Destinations Magazine

Hotel De May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

By Imponderabilia

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

Since I've been compiling research for my Master's thesis lately (regarding the correlations between European Romanticism and American's changing perceptions of the natural world in the 19th century), I've become more and more interested in 19th century architecture, particularly here in Rochester. In my usual style, I'm going to write a blog regarding whatever history I can find about this building, then within the next few days I will post a follow-up, with my own pictures of the location and any further research I've been able to locate. 

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

Google Maps image from Latta Road - Phelps Store

Every single day (often several times a day), I drive past an old hotel/tavern building on the intersection of Latta Road and North Greece Road in Greece. The picture seen above was pulled from a North Greece Fire Department Newsletter that I came across. (The fact that I'm having to use pictures from Google Maps is a testament to how little information there is available on the internet about this place).  The location where this historic hotel stands was once referred to as Old Jenkin's Corners (or, historically known as 'Jenk's Corner. This was the center of a a small local community that developed around the first dirt road that connected the area to Latta Road around 1830. 

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

Contemporary View of Jenkin's Corners

Previously called the Domino Inn, this structure was renamed the Hotel deMay. The hotel was constructed in 1909, situating it at the center of the early 20th-century American hotel architectural style. Across the street from the hotel is another historic structure (just barely visible in the picture above), which was once Phelp's General store (and is now an insurance agency). Across the street from the hotel is the North Greece Fire Department, which was formed in 1918 as the result of a large and damaging fire in Jenkin's Corners.

"Although the Chet Kanous Meat Market on North Greece Road was a total loss, it resulted in a community movement towards a dependable means of fire protection. On June 12, 1922 a meeting was held by three early organizers of the fire company. The George Rendsland Blacksmith and Carriage Shop was purchased for use as a firehouse for $1,000.00. Also in the same year, the first motorized piece of fire apparatus in the Town of Greece, a brand new Pierce-Arrow pumper arrived in the "Corners." It's price tag was a staggering $3,282.00." (source)

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

Google Maps Image from North Greece Road

Interestingly, there is considerably more information available online about the Phelps General Store than there is about the Hotel De May, so for the time being I will switch the focus to that. (I will certainly be coming back to the Hotel De May in future posts when I have compiled more research).    The construction of this building began in 1850, and was completed in 1852 (architect unknown).  Many aspects of the original architecture have been removed as to preserve the integrity of the building for usage (these including the original cupola, the stone chimney and the slate -roofed porch). In 1994 the building was renovated as to fit the needs of an insurance agency.  

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY
"The Phelps store building is an example of a  mid-19th-century, Italianate-style, commercial building... It is the only surviving example of an Italianate-style commercial building in Greece. As the location of the community's post office and only general store for many decades, it is historically significant for its association with the development of North Greece and its prominence as a gathering place/commercial facility for local residents for over 140 years." (source)

Hotel de May & Phelps General Store: Rochester, NY

Google Maps Image from Latta Road - Phelps Store

In regards to my thesis work, this building is situated within the popularity of picturesque architecture during the 19th-century in America - particularly the Italianate style, inspired by rural villas of Northern Italy. It is comparable to many of the works of 19th-century American architect Andrew Jackson Downing. The main features characteristic of this Italianate style are a main square block, hipped roof, pointed arches, gabled windows, and (sometimes) a cupola. 

Both the Hotel DeMay and the Phelps General store (now insurance agency) present a really interesting look at the early development of Greece, NY, specifically in terms of 19th-century pan-American architectural trends and styles. Within the next few days, I'm hoping to stop by this intersection and snap a few pictures of my own to post, so that I can further discuss the architecture of these two buildings. There is also a small bard behind the Hotel that was once a Blacksmith's shop, so I will hopefully get a few pictures of that as well. These buildings are a really awesome example of both Greece's development as a suburb of Rochester, as well as popular 19th-century American architectural styles.

Further Reading:

- North Greece Fire Dept. Newsletter
- North Greece Fire Dept. History
- Landmark Society PDF for Phelps General Store
- Andrew Jackson Downing wiki
- Italianate Architecture wiki
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