Park Avenue‎ > ‎

19 Park Avenue

19 Park Avenue

19 Park Avenue
Brockport, NY

History researched and written by Carol L. Hannan
© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – April 2012 All rights reserved

Benjamin and Arminda Maxon
Owners: 1860s to early 1870s

The Maxon family, early Rhode Island residents in our country’s history, moved to this area by the 1850s, when Benjamin and his family were recorded in the Federal Census living in Clarkson with wife Julia and children Julia, George, and Frank. By 1860, Benjamin and wife Arminda were living at number 4 Mechanic Street with his son George. The Mechanic Street and Park Avenue addresses are one in the same. Benjamin was a stone and brick mason.

George Lewis Maxon, Benjamin’s son, was a Civil War volunteer at the time his father owned 19 Park Avenue and he returned from the war to live there, too. He served as a private in Company F of the 1st NY Cavalry and was discharged after being wounded near Maryland Heights, Maryland, in July of 1864. From his discharge abstract we know that George was born in Clarkson, had blue eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion, was 5’ 5” tall and a mason by trade.

Other Maxon family members moved through this area to the mid-west, but not Benjamin, his son George or his brother Jared . They remained in western New York and worked as masons their entire lives. Jared lived the remainder of his long life in Brockport while Benjamin and George moved to Rochester in the 1870s. George died in 1917 and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Fred H. and Josephine Eliza Twitchell Shafer
Owners: early 1870s to 1951

The Shafer family settled in Clarkson. Father Jared was an early area farmer and fruit grower there, but with the building of the Erie Canal, Brockport became the area center for trade and development and it was here that Jared Shafer’s children settled and prospered, not as farmers but as businessmen. Fred H. Shafer owned and ran a successful village shoe store. Given his last name and family connections, there is little doubt that selling shoes was almost pre-ordained. Shafer’s very successful cousin, Wilson H. Moore, and his businessman older brother, Manley A. Shafer, formed the Moore-Shafer Shoe Manufacturing Company in the late 1880s; a company they quickly built into a large village employer and national/international success until it, like so many other businesses, closed during the Great Depression. After the turn of the century, Shafer ran a grocery store, at first by himself, then with partner Lewis Udell, according to historian Eunice Chestnut.

Aside from his businesses, Fred Shafer’s most abiding community interest was his involvement with the Monroe County Agricultural Society. The society held a yearly fair on grounds just to the east of present day Oxford Street. Shafer was a member of the fair’s board until he resigned from his long-held position as secretary in 1914. The Shafer family reportedly worshiped at the Methodist church. Daughter Vivian was elected secretary of the Methodist Epworth League in 1917, which seems to lend some credence to that claim. It’s unknown if any other family members had a more public role in the church.

During the years this house was owned by Fred and Josephine Shafer, the size and shape of the home as depicted on village maps changed substantially, with a large addition constructed at the back of the house, sometime between the publication of the 1872 and 1902 maps. Perhaps the family needed more room when relatives such as Fred’s mother, Clara Shafer came to live with them, or perhaps the addition simply reflected Fred’s business success. Newspapers noted the value of his estate was $58,000 when he passed away in 1951.

Leland Twitchell and Clara Vivian Shafer
Owners: 1951 to 1980

Leland and Vivian Shafer were the heirs of their father Fred Shafer’s estate. Vivian lived in the family home until her death in 1975 and Leland, too, died a village resident in 1980, although he lived elsewhere, as well. Neither sibling ever married.

Clara Vivian Shafer, who never used the first name apparently given to her in honor of her grandmother Shafer, graduated in 1915 from the high school preparatory course at the Normal School, her mother’s 1891 alma mater. She began her career as a clerk and was appointed in 1938 to a Civil Service position as an employment interviewer with the New York State Employment Service in Rochester. Shafer was elected president of an Alumni Association in 1914 but contemporary accounts of other activities couldn’t be found. Her most memorable gift to the village was the charitable trust she established which benefits the Seymour Library and Brockport Museum.

Leland Shafer graduated from the college preparatory course at the Normal School in 1915 and from Cornell University in 1921. He kept mementos from the university, including his cap and gown, which were sold at his estate auction in the fall of 2011. Shafer’s World War I draft registration form shows him working as a clerk for the war department’s aircraft production, employment which obviously interrupted his academic studies. He was also employed with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance in Buffalo during the 1920s and 1930s.

Leland Shafer reportedly became a very wealthy man from wise stock market purchases. He amassed an extensive collection of books and antiques which eventually filled his family home to capacity. The Western Monroe Historical Society, located in Brockport, benefitted from his philanthropy during his lifetime, and like his sister, he established a charitable trust to continue support of his interests after his death.

Epilogue 2012
Ownership of the Shafter family home passed to a friend of Leland’s after his death and it was sold in 2012 at a greatly depressed price to become a rental property. Neglect was evident in the condition of the original carriage house, the interior of the home and the yard overgrown with trees. The weight of Shafer’s extensive book collection apparently caused or added to structural damage on the second floor of the home. Everything of value, even the original lighting fixtures, which were stripped from ceilings, walls and the newel post in the front entry hall, was sold at auction as the Shafer family’s long association with 19 Park Avenue passed into history. 

© Copyright by Carol L. Hannan – April 2012 All rights reserved