Elias Hull Gault (1827–1912) lived with his wife, Polly, in this house, or perhaps in a previous house on this site, between 1878 and 1883. The Gaults were figures of some prominence in Rochester’s freethinking community. The Gaults first appeared in the Rochester City Directory in 1875, at which time they resided on Lake Avenue. In 1878, they moved to this site, at the intersection of Emerson Street and Lake Avenue.
The Gaults attended the Fourth Annual Convention of the New York Freethinkers’ Association at Watkins, now Watkins Glen, on August 23–27, 1882. Husband and wife attended the convention held at Watkins’s Freer Opera House; Mr. Gault also attended a gala banquet honoring Truth Seeker publisher D. M. Bennett held at the Glen Park Hotel, some eight blocks south of the opera house.
Shortly after Bennett’s death on December 6, 1882, Gault held a memorial meeting in honor of Bennett at his home. Local minister-turned-freethought-lecturer Charles B. Reynolds gave a very well-received memorial address that launched him into a new career as a freethought lecturer. Reynolds credited the Gaults as having played key roles in his earlier conversion from Seventh Day Adventism to freethought.
The Gaults left Rochester in 1883, relocating to Kalamazoo, Michigan (where Polly died in 1899 and Elias remarried in 1900), then to Burlington, Kansas. Elias Gault died on April 2, 1912, in Kansas City, Missouri.