum, open to visitors at various times during the summer.

Continue north on East Lake Road four miles to Red Jacket Lane. About a quarter mile off the main road, east along the creek, once stood the first grist mill in Richmond, built in 1802. On a bitterly cold day in January 1813, owner David Crooks was at the mill working to clear ice off the water wheel when the wheel suddenly slipped, crushing his leg and pinning him underwater. Though he was rescued within a short while, he survived less than a day, leaving a wife and five young children.  

Moving on, cross over Route 20A, headed north on Allens Hill Road. Just past the intersection is a blue-and-yellow historical marker with the inscription: “Nearby is the site of Pioneer Home of Capt. Peter Pitts First Settler in town of Richmond.” The log house was built about 1790, with several later frame additions. Gideon Pitts, the elder, lived here with his family until he built a “mansion” on Main Street in 1821. His son, the younger Gideon, owned the home for several years. His daughter Helen — who grew up to marry Frederick Douglass — was born in that house in 1837.

In 1856 the house was sold to Daniel Phelps and his wife Berintha. The Phelps’ heirs, in 1883, built the large, Victorian house that stands on the site today, repurposing the Pitts’ house as an outbuilding. From 1939 to 1960 Leon Allen operated Journey’s End Summer Camp, offering a unique American Camping Experience to international groups of children.

Continuing north on Allens Hill Road you will pass the site (at #3973) of Nelson Ogden’s Tile Factory. Built in 1855, the tile factory under various owners continued in operation for 80 years. For a long time the old chimney still stood, but today nothing remains to mark the spot. Near the top of the hill is the Allens Hill United Methodist Church, built on this site in 1861. 

At Belcher Road, turn west (left) and note the site, just to the east of the cemetery, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, built in 1815. Allens Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of two Revolutionary War Veterans of note: Daniel Bissell (1754-1824) was one of only three recipients of the National Badge of Merit presented personally by General George Washington. Ichabod Perry (1759-1839) served throughout the War in the Continental Army and in the Navy. He recounts in his memoir the battle between John Paul Jones’ flagship Bon Homme Richard (on which Ichabod was a marine) and the British Serapis, ending the exciting account with Jones’ famous sallie: “When the enemy hailed and asked if we had struck colors.  Jones replied, ‘I have no notion of it. I have only just begun to fight.’”

Across the road from the cemetery is the site of Nathaniel Allen’s home, built about 1800. (The house on the lot today was built in the 1880s, after the Allen home burned.) Nathaniel Allen was one of the wealthiest and most influential residents of Richmond in its early years. John Nicholas Norton in "Allerton Parish" gives an excellent picture of the Allen family: “He is a sort of lord of the manor: a fine, portly, well-mannered man … The frail, feeble woman leaning on his arm is his wife, and a dear, good woman she is, the mother of a large and promising family of sons and daughters.”

Head east on Belcher Road and cross the intersection onto Bell Road. About half a mile along Bell Road, on the left, is the site of the Cobblestone School where a young Mary Jane Hawes taught the community’s younger children.  Later, after she’d become Mrs. Daniel Holmes and gone to live in Brockport, she wrote upwards of 30 romance novels, many of them set in the fictional community of “Laurel Hill” — Mrs. Holmes’ pseudonym for Allen’s Hill.

At the intersection with Abbey Road, turn south (right). Just past the corner on the left stands the brick home of Cyrus Chipman, built in 1803 at the same time as the Reed Homestead across town (more about that in Part Two). The next crossroads — where Pierpont crosses Abbey — has a bit of history on each corner.  

The Lemuel Chipman house occupies the northeast corner, built in 1808 by Cyrus’ brother. Richmond’s first supervisor, Lemuel Chipman, moved away from Richmond, selling the house in 1828 to David A. Pierpont. The property remained in the Pierpont family for more than a hundred years, through David’s daughter Carrie (who married Dr. Lewis Green) then to his grandson Pierpont Green.

On the southwest corner is the site of the original log home of William Baker. He arrived in Richmond in 1798, buying up more than a thousand acres. The lot where he first built was chosen for its sweeping western view. Husband of three wives and father of 17 children, Baker was known as Richmond’s “Father of Methodism,” organizing a Methodist Church as early as 1806. The first church stood for 30 years on the north side of Pierpont Road, just a bit east of the intersection.  

The house on the southeast corner was the home of John Abbey, William Baker’s son-in-law. Built in 1829, it saw duty for many years as a tavern and was later the home of Hiram Abbey, one of Richmond’s more colorful residents.  

A complete version of the Richmond Driving Tour (East, West, and Honeoye) is available by contacting the Richmond Town Historian — joylewis10@frontier.com.