20 Main Street, Geneseo, was built in 1874 by Mr. William Brodie, a newspaper reporter and manager of Wadsworth Farms. A fine example of Italianate Victorian architecture, it features a mansard roof, gable roof, and a tower with finial.
The Brodie Fine Arts building (William A. Brodie Hall), State University of New York at Geneseo, constructed in 1967, was named after William Brodie. He was a resident of Geneseo and very influential in having Geneseo College established here. The architect for the Brodie Hall was Edgar Tafel, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright.
William Brodie in the year 1841, spent the first few months of his life in the scenic rural hamlet on the banks of the Black Cart River where cottages echoed to the noisy clack of the weaver's shuttle, the purring of spinners' pirns and the constant clatter of looms. His parents are thought to have been tenant landlords of a public house in the village who gave up the business after numerous disputes about the payment of repairs to the tavern.
In 1843. they and William followed in the footsteps of many other Scots and emigrated to the United States. Little is known of William's early life, except he became a successful businessman in New York State and was active in his local church and community. Like many respectable citizens, he became a Freemason, carrying on the traditions of his Kilbarchan ancestors. William passed through all the Masonic degrees and was eventually elected Grand Master Mason of the State of New York.
Brother William Brodie will probably be remembered for time immemorial as the man who laid the Foundation Stone of the Statue of Liberty. The ceremony, with all its speeches, military parades and banners, was enacted before thousands of guests and civic dignitaries, including leading congressmen and senators, but William Brodie never forgot his humble roots in Kilbarchan.
An intimation of the death of old Matt Houston Right Worshipful Master of Lodge St Barchan was put in the Paisley Daily Express, this amazingly found its way to New York. After reading the article, William wrote a letter conveying his sympathies to the Lodge and telling him a little about himself, the Lodge secretary wrote back expressing the Lodge's good wishes and the promise of a very warm welcome. He looked forward to visiting the village of his birth. On 20th July 1888, true to his word, William Brodie returned to Kilbarchan and became an Affiliate member of Lodge St Barchan.
William Brodie subsequently returned to the United States where, after a lifetime of service to God, his fellow man and his adopted homeland died of apoplexy while leading a prayer meeting at the town of Geneseo in the state of New York in 1917. He was a founder of The Geneseo Normal Training School, now known as the State University of New York at Geneseo, the university dedicated the fine arts centre in his honour.