Cobblestone Architecture in Orleans County

Cobblestone Museum

The Cobblestone Society

The Cobblestone Society was established in 1960 and was chartered under the New York State Education Laws. Its major purpose was to acquire and preserve the rapidly deteriorating 1834 Cobblestone Universalist Church and the 1849 District #5 Cobblestone Schoolhouse. The second purpose was to amass and disseminate information on this early 19th Century building style. The Society also acquired the Ward House (circa 1836), the original cobblestone parsonage for the Universalist Church next door. Over the years several other wood frame buildings have been added including the Vagg’s Blacksmith Shop, Hill’s Print Shop, Peters’ Harness Shop, Farmers Hall, and the 1830’s Brick House that houses the Cobblestone Resource Center.  In 1993, the Cobblestone Society holdings were designated the Cobblestone National Historic Landmark District.  This is the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Department of the Interior (National Park Service) for historical preservation.  To date, the Cobblestone District remains the only such honoree in Orleans County. The Cobblestone Society continues to restore and preserve its museum properties, acting as a regional museum and a center for cobblestone preservation and research.

Cobblestone Society MuseumThe Cobblestone Museum

The Cobblestone Museum reception area is located on the lower level of the church and is maintained by The Cobblestone Society. One can find pictures and information on cobblestone architecture, displays of artifacts relating to local history, special exhibitions and much more. The museum acts as the central headquarters from which visitors disperse to tour the other buildings.  A convenient, well-stocked gift shop is also on-site featuring books about cobblestone architecture, hand-made items, souvenir T-shirts, postcards, local jellies & preserves, and more.

Cobblestone Resource Center

The Cobblestone Resource Center, located in the Brick House, is the repository for information relating to the history of the Cobblestone Society and the art of cobblestone masonry. This unique collection contains pictures and histories of many of the cobblestone structures built in North America from 1825-1860. In addition, the Center provides preservation and restoration information for the cobblestone homeowner. For information or requests to use the Center, call (585) 589-9013 or visit the website: www.cobblestonemuseum.org.

Cobblestone Architecture

Between 1825 and the Civil War era, cobblestone masonry originated as a form of construction in Upstate New York. Local masons, some of whom may have worked on building the Erie Canal, developed this new skill to perfection. Many early cobblestone buildings were constructed from the seemingly endless supply of glacial field stones, while later structures used water-washed stones (cobbles) gathered along Lake Ontario. Ninety percent of the cobblestone buildings in America can be found within a 75-mile radius of Rochester, N.Y. By 1865 this form of building became too expensive for the Industrial age and the art diminished. It is estimated that about 900 cobblestone buildings were built in New York State.

The following is a “drive-by” list of about 100 cobblestone structures and their locations in Orleans County. Since most are privately owned homes, no access beyond the roadway is permitted.  Come experience the heart of cobblestone country!

View Cobblestone Architecture of Orleans County in a full screen map

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To be included in this map, please contact the Cobblestone Museum.

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