Webster Museum

Webster Businesses

A Measure of Webster Business

Baker Lightning Rod Protection | Hawley's Store | Jones & Abel | Klem Chevrolet | Martin & Sons | Morgan's Hardware | Netzman Electric Co. | Neisner's | O'Dell Bros. Lumber | Prinzing's Do It Yourself | Russell B. Mason | Smith & Lotze

The history of Webster business is hanging out at the Webster Museum.

The signage along Main Street has changed over the years as businesses have come and gone. Little but vague recollections remain of some, while others stir lasting fond memories. Often businesses will have promotional novelties like yard sticks, and wall calendars produced to help keep their name in your mind. Today, those novelties are something of a historical record of their time here in Webster.

A Measure of Webster Business
A Measure of Webster Business
Big N

Brothers Abraham and Joseph Neisner opened their first variety store in Rochester in 1911. Their sons, Fred and Melvin, followed as the heads of Neisner’s. During the 1960s and ‘70s, the Big N division was created, a format resembling the “big box” stores of today. Although the former Eastway Plaza already boasted a Neisner’s department store with Webster’s 14580 zip code, Eastway is actually in the town of Penfield.

Webster’s own Big N opened in the new Webster Plaza at the corner of Hard and Ridge Roads in 1970. Zoning for the new plaza was fraught with discord. While some residents welcomed the new, convenient shopping experience, others saw it as a blight on the former open space and a detriment to village merchants. Neisner’s was acquired by Ames Department Store in 1978.

Klem Brothers ~ Shoemaker-White

1919 - Frank Klem opened an auto repair shop in Union Hill and began selling Oakland automobiles.
1921 - Walter Klem joined his brother and took over the Johanson blacksmith shop at 28 West Main St (site of the current village office building). The repair shop continued in this location and the brothers began selling Chevrolets.
1927, 1947, and 1950 - Additions were made to the building and a showroom was added.
1950 - William White became a part owner of the dealership and served as the general manager.
1963 - The property at 28 West Main was sold to the village.
1964 - Klem Chevrolet moved to 740 Ridge Road.
1968 - Donald Shoemaker bought the business, changing the name to Shoemaker - White Chevrolet with Shoemaker serving as president and William White as vice-president and secretary.
1975 - Ownership changed to Doyle Chevrolet.
2020 - Doyle became part of the Garber Automotive Group.

Russel B. Mason

Safford Mason and his wife, Mehetabel Newland raised 3 sons: Fred, George, and Henry.

1871 – Safford purchased a drug and grocery store.
1885 – Fred and George succeeded Stafford as partners in the business.
1890 – Henry purchased Fred’s interest and worked with George. At some point, George, a licensed pharmacist, took over the entire business.
1894 – George was appointed Webster postmaster and ran the post office from this store.
1899 – George sold the business.
1900 – In partnership with William Jayne, George opened the Jayne and Mason Bank.
1902 – Working with John Siegler and Dufay Wright, George secured the necessary rights-of-way for rural telephone extensions.
1906 – George was serving as a trustee on the village board that approved the formation of the original fire department in Webster.
1910 – George’s son, Russel, started the E.M.F. and Flanders 20 Auto Agency with Dillaplain Wright.
1914 – Russel and Earl Smith purchased the Harris & Nagle Furniture and Undertaking firm.
1920 – Russel purchased interests in Ebner & Wahlings coal, feed, farm supplies, and produce firm, changing the name to Wahling & Mason.
1923 – Russel became the sole owner of the business, known as Russel B. Mason Company, Inc., located at that time at 205 North Avenue.
1950s – The business expanded to sell pool supplies.
1965 – Upon Russel’s death, his son, Hugh Mason, assumed control of the Russel B. Mason business.
1975 – A massive fire in January destroyed 3 of the Russel B. Mason buildings, including the warehouse at 180 North Avenue. Rebuilding, Hugh decided to focus the business on pool supplies and chemicals.
1982 – Hugh Mason sold the business to interests outside the Mason family.

Joy of Play
Joy of Play
Toys and Games

A look at the history of the toys and games that have helped shape how we play.

Happy Dan


v. to make the noise that feet do when one’s shoes are filled with water

Randomly generated oft-forgotten words from the past.
Visit our Random Portmanteau page!

Webster Adventure Lab

The Webster Walkabout Adventure Lab

Webster History on foot

The Webster Walkabout Adventure Lab will take you on a walking tour of some of the historical locations in the Village of Webster. This adventure is kid-friendly and handicap-accessible. Please stay on sidewalks throughout your journey.

You will be guided on a walking tour of the Village of Webster, NY, visiting five sites of historic significance to the founding of the Village of Webster. Your walking tour will take you on a 1.5 mile walk and will take about an hour to complete.

In order to play the Adventure Lab, you need a smart phone, with the Adventure Lab mobile app installed. The app works with both iOS (iPhones) and Android phones. You must have a free account on geocaching.com and you must also have a data plan and cell service. The Adventure Lab mobile app is a multi-media, interactive app.

To open this adventure in the Adventure Lab mobile app, use the following URL: labs.geocaching.com/goto/WEBSTER

Once you complete the Adventure Lab, you will be given a code to unlock a special bonus puzzle geocache located at the Webster Museum, located at 18 Lapham Park, Webster, NY.

To find out more about geocaching, go to www.geocaching.com

A Virtual Tour

"Let's Explore Webster"

With Doreen and Laureen from the Webster Public Library and Sharon Pratt of the Webster Museum.

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Hamburger History

National Hamburger Month

...and National Hamburger Day is May 28th

OK, we may be a little biased, but there can't be too many cities with a tastier relationship with the hamburger than Rochester. Imagine heading out for a hamburger and only having the choice of McDonald's, Burger King or if you're lucky Wendy's. Here in Webster, we have Bill Gray's, Charlie's and when the bridge is open, Don's Original. Each restaurant with its own story and connection to the Webster community. Take a look at our little timeline of Rochester Hamburger history.

The Webster Basket Factory

Don Kittelberger
Behind the scenes at the Webster Museum (February 17, 2020)

Don Kittelberger who worked at the Webster Basket Factory for many years, was kind enough to stop by the Webster Museum to share some of his knowledge of baskets and the Webster Basket Factory with our museum volunteers.

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Night at the Museum

Night at the Museum

Our new nightly look, with thanks to Allan Electric. (Photos courtesy of Lynn Barton.)

World War Two

World War Two

Webster residents who never made it home.

The beginnings of a page honoring the all too numerous Webster residents who lost their lives fighting for our country during World War Two.

The Cunningham Automobile

100 years ago it was possible to buy an automobile that was built in Rochester, NY. Possible, but expensive. James Cunningham, Son and Company produced some of the most expensive vehicles available at the time. The Cunningham Automobile was a handmade, high performance vehicle that rivaled the likes of Rolls Royce.

Cunningham's clients included Cecil B. De Mille, George Eastman, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Marshall Field, William Randolph Hearst, Harold Lloyd, Mary Pickford, and the Wrigley brothers.


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18 Lapham Park Webster, New York 14580 585.265.3308

Webster Museum