The Landmark Society honors Matthews Building Movers with a Special Citation for their outstanding commitment to the rehabilitation and relocation of the historic buildings and structures in western New York over the past 135 years.
Founded in 1867, it is the oldest building moving company in the United States. Over five generations of the family have worked continuously in the company since the mid 19th century, when William Matthews, an immigrant from England, set up shop in Rochester. A carpenter, he built barges for canal traffic. That was soon succeeded by the establishment of a moving business, as he saw the growing need to relocate structures due to road widening, railroad construction, and urban growth. The first moving job for the new company was a house at the corner of Walnut and Jay streets, just across from the family's homestead in the city's "Dutchtown" neighborhood.
Over the next seven decades, the company was based in Rochester, with succeeding generations of family coming into the business. In 1939, they relocated to their present site in Chili. Technology for this challenging business would evolve from wood rollers to wood dollies to cast iron wheels and eventually steerable assemblies with pneumatic tires. Much of the equipment was created by the mechanically gifted members of the family, a tradition that continues today.
Although "moving" is the title of the business, there are many related aspects that actually form a larger portion of their work. The company has handled them all: leveling, shoring, roof raising, stabilizing, trailer and roller work. Their projects have included houses, garages, barns, industrial, and commercial buildings of wood frame, brick, steel or stone.
Through the unique "transportation service" they provide, the Matthews family has enabled the Rochester area to preserve many historic buildings, such as the Oliver Loud Tavern, Irondequoit Historical Society's Strawberry Saltbox, numerous Corn Hill houses, and the beautifully restored Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern trolley waiting station that graces the Erie Canal harbor in the village of Fairport.
One of the few remaining building moving companies in the state, Matthews Movers continues its work into a third century. Their most recent project was the relocation of the South Butler Opera House a distance of 100 miles from Wayne County to the Genesee Country Museum. The company's most challenging move to date, it required the same careful planning as a major military operation.
For their unique commitment of time and talent to the preservation of historic architecture in western New York, the Landmark Society honors Matthews Building Movers.
Awarded November 24, 2002 by the Landmark Society of Western New York.
Henry McCarthy, Executive Director
Christopher Clarke, President
The Landmark Society of Western New York (www.landmarksociety.org)
133 South Fitzhugh Street, Rochester, NY 14608-2204
Matthews House Movers, Inc. 275 Weidner Road Rochester, NY 14624