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91 Park Avenue

91 Park Avenue

91 Park Avenue
Brockport, NY 

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

Horace A. and Sarah A. Collins
Builders/Owners: late 1880s to 1888

Horace and Sarah Collins purchased the lot on which this home was built and most likely built the house there, as well. As happened all over the village, the large lots surveyed by Zenas Case in the 1840s were gradually divided and additional homes were built between existing houses. Such was the case with this house. Its lot was originally part of the property at 87 Park Avenue.

The Collins sold this property after Horace accepted a position as an agent for the West Shore Railroad in Oakfield, Genesee County. He died there in 1909 was buried at the Brockport Cemetery along with his wife.

John Rowell and Sarah A. Whitney
Owners: 1888 to mid-1890s

John Rowell Whitney and his second wife, Sarah, bought the Collins’ property but didn’t live there long. The Whitney name appears on a 1902 village map but by 1895, he was a candidate for elective office in Niagara Falls, where he spent the remainder of his life. By the time the village map was produced, his family had already moved from Brockport.

The Whitney family, father Isaac and mother Martha, had moved to this area and farmed the land, then retired and relocated to the village. John was a book keeper for the D. S. Morgan Company. He was also a member and officer of the Silsby Hose Company. After moving to Niagara Falls he worked for a paper company. The Whitneys never returned to Brockport and are buried in Niagara Falls.

Charles D. and Susan Warner Seeley
Owners: mid-1890s to before 1920

Professor Seeley was a native of Warsaw, N. Y. and a graduate of Amherst College. He taught in and chaired the department of ancient languages at the Normal School. In May of 1915, he suffered an apparent heart attack while on the trolley going into Rochester, and died shortly afterward at St. Mary’s Hospital. The professor’s former students served as his pall bearers and honorary pall bearers were professors from the Normal School. He was buried in Warsaw. *additional information below

George Bliss and Ethelind Clapp Harmon
Owners: before 1920 to mid-1970s

The Harmons, of all this home’s occupants to date, spent the most time as its owners. Their family history in the area and service to the community predate this ownership by generations. This George B. was actually the second of that name in his family. His father, the first George B., was the son of Austin Harmon, a village businessman. Austin and his son partnered in a marble works and monument company on Market Street, where they also lived. George B. Sr. was named Postmaster by two presidents but died quite young and his son by the same name was named to complete the second appointment. So, at an early age, George B., Jr. became the village postmaster and owner of the insurance company his father bought from village resident Charles M. Winslow.

What we remember George Harmon for, however, are his fourteen years as “President” or mayor of the village. Harmon was mayor for multi-year terms of office during and around WWI and WWII. Understandably, his approach to village government was that of a businessman. During his first terms in office the water department and Board of Water Commissioners were established, Main Street underwent a major rehabilitation project, a yearly schedule of street improvements was initiated, a fire siren was installed and a motorcycle was purchased for the police department. Also noted as an accomplishment during these terms in office, was the installation of Brockport’s first “silent policemen” at busy corners. His leadership resulted in the village reducing its debt and lowering the tax rate. No wonder Harmon ran unopposed for his fifth successive term in office.

Even after giving up elective office, Harmon continued involvement in community affairs, such as his leadership of the 1937 fund drive to construct a million dollar building improvement project at the Normal School. With the village committee’s help, President Ernest Hartwell was able to secure state and federal funds to build the present Hartwell Hall and secure a future here for the Normal School, which was in danger of being
closed. His days in elective office weren’t over, however, and Harmon once again ran successfully for mayor.

After his re-election in 1939, Harmon faced a different set of issues to keep taxes low during the Great Depression and staff the Quaker Maid Company processing plant during World War II labor shortages. The Quaker Maid Company canned and processed local produce into foods sent overseas to feed the troops. As mayor, Harmon headed a citizens group responsible for bringing volunteer Naval recruits from Sampson Naval Training Station to work at the cannery. Crops were picked and the harvests processed. Millions of bottles of Quaker Maid ketchup were sent overseas.

For his effective campaign to raise funds and rebuild campus facilities at a critical time in its history, the College at Brockport dedicated Harmon Hall in 1966, the year before Harmon’s death. George Harmon; businessman, mayor, secretary of the Agricultural Society, an honorary member of the Brockport College Board of Managers and secretary of the New York State Association of Town Fairs is buried along with family members at the Lakeside Cemetery, Sweden Township. His father, grandfather and additional family members are buried at the Brockport Cemetery. Ethelind Harmon lived until 1970, after which her home was sold. *additional information below

Epilogue 2012
The lot on which this home was originally built was much smaller than it is today. When the neighboring house to the south burned, its lot was purchased by the owners of 91 Park Avenue, thereby greatly increasing its size and making possible extensive landscaped gardens. The house eventually became a multi-family rental before being purchased and restored as a single family home.

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

Additional Information researched by Pam Ketchum. 
Greg and Pam Ketchum are the current owners of 91 Park Avenue. 

"Alumni 1876
CHARLES DeLOSS SEELY, M. A., son of George Washington and Mary (Munger) Seely, was born in Warsaw, N. Y., July 20, 1853 ; fitted for college at Warsaw Union School, and Preparatory Department of Oberlin College. Oberlin Coll., '71 — '72; Amherst Coll., '73_'76. Tea., H. S., Warsaw, N. Y., '76— '78 ; Prin., H. S., Medway, '78 — '79 ; Greenfield, '79 — '80 ; Arms Acad., Shelburne Falls, '80 — '83 ; Newburyport H. S., '83 — '85 ; in charge of Dept. of Lat. and Gr., State Normal School, Brockport, N. Y., '85 — . M. A., Amherst, 1879. Married, Nov. 28, 1882, Susan L., dau. of the late Franklin J. Warner of Cummington. Three children.
Page 80 “Biographical Record of the Alumni and Non-Graduates of Amherst College, Volume II (Classes of ’72 – ’96)” Compiled and Edited by W.L. Montague, M.A., Ph.D., Class of ’55, Carpenter & Morehouse, Printers, Amherst, Mass., 1901.
[Son of George Washington SGS # 2739 – Charles DeLoss; George Washington (# 2739); Loren/Lorin; Benjamin; Benjamin; Joseph; John; Nathaniel; Robert]"

From "Personalities: Glimpses of a few people who once called Brockport “Home”
Written by, Emily L. Knapp

Austin Harmon
Born in Bennington County, Vermont, Austin Harmon came to Brockport by packet boat the summer of 1828. Having learned the trade of marble worker, he followed that trade, and in the early days lettered mile-stones, which once were a familiar sight found at marked intervals along main roads.

After setting up in different locations in the village, Mr. Harmon ultimately established his marble works on Market Street in 1869. The family homestead was a frame dwelling, east of the marble works, and the mansard-roofed office building housed the insurance business that the family was engaged in in addition to the marble and monument business.

Austin was a trustee of the village for several years, and also served as the president of the village, as did his son George, and in still later years, his grand-son, George, Jr.,both of whom also carried on the marble, monument, and insurance businesses in that same Market Street location.

Austin Harmon died in 1897, and is buried in the High Street Cemetery