I wrote a column in 2016 on the topic of moved houses, barns, and buildings in Perinton and Fairport, and soon after, began a series of presentations on the topic, having identified over sixty relocated structures. It was striking to contemplate the enormous number of structures picked up and moved in the course of our history, and we set out to find more. Using newspaper archives, as well as documents from the Perinton Historical Society and municipal records, the verified number of moved structures quickly grew. Now, less than three years later, the number has almost doubled, to 119, and counting.
The earliest documented move occurred in 1838, while the most recent was in 2010. The decade with the most structures moved, based on our current documentation, is the 1880s, with 16 relocated houses and buildings. By that time, George Filkins, a Fairport Civil War veteran, had made a business out of jacking up houses, sliding logs underneath, and pulling them down the street with horses or oxen to a new location. When he developed Filkins and George Streets in the mid-1870s, he populated many of the lots with relocated houses, often moved from Main or Church Streets. A builder as well, he then erected new, bigger houses on the vacated lots.
Some of our more recent discoveries include the 1886 relocation of a small house removed from Green and McCauliffe’s lumberyard just north of Beardsley Street along the canal, to a lot further west on Roselawn Avenue, known at the time as North Street. In the late 1950s, a small building on the grounds of an old fireworks factory on Whitney Road was transported to Furman Road, and placed behind a cobblestone house. There, a man who conducted hayrides and sold equestrian goods used it as a tack shop. Even more recently, the development of Hadley Drive, off Moseley Road, led to the 1985 relocation of a house from that location to Wilkinson Road, just east of the Perinton border.
People often ask why we have such an extraordinary number of moved structures. Prominent reasons include the existence of the canal, the railroad, and trolley lines. In each case, the development of these transportation arteries resulted in the relocation of houses and buildings. The replacement of small, early Main Street structures with bigger buildings also prompted many moves. And of course, the enterprising George Filkins added significantly to the quantity of moved houses. The total number will undoubtedly grow with additional research.