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Our Unique History

The year is 1842…

In five years, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison will be born. John Tyler, our tenth president, will sign a treaty with Great Britain creating the Canadian border as we know it today. There are 26 states that make up the United States of America. Abraham Lincoln is practicing law in Springfield, Illinois. William B. Morse enters the lumber business in Rochester, New York.


Historically, Morse Lumber, Otis Lumber and Morse Sash and Door have led the way with innovations in the wood products industry.


William B. Morse came to Rochester in 1842 and entered the employment of Judge Otis Turner, who operated a lumber business near the junction of the Genesee Valley and Erie canals (known as Otis Lumber). At that time the Genesee Valley was yielding its supply of lumber through the Genesee Valley canal to Rochester. In 1853 he left Otis Lumber to establish a lumber yard on the present site of the Granite Building (the corner of East Main Street and St. Paul). In 1857 he purchased the Coleman Brothers lumber yard on State Street (where Eastman Kodak's main headquarters are now located); in 1867 the West Main Street yard and current site of Morse Lumber was established. In 1899 William purchased the Otis Lumber Company from Col. Lyman Otis and retained its name. In 1911, with the advent of stock size windows and millwork, Morse Sash and Door was established. William passed away in 1904 and his wife Frances took over operating the company until their children entered the business. All seven of the boys were involved at various times in running the corporation.

Whiting B. Morse ("White" as he was know by many) eventually became president. White and his brother Fred ran the business until they retired. The next generation to operate the company were the two sons of Whiting, Wm. B. Morse Sr. and John W. Morse. The brothers led the company which now included the hardwood lumber yard and the North End branch. After Bill and John retired (1982 and 1988 respectively), the fourth generation, comprised of Bill, Mike and Wally Morse assumed the reigns.


As the consumers needs and desires change, so must the building industry change to meet those challenges. As successful suppliers we must be ready to provide state of the art products and services to help our customers meet the demands of the market.

Our commitment to providing up-to-date, modern products and support combined with that time tested ability to serve the building industry is our heritage. For a century and a half, thousands or loyal Morse customers and generations of dedicated Morse employees have shared in the building of this community. We are proud of our past and enthusiastic about our future!

The company has maintained a tradition of combining excellent service with modern products and expert technical support. This history is punctuated with examples of a readiness for change. Whiting Morse invented and patented a scoring machine for Masonite panels. Under Bill Morse Sr. & John Morse the company was the first local manufacturer of wood trusses with metal gusset plates. In 1996 Morse Sash and Door opened a showroom at their existing Henrietta location. The showroom is a gallery of home design ideas brought to life. Room after room is full of windows, doors and architectural details in full-scale working installations that you can view, touch, open, and walk through.

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