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90 State Street

90 State Street

90 State Street,
Brockport, NY 

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

John Arnold and Syrena Shurtz Latta
Owners/builders: circa 1860 to late 1880s

John Arnold Latta, son of early Charlotte, New York, settlers Samuel and Lydia Arnold Latta, built this house, his second home on State Street, between 1858 and 1861. He and his second wife, Syrena, lived there with their son and his daughters by his first wife. A second child born to John and Syrena died shortly after birth and was buried in the Brockport Cemetery.

John owned a tannery on State Street, east of this home’s location and next to the canal. He also ran a manufacturing operation producing shoes and boots. According to an 1880 Special Census Schedule, Latta had three employees, used over 500 hides of leather and owned one sewing machine to manufacture an estimated $2,500 in products. The average wage he paid for skilled work was $2 a day and unskilled labor was paid $1.25 a day for “home labor.” Upon closing the tannery business, Latta opened a village shoe store at the corner of Main and Water Streets, which was run by himself and son Frank until his death. Latta also built and/or renovated more than one downtown business block and structure according to A. B. Elwell, former village historian.

From the 1830s, when he moved to the village, Latta was a successful businessman, providing modern amenities and multiple servants for his family. He was a member of the Brockport Methodist Episcopal Church. When the Baptist Collegiate Institute in Brockport failed in 1841, the college was rescued from oblivion by the efforts of village residents and John Latta was among the stockholders who raised the necessary funds. He became a charter member of the Brockport Collegiate Institute Board of Trustees and served on the board for many years. The college closed on the day of his funeral and faculty members served as Latta’s pallbearers in a final demonstration of respect and gratitude.

By 1891 when he passed away, John was living with his daughter Mary, Mrs. Denton Snider, in Clarkson. He was 81 years old when he died of heart disease. Daughter Julia, Mrs. Fred Smith, of Auburn also survived him. Second wife Syrena, who died in 1849, their newborn daughter and Latta’s only son Frank, who died in 1884, are buried in the Brockport Cemetery.

John E. and Sarah J. Bovee Kinsella
Owners: late 1880s to late 1920s

John E. Kinsella, son of Irish immigrants John and Margaret Kinsella, was a long time “saloon keeper” in the village. He owned what A. B. Elwell, former village historian, described as a “restaurant” at the corner of Main and Market Streets. In any case, the sale of liquor was obviously an essential part of the business as the “saloon” aspect of the enterprise was emphasized in various directories and contemporary newspaper accounts over many years. In 1917, when the state liquor authority was seeking to limit the number of businesses able to sell alcohol, it granted a license to Kinsella’s establishment.

Kinsella married Sarah Bovee in 1893 and together they had two daughters, Helen and Esther. Not much is known about him or his family. His daughters married and moved away from the village. Sarah Kinsella died in 1915 and John died in 1924. He was found dead in bed and reportedly died of apoplexy, a term used then to describe strokes. He had worked just the day before, as usual, and was expected at work on the day he died. Kinsella left an estate valued at $6,500. He and his immediate family are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Brockport.

A. B. Elwell, former village historian, gave a first person account of Kinsella and his business with his History of Brockport with Vicinity Happenings, 1826-1956: Also Biographies of Prominent Men of the Past. 

This is what Elwell had to say: “John Kinsella ran a restaurant where Edward and John Connors now have theirs. Some of the best men of the village would gather there to discuss events of the day or have a friendly card game upstairs. John once said to me, “If anyone will tell me how I can run my place in a more honorable way, I will try my best to do it.” No rowdyism was allowed in his place, and John was a perfect gentleman at all times.” 

A. B. Elwell, page 24

Charles W. and/or Edna A. Laack
Owner: late 1920s to 1989

Charles W. Laack at the turn of the century, lived with his wife, Alviria, and children in Rochester, where he worked as a “grinder” and then a “polisher” for an optical company on St. Paul Street. Both he and his wife were born in Germany. Charles immigrated to the United States in 1884, when he was 15 years old. He became a naturalized citizen in Rochester in 1906. Very little is known about his wife. Her maiden name may have been Trost. “Alviria” is the name on her tombstone but one census gave it as “Alfina.”

The Laack family had one son, William, and many daughters: Carolyn, Edna, Loretta, Doris, Frances and Elsie, who died before age 2 of gastro enturitis, while the family still lived in Rochester. Elsie is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

By 1909, it was reported in the Rochester directory that Charles had “removed” from the city. He had moved to Sweden Center and became a farmer. Gradually the children abandoned the city and moved here, with Edna being the final child to leave Rochester in 1917. Several of the Laack daughters took up residence in Brockport at what was now 90 State Street. The question remains, who held title to the house? Was it Edna, the daughter, who was listed as the head of the family and owner on the 1930 Federal Census or was it Charles, the father, who was living there in 1940 and listed as the head of family and the home’s owner? What can be said with certainly is that 90 State Street was the Laack family home for many decades.

Alviria Laack died in 1918 and was buried at Lakeview Cemetery. Although a relatively young man, Charles never remarried. He remained a farmer, living with son William and William’s family until he retired from farming. He then moved to Brockport to live in the State Street home. Single daughter Loretta also lived in the house and was employed as a bookkeeper in the Rochester “optical company.” Edna had long worked at the same occupation in Rochester, after which she worked for many years in a bank, perhaps in Brockport. She too, continued to live in the family home, along with her husband, William Raymond Lorback.

Charles W. Laack’s only documented interests were outings and visits with his grandchildren. Edna lived a very quiet life that seemed not to change even after her marriage. Her husband, William, was an employee at the nearby canning factory. If mentioned at all in contemporary accounts, it was for their infrequent social outings with or visits to other family members. Edna was an older first time bride and had no children with her husband. In 1989, she auctioned off her home and its contents. She died in 1990 and is buried not with her husband but with her family in Lakeview Cemetery. William Lorback, who had died in 1968, is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery. His tombstone states that he was a private in Battery B, 82nd Field Artillery during World War I; an accomplishment and service of note for someone who otherwise lived a quiet life.


Epilogue 2012

The lot on which this house originally stood was divided, like so many others. The original clapboard siding has been covered with asbestos shingles but the house seems to be similar in exterior configuration to the renditions on early village maps. We know from the 1989 auction advertisement that the house had 10 rooms with natural wood trim and floors throughout. At the time of the 1989 sale it had been converted into a “double” but it was noted that it could easily be turned back into a single-family residence. The minimum acceptable bid for the house in 1989 was $45,000. Today it remains a family home on a lot with many established plantings.

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