The Country Lawyer's Office
The compact one story red brick building with four white pillars was built around 1835. It was a replica of the old Ontario County courthouse, now Canandaigua City Hall, which was modeled after a Greek temple. According to past Town Historian Don Tiffany, initially the building was owned by James Bartle, Isaac Norton and David McNeil, perhaps an office for their milling businesses. They apparently could not survive the depression of 1837-1843 and put the building up for sale for back taxes in 1844. The building was acquired in the tax sale in Canandaigua by Charles E. Hobby, a lawyer. A Civil War veteran and Rochester native, Samuel Selden Partridge came to Phelps to practice law shortly after the war. He moved into Hobby's law office a few years later, took over the practice upon Charles Hobby's death in 1889, and continued to practice until 1913. Partridge never owned the building (it remained in the Hobby family), but due to the 1939 best selling novel, Country Lawyer, written by his son Bellamy Partridge, the building has been known since as the "Country Lawyer's Office". John B. Parmelee took over the Partridge practice and bought the law office from the Hobby family in 1931. After Mr Parmelee's death in 1950 the building remained part of his estate until 1959 when it was sold to another lawyer, Robert M. Quigley, who sold it to his law partner John Britting in 1981. Mr. Britting sold it to his last partner, John F. Riley, in 1995. Bellamy Partridge, James Harvey, and Gary Tyman also practiced law in the building. In 2002 John F. Riley sold the building to Dawn and Jim Cheney. In 2005 the “Country Lawyer’s Office” was purchased by Phelps native Mary Hicks Preston and donated to the Phelps Community Historical Society. In 2 0 0 8 the building was refurbished and open for public visitation by appointment. And now in 2023, the next chapter in the history of the building is being written: The Country Lawyer Gallery of the Arts.
(On mobile devices Then and Now is best viewed in landscape mode.)
Click to see the remodeling photos.