It began with a vision...
Genesee Country Village & Museum was envisioned by John L “Jack” Wehle, an avid outdoorsman who had gathered one of the most important concentrations of sporting art in the United States. Since 1945, he had been President of the family business, the Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester, NY.
Jack Wehle perceived that another art form – that of regional carpenters, master builders, and house wrights – was fast disappearing from the landscape, and with it important aspects of the Genesee Valley heritage. He pictured a museum village of selected examples of 19th-century Genesee Country architecture. By the early 1960s, a gallery in which to share with the public his ever-growing collection of sporting art was also taking shape in Wehle’s mind. These two purposes took tangible form in 1966 when the Genesee Country Museum was chartered by the state Board of Regents. Wehle was joined by architectural historian Stuart Bolger and, based on well-researched historical precedents, together they gathered the “village that might have been” on a quiet hillside in rural Monroe County. Ten years later, the Museum was opened to the public in honor of the nation’s bicentennial.
“The amazing thing is that many of the plans for the village layout began with simple sketches he made on crumpled pieces of paper he carried in his pockets,” Bolger once recalled. As men brought in and restored the buildings, Chief Curator Doris Hoot undertook the task of turning the empty houses into the homes made by women a century or more ago. At the end of those first 10 years, the Museum had doubled in size.
When Jack Wehle died in 1993, his son John L “Ted” Wehle Jr. succeeded him at both the brewery and Museum. Ted died in 2000. In 2017, the family’s next generation took up the reigns when Becky Wehle, granddaughter of the founder, became the Museum’s President and CEO.