Session Spotlight: Rochester’s LGBTQ Landmarks: 50 Years After Stonewall

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots: the event identified for initiating the modern Gay Rights Movement in the United States. Even before the Stonewall Riots, Rochester’s diverse LGBTQ community was at the forefront by championing equality and freedom for all.

In the 2019 New York Statewide Preservation Conference panel session, “Rochester’s LGBTQ Landmarks: 50 Years After Stonewall,” speakers will share the course and strategies of local organizations and the City of Rochester in exposing, saving and celebrating its LGBTQ history and historic sites.

Gay Liberation Front first public meeting on University of Rochester Campus, Oct 3, 1971.

In addition to this session, registrants will receive copies of three LGBTQ Historic Walking Tours created by The Landmark Society of Western New York. On Thursday, April 25 at 3:30 PM, registrants can join the third Historic Walking Tour of Rochester’s LGBTQ sites. Afterwards, registrants are invited to attend the “Stonewall: 50 Years Out” exhibit, presented by the Rochester Public Library.

In an effort to document the history of Rochester’s LGBTQ community, Larry Francer, The Landmark Society of Western New York’s Associate Director of Preservation, has spearheaded the LGBTQ Landmark Initiative to record the City’s LGBTQ sites.

The organization is in the process of identifying sites that can be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This listing can lead to federal and state historic rehabilitation grants and tax credits to improve and preserve buildings and places of importance.

“Rochester has a rich history of acceptance of the LGBTQ community and resistance against prejudice toward the community,” Francer said. “We want to educate and create an atmosphere of pride through the sites where this all happened. We don’t want to lose this history much of which was in the shadows and in the closet for years.”

The Rochester Public Library has also worked to recognize and celebrate Rochester’s LGBTQ community. In their exhibit, “Stonewall: 50 Years Out,” the library will demonstrate how the Stonewall uprising inspired Rochester’s LGBTQ community to promote human rights and continue the City’s legacy of social reform.

The exhibit will focus on the City’s role in the Gay Rights Movement, most notably in passage of the NY State Marriage Equality Act in 2011, which granted same-sex couples the right to marry in New York State.

Historian for the City of Rochester and Manager of the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County Christine Ridarsky is the coordinator and chief curator of the exhibit. Ridarsky is joined by community partners representing the diversity of Rochester’s LGBTQ community, including session speakers Evelyn Bailey from Out Alliance, Carol Ebersol-Weiss from Human Rights Campaign and Larry Francer from The Landmark Society of Western New York.

Evelyn Bailey is currently the Out Alliance Historian, and Archivist for LGBTQ community of Rochester. Evelyn is Chair of the Shoulders to Stand On Program, the historic documentation and preservation program of the Out Alliance. She is the recipient of the 2016 Debra E. Bernhardt Annual Archives Award for Excellence in Documenting New York’s History.

The opening of a new community center by The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in June 1990.
Provided by the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

Carol Ebersol-Weiss is a member of the Human Rights Campaign, and is currently a member of HRC’s National Board of Governors, Greater NY Steering Committee, Western NY Coordinator. Carol has been involved in civil rights and social action work for 10 years, and currently is the organizer for the 2nd Thursday HRC Networking Event.

“This session is more than the sites on a walking tour or an exhibit about the history of Rochester’s LBGTQ community,” Francer said. “It is about the successes and the challenges of including all demographics – black, brown, white, young, old, gay, lesbian, trans, queer and straight allies – in a celebration of who we are.”

This Conference session will take place on Friday, April 26th from 3:15 PM to 4:30 PM at the newly rehabbed and preservation award-winning Sibley Square in Rochester, New York.

The LGBTQ Historic Walking Tour and Stonewall: 50 Years Out exhibit will take place on Thursday, April 25th. Participants are asked to meet in the business lobby of Sibley Square before the Tour begins at 3:30 PM.

For tickets.

To learn more about:

Human Rights Campaign

LGBTQ Landmark Initiative

Out Alliance

Stonewall: 50 Years Out

Seeking Nominations for Preservation Awards

What do five preservation projects in the village of Perry, a 1960s office building, a beloved diorama, an abbey in the Genesee Valley, and the tower and spire of a local college have in common?

All were recipients of Preservation Awards from the Landmark Society of Western New York in 2018.

Each year, in the fall, the Landmark Society presents several awards to projects, people and organizations who, through their dedication and hard work, have helped to promote historic preservation in our nine-county area. With the start of a new year, the Landmark Society’s Awards Committee is seeking recommendations for its 2019 Preservation Awards. Award suggestions are welcome from Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates counties.

Click HERE for a list of the award categories, along with descriptions and criteria for each award.

If you know anyone deserving of any of these awards, please email your suggestions to Cynthia Howk at by Thursday, May 30, 2019. The Awards Committee will begin reviewing submissions at its June meeting.

Session Spotlight: Shaking Up Preservation

In 2018, the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced their inaugural list of 40 Under 40: People Saving Places, which honored 40 individuals under 40 who they consider to be “movers and shakers” in the preservation industry. Three honorees, Carlton Hall, Sarah Marsom and Zulmilena Then, will discuss their efforts to make an impact in preservation at their 2019 NY Statewide Preservation Conference session, “Shaking Up Preservation.” Hall will delve into his work for the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) as the cultural preservation specialist and historian and efforts to research and educate on the Green Book, a travel guide for African Americans. Marsom, specializes in creative interpretation strategies. She will illuminate on tactics to connect to K-12 students and the under-40 crowd. Then launched the grassroots advocacy group Preserving East New York (PENY) in 2015. Learn how she has grown a preservation movement in a neighborhood previously ignored by historians and successfully saved structures.

Image courtesy of Carlton Hall.

Carlton Hall is a cultural preservation specialist and historian for the Delaware SHPO in Dover, Delaware. During his first two years with the Delaware SHPO, Hall learned about the National Register Program and assisted with site visits, NR workshops and reviewing nomination drafts. He received Section 106 training from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and after three years with the SHPO, he started reviewing state level project reviews and eventually became the lead for FCC project reviews in Delaware. 

In 2015, he conducted scholarly research and gave presentations on Delaware listings in the Green Book, which is a travel guide created by Victor Green in 1936 for African Americans during segregation.

“The research project meant a lot to me as an African American, who was once told people weren’t interested in Black History,” Hall said.

Hall graduated from Delaware State University in 2013 with a Master’s in Historic Preservation. In his spare time, this Civil War and African American history enthusiast enjoys exercising, traveling and learning to speak French.

Image retrieved from

Sarah Marsom is a heritage resource consultant based in Ohio. Through the creation of Young Ohio Preservationists in 2014, Marsom helped start a statewide initiative to embolden young adults to protect the past. With other leaders from young preservationist groups around the region, Sarah co-founded the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists in 2016, to create educational opportunities for emerging community leaders in the region.

Her efforts to highlight hidden histories led to the development of the Tiny Activist Project (TAP). TAP spreads awareness of lesser known histories through hand sewn dolls and workshops that fuse art and history.

Image retrieved from


Zulmilena Then grew up in the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.. She works for the architecture firm Michael Ivanhoe McCaw Architect, P.C. In 2015, her love for historic buildings and community inspired her to form Preserving East New York (PENY), an initiative advocating for the preservation of historic buildings within East New York, the first community affected by the city’s major rezoning plan, a plan with impending consequences on the physical landscape of the neighborhood.

This Conference session will take place on Friday, April 26th from 11:15AM to 12:30PM at the newly rehabbed and preservation award-winning Sibley Square in Rochester, New York.

For tickets.

Session Spotlight: James Johnson, Rochester’s Mid-Century Maverick

James H. Johnson, one of Rochester, New York’s most unique mid-20th-century architects, is famous for his signature Organic Modernist style. Johnson is responsible for designing the “Mushroom House” in Perinton, St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece, the Liberty Pole in downtown Rochester, Temple Sinai in Brighton and other iconic structures in and around the City.

Granted the rare opportunity to chronicle Johnson’s architectural contributions, Architect Chris Brandt and Architectural Historian Katie Eggers Comeau of Bero Architecture spent 18 months participating in primary research that can be used to help nominate his buildings for listing in the National Register of Historic Places using the Multiple Property Documentation Form (MDPF).

Photo of Temple Sinai by Chris Brandt.

In the 2019 New York Statewide Preservation Conference panel session, “James Johnson, Rochester’s Mid-Century Maverick: Documenting the Architecture of the Recent Past,” the team will discuss the benefits of the MDPF format for analysis and advocacy purposes, how they evaluated Johnson’s career and lessons they learned, all illustrated with original and recent photographs representing Johnson’s unique body of work.

Their final report, “The Architecture of James H. Johnson,” is a historic resource survey that documents Johnson’s career and buildings in the greater Rochester area, where he worked from 1957 until his death in 2016. The report was sponsored by the Greece Historical Society and funded by grants from the Preservation League of New York State/New York Council on the Arts, The Landmark Society of Western New York and a generous donation by the Johnson family.

Photo of Temple Sinai by Katie Eggers Comeau.

The team co-authored the survey, having interviewed Johnson’s family members and former colleagues, cataloged his vast trove of drawings, visited with building owners and photographed select buildings, Brandt, a friend and mentee of Johnson’s, explained.

“It was a treat to see how many [of Johnson’s buildings] are occupied by people who are madly in love with their houses and are taking meticulous care of them, despite the challenges that can come with living in an experimental work of art,” Eggers Comeau said.

The team’s final report will help the owners of Johnson’s buildings to identify what makes them significant. This information can be utilized to nominate the buildings for listing in the National Register of Historic Places: national recognition of a property’s historical or architectural significance which denotes that it is worthy of preservation.

Photo of St. John the Evangelist Church by Bill Sauers.

Johnson’s designs are often characterized by earth-form organic construction, making his buildings distinctive candidates for nomination. His architecture is unique in that it relies on concrete, an element not found in nature, to create his signature Organic Modernist style.

In an interview published as part of his studies at University at Buffalo, Brandt asked Johnson about concrete’s significance as a construction material.

“It flows through my veins,” Johnson said. “I don’t know; I just love concrete. If someone said to me, ‘I want a magical material that will bend, curve and do all these various things, and if I could just shoot it with a hardener, and it would all just hard as I moved it along, and I just built with a crane or something… wouldn’t that be the best material in the world?’ And I thought, and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s concrete. I’ve got it.”

An example of Johnson’s masterful use of concrete is St. Januarius Church in Naples, New York. The building was constructed utilizing concrete castings made in forms dug into the soil on site. Incidentally, it is also one of Brandt’s favorite buildings.

Photo of St. Januarius Church by Cynthia Howk.

“While his expertise with large-scale concrete construction brought him around the world on a few occasions, he spent almost all of his long career working in the Rochester area, where his daring, expressive designs remain some of the boldest and most creative contribution to our region’s architectural heritage,” Brandt and Eggers Comeau said.

Eggers Comeau hopes that attendees will come away from this session with an appreciation for Johnson’s architecture and recognize the importance of documenting twentieth-century architects’ careers while the architects, those who collaborated with them and their original materials can be more easily accessed.

Photo of St. Januarius Church by Cynthia Howk.

This Conference session will take place on Friday, April 26th from 1:45PM to 3:00PM at the newly rehabbed and preservation award-winning Sibley Square in Rochester, New York.

For tickets.

To learn more about Bero Architecture.

Session Spotlight: Letchworth Gateway Villages

Following over a decade of revitalization efforts that transformed the built environment in their historic main street districts, municipal and community leaders in Perry, Mount Morris and Geneseo, New York came together in 2017 to establish the Letchworth Gateway Villages (LGV) initiative, a cross-county collaboration initially formed to answer the question: “what’s next for our downtowns?”

In the 2019 New York Statewide Preservation Conference panel session, “Letchworth Gateway Villages: Leveraging heritage assets to fuel economic growth,” speakers will discuss how regional approaches to creative placemaking and destination partnership development are helping to transform one rural area’s preservation investments into new economic possibilities.

LGV Director Nicole Manapol credits the region’s historic main street districts and natural assets like the Genesee River Valley, Letchworth State Park and the Genesee Valley Greenway as being catalysts for the LGV initiative.

“The Genesee River Valley was America’s first frontier and provided the raw materials that built the City of Rochester and New York State’s agricultural industry in the 19th century,” Manapol said. “Today, it’s providing the same inspiration and raw materials to help us redefine new rural livelihoods linked to the outdoor recreation and tourism economies.”

With over 700,000 visitors to the Letchworth region each year, its surrounding communities are met with the opportunity to promote their proximity to the Park and their natural assets as interest in food tourism, sustainability and off-the-beaten track experiences continues to grow, according to LGV’s website.

In response, LGV launched Western New York’s first Geotourism Map Guide Project in April 2018 for the municipalities surrounding Letchworth State Park. This project allows participating municipalities to develop a regional brand and interactive digital Map Guide to highlight their unique assets, businesses and history.

“These assets are our DNA – they are the link between our past, present and future,” Manapol said. “They are what inspires our economy and future innovation and they are what defines our way of life.”

The organization works to build a sustainable economy of diverse, place-based businesses and a resilient workforce equipped with entrepreneurial and technological skills to continually service, grow and adapt the local economy, Manapol said.

LGV has joined forces with a range of partners to help businesses improve their visibility online and to mobilize community members to utilize consumer review sites and other social media that will help to drive visibility for the region’s local businesses and attractions.

Although the Letchworth region is unique for its natural heritage assets, Manapol believes that the preservation of historic architecture, land and monuments is an important entry point for nearly all communities to identify what is meaningful and distinctive about their identity.

“[Heritage assets] help people start thinking about where they’ve come from, who they are, and where they want to go,” Manapol said. “Those conversations are critical for beginning to talk about what new economic possibilities those heritage assets can create.”

Manapol hopes that participants will “take away an understanding of how important our cultural and heritage assets are to redefining our futures and how things like preservation, sustainable tourism development can be important catalysts and platforms for diverse people to work together to define a shared future and new possibilities.”

This Conference session will take place on Friday, April 26th from 9:45AM to 11:00AM at the newly rehabbed and preservation award-winning Sibley Square in Rochester, New York.

For tickets.

To learn more about Letchworth Gateway Villages.

Lee Bey Keynote Speaker Spotlight: 2019 NY Statewide Preservation Conference

Lee Bey is a photographer, writer, lecturer and consultant whose work deals in the documentation and interpretation of the built environment—and the often complex political, social and racial forces that shape spaces and places.

His architectural photography has appeared in magazines such as Chicago Architect, Architect, Old House Journal, CITE, and in international design publications such as Bauwelt, and Modulør, both published in Germany.

A former Chicago Sun-Times architecture critic, Bey’s writing and reporting on architecture and urban design have been featured in Architect, Chicago magazine, Architectural Record, the Houston Chronicle, Crain’s Chicago Business, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, Fox News Chicago, Guardian Cities, Monocle Radio, and CBS2 News Chicago.

Bey is also a sought-after expert on architecture, architectural history and the development of cities. He has been interviewed by a range of media outlets on the subject, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, CityLab, WTTW Chicago Public Television, WGN-TV, Echappees Belles, an international travel show on TV5MONDE Europe, and That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles, produced by KCET-TV in Los Angeles. He has lectured before audiences at the University of Hamburg, University of Michigan, City Club of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Arts Club of Chicago, Palm Springs’ Modernism Week, and more.

Bey is the author of Southern Exposure: The Overlooked Architecture of Chicago’s South Side (Northwestern University Press, Fall 2019). The book expands on the places and themes of his 2017 photo exhibition, Chicago: a Southern Exposure, documented the rich and largely ignored architecture of the South Side. The show was created for the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Bey’s photography was the subject of a year-long show in 2011, Chicago Then and Now: A Story by Lee Bey, at Chicago’s City Gallery at the historic Water Tower. His photographs of farm workers’ housing in Alamosa, CO and Chicago’s Archer Courts apartments were featured in the museum exhibit Wohnmodelle: Experiment und Alltag, which debuted in 2008 in Austria’s Kunstlerhaus.

Bey, a senior lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, also served as deputy chief of staff for urban planning under former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley. He was also governmental affairs director for the Chicago office of the architecture firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Bey was also executive director of the Chicago Central Area Committee.

Chicago public television station WTTW in 2014 called Bey “one of Chicago’s keenest observers of architecture and urban planning.”

The 2019 NY Statewide Preservation Conference will take place from Thursday, April 25th to Saturday, April 27th at the newly rehabbed and preservation award-winning Sibley Square in Rochester, New York. For tickets.

To learn more about Lee Bey, visit his website.

April Fools Eve Tour

Image courtesy of David Boyer

They say “fools rush in” and in our case, it’s true. The April Fools just couldn’t wait until April 1st to mess around with our revered Stone-Tolan House Historic Site. On April Fools Eve, aka March 31st, you’ll have the chance to see the 236-year-old rooms with quite a few unusual additions.

Some will be pretty easy to spot. We’re pretty sure Orringh and Elizabeth Stone did not have a lava lamp. Others will be a bit more challenging: did they know how to make that in 1815?

Image courtesy of David Boyer

New this year: Many of the “out-of-place” and “out of time” objects will honor today’s diverse community. Can you find them all?

Bring your family, bring your friends, or invite a total stranger. You can work as a team! We’re not fooling when we say it’s the most fun you’ll have for $5 per adult and $1 per kid.


Where: Stone-Tolan House (2370 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14610)

When: 3/31/19 from 1PM to 4PM

Five to Revive Update

The Landmark Society announced our 2018 Five to Revive list back in October. We have had much success in our first five lists and thought we would highlight a few of those for you.

Let’s get the sad news immediately out of the way: we lost our very first Five to Revive property—The Hotel DeMay. After a hard fought battle by the local advocacy group, Save the DeMay, with the support of The Landmark Society and the Greece Historical Society, Hotel DeMay was demolished in November of 2017. Although the building is lost, Save the DeMay has stayed involved in the planning process, working with the
new developers on design review and hopefully a display on the historic significance of the hamlet of North Greece and Hotel DeMay.

The other 2017 listing that we want to call attention to is The Front Porch. Inspired by this listing, the Village of Fairport piloted a residential Front Porch Grant program in the Deland Park neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of the Village. The neighborhood is primarily owner-occupied traditional American Foursquares. Their goal is to pilot the program in Deland Park, and then roll it out to the other areas of the Village within the next year. In the first year of the program, they approved 9 projects representing nearly $30,000 in investment, with matching grants of approximately $12,000.00. Congratulations to Fairport’s Office of Community and Economic Development for their creativity and innovation.

The 2015 list included a thematic listing of Fraternal Meeting Houses. The Grange Hall in the Town of Huron has been going great guns since that “honor” was bestowed on them. Not everyone sees it as an honor to be included on the Five to Revive but the town of Huron did! The town allocated $11,000 for building repair and combined with grants from the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Hoffman Foundation, as well as additional donations from a local business owner and the town, they were able to restore the exterior of the building, three of the original Huron Grange chairs, and will be undertaking window restoration/repair in the spring of 2019. With encouragement from Landmark Society staff, they also hosted a community day event to bring recognition to the Grange building, called Huron Days in partnership with the Huron Presbyterian Church members. It was so successful that it has become an annual event. We are very proud of all the hard work and dedication that the Huron community has put into this important part of their history and commend them for seeing it as a vital part of its future.

Any Five to Revive update would be lacking if we didn’t acknowledge our partners in the development community. Home Leasing is one of our strongest partners. They have now taken on two monumental projects from our inaugural 2013 list. The transformation of the Eastman Dental Dispensary into Eastman Gardens is nothing short of breathtaking and we can expect the same quality as Holley High School takes shape as Holley Gardens. A huge thank you to the entire Home Leasing team.

Written by Larry Francer

Park Avenue Historic District Approaches Finish Line

Thanks to the support of many volunteers, neighborhood leaders, businesses, residents, sponsors, partners, and grant funders, the Park Avenue Historic District project will soon be a reality! In the fall of 2018, we were close enough to our fundraising goal to give our project consultant, Clinton Brown Company Architecture of Buffalo, the green light to begin the extensive work that goes into a National Register nomination. CBCA’s project
team has been busy documenting the approximately 1600 properties within the district boundaries, researching the history and development of the neighborhood, and synthesizing all of their work into a history, justification, and physical description of the neighborhood.

As we go to print, we are just a few thousand dollars away from our total goal of $55,000. Generous grant support came from the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Preserve New York grant program. Preserve NY is a signature grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Preservation League of New York State. Preserve NY is made possible with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Special support also came from the South East Area Coalition and the Historic District ad-hoc committee: Stephanie Frontz, Park Avenue Revitalization Committee; Thomas Pastecki, ABC Streets Neighborhood Association; Sandra Goldman, Barrington Street Neighborhood Association; and Vic Vinkey, Park Meigs Neighborhood Association.

Now that the paperwork is in progress, homeowners in the neighborhood are
able to utilize the New York State Historic Homeowners Tax Credit program. This program provides a credit off your NYS income tax worth 20% of qualifying repair and rehab expenses. If you live in the Park Avenue neighborhood and
want to learn more about this program or want to make a donation to help get us to the finish line, visit or contact Caitlin Meives at

Want to find out if you can access tax credits? Contact us to learn if your neighborhood is already listed or eligible to become a historic district.

Written by Caitlin Meives


Heart Bombing at the Driving Park Hotel

In February, young preservationist organizations across the rust belt – in cities like Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis – gather to show their love for old buildings in need of some TLC. On February 9, the Young Urban Preservationists (YUPs) convened at the Driving Park Hotel in the Maplewood neighborhood of Rochester, NY.

What is Heart Bombing?

A phenomenon created by Buffalo’s Young Preservationists, heart bombing is a fun and festive way to draw attention to vacant buildings and to the potential that these buildings have to serve as community assets rather than eyesores. The process is simple: you gather all your favorite crafting supplies (construction paper, doilies, glitter, markers, etc.) and your favorite preservationists in a room, make valentines for needy buildings, then go out and tape those valentines to the building(s) in question or just hold them up, take lots of pictures, and post those pictures to social media.

The YUPs put their own spin on heart bombing by making the event a family affair. The day began at the Maplewood Community Library where kids could learn about preservation and how vacant buildings can be transformed into community assets. Then, they created their own hand-made valentines!

The Driving Park Hotel Background:

Built in 1874, the former Driving Park Hotel is the last remaining structure from the Driving Park Racetrack, which operated from 1874 to 1902. The Racetrack was a sprawling campus of some 84 acres which included, in addition to a mile-long oval track, grandstands capable of seating 10,000 people, horse stables, administrative offices, and the hotel for visitors from near and far. Once known as the fastest mile in America, Rochester’s Driving Park hosted nationally famous performers including Buffalo Bill Cody and renowned business leaders such as William Vanderbilt, many of whom stayed at the hotel. What structures were not lost to fire in 1899, were demolished in 1902 to make way for the homes seen today—all except for the former hotel at 298 Selye Terrace.

Today, the Driving Park Hotel is vacant and, due to unresolved code violations from its current owner, HSBC Bank, has been placed on the City of Rochester’s demolition list. The property is currently for sale; a rehabilitation would require a substantial investment.

To Learn More:

To see heart bombing in action all over the Rust Belt and the rest of the country, search #IHeartSavingPlaces on Instagram. We hope you’ll continue to show your love for historic buildings all year long AND join us for next year’s heart bombing!