Genesee County, NY Court-house and Jail
From: Gazetteer and Biographical Record
of Genesee County, New York
Edited by: F. W. Beers
J.W. Vose & Co., Publishers, Syracuse, N. Y. 1890


MR. ELLICOTT gave his attention to the building of a courthouse and jail immediately after the act was passed to form Genesee County. In May, 1802, Mr. Busti, writing to him, says:

“I am happy in the promptness with which you have agreed to carry into effect the erection of the court-house and jail, as stipulated to be erected at the expense of the company, by Mr. Ogden and myself. This stipulation was one of the principal inducements towards our effecting the passage of the law establishing the new county.”

Isaac Sutherland and Samuel F. Geer were employed as chief architects by Mr. Ellicott to adopt and carry out a building plan sent on by Mr. Busti. From that plan was created the building now known as Ellicott hail. It is built of heavy oak timbers, and it took three days to raise the frame work. The workmanship was of a superior order for those days, and the building remains a monument to the mechanical skill and energy of its founder, Joseph Ellicott. It was enclosed in the fall of 1802, and finished so far as to permit of holding the first sessions of the courts in the spring of 1803. The north half was used as a court-room and jail; the south half for a tavern, and occupied as such until about 1820. The tavern-keeper was then dismissed and the whole upper part used as a court-room, and the lower part (except the jail) became the residence of the jailor, and so continued until the erection of the new jail in 1850, on West Main street For several years the old court-room was used as a place for religious meetings, the gallery being put in for additional seating capacity.

In 1819 Mr. Ellicott addressed “the Honorable the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, and the Supervisors of the County,” to the effect that the needs of the county (Wyoming County not having been erected) required an enlargement of the court-room, and proposed, as agent of the Holland Land Company, to convey to the supervisors the triangular piece of land (now bounded by Ellicott, Main, and Court streets), the consideration being for the county to pay $3000; also to convey to the company the oblong piece of land, 100 feet wide, located about midway between Genesee (Main) street and Big Tree (Ellicott) road, and extending from a point on what is now Clark Place, back of Bieree’s store; also a strip about 35 feet wide extending from Geneseestreet to the main strip, known as “lot 81.” (It was on this lot the first execution by hanging occurred in the county.) The suggestion was accepted, and a few years afterwards a new jail was built (now occupied by the Hook and Ladder Company); also a county clerk’s office was built in the northeast corner of the triangle. Both were built of brick. This was occupied until the present court-house was built, in 1842, when the county clerk’s office was moved to the basement of the same; but again moved to its present location, when it and the surrogate’s office was completed in 1873.

The circumstances that led to the building of the new court-house were, first, a strong effort being made to remove the county seat to Attica; second, a movement on foot to divide the county; third, the did court-room being too small and inconvenient. The supervisors thought by this stroke they could defeat the removal of the county seat and Division of the county. The present court-house was built in 1843, and cost about $17,000.

In 1849 the board of supervisors granted to the village of Batavia the old court-house, conditioned upon its being repaired. Repairs were made, and now the building is used for some town meetings, and is known as Ellicott hall.

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