The wooden planks between the two brick buildings were once part of a large scale that weighed wagons, before and after the food was unloaded. The weight was measured using a balance scale that’s still located inside the Market Office building. Step inside if you want to see it, or check out the children’s books in their library.
Rochester has had a public market since before it was incorporated as a city. The original market was erected in 1827, and stood on piers above the Genesee River along the Main Street Bridge. I t sold a variety of wholesale produce, meats, and poultry, including large quantities of hay to keep the steeds of horses and livestock fed. In 1834, a hay fire destroyed the market along with most of the buildings on the North side of the bridge.
In the late 1830s, a beautiful new market building was constructed on nearby Front Street. Known as the Hay Market or Centre Market, it was one of the most notable public buildings in the country. Centre Market was abandoned in 1865, as the city of Rochester was rapidly growing and changing with the influx of immigrants, manufacturing jobs and commerce. People were moving farther away from center city, and many small grocery stores were opening in the new neighborhoods.
For the next 40 years, the market evolved into small street markets around the city, at locations including Front Street and the Liberty Pole. Farmers would line up their wagons full of goods and produce, and wholesalers would sell their products. As downtown Rochester grew more populated and prosperous, there were a growing number of complaints about the aromas and congestion of the downtown market, with its many horses. The city was under pressure to find a more suitable and palatable site for its Market.
The Market moved to this location, formerly a plant nursery known as the Moulson Farm, in 1905. It took 3 years to build, at a cost of more than $200,000, which is equivalent to over $6 Million dollars today. Bricklayers from New York City laid almost 1200 square yards of brick a day, or 180 bricks a minute! You’ll see some of these original bricks today on our tour.
The current Market Office, this two-story brick house in the center of the grounds, was built in 1930. It served as both the Office and the family residence for the Market Master. Originally, the Market Office was one of the farmhouses that sat on the Moulson Farm, which was moved from a different site on the grounds. One of the historic photos, taken by Albert Stone, shows the original Market Office with its beautiful gardens, along with some early Market managers and staffers.
To learn about the benefits of public markets, tap: https://www.pps.org/article/the-benefits-of-public-markets
To continue your tour, tap the map icon at the bottom of the screen to locate stop 2, or just walk towards the EBT shed, which is behind the brick administration building.