The village of Fairport announced that two village structures were added to the National Register of Historic Places; the former Fairport Public Library, located at 18 Perrin St., and the First Congregational Church of Christ, 26 E. Church St.
The nomination applications were developed by village residents, Catherine Angevine and Jean Whitney respectively. Each volunteered their time and expertise to work with the New York State Preservation Office to champion these properties. The library designation was awarded based on education and architectural style and the Congregational Church is significant because of its architecture.
Fairport was ahead of the national Public Library Movement,1870-1930, beginning with the purchase of books for the school library in 1839. Over the next 100 years, the school book collection continued to grow, eventually becoming a public library, as it moved from one location to another within the village.
The library, designed by Henry A. Martin, was built in 1938 during the Great Depression, with the help of the federal government through the Works Progress Administration, the generosity of the Douglas (Certo) family and a World War I veterans benefit fund. The WPA’s Federal Art Project also financed the interior mural painted by local artist Carl W. Peters. The mural, prominent over an interior archway, depicts Fairport’s role in agriculture and as an Erie Canal port.
In 1978, the library moved from Perrin Street to its present location at the Village Landing. The building on Perrin Street is currently the Fairport Historical Museum, home of the Perinton Historical Society.
The building is an example of WPA-era Georgian Revival — neo-classical — style, with its symmetrical T-shape form and character-defining features, the most prominent being a pedimented entrance portico with Tuscan columns and raking cornice.
Originally constructed in 1868, the First Congregational Church of Christ is significant for its architecture as an example of the mid-19th century Romanesque Revival style. The church is the oldest established congregation in the village. A worship group of nine citizens met in 1824 in Jesse Perrin’s home to worship. They became the Congregational Society of Perinton. In 1833, the first church was erected. A second building which was later moved was erected in 1844. Photos of that building indicate that the stained-glass windows in the current building were likely from the early church.
The Romanesque Revival style was used in the U. S. mostly for congregational churches and public buildings. The church features many characteristics of the style, particularly in its use of the rounded arch, seen in nearly every window and door. The walls are accented with brick and stone details.
The church is early work of architect John Rochester Thomas, an architect from the Rochester area. In Fairport, the Henry Deland House — Green Lantern — was designed by Thomas. There he introduced the mansard roof feature to the area. He designed the First Baptist Church and Charles Howe’s house at 26 Perrin St. He continued his practice in New York City and there designed the 71st Regiment and Second New York Battery, rebuilt the New York Stock Exchange, designed the Second Reformed Church and the Calvary Baptist Church.
In 1874 he was appointed the architect for New York State by Gov. Dix. John R. Thomas designed over 150 churches, numerous state prisons and public buildings in New York City and along the east coast of the United States.
Listing on the National Register of Historic Places recognizes the people, history and architecture of Fairport and conveys the importance of these properties to the fabric of the community. These properties are eligible for grants from the state and federal preservation programs.
Visit nps.gov/nr or fairportny.com for more information.