The house at 44 W. Church St., Fairport, was designated a local landmark by the Fairport Historic Preservation Commission.
The home was built in 1884 by Henry H. Howell. West Church is a main thoroughfare known to have historic buildings. The home met the criteria for designation because of historic interest, historical personages and architectural style.
Henry Howell was the son of Jacob W. Howell who in 1853, bought a property in Lot 17 in Perinton. Fairport was his home, except for nine years when he went out west during the Gold Rush. Most interesting about Henry’s adventure is found in a story published in 1909 with the title “50 Years Ago, Fourteen Fairport Youths Started to California Seeking Wealth.” The story recalls that 14 young men traveled, by boat in steerage around the coast of South America to California. After returning from California he farmed for several years and soon moved into the village where he ran a market. He was a policeman, a sheriff’s deputy, on the board of education, a tax collector and a water commissioner.
For 20 years, Howell served as treasurer of Fairport Lodge 476 F. and A. M. The home was occupied by the Howell family for over 90 years. After Howell and his wife, Caroline, passed away, their daughter Mabel and Raymond J. Lee, continued to live there. Mabel and Raymond’s daughter Dorothy Pruitt and her husband owned the home into the late 1970s.
Raymond J. Lee practiced law in Fairport for 50 years, served as Judge for 20 years and town supervisor for 20 years. At the time of his retirement in 1954, he was the longest-serving town supervisor.
He was first elected during the Depression in 1936. He took over a community which had 25 percent of its population on relief. The town had borrowed $68,000 from Monroe County to help meet those expenses. He managed to make the town financially sound and paid the loan back by 1945.
In 1941, he started an effort to find a youth center for the town. A year later, he organized volunteers who raised money for playground equipment. The group was the start of the Perinton Recreation and Parks Department which in 1945 opened a teen center called, “The Nook” in the carriage barn in Potter Park.
Lee was a member of the Rotary, the Bar Association, past master of Fairport Masonic Lodge, a Shriner and director of the Perinton Fairport Community Chest. He was involved at the county level as an advocate for consolidation of health care, he supported the airport purchase plan, the Civic Center and the planning and integration of city and county functions.
This home was built in the Queen Anne style. It is a two-story cross-gable home with the front gable stepping into two gables. It has a cut-away, rectangular bay window, picket fence detailing and notched horizontal boards in the gables, scroll-sawn balusters/spindles, turned porch posts, corbels, modillions and cutouts.
The window in the front door and several others are Queen Anne style with small square and rectangular panes that surround a larger pane.
Visit fairportny.com for more information on the FHPC and designated landmarks.