LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - FEBRUARY 5, 2023 Municipal Building before the bell was installed. by Lynne Belluscio I was moving some books and files into the historian’s office at the Village Hall and was elated when Bob Lathan said that he had the original blueprints. He left them on my desk and although they are pretty fragile, we will be able to make copies and preserve the originals. The blueprints are signed by the famous Rochester architect, Claude Bragdon. The story of Bragdon and the Municipal building goes back to 1912. The firehall on Bank Street had burned down. Cora Woodward, Orator’s widow, wanted to build a new municipal building on the corner of Clay Street and West Main. There would be room for the Town and the Village and the fire department. In January she wrote a letter to the Mayor and said that she would hire Claude Bragdon, the well-known Rochester architect to draw plans for the new municipal building. She had already met with him, and he would be willing to meet with the Village Mayor and the Town Supervisor to go over the details for the new building. The LeRoy Gazette included the “blow by blow” description of the meetings. I asked Trish Riggi at the Library to search through the newspapers to see what she could find. The Mayor and the Supervisor wanted to see plans before they made decisions and they wanted to know about the land on Bank Street. Everyone wanted to know about office space and they needed vault space. It was necessary to have a place for elections. Cora was extremely patient as the men argued over who was going to pay for electricity, heating, and janitorial work. This was a busy time for Bragdon. He was just finishing up work on the Grand Central Station in Rochester, and the newspaper notes that he was doing some work for the Presbyterian Church across the street. Ann Verhague says that he designed the large meeting room with the fireplace. Bragdon had worked for the Woodwards, making alternations for Ernest Woodward’s house on East Main. Many of these blueprints are in the collection of the University of Rochester. As I was searching through the list of plans that they have, I noticed that in 1911 he did work for Allen Olmsted. TheMunicipal Building in LeRoy is described as a “handsome building with Colonial details. Brick is used decoratively for corner quoins for the window surrounds and for the bell tower.” It is interesting to note that it was important for the Municipal Building to have a bell tower, because until a bell could be placed in that tower, if there was a fire, a fireman would run across the street and ring the bell in the Presbyterian Church. The tower also had a hoist which was used to haul wet canvas fire hose up to dry. Today, the restrooms, the police department, the Village meeting room, and my little office are all in the area where the fire department at one time had space for their firetrucks. Bragdon also did work in nearby Wyoming. He worked for Lydia Avery Cooley who owned the huge house on the west hill. He designed stores and the village square as well as a bell tower. His plans for work for the Wadsworths in Geneseo are also in the archives at the University of Rochester as well as additions to the Livingston County courthouse. The U of R includes prints of work that he did for Benedict Brooks of Pearl Creek. His architectural imprint is seen in many buildings in Rochester and Oswego. In the early 1920s Bragdon moved to New York City and he concentrated on designing sets for theater productions and wrote a series of books about architectural modernism including Architecture and Democracy and An Introduction to Yoga. If you walk into the Municipal building you will find a small brass plaque opposite the village clerk’s office with Cora Woodward’s name. Through her perseverance and patience LeRoy has a very historically significant building. It was in this building that the first woman in LeRoy, Delia Phillips, cast a ballot on April 2, 1918. It is commemorated by a blue and yellow historic marker outside the front door. Claude Bragdon’s Blueprints Municipal Building on November 11, 1918 celebrating the end of World War 1