Historic Structures

The Genesee Lighthouse (Charlotte Lighthouse), Rochester New York

Date added: April 14, 2010 Categories: New York Lighthouse

The building is locally known as the Charlotte Lighthouse, being located in the former village of Charlotte, now a part of Rochester. It is located at Latitude 43°36'37.10" and Longitude 77°36'39.10" on the west bank of the Genesee River, a considerable distance back from the present shore of lake Ontario, on a rising piece of ground. It once served as a lake coast and harbor light.

The Albany Gazette of February 21, 1821 has an account of a proposal to erect a lighthouse on the east shore of the river, and called for the purchase of six acres of land. On February 21, 1821 Monroe county was set aside from part of Ontario County. A year later the building was erected on the west shore of the river, in Monroe County.

The property is part of Lot 28, Division 3, Township 2, Short Range of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase. It was sold to Joseph Amim and in Nov. 5, 1794, sold by him to William Hencher. Hencher settled there in 1792 as the first white man on the west side of the river. The property was set off in October 4, 1804. It was almost entirely tree covered. Hencher died and the property fell to his wife, Miehitabel Hencher, November 3, 1813. She sold to the United States Government by deed dated Nov 17, 1821 and recorded March 25, 1822, in Libre 1, page 483 of Monroe County Deeds, New York State. The purchase price was $400, for three and one quarter acres. The building was built under contract by William Carroll with the U.S. Government and under supervision of the Fifth Auditor of the General Government.

The cabin of Hencher stood on the site where the present brick keepers house now stands. Giles Holden erected his own house on that spot. Holden was the first keeper and when he was succeeded he took his frame house with him to the west side of Lake Avenue. The original lighthouse cost five thousand dollars. The present keepers house was erected in 1883.

In 1828 the State cleared about 260 acres of trees and brush from the land to the land to tho north and west of the lighthouse and awarded damages to owners of $216.20. In 1822 a beacon was erected at the end of what was then a pier. In 1834 two piers were built at the north of the river and several beacons and lights erected thereon from time to time. The most recent lighthouse, built in 1931 cost $14,000.

The first light was a fixed light of 10 oil lamps and ten reflectors according to a report of 1838. The lantern had eight sides with fifteen small panes of glass in each panel. The cowl above was semi-spherical. By 1880 a fixed light of the fourth order and a fourth order lens with a visibility of fourteen nautical miles was placed, probably when the house was refitted. This light was the one in place when the use was discontinued in 1880. It was removed in 1881, when a wooden top was probably built. A room in the southeast corner of the keepers house, on the first floor was used as the oil room and there was a door and porch at the east end thereof, possibly connected with the lighthouse. At present this opening is replaced by a window and the room no longer so used. Ths keeper's house was erected of brick in 1863. A frame porch was added to the north west corner in 1933.