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46 State Street

46 State Street

46 State Street
Brockport, NY

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

William Henry and Emmeline Elizabeth Forbes Bull
Owners: late 1850s to 1860s

Between the dates of 1852 and 1858, when it first appears on a village map, this early brick village home was occupied by the first documented owner, William Henry Bull, son of the Reverend Doctor Norris Bull. Reverend Bull was a Presbyterian minister in Clarkson who personally prepared his son to enter Union College, from which William quickly graduated. William’s vocation in life, however, was an exercise of trial and error. He was, in rather rapid succession, a lawyer, farmer, wholesale buyer of flour, banker, miller and owner or co-owner of several businesses.

On the 1860 Federal Census form, Bull was living on State Street in Brockport. His 1899 obituary stated that Bull came to the village to establish a lumber business, which he ran for three years before selling it to Luther Gordon. It was, ironically, the sale of his lumber company that most affected the history of Brockport, as the Gordons built the company into a very successful business and became great benefactors of the village.

With the lumber business in the capable hands of the Gordon family, Bull became a “banker.” This banking career reportedly started in Lewiston, Niagara County, continued in Toronto, Canada, but apparently ended in Brockport, a village notoriously hostile to successful banks. His career in banking apparently over, Bull moved on to Holley where he remained for the rest of his life.

Bull married Emmeline Forbes and they had a son, Norris, who was named after his accomplished grandfather Bull. Emmeline Bull survived both her husband and son. She, along with her family members and in-laws, is buried in the West Clarkson Cemetery.

Daniel M., Helen Whipple and Marion Delora Paine
Owners: 1871 to 1920s

The next documented owners of 46 State Street, the Paine family, occupied this historic home for two generations and many decades. They had previously lived for a short time at what is now known as 87Park Avenue before moving to this house, which was much larger than their previous home and located on a more socially prestigious street.

Daniel Paine, son of Reuben and Delora Paine, did not follow in his father’s occupational footsteps. He may have started his life on a farm and been a farmer for a brief period of time, but Daniel was known as a village businessman; at first selling cabinet hardware, then owning and operating a combination furniture and undertaking business on Main Street. Newspaper ads indicate he sold a variety of merchandise, such as children’s carriages and picture frames in addition to furniture from the “cheapest to the best.” His undertaking services were advertised as being provided with “courtesy and care.”

Although a generally successful businessman, Paine had some share of financial problems, such as the “assignment” of his debts in 1883; meaning he was declaring bankruptcy. Still, Paine’s business survived past the turn of the century when ill health forced him to retire. Paine wasn’t focused entirely on his business interests. He ran for public office and was elected village assessor in 1892. Daniel Paine died in 1901 of heart failure during his sleep.

Helen Whipple Paine and her only child, Marion Delora, each spent the remainder of their lives at 46 State Street. When Helen and her husband first married and lived on a farm, census information showed that she was a dressmaker. Her daughter, too, was a dressmaker who worked from her family home.

Delora Paine graduated in 1893 from the “classical course” at the Normal School. Although she lived with her parents, worked from her home and never married, Delora reportedly had an active social life and many friends. She was a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Whist Club, Senior Birthday Club and was active in Red Cross war efforts. Delora died in 1921 and was buried at Lake View Cemetery.

Morris Townsend and Ione Elizabeth Beyer Mann
Owners: 1923 to 1939

Dr. Morris T. Mann was the son of village physician Dr. Horace Mann and grandson of Dr. William B. Mann, who also lived and practiced in Brockport. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry; completing the “dental war course” in 1917, according to his draft registration card. In addition to an early practice in Rochester, he had an office in his State Street home. Aside from an early newspaper reference to his championship prowess in shooting pool, Dr. Mann seems to have enjoyed a rather quiet, uneventful life here in the village. Newspaper accounts give many mentions to his socializing, attending family reunions and entertaining others at his family’s summer cottage on Straight Lake. It was he who found, in the attic of his State Street home, the original record book detailing community efforts to buy and save the Brockport Collegiate Institute. Mann wrote a newspaper article detailing how the village was once the world center for farm implement manufacturing, so he apparently had more than a passing interest in Brockport’s history.

Mrs. Ione Mann was Regent of the Monroe County DAR, and as such, presented history prizes to seniors of Brockport High School. She was also a member and officer of the St. Luke’s woman’s guild. She and her husband had two children, Mary Jean and Richard Townsend. Mary Jean lived in Rochester and never married. Son Richard worked at Bausch and Lomb and died in 1995.

Morris and Ione sold their house to James Mann in 1939 and moved to Rochester, where Morris became co-owner of Rochester Tree Surgeon. He died in Rochester in 1967 and is buried along with his wife and children at Lake View Cemetery in the Town of Sweden.

Epilogue 2012
By far the most interesting but also horrific occurrence associated with this home was the 1927 airplane crash which tore a large hole in the side of the house and resulted in the death of a young Brockport resident, a passenger in the plane. The pilot, a young man from Rochester, had been giving demonstration rides all day and was piloting his last passenger over the village when the plane went into a tail spin from which it couldn’t recover, smashed through several trees, flipped over and careened into the Mann’s dining room. Village residents who had been watching the plane scattered in all directions as it headed toward the ground. Mrs. Mann and her children miraculously escaped death by running from the dining room just as the outside wall imploded and splintered furniture was thrown about. Dr. Mann, who had been in his office with a patient, came running to assist the plane’s passengers, along with another village resident, a Mr. Peters, who had witnessed the crash. Peters was soon horrified to see that the victim he pulled from the wreckage was his own 17 year old son, Stephen, who died at the scene.

The Mann house was reconstructed and survives today, fortunately, as at one point the home was slated to be razed to make room for additional parking and expansion of the funeral home next door. One of the funeral home partners died and the remaining owners were forced to sell the property, thus saving the house from demolition. Not everything remains, however. The carriage barn shown on a map as late as 1902 no longer exists.

Although the exterior configuration of the home is very recognizable on several village maps, according to past owners, the interior structure shows unmistakable signs of alterations and additions evident in the attic roofline, construction methods, materials used and solid brick interior walls that almost certainly were once exterior walls. Construction methods also date homes and in the case of this house, it’s likely that construction of its earliest section(s) were made closer to the opening of State Street, rather than in the 1850s, meaning that the Bulls were not the original builders and occupants. The newest addition to the home is the cement block garage and deck added to the back of the house. Unlike other surrounding brick homes, this structure was never painted and we see the bricks as they were originally colored when the house was constructed long ago. This house is now a multi-family rental. 

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