This past week, construction workers made a fascinating discovery at Hartwell Hall. They were digging by the center steps and found a cornerstone of a previous building placed carefully in the ground against Hartwell’s foundation! The stone is marked “1900” on two sides, and it is the cornerstone from the last major addition to the old building complex. That older complex was demolished in sections and replaced by today’s Hartwell Hall in the years between 1938-1941.
This cornerstone is from a wing that was on the north (Monroe Avenue) side of the old campus. The wing was built circa 1900 and housed both the “Training School,” as the Campus School was then called, and a new auditorium for the school. There is a 1902 special report on the dedication of the building in our Digital Commons. Also in the Digital Commons are some historic photos of the old building, including a color postcard view clearing showing the “new” addition.
The addition joined a complex whose center portion was the original building of 1835, rebuilt after a fire in the 1850s, and two wings added in the 1860s. In addition to this long-gone complex, there were a number of private homes on what is now the lawn of Hartwell, along Utica and Monroe.
The workers the archivist spoke to said that, in the course of their work this year, they have run across a number of former building sites and parts buried in the ground, Medina sandstone window lintels, concrete steps, house foundations and so forth. They said that while digging a trench parallel to Hartwell, about 10′ or so out, they found the line of the foundation of the old building complex, which at its base was 5′ thick of cut stone.
Plans are not yet decided for the rediscovered cornerstone, but it will be preserved for the future, as part of Brockport’s ongoing story.