Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bygone Business: Nye Manufacturing Company

If you travel down Oak Street between Third and Fourth, you'll pass an ordinary-looking apartment house in the middle of the block on the west side of the street that doesn't give any outward sign of the history it harbors.  But if walls could talk, this building would definitely be a place for us to do some listening.

The Seventh Day Adventist Society of Rochester purchased this lot in 1881 from George W. Vandeventer.  Local oral history says that the Society then moved its meeting house from another location to this lot, so the actual date of construction of the building is not known.  The Adventist Society sold the property in 1893, when the congregation apparently dissolved, to a local carpenter named Merritt M. Nye.

Merritt Nye turned the building into a factory for his Nye Manufacturing Company, which produced a bean picker of Nye's own patented design.  The 1896 plat map of Rochester even shows the Nye Manufacturing Company building at this location. The implement was not an economic success, apparently, for only three years later Nye abandoned the enterprise and returned to his former occupation of carpentry.  As for the building, the Rochester Era reported on November 5, 1897: "The Nye Manufacturing Company are turning their shop into a double dwelling house, one of which will be occupied by M. M. Nye and wife."  The Rochester correspondent to the Utica Sentinel reported in early 1898 that the work on Nye's double house on Oak was almost complete.

Since 1898, the building that began its life as a church and then became a factory has been used as a multiple family dwelling, probably giving it the additional distinction of being the oldest apartment house in the City of Rochester.

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