Mallett’s tavern or the fairport hotel "It was Fairport’s first tavern. "It was built


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“It was Fairport’s first tavern. “It was built

in three days.” “The name ‘Fairport’ was coined

here.” These are only several of the many stories and

legends that are associated with the building known

first as Mallett’s Tavern and then for many years as

the Fairport Hotel. It was, in fact, the first Fairport

tavern built on the newly completed Erie Canal,

probably completed in 1827, although some sources

say 1825.

The tavern was indeed built in three days.

The owner of the property on the north bank of the

canal, Cyrenus Mallett, offered his friends sufficient

food and drink to complete the task. Of course no

one had to worry about heating, plumbing, or wiring,

so, in fact, it was like a barn raising. Apparently,

despite the fact that a liquor license was not issued to

the tavern until 1828, Mallett had enough alcohol to keep his volunteers happy, and, as one story has it, to stand upon the framework, swing a bottle of whiskey above his head, break it, and name the building the “Fair Lady of Fairport.”

Cyrenus Mallett, the son of Solomon Mallett, one of Fairport’s early settlers who lived in the first house built in the village and who laid out Greenvale Cemetery, built his tavern in response to the great need on the newly opened canal for places to stay and to get food and drink. The response was overwhelming because it was later said that there was, at one time, a tavern or grog shop every quarter mile the entire length of the canal. Mallett’s tavern, however, was the only hotel in town for a number of years, until the Osburn House was built in the 1860's. The front doors of the establishment opened on the canal path to welcome the canal travelers who either would spend the night or perhaps take the stagecoach into Rochester.

The first floor of the hotel featured a dining room, a parlor, one bedroom, and a bar. One story claims that it was in the bar that travelers talked about the “fair port” where they had arrived. The kitchen was located in the rather gloomy basement. The second floor provided two bedrooms and a ballroom. The bedrooms, with their rope beds and cornhusk mattresses, offered a bit more privacy than the usual dormitories which separated men and women with a mere curtain. The ballroom was mentioned in an 1832 article which notes that there was a dance held there starting at 4 p.m. Heating was by fireplaces, and the assumption was made that the cracks between the floorboards on the second floor were for the purpose of allowing the heat to rise. Candles provided lighting, and sufficient privy facilities were available. Walter Edmonds, in his novel Chad Hanna, had the hero and his bride stay at the hotel on their honeymoon, where they got “a room for fifty cents, [and] a fine feather bed.” They ate breakfast in the “small dining room” where the “windows opened on the towpath.” They were served “sausage and fried eggs, and fried potatoes, and bacon cut thin and cooked crisp, and cuts from a peach pie.”


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