Call for Session Proposals


The 2017 NY Statewide Preservation Conference will take place April 6-8th in downtown Rochester. This conference will be presented by The Landmark Society of Western New York, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, Historic Albany Foundation, The Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

In order to make this conference a success, we need your preservation projects, ideas and initiatives. Share your success stories, challenges, and new ideas with preservationists and community advocates from across the state. Submit your session proposal by Monday, November 14th (at 11:59 PM) in order to be considered. Proposals on a wide variety of topics are welcome and encouraged.

 >>Click here to see more detailed information and submit a conference proposal.

Allyn’s Creek Garden Club Pollinator Garden at Stone-Tolan

The Landmark Society is fortunate to have a beautiful new garden full of native plants on the Stone-Tolan grounds designed to attract many kinds of pollinators. The Allyn’s Creek Garden Club voted this spring to donate the garden in response to an initiative by the National Pollinator Garden Network, a group of established conservation and horticulture organizations, and the Garden Clubs of America. NPGN launched the “Million Pollinator Garden Challenge” to urge gardeners across the country to create spaces that would be havens for insects, birds and other pollinators.


On June 6, 2016 a small group of ACGC members led by Susan Murray brought the plants they had chosen from their own gardens and from Amandas Native Plant Nursery and settled them in their new home in front of the Stone-Tolan barn. They added mulch soon after that and for the rest of the summer they carefully monitored, watered and weeded their fledgling garden.


What a blooming success! By late August after some of the earlier-blooming plants had flowered, the garden was full and lush with later-flowering plants visited by hundreds of…pollinators!  Next season there will be a succession of blooms beginning with early spring throughout the summer and fall for visitors of all kinds including humans.

Thank you Allyn’s Creek Garden Club for your generosity throughout the year and your great new addition to the Stone-Tolan grounds!


Historic Lyons properties to be auctioned

Two historic buildings in the former village of Lyons are set to be auctioned by Wayne County on Thursday, July 7th. The public auction will take place at 10:00 a.m. on the steps of the Wayne County Courthouse in Lyons. [NOTE: an earlier version of this post and the Landmark Alerts e-newsletter listed the auction date as June 20th. It has since been changed to July 7th].

The buildings will be auctioned as separate parcels. They are located on either side of the County Courthouse, facing the village square. The County owns both buildings and no longer has any use for them. If the buildings are not sold at auction, the County may demolish them.

Up for auction is a historic commercial building, at one time home to the Park Bakery, at 24 Church St. The minimum bid for this property is $7500.


Also up for auction is 30 Church St., the historic Arsenau House. The minimum bid for this property is $10,000.ArsenauHouse_1

The sale of the buildings is subject to a number of terms and conditions, which can be viewed here, in an excerpt from the County Finance Committee agenda of June 14, 2016. Inquiries regarding these properties or the auction should be directed to Wayne County.

Note: To request a report on the condition of both properties, along with photographs, potential bidders can email:


Celebrate Olmsted and the Erie Canal!

Celebrate the 194th birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted with live music, food, and selfies with Olmsted! Free and open to the public!

Bridging The Canal: An Olmsted Birthday Bash

You’re invited! On Sunday, April 24th at 2:00 p.m., The Landmark Society’s Olmsted Subcommittee will host a birthday bash for revered landscape architect and designer of Rochester’s parks system, Frederick Law Olmsted. The occasion will also be an opportunity to celebrate and showcase Genesee Valley Park’s concrete arch pedestrian bridges (listed on The Landmark Society’s Five to Revive list and the Preservation League of New York State’s Seven to Save). We’ll be celebrating with light refreshments, music, walking tours, and good company on one of the bridges, over the Erie Canal! We’ll also have a life-size cutout of Fred himself available for selfies.



The Bash will run from 2 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Genesee Valley Park. If weather allows, the event will take place at the easternmost concrete arch pedestrian bridge (see below for location details) spanning the Erie Canal. If the weather does not cooperate, we’ll celebrate at the Roundhouse Shelter.

Bridging The Canal is sponsored by:

Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the NYS Canal Corporation
Preservation League of New York State
NY Upstate Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
Highland Park Conversancy
Friends & Neighbors of Seneca Park


Rochester is just one of four cities nationwide that boasts an entire park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, best known for his design of New York’s Central Park. Olmsted designed Highland, Genesee Valley, and Seneca Parks for Rochester. He and the firm that continued his work after his retirement also designed several parkways and small neighborhood parks.

In 1888, Rochester’s Board of Park Commissioners selected Olmsted to design a network of parks and parkways for the city. Olmsted encouraged the Commissioners to set aside generous amounts of open space as the city’s first major public parks and proposed a system focused on the city’s great natural asset – the dramatic Genesee River in all its glorious variety.

GVP Map Graphic

Heart Bombing with the YUPs

Last weekend the YUPs held their first heart bombing event. (Never heard of heart bombing? Click here to learn more). Despite the exceptionally frigid temps, the event was a great success! We started with a brief lesson and video for neighborhood kids at the Lincoln Branch Library on Joseph Ave. YUP member and city schoolteacher, Bradley Huber, explained to the kids what historic preservation is all about, why old buildings matter, and what we can do to help bring them back to life.

YUP (1 of 28)

Then the fun started! With a smorgasbord of crafting supplies, adults and kids alike got to work making valentines for the abandoned former synagogue down the street. There was an explosion of pink construction paper, doilies, and stickers! Here we are hard at work:

YUP (3 of 28) YUP (4 of 28)

The end results were fantastic and heart-warming!

YUP (11 of 28) YUP (12 of 28) YUP (8 of 28)

YUP (20 of 28)

We did an indoor heart bombing while we were still at the Library to spare some of the smaller kiddos from the subzero windchill.

YUP (16 of 28)

Then the rest of us (including a few adventurous and hardy kids!) trekked a few blocks down the street to heart bomb the former synagogue in person. The former B’Nai Israel synagogue has been vacant and deteriorating for years but its future is finally looking a little brighter. The Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance plans to adapt this building to a performing arts center and has begun planning for its adaptive reuse and fundraising for rehab.

YUP (22 of 28) YUP (23 of 28) YUP (25 of 28)

Next stop on the heart bombing express was a vacant former brewery along the Genesee River gorge on Cliff St. This amazing building is slated for demolition by the City of Rochester. Us YUPs think it has great potential for an adaptive reuse project.

YUP (27 of 28)

What better way to spend your Valentine’s Day weekend than by showing some love to a few historic buildings that could really use it?! You can show your love for old buildings all year long by getting involved with the YUPs, joining The Landmark Society, rehabbing a building, advocating for preservation in your community, and by spreading the word that these places matter.




In Remembrance: Tim O’Connell

Tim leads a walking tour of Highland Park

Tim leads a walking tour of Highland Park

Last weekend, Tim O’Connell, a dear friend of The Landmark Society and a passionate historian and preservationist, passed away. Tim had served as the co-chair of our Olmsted Sub-Committee for years and was a champion of our Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks here in Rochester. He also served as President of the Highland Park Conservancy.

In honor of Tim’s service to preservation and to the Rochester community, we offer a few remembrances from those who had the pleasure of working with him:

From Cynthia Howk, Architectural Research Coordinator at The Landmark Society:

Many of us met Tim in the early 1980s when he joined the staff at City Hall and became the in-house expert and advocate for many of their most historic documents. I clearly remember his phone call, inviting Landmark Society staff to come over to City Hall and see the original Frederick Law Olmsted drawings – huge documents – for Rochester’s Seneca & Genesee Valley parks. Another of Tim’s unique invitations was to climb up in the tower of Old City Hall one evening and experience the ringing of City Hall bell – up close & personal – nearly deafening all who were there! His walking tours of the Olmsted Parks were an amazing tutorial on the history and evolution of those nationally important landscapes. His astounding, in-depth knowledge of the local history, the City’s archives at City Hall and our historic Olmsted parks was without equal. I was always astonished at his recall of the most minute, yet informative data regarding the parks, park commission meetings, etc. – documents and information known to few, but sometimes critically important to current discussions/policy issues regarding the City’s park system.

Although technically “retired,” Tim was still avidly involved with local archives – specifically working with photo collections at the City’s Municipal Archives/Records Storage Office.

From Ira Srole, photographer for the City of Rochester:

Tim was a stalwart member of Rochester’s local history community, and could always be trusted to share his incredible knowledge of our community with humor and grace.

Tim and I started our careers with the City of Rochester on the same day, September 17, 1979, he in the Maps and Survey Office of the Department of Environmental Services and I in the Bureau of Public Information Photo Lab. Especially during Rochester’s sesquicentennial celebration in 1984, I could always count on Tim to offer his insights and opinions as we gathered photographs and other documents in support of that year-long celebration. He was dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of all manner of historic documents, with maps being his particular passion. Although it was not specifically in his job description, Tim went well out of his way to help anyone with an interest in local history not only to find the documents they were looking for, but also to help them understand those documents within the larger context of Rochester and its unique civic culture.

From JoAnn Beck, co-chair with Tim on our Olmsted Sub-Committee:

We mourn the loss of Tim O’Connell, founding co-chair of the Olmsted Parks Subcommittee since 2005. Tim demonstrated his deeply-felt commitment to our parks, as historic places of beauty and common ground, through his constant leadership and work on whatever had to be done for our programs and projects. We marveled at his deep knowledge of Rochester history, which he was always happy to share. He was a treasured colleague, a human of the highest order- intelligent, kind, and generous, with infectious good humor and joie-de-vivre. We will really really miss him.



Best of 2015: Preservation in WNY

It’s that time of year, when pundits, news outlets, and TV shows look back on the year in review, when  Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with best-of lists. So why not jump on the bandwagon? Here’s our look back at 2015 with our Top 10 preservation successes.

Thank you to everyone who supports our work; together we can make a difference in communities across WNY. Here’s to many more successes in 2016!

1. The Preservation Conference SELLS OUT!

Photo courtesy Matt DeTurck

Photo courtesy Matt DeTurck

For the first time in its 29-year history, the Preservation Conference had sellout attendance! With over 300 attendees, we had to shut down registration the day before the Conference kicked off. Beyond just the numbers, our recently expanded multi-day, Statewide Preservation Conference was an extraordinary event. It took place in the beautiful city of Geneva, where we were surrounded by success stories and innovative community-based projects. We had a party in a re-purposed historic barn. We had dance performances. We learned from a diverse lineup of amazing speakers. And some of us even got t-shirts!


2.The YUPs turned 1


In March, our young affiliate group, the Young Urban Preservationists (YUPs for short) celebrated their first birthday. We had a busy year with a series of classes, which we dubbed Old House Hacks, at The Brainery; our second annual Bikes, Beer & Buildings scavenger hunt with over 75 in attendance; a launch party for our coaster program at Cure; a Siding Striptease where we ripped the vinyl siding off a fellow YUP’s historic house; Park(ing) Day; and an appearance on WXXI’s Connections with Evan Dawson.


3.19th Ward Historic Districts completed


After a few years of hard work, four new historic districts–and over 1500 properties–in the 19th Ward neighborhood of Rochester were officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Now, homeowners can take advantage of the NYS Historic Homeowners Rehab Tax Credit program to help make improvements and repairs to their homes. This project could not have been completed without the 19th Ward Community Association and our consultants, Preservation Studios, as well as generous funding from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, the Preservation League of New York State, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and neighborhood residents.

4.Hillside Cemetery & Chapel on the road to revitalization


One of our 2014 Five to Revive, the Hillside Cemetery and Chapel, made great strides this past year. Local preservation advocates have been working diligently to program the Cemetery and Chapel with new uses, to forge new partnerships, and to bring greater exposure to this important historic site. Because of these efforts, the Town of Clarendon (the owner of the property) has received significant funding to help repair the Chapel. In December, the Town was awarded $126,210 from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to help fund much-needed repairs to the Cemetery Chapel. Earlier in the year, the Town also received a grant of $20,000 from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, to be put towards the replacement of the slate roof on the Chapel.

5. Downtown Holley Historic District is approved


Just a stone’s throw from the Hillside Cemetery, the Village of Holley saw the creation of a downtown historic district. The district has been approved by the State Review Board and is awaiting official approval from the National Park Service. Once officially listed, properties within the district–including our 2013 Five to Revive, the Holley High School–will be eligible for the state and federal rehab tax credit programs. Landmark staff were able to assist Village officials in preparing applications for funding, including a grant from the Preservation League of New York State. We are continuing to work with the Village to find a developer to rehab the High School.


6. An Inspired Table at Stone-Tolan Historic Site


Photo courtesy Mary Burden

This summer, we partnered with Good Luck Restaurant to host an al fresco dinner on the grounds of the Stone-Tolan Historic Site. 135 guests enjoyed a delicious four course meal on a beautiful summer evening.

7.St Joseph’s Park

Image courtesy Natalie Sinisgalli Photography

Image courtesy Natalie Sinisgalli Photography

Our very own urban oasis, St. Joseph’s Park, continued to see a revival, with new uses throughout the spring, summer, and fall months. The site hosted Sunset Concerts, the Institute of Creative Music, The Yards’ Spectral Carnival, and weddings.

Photo courtesy The Yards.

Photo courtesy The Yards.

8. Bash on the Bridges

Photo courtesy Paul Minor

Photo courtesy Paul Minor

In July, we partnered with the Preservation League of New York State and Monroe County Department of Parks to host an evening party on one of the Olmsted pedestrian bridges in Genesee Valley Park. The event was meant to showcase these at-risk bridges, which were included on our 2013 Five to Revive list. Nearly 100 folks joined us for this sunset event over the Canal.

9.Sellout trip to Pittsburgh and Fallingwater

Tour goers and Wayne at Fallingwater

The 4 day trip sold out in record time, with a lengthy waiting list of folks hoping to join us.  Our visit in September included the best of Pittsburgh, including the Carnegie Museums, a Pittsburgh and Incline 2ride on the Incline, dinner in a former church turned brewpub, and the Pittsburgh Symphony’s opening night – as well as tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater and lesser known but equally impressive Kentuck Knob.


10.Highland Heights residences opened for us

2015 house tour recap


We are proud that this private neighborhood agreed to admit ticket holders from our June House and Garden Tour – the first time they’ve ever opened for a tour. They joined other neighbors in welcoming over 1600 folks to the event which was, believe it or not, our 45th annual house tour! The pre-tour talk by resident Larry Champoux attracted a standing room only crowd.


Of course, none of these successes would be possible without the support of our members, donors, sponsors, tour-goers, and the community at large. So THANK YOU for supporting our work to protect irreplaceable historic places and revitalize communities.

You can continue to support our work across the region by making a contribution to our 2015 Annual Fund

Five to Revive property on the market


Wollensack Optical Company Building
872 & 886 Hudson Avenue, city of Rochester

This former factory building on Hudson Avenue in the city of Rochester has just recently hit the market. Although the building has been long-vacant, it is ripe for adaptive reuse. A major rehabilitation project may be able to utilize the Historic Tax Credit program.

The property is listed with Michael Quinn of Mission Commercial Realty.

  • Land Area: 0.29 acres & 0.12 acres (vacant lot)
  • Building Size: 25,920 Sq. Ft.
  • Asking price $299,000
  • Four Story building with freight elevator
  • Includes additional parking lot to the north (separate tax parcel)

Built in 1918 from plans by renowned Rochester architect J. Foster Warner. Distinctive design features brick and terra cotta construction, highlighted by an elegant cast iron and beveled glass canopy over the main entrance.

Click here to see the full listing.

For more information, contact Michael Quinn at 585-208-7562.


Good news for Five to Revive

Hillside Cemetery and Chapel receives funding from NYS REDC

Last week, we had fantastic news about one of our 2014 Five to Revive properties, the Hillside Cemetery and Chapel in Orleans County: the Town of Clarendon was awarded $126,210 from the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council to help fund much-needed repairs to the Cemetery Chapel. Funding will come through the NYS Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation.


Since its inclusion on the Five to Revive, Landmark staff have been working with local preservation advocates and Town of Clarendon officials to find funding for repairs to the Chapel, to draw attention to the site, and to find creative, economically viable new uses for the building. The grant project will restore the non-denominational chapel and help repurpose it for new, public uses. Anticipated uses include: concerts, historical and art exhibits, and lectures.

Our hats go off to the preservationists (most notably Orleans County resident, Erin Anheier who was also instrumental in saving the Clarendon Stone Store) who have spearheaded this effort. Irreplaceable historic resources like this could not be saved without their hard work and determination.

For more information, check out Tom Rivers’ article about the grant at the Orleans Hub.

Cattaraugus County Memorial & Historical Building

Two weeks ago, Landmark staff and preservation advocates with the group Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) were blindsided by an announcement from the Department of Public Works Committee of the Cattaraugus County legislature informing us that there would be no further discussion about reuse of the Memorial Building and that a resolution for demolition would be put before the full legislature the following week.


Luckily, CAMPers were able to quickly rally the support of some key legislators and the vote to demolish was defeated last week. For more information, check out these two articles by Rick Miller in the Olean Times Herald.

County pulls the plug on C.A.M.P. preservation efforts

Lawmakers grant reprieve to Civil War Monument

As one of our current Five to Revive, Landmark staff are actively working with CAMP members to save this unique building that was constructed to honor veterans of the Civil War. Our Preservation Grant Fund helped fund a preservation plan for the property and we continue to advocate for a thorough and well-reasoned exploration of economically viable new uses.

We are hopeful that the County will be open to considering alternatives. In the meantime, it is important that County legislators hear from their constituents that this is an important issue. If you are a resident of Cattaraugus County, please reach out to your legislators and let them know that you don’t want to see taxpayer money used to demolish an irreplaceable veterans war memorial. If you know someone who is a resident of Cattaraugus County, please encourage them to contact their County representatives.

Wollensack Optical Company building on the market


This former factory building on Hudson Avenue in the city of Rochester has just recently hit the market. Although the building has been long-vacant, it is ripe for adaptive reuse. It is listed with Michael Quinn of Mission Commercial Realty. Click here to see the listing.

ROC the Day! Support preservation projects!

>>Click here to become a ROCstar and help support our efforts to save historic places through the Preservation Grant Fund. 


On Tuesday, December 1st, our community will come together to ROC the Day, and we at The Landmark Society hope to make it a huge success. ROC the Day is a 24-hour giving opportunity to support all eligible not-for-profits in the nine-county Greater Rochester area. Community members are encouraged to visit, a secure online giving platform, to contribute to any participating not-for-profit organization. All money given during ROC the Day stays local. Donors have the ability make an impact by giving to one or multiple organizations to support their personal philanthropic passions. Donors and not-for-profits can share their investment with friends, family, co-workers and social networks to increase awareness for this community-wide effort.

Once again, we’re directing all funds raised during ROC the Day to our Preservation Grant Fund program. Begun in 2012, this crucial program provides grants to municipalities, not-for-profits, community organizations, and potential developers to help get rehab projects off the ground. In a very real way, it helps save historic places across our region.

We wanted to show you the types of projects that you could help fund with your donation. Below are a sampling of past grant recipients…

Local preservationists and Landmark Society staff in front of the Sampson Theater, a 2013 Five to Revive property.

Local preservationists and Landmark Society staff in front of the Sampson Theater, a 2013 Five to Revive property.

Sampson Theatre – Penn Yan
One of our 2013 Five to Revive properties, the Sampson Theatre is owned by the Pennsylvania Yankee Theatre. Though the building is currently mostly a shell of its former self, PYTCo plans to rehab it into a fully functional theater space. A $2600 grant from The Landmark Society helped them complete their Master Plan, which will guide fundraising and planning efforts.



Huron Grange Hall – Huron
Included in our 2015 Five to Revive, the former Huron Grange Hall has been largely unused and vacant for years. Its interior and exterior, however, remain in remarkably original condition, with loads of beadboard, original lighting fixtures, original windows, etc. This special historic building calls for maintenance and repair and plans for future use that can help generate revenue for repairs and maintenance. An award of $3,000 from our most recent round of funding will help the Town complete a condition report to plan for sensitive repairs and updating.

Interior meeting space in the Huron Grange.

Interior meeting space in the Huron Grange.

54.5 Madison St., before rehab.

54.5 Madison St., before rehab.

54.5 Madison St. – Rochester
Simply put, without The Landmark Society’s intervention and funding this little cottage in the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood would not have been saved. Our grant program’s very first award went to the City of Rochester to fund architectural plans for the rehabilitation of this building.

Although the Preservation Grant Fund program is relatively small (our maximum award is $3500), it has a huge impact. So, whatever amount you can donate, know that it will make a difference to an irreplaceable historic building or site in our region.

>>Click here to become a ROCstar and help support our efforts to save historic places through the Preservation Grant Fund. 

And THANK YOU for your support!

ROCsgivingAt the end of the day on December 1st, our Young Urban Preservationists invite you to join them, Foodlink, and Gilda’s Club Rochester for ROCsgiving: A Collaborative Happy Hour celebrating ROC the Day. On a day where organizations across the Rochester area are ‘competing’ for donor dollars, we hope this ends the day with a sense of community and collaboration…we are, after all, all working towards the same thing…bettering our community! >>Click here for event details on Facebook.