The Court House
The Yates County Court House still stands in its maple-shaded park in Penn
Yan and looks almost exactly the same as it did in 1835 when it was built
and in 1857 when this picture was drawn.. The small building next to it
was the County Clerk's office, and was demolished in the 1880s when a new,
larger version was erected. The roadway in the foreground is Main Street,
and the other, being crossed by a couple on a wooden walk which no doubt
kept them from drowning in mud, is Court Street. The two-acre lot on which
the County's buildings stand was donated for the purpose by Abraham Wagener;
or at least that was what was later alleged, as the deed shows a consideration
of $2000. It was notoriously swampy, as was much of Penn Yan at the time,
and led to many jokes about the legal bullfrogs and canoeing to the Court.
This is the second Court House, or third if you count Asa Cole's tavern
at the corner of what is now Main Street and North Avenue. The sessions
of the court were held at Cole's until a Court House was completed in 1825.
This building, said to have looked much like the present one, though a
bit smaller, burned in 1834 and the present Court House was built on the
same site. Barely visible in the picture is the roof peak of the jail,
facing Liberty Street behind the other buildings. The first Court House
included the jail, and the absence of the prisoners in their cells was
considered one of the best innovations when the new Court House was built.