75+ Reasons to Celebrate 75 Years: Corn Hill & Genesee Landmarks Foundation

To help us celebrate 75 years of service to western New York, we put together 75+ Reasons to Celebrate The Landmark Society’s 75 Years, a publication that highlights just some of the preservation and revitalization successes the organization has helped achieve since 1937. (Thank you to former Landmark Society trustee, Richard Reisem, for researching and writing this impressive collection of achievements.) Over the next year we’ll be featuring some of those 75+ reasons in greater depth.

With the wildly successful Corn Hill Arts Festival coming up on July 7 & 8, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the neighborhood’s early revitalization efforts. The work that The Landmark Society and many residents undertook in the 1960s and 70s to save historic homes and turn the neighborhood around laid the groundwork for the successful neighborhood you see today.

1965 Forms Genesee Landmarks Foundation to restore historic houses in Third Ward.

The Landmark Society formed a subsidiary organization called Genesee Landmarks Foundation to acquire, rehabilitate, and market historic houses in what was then known as the Third Ward (now Corn Hill). This was a project to demonstrate the feasibility of rehabilitating the impressive collection of historic houses in the Third Ward after the area was abandoned by Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), which placed dozens of historic buildings that had been owned or associated with the college in jeopardy in a deteriorating neighborhood. Some brave Landmark Society trustees, like Sally Rial and Bill Chapin, as well as other visionary neighborhood residents bought collapsing houses, restoring them to sparkling, handsome examples to the community. The Landmark Society itself bought, restored, and sold nine properties during the 1960s. The enormous success of Genesee Landmarks Foundation is evident in the vibrant, livable community today.

11 Greenwood, 40 Atkinson, and 42 Atkinson are three examples of houses that the Genesee Landmarks Foundation acquired, rehabbed, and sold to new owners. Today, these houses are a critical part of the neighborhood’s streetscape, contributing to Corn Hill’s character, appeal, history, and economic value.

11 Greenwood – One of the nine properties that The Landmark Society’s Genesee Landmarks Foundation rehabbed and sold.

42 Atkinson – One of the nine properties that The Landmark Society’s Genesee Landmarks Foundation rehabbed and sold.

40 Atkinson – One of the nine properties that The Landmark Society’s Genesee Landmarks Foundation rehabbed and sold.

The property pictured below, 96 Adams, was one of many houses that ultimately were not saved from demolition.

This newspaper clipping from 1968 reflects the urban renewal approach to city planning that most American cities adopted during the post-World War II era.

In addition to efforts by The Landmark Society to rehabilitate and find new owners for existing homes, other at-risk properties were moved into the neighborhood to fill some of the vacant lots. The vernacular Greek Revival cottage that today sits at 102 Adams St., was moved from 101 Edinburgh in 1977, replacing the original 102 Adams that you see below.

This is the original 102 Adams, likely demolished around 1969.

This is the house that currently sits at 102 Adams, moved from 101 Edinburgh in 1977.

And here is 102 Adams as it stands today–a thriving part of the Corn Hill neighborhood.

Visit our 75th Anniversary page to learn more about the exciting events taking place throughout the year as well new initiatives that we’ll be launching.

A Good Steward–Update on the Campbell-Whittlesey House

by Carolyn Bick & Cindy Boyer

It’s been awhile since we’ve updated our readers on the status of the Campbell-Whittlesey House so here’s a report on the newest steward of the house:

The Landmark Society is thrilled to announce that it has sold the Campbell-Whittlesey House to Landmark Society member Dr. Ronald Yearwood, who will be the latest in a line of good stewards for this 175 year old structure. The house was a private home from 1836 to 1937. In 1937 The Landmark Society saved and restored the house and operated it as a museum until June of 2010. It was decided to list the former museum in August 2010 as a result of several years of strategic planning and a refocused mission to promote preservation and planning practices that foster healthy, livable communities. Maintaining a static museum was no longer congruent to this mission.

The return of this building to private hands will ensure that this home remains a living and viable resource. The sale was accompanied by protective covenants that will ensure preservation of the home’s significant architectural details. These covenants will remain a part of the deed during Dr. Yearwood’s ownership, and will pass on to future owners, giving perpetual legal protection.

Dr. Yearwood is in the process of completing his residency in general psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He was born in Venezuela and raised in the country of Grenada. He attended college in England where he received his master’s degree in system analysis, design, and project management before embarking on his medical career. A full national scholarship awarded by the government of Grenada allowed him the opportunity to pursue his medical career in Rochester.

Dr. Yearwood proudly holding a ceramic model of the house.

Before deciding to finish his studies and settle in Rochester, Dr. Yearwood toured the U.S.A. He decided the location and the wonderful quality of life in Rochester was the most attractive option. Dr. Yearwood told us “I had no intention at all of buying a house. But then I saw information about the sale on the internet. I couldn’t believe what a unique opportunity this was. I saw it as a way to become part of and support the local community.” After the sale closed, he was struck with the enormity of the responsibility to safeguard and ensure the proper stewardship of one of Rochester’s oldest homes.

Dr. Yearwood comes from a family of architects, interior designers, and art historians. His mother is an art historian in London and will be consulting on this project. Dr. Yearwood will also call upon the expert advice from the New York State Historic Preservation Office, the Corn Hill Neighbors Association, and— of course—The Landmark Society.

Dr. Yearwood is proceeding very carefully. “I recognize this is not a project that will be completed quickly, and I am very comfortable with that.” He is working on a master plan that will proceed in stages, starting from the outside of the building with needed paint and repairs to the building envelope, then gradually proceeding to interior work. He expects the major work will take place over a timeline of 3 to 5 years. Dr. Yearwood is very familiar with long term goals: he still has 18 months to complete his residency.

Dr. Yearwood’s intention at this time is to keep the Campbell-Whittlesey House as a private residence. Future plans include locating his private practice in the building, Corn Hill Center for Healthy Living and Healthy Minds. Some of the additional space will be used to incorporate art, pet and humor therapy as part of the services offered to his clients.

The Landmark Society appreciates his passion and investment in the Campbell-Whittlesey House. Our whole community is incredibly fortunate to keep this property in such thoughtful and caring hands.

Adapted from the Fall 2011 issue of Landmarks, a quarterly publication of The Landmark Society.