Riga Academy

Home  /  Locations  /  Finger Lakes  /  Current Page

3 Riga-Mumford Road
Riga, New York
Get Directions →


Riga Academy

A flourishing school for boarding and day pupils was organized here in 1846. The building was earlier known as Thomson’s Tavern.


By the New York State Education Department — 1935

What was there

A 2-story Federal-style building, built in 1811. It is constructed of brick with 5 bays, the entrance at the center bay.  The gable roof has a pair of chimneys on each side. The interior has 7 original fireplaces.

Joseph Thompson, local businessman (of the Thompson & Tuttle firm) and tavern keeper, built this to replace a wood frame tavern he built c.1809 across the road. Thompson & Tuttle first operated a general store in the area out of a cabin beginning with its first settlers in 1808. The Canadaigua-Batavia stagecoach line ran through here, bringing a great deal of business to Thompson’s establishment. Thompson lived in the building and ran it as “Thompson’s Tavern” until 1845, when the stage line was replaced by the Rochester-Buffalo Railroad.

In 1845, the nearby Congressional Church of Riga expressed interest in acquiring the building to create a school for higher learning. At the time, the community was concerned about providing an education for their children, beyond what local public schools offered, but without sending them far off to other institutions, particularly in large cities.  They purchased the building in the fall of 1846 for $1,000. It opened as Riga Academy in 1847 with an initial matriculation of 155 local boys and girls under the principleship of Reverend Franklin W. Olmstead. A Greek-revival wing was added to the west in 1849, and the following year another was added to the south side. The south side’s wing was demolished several years later. The Academy had an outstanding library for the time and location, and classes covered a wide range of subjects, such as math, foreign language, music, philosophy, astronomy, and chemistry.

Riga Academy closed in July, 1861, remaining vacant until 1864, when Colonel Erastus Ides (of Maryland) purchased the home and operated a farm. It passed through the Ides family until 1912, when it was willed to the Town of Riga, who rented it as a residential property. Sold privately in 1942, the west Greek-revival wing was demolished. In subsequent years, the building has gone through restorations, bringing it close to its original condition, with the exception of the late 19th century porch, which was removed in the 1970s.

What is there now

The building now serves as a private residence. It has been added to the National Register of Historic places as a fine example of Federal-style architecture: symmetry, stepped gables, and a fanned window above the main entrance, which is largely original. The interior still has the 7 original fireplaces, a central hall plan, original mantels, moldings, and panels. The two (now removed) wings have left some scars in the original brick exterior and the interior has been modified due to their addition and removal.

The building is easily seen from Riga-Mumford Road. The property is private. The immediate area is private residential.

More information

  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. National Register application
  • Joseph Thompson became the first postmaster of Riga.
  • In 1847, students paid $2.25 per week for room and board. Tuition varried from $2.25 to $9 per term for tuition.

Submitted by

We would like to thank the following for helping us with this entry:
Matthew Conheady

+1 Comment
  1. […] This is a two story brick building in Riga just South of Churchville, NY.  It was a school for boarding and day pupils starting in 1846.  Before that it was known as Thompson’s Tavern.  For more details see: Riga Academy. […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.