A Look at the Granger Homestead

(Photo: Melissa Kania)

Following up on yesterday’s post about my recent trip to Canandaigua, I think it’s time to learn a bit more – and educate y’all – about the Granger homestead and carriage museum, one of the places I visited and toured.First, a brief history of the building itself (all of this information and more can be found on the homestead’s website). Construction was completed in 1816, although a north wing was added later in 1860. The house also has two porches, which were added at later dates. The architect of the house is unknown, but the design is said to reflect the Federal style of architecture characteristic of that time period.

The home was put up for sale in 1946 for just $25,000 and was purchased and saved by Joseph W. Cribb, who then formed the Granger Homestead society. The carriage museum, which is also located on the grounds next to an old law house, was later constructed in the late 1950s.

So – who was Granger?

Gideon Granger, to be exact, was Postmaster General under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison’s presidencies from 1800 until 1813. He married his wife, Mindwell, in 1790.

Prior to taking office in Washington, he was active in state politics in Connecticut; after he left, Granger and his wife moved to Canandaigua and built the homestead you see today before his death in 1822.

Gideon and Mindwell had three sons: Ralph, Francis, and John Albert, who all assisted in building the homestead.

Ralph, however, never got to live in the house, as he moved to Ohio shortly after its completion. (He’d later become the first mayor of Fairport Harbor.)

John also didn’t get to live in the house – he moved around before returning to Canandaigua in the later years and building his own home.

Francis practiced law with Gideon in Canandaigua and built a house just a block north of the Homestead. He and his wife, Cornelia, had three children, but his wife passed away due to complications from childbirth in 1823. Mindwell then raised the children while Francis became involved in politics in Albany and Washington.

One of Francis’ children, Gideon II, married Isaphine Pierson in 1850. They had three children and eventually moved into the main house upon Mindwell’s passing. At this time, the North Wing was built so Isaphine could have her children on the same floor with her.

Francis’ other children were Antoinette and Isaphine.

The Hubbell law office, also on the property, dates back to 1822 and belonged to Walter Hubbell, an 1819 graduate of Union College. The building was originally located about a block away from the Homestead, at an one point was used as a tool shed! It’s a small building with two rooms and was used for Hubbell to teach law students, who resided in the back room of the office.

The carriage museum houses a number of carriages (shocking, I know!) from the time period. It’s very interesting to see the fire carriage, the hearse, the shop carriage, and more – so be sure to check it out!

Tours of the homestead and carriage museum cost just $6 per adult or $2 per student; a docent will lead you around the property and tell you even more about the Grangers and the history of the family and the area.

Sleigh rides are also offered during the winter for a small fee.

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