Tour Monroe County’s only surviving academy building

By on July 9, 2018

Free tours of the restored historic Academy building in Clarkson are held every Sunday in July from 2 to 3 p.m. Come to visit this local, pre-Civil War, two story brick, Greek Revival building at the four corners in Clarkson.

While you may have heard about the old 1854 building, chances are you have no idea where it is. It sits back from the road in the shadow of the Christ Church of Clarkson near the intersection of Routes 19 and 104. Most cars go by without any idea that they have just passed the only restored 19th Century Academy building in Monroe County.

There were other 19th century academies in Monroe County but none of them have survived as schools. One of the first was built in 1826 in Henrietta called the Monroe Academy, the first incorporated school in Monroe County, but there are no records of its further history. The Riga Academy, circa 1811, was converted from a tavern into a school which existed from 1847-1861. It has been a private residence since that time.

The Rochester Free Academy was the first schoolhouse built in Rochester in 1813. That was replaced by a stone building which was rebuilt several times and housed a school from 1874 until 1904. It is currently referred to as the Academy Building and is being leased as lofts.

The Mendon Cobblestone Academy was built circa 1835 and used as a school for about a century. Since 1950 it was remodeled and used as a firehouse. There was also a school in Penfield called The Academy built in 1827 several blocks north of the main four corners. It was located on a site called Lyceum Hill. However, in 1840 this large, three story brick building burned, and the school was not rebuilt.

We are just lucky that our Academy Building survived and was not forgotten as was the fate of all the other Academies in Monroe Country.  Now Clarkson’s 21st century children continue to sit at the old desks, use the same old blackboards and chalk to practice handwriting, and play in the schoolyard as the children did “way back when.”

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