The Village of Webster is situated on historic Ridge Road at the point where, in 1812, James Spear built the first permanent frame building in which he ran a tavern called the Stage Coach Inn. In the same year Dr. William R. Ellis built an office and a general store near the present-day four corners. By 1830 the first brick building had been constructed and both the Presbyterians and Baptists had erected church buildings, also near the four corners.
Known as North Penfield before its separation from Penfield and its establishment as a separate town, Webster was named for the famous Massachusetts senator and statesman, Daniel Webster. Located in the lush Lake Ontario fruit belt, the area attracted large groups of Dutch and German immigrants in the 1850’s who became Webster’s first fruit farmers.
The junction of Ridge Road and Webster Nine-Mile Point Road, which connected shipping points on the Erie Canal and the New York Central Railroad with a small port on Lake Ontario, was referred to as the “Village” because some 800 people and many businesses were concentrated there.
The year 1900 marked a significant turning point in the development of the Village. The first bank since Civil War times was established, and the Rochester Sodus Bay Trolley connected Webster to Rochester, leading to a major expansion of the Village residential area (the present Lapham Park, Elm Street, Dunning Avenue and Park Avenue section of the Village).
The various demands of this bustling “Village” led many to call for greater organization. With several neighboring villages officially incorporated, most smaller than Webster, it seemed only logical that Webster should join them. In an 1899 editorial “Why Not Incorporate,” the Webster Herald explored the pros and cons of the Village gaining legal status as a separate political establishment. Although taxes would increase, the article points out that property values would increase as a result of the benefits that the Village government could provide.
February 19, 1904 twenty prominent Village residents met to discuss incorporation, or officially becoming a Village, and decided to petition the Town of Webster to hold an election on the matter. In June 1904 the issue was decided in favor of incorporation by one vote. The vote was taken to County Court, where it was sustained, and later to the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court. The appeal called for another vote on the issue and the second election passed by 27 votes. On March 26, 1905, over a year after the public first voted, the Board of Trustees held its first meeting. The business of this first meeting included the proper elections, appointments, maps, and paperwork necessary to organize the new Village. George A. Hallauer was the first President of the Village.
One of the first acts of the Board was to grant a franchise to Webster Gas Company for the installation and maintenance of a gas lighting system. A highway fund of about $700 was collected each year to provide for street improvements and concrete sidewalks were installed along and across many roadways. In 1906 the Village Fire Department was organized and in 1908 planning for the water system was begun. The incorporated Village allowed Webster’s plentiful wells to become one of the best Village water systems in the state. In addition to providing several public utilities and services to Village residents, the Board also drafted numerous ordinances and laws to govern everything from pool halls to waste disposal.
Until well after World War I, the Village continued as the shipping center for the area’s dried apple Industry. The Village also had the world’s largest basket factory and was the center of the canning industry in Monroe County.
The Village survived the depression and the war years that followed, times that saw the gradual decline of the traditional agricultural trade. In the late 1950’s the Village annexed 182 acres of land that became the home of the Xerox Corporation.
In 2005 the Village celebrated our centennial year. The Village takes great pride in our progress, while at the same time, we will not forget our past. Our residents are proud of our community and continue to preserve the Village’s hometown feeling and traditional values. In providing outstanding community services and fostering a neighborly atmosphere, the Village continues a tradition that began with those first residents in 1812.