Periodically, I like to rerun an early column that I feel is of general interest. This week I am starting a three-part column on how the village was conceived by one man, Walter Parce, and how his vision was brought to reality 120 years ago.
​For weeks during the spring of 1897, all northern and western New York had been bombarded with circulars and newspaper stories of a new industrial “city” where working men and women could own homes, work steadily for a living, educate their children and become important contributors to society.
On May 29, 1897, a barbecue was to be held in an area carved out of farmland owned by some half dozen farmers. The celebration was the laying of the cornerstone of the Merchants Despatch Transportation Company — Carshops — formerly of Rochester. After a devastating fire in 1894 in the M.D.T. plant on Goodman Street in Rochester, the company started shopping around for a new location outside the city. Mr. Walter Parce, a merchant from Fairport learned of this desire and as he rode on the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad train from Fairport to Rochester, he saw these flat level farms lying along the railroad tracks. He became excited over the thought of the advantages to be had in this area. Waterpower — already set up by a dam on the Irondequoit Creek, ownership of the land centered in six different farmers, the railroad running through the center of it all. Already on the north side of the tracks was the Lincoln Flour Mill, producing a high-grade flour, the Bown Brothers plant for drying apples and other fruits, a railroad freight station for shipping and a small brick school on the road running from Penfield to Pittsford. Stages ran daily from these villages to this station, bringing passengers to the trains that stopped to pick up the people and produce.
Mr. Parce began to pick up options on the farms. He with other businessmen of Rochester and nearby areas formed the Vanderbilt Improvement Co., which persuaded the Merchants Despatch Co. to come to the new site and​ build their factory. Thirty-five acres were offered free to the M.D.T. Co., and a trainload of flat cars soon brought out the needed supplies for starting the new “city.”
When the cornerstone of the first building of the Carshops was ready to be laid, the Vanderbilt company set the date of May 29, 1897, for the big celebration.
To be continued.