The village of Geneseo, 30 minutes south of Rochester in the Genesee Valley, was settled in 1790 by two brothers who purchased several acres of land from the Seneca Indians. James Wadsworth, a land agent, built his home on the north end of Main Street while his brother, William Wadsworth, a farmer, build his home at the opposite end of the street. Their vision was to establish an agricultural industry in Geneseo that would serve a soon-to-be-thriving commercial and residential community.
James Wadsworth believed strongly in education. He started the Wadsworth Normal School at Geneseo in 1871. Today, that school is recognized as one of the nation’s top public liberal arts colleges, attended by over 5,000 students each year. The State University of New York (SUNY) at Geneseo brings education, culture and ongoing activities to its students, the residents of Geneseo and visitors. It’s one of the many elements that make Geneseo a distinguished town.
Geneseo is surrounded by some of New York State’s most beautiful natural landmarks including Letchworth State Park, Stony Brook State Park, Conesus Lake and the Genesee River. Visitors should take note of the stately Genesee Valley oak trees, which they can view on a self-guided driving tour. Their conservation is just one of the Wadsworth brothers’ legacies.
Main Street Geneseo was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1971. Thanks to continued efforts to preserve, improve, and restore the area by the Association for the Preservation of Geneseo (APOG), the Main Street District was expanded and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1991. Visitors can take a self-guided walking tour that includes Main Street and the historical district, where they’ll see well-preserved 19th-century houses, historic monuments, churches, an art gallery and a variety of shops.
This year, Geneseo is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its incorporation. Festivities begin on April 21 and continue throughout the spring and summer. The final event will be held on September 29 with a grand parade, an 1832-era box lunch picnic, entertainment by the Seneca dancers and singers, and 19th century children’s games. The day will conclude with fiddle music by local favorite
The Homestead (the oldest building in Geneseo, 1804), County Courthouse (1821), Big Tree Inn (1833), Hartford House (1834), Genesee Valley Conservancy Office (1835)
What’s in a name?
Geneseo was once called jo-nis-hi-yuh by the Seneca Indians, which means “pleasant or beautiful valley.”
Kiwanis Antique Show, Wadsworth Library Annual Book Sale, Ring of Fire Conesus Lake, Geneseo Air Show, Genesee Valley Hunt Trials, Fiddlers’ Picnic, ChristmaSing
For more information
Association for the Preservation of Geneseo: www.geneseoapog.com
Geneseo, NY: www.geneseony.com
Village of Geneseo: www.geneseony.org
SUNY Geneseo: www.geneseo.edu
1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum: www.1941hag.org
Wadsworth Library: www.wadsworth.pls-net.org
Genesee Valley Hunt: www.geneseevalleyhunt.org
Livingston County Historical Museum: www.livingstoncountyhistoricalsociety.org
Livingston County: www.fingerlakeswest.com
Geneseo Community Players: www.geneseocommunityplayers.org
photos and story by Kristin Grove