Erie Canal in Early Spencerport history

Village Historian:  Virginia Parker

A Brief History of Spencerport, NY


The Village of Spencerport, prior to the building of the Erie Canal was just another farm. The farm, through which the canal passed at the Canawaugus Road, had been purchased by Daniel Spencer in 1804 and was sold off to become the first village lots. The village began about a mile and a half north of Ogden Center where business had begun to flourish. From that moment on, however, business in Ogden Center decreased and that of the new canal port increased.

The village was first called “Spencer’s Basin” but was soon changed to “Spencerport”. As commerce on the Erie Canal prospered, so did the fortune of the residents of Spencerport. In the late 1800’s Spencerport was a bustling canal center. Warehouses shipped out produce such as grain and beans. By 1900 Spencerport had 3 hotels, 3 grocery stores, 2 drug stores, and 2 shoe stores. Shops encompassed every trade and included 4 blacksmith shops, 3 cooper shops, 2 sheet metal shops and many other trades. Manufacturers included a fruit-press manufacturer and a sash & blind factory.

Sarah Lincoln
Sarah Lincoln

On April 22, 1867 the State Legislature passed an act to incorporate Spencerport as a Village and the first elections were held with William Slayton as the first President. The office is now known as Mayor.

The first store in the village was West & Richards on the north side of the canal. The first tavern was run by Daniel Spencer and was located on the south side of the canal. The first mail was brought into Spencerport by stage from Parma Corners. The first postmistress was Sarah Lincoln who served until 1897.

At the turn of the 20th century business in Spencerport was still prospering. In 1910 the Chamber of Commerce had a banquet with 100 in attendance from both Spencerport and Ogden. By 1917, with WW I being fought, the demand for produce was a boon for Spencerport farmers. Many young men from the area were either involved in the war effort or making high wages at defense plants in Rochester.

Municipal water was installed in 1912 through the efforts of many prominent citizens. This greatly aided the efforts of local fire fighters, with hydrants strategically placed throughout the village. Electricity was made available in 1917. During the early 1920’s all the streets in the village were paved. Sewers were installed in 1931 and a disposal plant was built that year as well.

Early Fire Dept pic
Spencerport Fire Department 1928

Involvement in the community by the citizens of the village has given Spencerport the strength it has to this day. From the early days of the volunteers of the Spencerport Fire Dept. (founded in 1890), to the Spencerport Lions Club (founded in 1956), many organizations have formed to help Spencerport grow.

Although goods and produce no longer travel the canal, it is no less important to the future of Spencerport. To this day the Erie Canal remains a vital part of Spencerport. With the focus now on recreation and tourism, the Village of Spencerport is an important stop on the Western NY stretch of the Erie Canal. A revitalization effort to extend and improve the trail alongside the Erie Canal recently had Governor Pataki choose Spencerport as the spot for a speech highlighting his plans.

Condensed and compiled from portions of the book; 150 Years in Ogden – 100 Years in Spencerport by Earl E. White, published 1967. For much more detail on the history of Spencerport as well as Ogden, this book can be found at the Ogden Farmer’s Library.

A Walk thru History