House Hunting in Penfield? Historic Homes Have Much to Offer!

By Mindy MacLaren

As residents bicker about the potential development of 255 houses on the former Shadow Pines Golf Course, the final phase of pre-fabricated dwellings…those that are created off-site and arrive as pieces already put together…goes in at the corner of Five Mile Line Road and Atlantic Ave. In the approximate half mile between Windsor Ridge and Shadow Pines, sit two homes: both of historical importance for Penfield, and both for sale. I live in a Penfield historic home, have- and will- always be drawn to homes with some age on them. So I speak from experience when I say the following about why I believe these two beautiful abodes are great options to consider if you’re in the market for a Penfield home.

Firstly, historic houses are built to last.  1777 Scribner Road, was built in 1820, almost 200 years ago. Wow! The other, at 2730 Atlantic Avenue, in 1880; still nothing to sneeze at. Of course, upkeep is vital to the longevity of just about everything, but it goes without saying that these buildings still stand because they were constructed with sound architectural/engineering practices, and solid materials. Most often, materials were made on site: bricks, mortar, plaster, anything (and everything) made from wood was harvested from the land…on the exact place where (and AS) construction was occurring. The beams in our basement (c. 1847), still have bark on them! When you consider the amount of physical labor (back-breaking!), knowledge, and time that went into getting some of these grand homes up in the middle of a wilderness, you can’t help but have a greater appreciation for them and for those who built them. If local and sustainable are your thing, you can’t get much more local or more sustainable than by purchasing an old home. The footprint has already been made, decades ago, with materials that will stand up to the ravages of time fairly well.


The 2 properties in question at the corner of Scribner and Atlantic, according to the 1902 plat map of Penfield. You can see another still-standing Welcher house (for now) near the NW corner of route 250 & Atlantic.

“Those who built them” are some of Penfield’s earliest settlers…Ross, Weeks, Higbie,  Weatherlow, Rundel, Clark, Rich, Scribner, and many more. The Higbie family…the original occupants of my home…farmed over 200 acres around what was known into the 20th century as “Higbie Corners” (Five Mile Line & Atlantic) with a one room schoolhouse in use until about the 1940s (which is now a home on Salt Road). Other than roads named for a few of the families listed above, I’d bet most people have never heard the names: Rundel, Ross, Higbie, etc. as they relate to Penfield. I didn’t know that “Rich’s Dugway” in Ellison Park was named for early (Daisy Flour) mill owner, Samuel Rich, until I happened to read about it and made the connection. Unless one takes an interest, knows what to search for, and then goes searching, this information isn’t readily available to us as we go about our daily lives, even though we’re interacting with remnants of these pioneers all the time. In a day and age when many of us don’t interface with our neighbors and Penfield seems as fine to live in as the next place, this kind of knowledge can provide us with a greater sense of place.

Scan0016 (2)
The Higbie Schoolhouse, already in use as a dwelling, as it sits awaiting transport to East Penfield.


Of course, we can’t forget the aesthetic beauty that old architecture provides and this can only increase our quality of life. It’s quite an uplifting thing to be surrounded by some of the craftsmanship of old. In today’s crazy world, the kind of peace that can be derived by seeing the beauty in the details of a  fireplace mantel, window trim, or even an elaborate door hinge cannot be overlooked.

By living in an old home, you are not only a living in the present and growing into the future, you are caring for the past. These homes are a reminder of a time gone by; of a family or multiple families, that made these places Home. Being a steward of local history is something to be proud of.

As I see it, in addition to the point mentioned above, some of the specific “pros” of 1777 Scribner Road are:

-that it retains so much of it’s original charm. It’s totally precious!

-is within walking distance of elementary and middle schools,

-is close to the amenities of Penfield, the city, and the expressway,

-lastly: calling all wannabe farmers!

This house is on more than 5 acres, which is almost unheard of                                                 in this area of town! The property just meets the minimum                                                       acreage necessary to keep chickens or other livestock, and you                                                 have a gorgeous barn to house them in!  Wegmans nearby AND                                               acreage?!? That’s the best of both worlds in my book!

A highlight of 2730 Atlantic Ave. is that with the school to the north and the Church to the east, you’d never have to worry about any new development encroaching on this lovely place. Other highlights:

-it’s close to the amenities of Penfield, the city, and the expressway,

-is within walking distance to schools,

-the pictures alone exude its “homey” feel,

-it’s got a great screened-in porch,

-it’s on almost 3 acres…again, rare in this area of town!

These kind of properties will become harder to find, especially considering their acreage and the penchant for tearing down anything old. In my opinion, the extra green space is really special and provides for a higher quality of life.

So, if you’re in the market for a “new” home in Penfield, check out these two fantastic options…they’re charming, one-of-a-kind, and liveable…

…and you might be gifted with a drawing of your “new” digs! This one was done by well-known local artist, Walter Grover, who drew pictures of many of Penfield’s historic homes. This one showed up on our doorstep one day several years ago!












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