7 Main Street
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Genesee County Courthouse
This building stands at the bend of the Tonawanda and the junction of two major Iroquois trails – Old Genesee and Big Tree Roads.
Onondaga Limestone obtained from Consider Warner’s Quarry in LeRoy.
By the National Register of Historic Places —1973
What was there
The Holland Land Company Office was established here in 1802 on the shore of the Tonawanda and along the junction of two major Iroquois trails, which enabled the company to better manage the sale of lots, and customers to traverse the pioneer landscape to their new settlements. The 3.5 million acres that comprised the Holland Purchase, then known as Genesee County, started east of Batavia, and went to Lake Ontario to the north, Lake Erie to the west, and as far as Pennsylvania to the south.
The junction of these major trails, meeting with the Tonawanda River, ensured the growth of the settlement of Batavia, which was made the county seat, and then incorporated as a village in 1823.
Joseph Ellicott, agent for the Holland Land Company, oversaw the first courthouse’s construction just east of here, in 1802, on the east end of this triangle lot (where the county building now stands). Elliott hall, as it was known, served as the offices, courthouse, and jail for the county. As the county grew, it needed more administrative office space, a bigger jail, and more courts. The present court office construction began in 1841 in the Greek Revival Style from Onondaga limestone quarried from the Oatka Creek gorge just north of LeRoy. It was completed in February, 1843 at a final cost of $32,300. A county clerk’s building was constructed between Ellicott Hall and the new courthouse, and the Hall continued to serve as administrative offices for the Holland Purchase. The Batavia Fire Department headquarters was built next to Ellicott Hall in the early 1900s. On February 5, 1918 Ellicott Hall burned burned to the ground.
In the summer of 1919, the “Soldiers and Sailors Monument” as added to the westward point of the triangle courthouse block in honor of Genesee County war veterans. It features a bronze statue of Batavia native, and Civil War hero, Major General Emory Upton.
In 1931, the front was drastically modified to expand the interior for additional office space. A porch running the length of the front was enclosed, and the stone Greek-Revival columns where incorporated into the interior design, helping to define rooms.
What is there now
The two major Iroquois trails are now Main and Ellicott Streets. The courthouse triangle lot contains the old courthouse building, which now houses the offices of the county’s legislature, manager, and court attorney, and County Building #1, which houses administrative offices.
The courthouse was modernized in 1975 with a new roof, sprinkler system, windows, gutters, trim, and bell harness. An air conditioner and elevator were added in 1999.
Genesee County currently holds court in a modern building just west of here at 1 W Main St., Batavia.
- The Iroquois called Batavia “De-o-on-go-aa” (The Great Hearing Place).
- Batavia was named after a poetic Dutch name for the Netherlands.
- The brass bell, now in the old courthouse, used to hang in Ellicott Hall. It was built in New Haven, CT.
- Genesee County Courts
- History of the Genesee County Courthouse
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