Skip to main content

Marker commemorating the Cary Mansion dedicated on East Main Street

By Howard B. Owens

Margaret Brisbane told Trumbull Cary some time prior to 1817, if you're going to marry me, you're going to build me a mansion.

So the man who founded the Bank of Genesee and served as a NYS Senator and Batavia's first treasurer, built a mansion.

And it stood for nearly 150 years as one of Batavia's grandest structures, until the board of St. Jerome's on only about 30-days notice in 1964 tore the building down, stealing from Batavia another piece of its heritage.

Today, the once-handsome mansion and the man who built it were commemorated with a plaque on the former mansion site. The marker was paid for by the William C. Pomeroy Foundation.

Sallie Fogarty, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Trumbull and Margaret Cary was in Batavia for the dedication of the market (pictured above with City Historian Larry Barnes).

Prior to the dedication, Barnes told the assembled audience in the Go Art! building (the former Batavia Club and first permanent home of the Bank of Genesee) about Cary and his mansion.

Cary, born in 1787 in Mansfield, Conn., moved to Batavia in 1805 at age 18 to seek his fortune. He went to work for the post office, served as clerk for James Brisbane, and eventually became Batavia's postmaster.

Later, he became a local merchant and began to build his fortune.

He helped found St. James Episcopal Church.

In 1833, he helped finance the Tonawanda Railroad, the first rail line to serve Batavia.

The Carys -- Trumbull died in 1869 and Margaret in 1863 and both are buried in Batavia Cemetery --  had one child who survived into adulthood. His grandson was the last Cary to live in the mansion.

Fogarty traces her family tree back to this second Trumbull Cary, who died in 1913, and his first wife, Grace Truscott, who died in 1882.

Harry E. Turner (H.E. Turner Funeral Home) purchased the mansion in 1922.

On the demands of George Cary, brother of the second Trumbull Cary and a prominent architect in Buffalo, Turner sold it back to the Cary family. 

George Cary was determined to turn the mansion into a tourist destination owned by the city. He paid for restoration and set up a board to oversee its operation and then deeded the property to the city. After the operations ran into some financial trouble two years later, the city established a commission to determine what should be done with the mansion. The commission determined it could be run profitably, but the city council voted to give the property back to George Cary in 1936.

The property was rented by various businesses over the years and ownership passed from George Cary to his daughter Allithea Lango, Boston, Erie County.  Local businesses that had space in the mansion included Pontillo's and Valle Jewelers.

Lango sold the mansion to St. Jerome's in 1959. The hospital began building a nursing school on the back of the property and then with very little notice decided to tear down the mansion to expand the nursing school.

The board said the building was in a "dangerous" condition and had be demolished immediately. Batavia residents were given no time to weigh in on the demolition.

The nursing school closed in 1982. The building is now called Cary Hall and is owned by UMMC.

Last year, UMMC acquired the neighboring property, the former location and of the Elks Lodge building, and with little notice to the community, tore that building down.

scott williams

We should be safe from any hospital wrecking balls these days as we have pretty much lost all our historical downtown to date. Why that time in history was so eager to rip down anything more than 50 years old is a shame.
Maybe someone should point UMMC and their wrecking ball over to the MALL (City Center) they could do away with a building the city residents actually want gone and a lot of their competition also. LOL....
I hope our city Police department never intends to move as I believe their wanting to stay where their at has kept that beautiful building the way it is. It still closely resembles the Brisbane mansion one of the last big main street houses.

Nov 29, 2012, 7:40pm Permalink
Billie Owens

Howard and I stopped in Medina last weekend after a photo shoot in Orleans County. Downtown was hoppin' and the Christmas rush in full swing. Both sides of the main drag downtown are replete with gorgeous old buildings and all kinds of boutiques are there. Ambiance abounds.

Nov 30, 2012, 2:59pm Permalink

Authentically Local