A Time Capsule to Call Home

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It was a past time of sorts for me, call it home sickness, call it procrastinating, to keep tabs on old houses that came for sale in and around Rochester during my years in college and then graduate school. I would occasionally pick a particularly jaw dropping one and post it to Facebook and brag to my out of state friends about the beautiful and affordable housing stock in Rochester. Their responses usually were ones of architectural admiration, and occasionally, jealousy. I distinctly remember the amazing colonial revival style home in Maplewood that had a textbook worthy Arts and Crafts interior, among many others that I spent countless hours perusing and drooling over.

As luck would have it, I had the great privilege of returning to Rochester May, 2013 with a job offer in hand at the architecture firm of my choice. I continued my past time of house window shopping focusing on more affordable options that could possibly be within my budget when it came time to purchase one for my own. It was on New Year’s Eve that I decided to make things a bit more real, picked up the phone and called fellow preservationist and realtor Rome Celli. We set up a series of showings across the City and Irondequoit, with some (not so) simple qualifying factors:

  • Good architectural design.
  • Somewhat close to downtown (19th Ward, Maplewood, South Wedge, North Winton Village, St. Paul Blvd Corridor)
  • The more original, the better!
  • Renovated bathrooms and kitchens, a travesty!
  • …progress be damned, I wanted a time capsule!

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After several showings, and almost submitting an offer on a great house on Lakeview Park, we finally got to see a small Tudor Revival style house off of St. Paul Boulevard that looked promising from the photos online. Time was of the essence, as the house had struggled to sell, had just been de-listed, and the owner intended on renovating the kitchen to help sell the house.

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From the photos I could tell that many of the features of the house were original, from the kitchen to the bathroom, light fixtures to built-ins, but one thing for sure was not original…the vinyl siding.

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On a whim, a day or so before our scheduled showing, I decided to do some research on the house, as I am an obsessive compulsive researcher. I could not have predicted, in my wildest dreams, the shear amount of documentation and information that turned up.

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This little house was “The Democrat and Chronicle Master Model Home of 1928” over a dozen newspaper articles, with photographs and drawings were published over a period of several months.

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After seeing the house in person I was smitten further, because with the few exceptions of the bathroom toilet, general appliances, and one light fixture, the house was completely original to 1928. This little house filled all of my tedious requirements, and had an interesting history to boot.Throwing all caution to the wind, I submitted an offer and through some back and forth had it accepted and closed in May, not even a year since I had moved back to Rochester.  Exciting? Yes. Naïve? Probably.

I then decided that I wanted to document the process of toiling over my first home for my own memory and for fellow preservationists enjoyment and entertainment. Thus, My Perfect Little Money Pit was born. I have done my best to keep the blog up to date, entertaining, and helpful for any of the people out there who are brave enough to be good stewards to old homes. I hope that it will inspire others to love old houses leaks, cracks, and all, and that other fellow preservationists might follow along as I learn and grow with my special little house. Oh, and just incase you were worried, the original story-book style cedar siding is still present underneath the vinyl and in good shape!

Follow the progress at http://myperfectlittlemoneypit.com/

Guest post by Christopher Brandt. Christopher is an Architect in Training at Bero Architecture PLLC, longtime volunteer and former Intern of The Landmark Society, and lifelong resident and champion of the greater Rochester area.

Check out some other historic house blogs below and post in the comments if we’ve missed any that you love!

http://ittybittybungalow.wordpress.com/

http://www.merrypad.com/

http://www.stuccohouse.blogspot.com/
http://the-kelly-house.blogspot.com/
http://anurbancottage.blogspot.com/
http://crockettstreethouse.wordpress.com/
http://ignitethecreativity.wordpress.com/
http://freshome.com/2014/07/17/historic-homes-still-manage-capture-hearts/

Film|Frederick Law Olmsted-Designing America

Please join our friends of the NY Upstate Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects in celebrating their 60th anniversary with the film Frederick Law Olmsted-Designing America, at The Little Theatre at 6:30 pm.

The documentary is an hour in length and following the film will be a panel discussion featuring local speakers; JoAnn Beck, ASLA, City of Rochester’s Senior Landscape Architect and Katie Eggers Comeau, Architectural Historian at Bero Architecture PLLC, as well as guests from Ithaca, NY Judy Hyman, and Jeff Cluas. The panel will be moderated by Project Manager at Bayer Landscape Architecture, Zakery Steele, ASLA.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, attendees are cordially invited to the 60th Anniversary reception at Ballroom 384 at East Ave Inn & Suites. Tickets are just $25 for this great documentary and wonderful occasion! 

>>Click here to purchase your tickets

125 Years of Rochester’s Parks

Celebrate the 125th birthday of the Rochester park system. Katie Eggers Comeau will discuss her recent contribution to the journal Rochester History, tracing the city’s many parks from their 19th-century beginnings through the present. Learn about the fascinating backstory of old favorites, like Highland, Genesee Valley, and Seneca Parks, as well as such modern counterparts as Turning Point Park.

Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Valley Park

Katie Eggers Comeau is the architectural historian at Bero Architecture PLLC, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Association for Olmsted Parks. Prior to joining the Bero Architecture staff in 2010, she was the Director of Preservation Services at the Landmark Society of Western New York, where her projects included extensive documentation of and advocacy for Rochester’s historic park system. The lecture will be followed by a Question and Answer session. Copies of Comeau’s article will be for sale, and the author will be available to sign them.

Highland Park

Highland Park

>>Click here for the event flyer

Sunday, March 16 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Rundel Auditorium, 3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building | Sponsored by the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. Call 585-428-8370 for more information.

125 Years of Rochester’s Parks

Genesee Valley Park

Genesee Valley Park

Celebrate the 125th birthday of the Rochester park system. Katie Eggers Comeau will discuss her recent contribution to the journal Rochester History, tracing the city’s many parks from their 19th-century beginnings through the present. Learn about the fascinating backstory of old favorites, like Highland, Genesee Valley, and Seneca Parks, as well as such modern counterparts as Turning Point Park. This presentation is free and open to the public.

Sunday, March 16 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Rundel Auditorium, 3rd floor, Rundel Memorial Building | Sponsored by the Local History & Genealogy Division of the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County. Call 585-428-8370 for more information.

>>Click here to learn more

Paul Malo Award for Community Preservation Advocacy

The Landmark Society’s 2013 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Rochester’s historic City Hall, the spectacular Richardsonian Romanesque landmark located downtown at 30 Church Street. The Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations in our nine-county area who have made outstanding efforts in the preservation of their homes, historic properties, and landscapes. In anticipation of the upcoming Awards Ceremony we will be featuring some of this year’s award winners.

Friends of the Three Bears, Inc.
Village of Ovid, Seneca County

Photo Credit: Richard Margolis

An organization known of its creative and highly motivated members, the “Friends of the Three Bears” was established in 2002 to spearhead efforts to maintain and preserve one of the most remarkable municipal complexes in the United States – the “Three Bears,” a trio of Greek Revival style buildings located in the village of Ovid, Seneca County.

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Photo Credit: Bero Architecture PLLC

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Listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, this unique complex of buildings was built between 1845 and 1859 and used as a county court house, county clerk’s office, Ovid Free Library, sheriff’s office, county health department, and G.A.R. veterans’ headquarters.

 

 

In recent years, however, these buildings have been mostly vacant or underutilized.  The formation of the “Friends” advocacy group created the necessary public support and visibility for the revitalization of these buildings.

 

Photo Credit: Bero Architecture PLLC

Chaired by retired executive Dan Motil, the “Friends” work includes creative partnerships with Seneca County, the Finger Lakes Wine Trail Initiative, the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, and the Preservation League of New York State.  The first phase of restoring this complex was completed last year with the rehabilitation of “Mama Bear,” the middle building, a project honored by The Landmark Society in 2012 with an “Award of Merit.”
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The “Friends” continue their exceptional efforts to insure the long-term viability of this unique complex of buildings, as they play a new role for tourism, promotion of local history, and economic redevelopment in the Finger Lakes.

Visit our Success Stories page for other 2013 winner previews and to see last year’s winners! We are looking forward to the Awards Ceremony tomorrow afternoon at 3PM and we hope to see you there to join us in honoring this year’s recipients!

Award of Merit: Christ Church

The Landmark Society’s 2013 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Rochester’s historic City Hall, the spectacular Richardsonian Romanesque landmark located downtown at 30 Church Street. The Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations in our nine-county area who have made outstanding efforts in the preservation of their homes, historic properties, and landscapes. In anticipation of the upcoming Awards Ceremony we will be featuring some of this year’s award winners.

The Award of Merit is for the sympathetic rehabilitation of an historic building in our 9-county region completed within the past two years.

Christ Church
141 East Avenue, City of Rochester

Photo Courtesy Andy Olenick

Located downtown, on historic East Avenue, Christ Church is an Episcopal parish whose founding dates back to the 1850s, when the original church was built here on the site of a former nursery. Landmark

By 1892, the congregation had outgrown the 1850s building and the present church was erected, a Gothic Revival structure designed by Robert Gibson, a British architect.  The current project completed on this historic landmark is the repair of the complex roof and gutter system on the church, belfry, and parish house.

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Photo Courtesy Bero Architecture PLLC

Work included installation of new copper and membrane roofs, new copper gutters and downspouts, and replacement of deteriorated supports with new wood.

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Photo Courtesy Bero Architecture PLLC

Working with Bero Architecture PLLC and roofing contractor, Curt Catalano, a specialist in copper installations, the parish undertook this challenging project with major assistance from the Sacred Sites and New York State Environmental Fund grant programs.

Visit our Success Stories page to see other 2013 Award winners, and check out last year’s winners!

Award of Merit: 44 Exchange Boulevard

The Landmark Society’s 2013 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 10 at 3:00 p.m. in Rochester’s historic City Hall, the spectacular Richardsonian Romanesque landmark located downtown at 30 Church Street. The Awards are given each year to individuals and organizations in our nine-county area who have made outstanding efforts in the preservation of their homes, historic properties, and landscapes. In anticipation of the upcoming Awards Ceremony we will be featuring some of this year’s award winners.

The Award of Merit is for the sympathetic rehabilitation of an historic building in our 9-county region completed within the past two years.

44 Exchange Boulevard
44 Exchange Boulevard, City of Rochester

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Located near the Four Corners and across the street from the Blue Cross Arena, the International-style, former Central Trust Bank Building was built in 1959 and designed by Rochester architect Carl Traver.  Listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, it has been creatively rehabilitated as contemporary apartments and first-floor retail space.

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Project challenges for this building included restoring the original glass wall tiles and fabricating new aluminum sash that reflected the original design, yet included modern, energy-saving features.

Photo Courtesy Bero Architecture PLLC

One of the youngest buildings to use the Federal Investment Tax Credit program, this mid-century modern building was rehabilitated by Rochester developers Ben Kendig and James Phillippone, who teamed with R.J. Lindsay Buildings and Interiors and  Bero Architecture PLLC.  The project was also a recipient of a 2013 Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.

>>Click here to learn more about this project!

Visit our Success Stories page to see other 2013 Award winners, and check out last year’s winners!

Mid-Century Modern Reborn at 44 Exchange

by Katie Eggers Comeau, Architectural Historian, Bero Architecture, PLLC

In August 2012, the first residential tenants began moving into the former Central Trust Building in downtown Rochester, the youngest building in our region ever rehabilitated using federal and state tax credits for historic rehabilitation.

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The project began in 2010, when developers James Philippone and Ben Kendig, both of whom have long experience completing challenging local rehabilitation projects, teamed up with R.S. Lindsay Buildings & Interiors to tackle the renewal of the International-Style former bank and office building, built in 1959. They identified the possibility of using rehabilitation tax credits as part of their financing package. One problem: only National Register-listed buildings can take advantage of the credit, and this building had never been listed or officially determined eligible for listing.

Step one, therefore, was to establish that the building met National Register criteria – not always an easy case to make for a mid-twentieth century building. Fortunately, we were not starting entirely from scratch: a study of mid-twentieth century architecture in downtown Rochester commissioned by The Landmark Society in 2009 had already identified the building as a “genuine example of the International Style.”

The building, designed by Carl Traver for the Pike Company, was well documented at the time of its construction, when it was hailed as “another major contribution to the physical improvement of the downtown area” and won a local design contest based on its “attractiveness, simplicity of design and directness of expression.” In 1964, the fourth and fifth stories were added, completing the design as originally envisioned. An elevated addition for the Trust Department was added to the east in 1968, designed by Myron Starks, who had worked with Traver on the original design.

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The building’s Bauhaus-inspired International Style features are best appreciated from the northwest, where the intersecting volumes housing varied functional components are most easily seen. Key to the building’s composition is the four-story curtain wall, consisting of a metal frame, porcelain-enamel panels, and glass windows, wrapping the west and south sides of the building. This curtain wall was constructed using the “Robertson Versatile Wall” (or “V-Wall”), a patented system touted as combining “the advantages of standard units with the artistic latitude of tailor-made walls” (and this building was featured in a national advertisement for the “V-Wall” system, see image above). Senior architect John Bero concluded that the Central Trust building represents “a main branch on the evolution tree of the modern curtain wall.” The importance of the curtain wall, the building’s significance as an early and strong example of corporate International Style modernism in Rochester, and the intactness of the design on the exterior all helped make the case that the building did meet National Register criteria; the building was officially listed in 2011.

While the curtain wall was key to the building’s National Register eligibility, it also presented the greatest challenges to rehabilitating the building in a historically appropriate manner. When it was built in 1959, energy costs were low and building owners relied entirely on mechanical heating and cooling systems. With its large expanses of single-paned glass and minimally operable center-pivot windows, the west- and east-facing curtain wall needed significant upgrades to meet today’s energy standards. This was not easy, as replacement hardware and weatherstripping were not available and the existing sash could not accommodate retrofit to insulated glass. After evaluating possible solutions, the design team proposed to replace the sash with custom-fabricated sash, retaining the original metal framing system. This approach, which received State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) approval during design, substantially improved energy performance while fully preserving the original appearance of the curtain wall.

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Another important goal was to restore the signature glass entry at the northwest corner, which had been altered with the addition of an enclosed room to accommodate an ATM booth. This striking original feature was carefully restored, bringing back the original drama of the glass enclosure and cantilevered overhang.

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Above photos: Signature glass entry at 44 Exchange. Photos courtesy Bero Architecture, PLLC.

Every rehabilitation project has its share of surprises. Fortunately, the most memorable surprise in this project was a positive one: as 1980s finishes around the elevator walls were removed, Bero Architecture discovered that original multicolored glass wall tiles seen in historic photographs were still present beneath the drywall and paneling that had concealed them at least since the 1980s. The tiles were painstakingly restored in all elevator lobbies and are significant in bringing back some of the building’s original interior character, most of which was lost in 1980s remodeling.

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Original mid-century modern glass wall tiles in the lobby at 44 Exchange. Photo courtesy Bero Architecture, PLLC.

This project is an excellent example of how preservation can balance multiple interests and promote a variety of positive objectives: continuing to build a critical mass of downtown housing, returning an unused building to viable use, rehabilitating a piece of period architecture, and improving energy performance – all with a distinctive 1950s “Mad Men”-style flair.

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Banking hall at 44 Exchange. 1959.

Banking hall at 44 Exchange. 1959.

Open offices at 44 Exchange.

Open offices at 44 Exchange.

Originally published in Landmarks, The Landmark Society’s quarterly print magazine.

 

 

 

Palmyra Community Library

posted by Caitlin Meives, Preservation Planner

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Photo courtesy Bero Architecture, PLLC

I recently had the pleasure of attending a meeting with other preservationists and planners from around the region at the Palmyra Community Library, a historic office building on Main Street in the village that recently completed a major rehabilitation. After the meeting, Library Director, Patricia Bayne, and President, Jennifer Voss, treated us to a grand tour.

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The Garlock Office Building during construction, c.1907. [Photo courtesy Palmyra Community Library]

The building was built in 1907 and originally served as the offices of the Garlock Packing Company. The Palmyra Community Library purchased the office building from another company in 2007.

Beginning in 2008, Library officials worked with the design team at Bero Architecture, PLLC to carry out this important project. The first floor space had been partitioned into multiple rooms. As part of the rehab, the first floor was returned to a single, large open space. Drop ceilings were removed to reveal the full height of the room.

At left, the first floor subdivided into multiple rooms. At right the first floor space after demolition of non-historic partitions. [Photos courtesy Bero Architecture, PLLC]

Historic details–wood floors, staircase, and moldings–were retained and touched up and new electric and heating/cooling systems were sensitively incorporated, making the current library space warm, inviting, and full of character. With a number of large window openings, the room also features loads of natural light (even on a rainy and dreary day when I visited).

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The second floor, which can be accessed via the main staircase (pictured above) or a newly installed elevator, was also rehabbed and converted to library offices and a children’s room. The third floor will be brought  back to life in the next and final stage of rehab–the Library is currently gathering ideas and feedback from the community for possible uses.

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Now the village of Palmyra boasts a beautiful and functional library that is within easy walking distance for village residents and provides a great space for the community to gather. Along with the other amazing commercial buildings in Palmyra, the rehabbed building enlivens the Main Street streetscape and draws visitors and residents alike to downtown. Another great example of preservation fostering community.