Built during a period when one of the most significant movements was sweeping our young nation, the Century Club of 566 East Avenue represents an excellent example of the outcome of this movement. From approximately 1850 to 1920, forces combined to change the development of our cities. These included sweeping industrial, economic, and social changes. The major dynamic forces that changed the shape of America’s cities were changes in industry and transportation, the occurrence of wars, an outpouring of inventions and creativity, and an amassing of fortunes in tremendous volumes. It was also at this time that the Women’s Movement gained momentum and women’s clubs began springing up all over the country.
The growth of industry and capitalism generated great personal fortunes at a rate never seen before. The “movers and shakers” of that time desired to be in exclusive neighborhoods where they could display their newly acquired wealth and status by means of elaborate architecture on wide park-like streets. This resulted in the formation of “grand avenues” across the nation. Nearly every city has an area in an elite part of town where all the captains of industry and wealthy individuals built their palatial homes.
Rochester’s grand avenue is East Avenue, overtaking the “Ruffled Shirt” District, or the Third Ward, as the preferred enclave for the wealthy. The Third Ward was the bailiwick of the prim and proper for many years, even after the development of East Avenue. At one time East Avenue was sometimes referred to as the “Avenue of the Presidents,” because it was home to so many presidents of businesses.
Originally a part of the Azariah Boody farm, this land was purchased by Albrecht Vogt in 1896 to build a home. When the land was cleared to build the Vogt house, a previous residence of Dr. O’Hare was demolished.
Vogt retained Leon Stern as the architect to design a striking residence for his family. Mr. Albrecht Vogt, as president of a flourishing local company, desired a fitting home for his family and for his position as a leader in industry.
Albrecht Vogt might have well been considered a Renaissance man of his time. He was the founder, president, and treasurer of the Vogt Coach Lace and Manufacturing Company that made trimmings for carriages, hearses, caskets, etc. Vogt was ahead of his time with some of his industrial ideas; for instance, he believed in securing maximum results with minimum effort as the core principle of all business success. Vogt founded a very successful and profitable business.
He was a prominent force in many Rochester businesses and commercial concerns. Vogt was a pioneer in the early venture of electric light and power, and was one of the organizers and an officer of Edison Illuminating Company. Also involved with the beginnings of the Rochester Telephone Company, he became a director of that as well. He helped organize the Standard Brewery. Vogt was also a vice-president of the German American Bank (in 1918, the Lincoln National Bank). Also, Albrecht Vogt was involved in several businesses, as well. How did he do all this in those times- and before the advent of cell phones?
Vogt also possessed a deep interest in music; he was an accomplished amateur musician, and was interested in the musical culture of the city. Besides all of these activities and interests, he was an active club member of several organizations. He was in the F.R. Lawrence Lodge, F. & A.M., the Rochester Club, and the Genesee Valley Club. It’s likely that such a prominent individual would do a good deal of business at these social clubs.
Albrecht Vogt was born in Baden, Germany, came to America in 1874, and died at the age of 74 in 1918.
Upon the completion of the house in 1900, Vogt deeded the house to his wife Emile. In 1904, the Vogt family moved to their home on Lake Ontario, and she sold the house to Mr. George W. Ham. Mr. and Mrs. Ham and their family lived in the house until the Century Club purchased it from them on August 7, 1913. Prior to this, the Century Club had rented temporary quarters.