Fairport designates Cobb Preserving, Crosman Arms buildings

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

The Fairport Historic Preservation Commission recently designated three buildings at 1000 Turk Hill Road as village landmarks. 

The Cobb Preserving Co., owned by the Cobb family, constructed the buildings between 1893 and 1905. These buildings, which are connected end to end, are part of a larger complex of buildings and represent the history of preserving and canning in the area.

The first canning factory in Fairport was started in 1872 by E.A. Edgett, of Newark. In 1881, the factory was purchased by his cousin Amos H. Cobb, who moved his family to Fairport. After his death, the business was run by his estate that included his sons George, Fred and Clarence.

The preserving industry was a major employer for local residents and seasonal labor, and provided a market for area farm produce. 

Early cans were made by hand. The cylindrical body was cut by a foot-operated shears, and the top and bottoms were cut by a foot-lever press. A second press cut a 1 1/2-inch diameter hole in the top. These parts were soldered together and produce was crammed through the opening. A plug was soldered over the hole.

In the U.S., the perfection of the machined double-seamed sanitary can began in 1898 when William Bogel introduced the technology to George Cobb. The new can was being made by the Max Ams Machine Co. without the use of solder.

The three partnered to perfect the solderless can. Ams provided the machinery, Bogel the funding and Cobb the manufacturing. The new cans could be filled before the top was placed, allowing for larger pieces of produce. The contents looked and tasted better without suffering from the contamination created by the soldered seal. 

By 1904, the three were convinced the new canning process was a success and formed the Sanitary Can Co. In 1904, Sanitary Can produced 8 million cans on a semi-automated assembly line and production was doubling each year. They sold the company in 1908 to the American Can Co, which employed local residents until the 1980s.

George Cobb relocated to New York City became the general sales manager. While in Fairport, he was a village trustee for four years and president for a year in 1904.

In 1952, the complex was purchased by the Crosman Arms Co. The corporation produced a compressed air gun on the pump-up principle. The manufacture of compressed air and carbon dioxide guns were a highly specialized business with specialized machining and equipment required. It operated on this site until the 1980s.

Although a simple example of this style, these industrial buildings utilized many features of the Italianate style. These include the arched doors and window openings, curved top louvered shutters, double panel doors and rooftop cupolas.

All three buildings are built into the sloping landscape with the first story of Building 9 on the north side on a stone basement that is fully above grade. The landscape makes the second story accessible on the south side. They are all brick with post and beam timber floors and roof, masonry load bearing walls. Each building has two cupolas on the ridge of the gable roof. Brick gable end walls form parapets between Building 9 and 10 that extend above the roof. 

Cobb Preserving Co. constructed Building 9 in 1893. Building 10 was built between 1907 and 1924, and Building 11 prior to 1905.

These buildings are the closest to Turk Hill Road and an anchor for the neighborhood. They are adjacent to the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visit village.fairport.ny.us for information on the FHPC and designated landmarks.

The Fairport Historic Preservation Commission designates three buildings at 1000 Turk Hill Road as village landmarks.
Building 9 was constructed in 1893 on a slope, meaning the first floor is accessible on the north side, the second floor on the south.