Historic Structures

Hiram W. Sibley House, Rochester New York

Date added: June 1, 2010 Categories: New York House Federal Style

Hiram Sibley, the owner of the original house, began working for a telegraph company operating under the House patent about 1850. He engineered the merger with Ezra Cornell's Morse Patent Company between 1854 and 1856. Thus was created the Western Union Company. Sibley attempted to lay an overland telegraphic cable to Europe via Alaska and Siberia, but with the completion of the Trans-Atlantic cable in 1866, Sibley stopped his work. Sibley's office as president of Western Union has been preserved in the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences. He then began building railroads and acquiring farmlands.

For forty years Sibley was active in Rochester civic affairs. In 1843, he was elected to a term as County Sheriff. In 1874, he built Sibley Hall for the University of Rochester. In 1876, he founded and endowed the Sibley College of Mechanical Arts at his business associate's new University, Cornell.

The original Italianate house was altered c. 189O to its present Federal Revival style with the removal of the bracketed porch, cupola, and conical brackets. The windows were reduced in scale and muntins inserted. Prior to this alteration, Sibley had designs for a new house in the Queen Anne Revival style drawn by James G. Cutler. An elevation was published in the Inland Architect and News Record, Vol. 14, Dec., 1889. The present east wing was constructed in 1912. The dormers were added after the cupola was removed.

Over-all dimensions: sixty feet by ninety-five feet including wing; three-bay facade plus four-bay wing; two-and-one-half stories; L-shaped plan.

Floor plans: The center entrance hall provides access to the office and "Treasure Room" to the west and the morning room to the east. The hall leads directly to the living room located in the northwest projecting comer of the main section. The hall continues to the east providing access to the dining room and stairwell and the kitchen wing. The second floor contains five bedrooms and a "toile de Jouy." The servant quarters are above the kitchen.