The Bricks of Brighton

Part I: The Wallace-Shilling House, 2169 South Clinton Avenue

Pub: August 17, 2005 by Brighton Pittsford Post

THE BRICKS OF BRIGHTON- Part I

The “BRICKS OF BRIGHTON” refers to the seventeen still-existing brick structures within the Town of Brighton that were built with bricks made by one of the many companies that made up Brighton’s biggest industry in the nineteenth century. The earliest brick company was owned by Gideon Cobb. His yard operated on what is now Monroe Avenue from 1818 -1853. The last brickyard, the German Brick & Tile Company, closed its doors in about 1920. Several other brick manufacturing companies existed in our town’s early years, mainly located along Monroe Avenue. The extensive clay and sand beds left by the glaciers, as they retreated over 12,000 years ago, established Brighton as the region’s main brick-producer.
Four of the “Bricks of Brighton” to be featured over the next several weeks were actually the homes of the owners of brickmaking companies: Abner, Leonard and Amos Buckland and Isaac Moore.

Many of these structures have been designated by the Brighton Preservation Commission as historic landmarks. We will explore the architecture of each of the seventeen and learn about the people who built them. The first subject in this series was also the first structure to be given the honor of landmark status in the Town of Brighton, the Wallace-Schilling House.

THE WALLACE-SCHILLING HOUSE – 2169 South Clinton Avenue

This Brighton Town Landmark was built of Brighton bricks in the late 1830s for Timothy Wallace. The architect and the builder are unknown. The house was built in the Greek Revival style with a two-story front gable, central portion, flanked by a one and a half story wing on each side. All three portions have a wide frieze band. It is thought that there once were matching porches in front of the wings. The handsome entry has a transom and a simple frame of an architrave and pilasters in the Doric order. Double-hung windows are 6 over 6 with stone lintels and sills. There is a central chimney.

Mr. Wallace came to Monroe County from Massachusetts at the age of 31. He purchased 100 acres of land in 1833 and, with his wife Olive, established a prosperous farm. The 1855 census recorded that they had 70 plowed acres planted with oats, corn and potatoes. The remaining acres were pasture, hay meadows and apple orchards. They had cows, cattle, horses and pigs.

Besides being a farmer, Wallace was a member of the Monroe County Agricultural Society. In 1855, he was elected the first Supervisor of the Town of Brighton. That same year he became an Inspector at the Work House and in 1865 became Warden of the County Insane Asylum.
In 1867 the Wallaces sold the farm to William and Henry Harrison Hickox. The brothers converted it into a two family dwelling for their families. In 1875 the family farmed 108 acres. Almost half of the land was plowed and winter wheat, oats, corn and potatoes were grown. The remaining acreage was pasture for their livestock.

In 1887, Albert and Petronella Michel bought the farm and in 1911 sold it to Albert’s brother George. Apparently both families lived there until 1913 when they sold it to a land speculator by the name of Soloman Berman. He subdivided the land as the Berman Farms Tract, sold some of the lots to homeowners and sold the bulk of the tract to other investors in the 1920s.

In 1947 Edward A. and Kathleen E. Newell brought the farmhouse and converted it back to a single family home. In 1954 Bernard Schilling, a professor at the University of Rochester, and Susan Schilling became the new owners. They lovingly worked on the house and lived there until Bernard died and Susan moved to assisted living in 2004. The Schillings were responsible for the sensitive rehabilitation of the interior. They added the lovely terrace in the rear of the house and the gardens. They also graded the land under the north wing to accommodate a two-car garage with out disturbing the symmetry of the facade. The house was recently sold and, happily, will continue to be a private residence dispite the commercial zoning of the area around the house.

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