Many people, who are familiar with the history of our community, know that it was originally settled by farmers and that most of the inhabitants made their living by agriculture. One of the most interesting facts about farms is that there was a working farm and dairy herd within the village limits. If anyone knows or shops at Pittsford Farms Dairy, this is the farm I am referencing.
The original owner was a well-known man by the name of Samuel Hildreth. Sam built the house about 1815 or 1820. He opened a store south of the home, about where Hicks & McCarthy's is now located. He also operated a tavern and had a stagecoach line that ran between Pittsford and the county seat of Canandaigua. He kept the horses and equipage in a barn located behind his home at 44 North Main Street.
Jarvis Lord purchased the home and farm in 1886. Lord, when he first arrived in this area settled in Henrietta. He came to Pittsford in 1883 and engaged in the grocery business. He was able to make enough money to purchase the farm from Hildreth and make it into a showplace. This was later purchased by Hawley and is currently owned by the Zornow family.
Jarvis Lord was always interested in horses and built a larger and more ornate barn in which to house them.
Lord was a very colorful character who had numerous interests. Among them were canal construction and maintenance contracts, railroad contracts; he owned and operated a distillery near Bushnell's Basin, and was involved with many banks in the city of Rochester where he was president of Monroe Bank. He was also a successful Democratic politician who held offices locally as well as in the New York State legislature. In 1871 it was rumored that he might seek the governorship of New York State.
The press seemed to have a malicious intent towards him. The Democrat & Chronicle often assailed him as a cheat, a grafter as well as a fraud. None of these proved to be true and when he died there were many famous and noted people who rode a special railroad car to Pittsford to attend the Christ Church for his funeral service.
Jarvis Lord sold the property to Frank Hawley in 1888 and Frank was able to purchase the farm of W.F. Jones on Stoutenberg Rd. (now Golf Avenue). Perhaps that is why the name of the combined farms led to the name "Pittsford Farms Dairy". There are or were many photographs of this lovely dwelling which had become a showplace of "Victoriana". The Hawley farm gained a national reputation for their Shetland Ponies. Many of these ponies took prizes at annual pony shows in New York Cit at Madison Square Gardens.
Construction began in 1889 on the new extensive barns and included all modern improvements. It was learned from an account from the D&C newspaper "that 50 men had participated in the barn raising and that Mrs. Hawley had provided a bounteous table under the trees". Note: (Thanks to Paul Spiegel's "Echoes of Old Pittsford"
The Hawley family sold the house and farm in 1944 to T.J. Zornow. For many years the farm housed a fine Guernsey dairy herd and milk was produced and processed right there on the farm. The wonderful barn that housed the herd and many lovely carriages burned in 1974. A new barn has been erected on the footprint of the former barn, but obviously a more contemporary style.
Pittsford Farms Dairy is still located at 44 North Main Street and is owned and operated by the Charles Corby family. It is still a thriving business although without the herd of cows. One of its fine products, beside the milk, is its delicious eggnog without which few holiday celebrations are complete!