Dansville was originally part of the Seneca Indian Nation Territory.

The valley was first settled in the early 1790’s.

Dansville’s waterways dictated the first industries.

In the 1840’s, the Dansville branch of the Genesee Valley Canal was completed, causing the population to double.

In 1854, a large section of Main Street was damaged by fire.

Dr. James Caleb Jackson founded a “water-cure” facility on East Hill called “Our Home on the Hillside.”

The 1870’s and 1880’s brought our first railroad, the first water system, the first school and the first library.

In 1881, Clara Barton established the first chapter of the American Red Cross.

In 1919, Lynne Pickard selected a 50-acre parcel of land on Maple Street and developed what would eventually become the Dansville Municipal Airport.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s the Dansville Star Theatre opened as a silent movie house and a live-vaudevillian theater, Dansville General Hospital opened, Foster Wheeler Corporation was created, and Thomas P. Reilly invented Ra-Pid-Gro plant food.

Publisher Bernarr MacFadden took over Dr. Jackson’s “water-cure” facility and operated the facility as a health resort for the rich, famous, and influential.

World War II activity increased airport usage and prompted equipment upgrades of the facility.

Postwar Dansville was marked by the inception of more service organizations and a greater sense of community unity.

In the 1950’s, the Dansville School District centralized and added facilities.


The late 1960’s and early 1970’s brought the first annual Dogwood Festival and Oktoberfest.

Local industry expands: Forbes Products opened, Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital was built, WDNY Radio went on air, and Interstate 390 was completed.

Thomas P. Reilly Memorial Medical Arts Building began services in the early 1980’s and the ‘old’ hospital was converted into a senior living complex.

The Department of Transportation completed a Main Street Renovation Project in 2000, assisting business district enhancement initiatives.

More history on the Dansville Public Library page:


Dansville Area Historical Society

Dansville Area Historical Society