Some people pronounce it KO LAN E KA and some say KO LAN E KA
, but whatever way it is pronounced, it was a beautiful farmstead on Mitchell
The history of the Guernsey-Mitchell property dates back to the early
1800’s when James K. Guernsey purchased about 290 acres of land.
On it he raised crops, cattle, and horses. We have a map showing what crops
were raised in what area of the farm, where the trees grew in the orchard,
and where the horse track was located.
When the canal was completed in 1825, General Lafayette made a visit to
Rochester. There was no equipment fine enough to bear that famous visitor
and so the carriage of James Guernsey was called into service. Also when
Daniel Webster visited, he rode in that same grand coach.. This gives one
some idea of how important and wealthy was James K. Guernsey.
After Guernsey died, his son, Duane inherited the property. Duane built
a very elaborate farmhouse on the property on the site of the current home.
We have no records of the kind of home James had built, but the Italian
villa style home for Duane has been described in infinite detail. It had
columns extending across the front of the house and on one side they were
very intricate. The windows had a Tudor hood molding over the top of each
one. The roofline was broken by dormers and the cupola had a gabled roof
complete with an ornate decorative finial. The front entrance hall had
a stairway to the left with the dining room behind it and a double parlor
opened to the right. It was important in large homes to have a double parlor
for use in weddings, funerals with place for the casket, and for other
important and special occasions. The kitchen was set off in the left wing
and between the kitchen and front hall was the room in which Mr. Guernsey
conducted his farm business. No business associates were to enter by the
front, that was used strictly for social events.
There were five bedrooms upstairs and the third floor housed quarters
for the servants. The maid lived in quarters over the kitchen.
Besides the estate house, there was a large brood mare barn located between
the main house and the canal. The barn, which remains today, has been converted
into a private, charming home. The barn dates back to 1860 and was designed
by a wel known architect, A.J. Downing. It has a plate roof and a cupola
similar to the main house but not as ornate. The cupola was designed to
be serviceable. It had slats to draw in air to prevent simultaneous combustion
of the hay stored on the second floor. The first floor was used to house
the young horses. The lane that ran in front of the estate was known as
Guernsey Lane and later changed to Mitchell Road.
The house, barn, and 283 acres of land were sold to Francis B. Mitchell.
He was a wealthy man who wanted a place in the country where he could raise
and race trotting horses and just relax when he wanted to get away from
his "town home". His main home was in Rochester, where he lived
with his sister, Laura, who married William S. Kimball of Kimball Tobacco
Francis owned a newspaper company and was the publisher. This paper was
not financially successful and was subsidized by Laura. He and Laura had
a brother, Guernsey Mitchell, who was a sculptor. In 1851 Mrs. Kimball
commissioned her brother to design a statue for the top of the Kimball
Tobacco Company which was located where the Blue Cross Arena is now. This
statue was known as Mercury and now resides atop what was until recently
the Lawyers Co-operative Building.
Francis had purchased the estate as a place for relaxation and enjoyment.
He had many farm hands and a personal chauffeur who brought him from his
home in Rochester to the Lane by horse and buggy. Francis made many improvements
to the farm and due to his love of horses and racing, he was inspired to
build a larger race track which was located near the corner of Marsh Road
and Route 31, very near where the Post Office now is located. A newspaper
article in the Brighton Pittsford Post, noted that "this track is
conceived by horsemen throughout the country to be one of the most perfect
half-mile ovals in the US. It was built by Francis B. Mitchell, that his
harness horses might take records without journeying from their training
There were other buildings located on the estate. Among them were a barn
near the track, a small tavern near the road, and a chicken coop located
at 28 Mitchell Road. The house that Duane Guernsey built burned in 1918
and the present home on Mitchell Road was built in 1922.