Thank you to our Diamond Jubilee supporters!

Last Sunday we hosted our Diamond Jubilee Celebration. Along with about 300 of our closest friends (members, donors and supporters) we celebrated 75 years of past accomplishments and the success of our new initiatives.

Photos Courtesy: David Jones

We were also extremely pleased to announce that we exceeded our 75th Anniversary Campaign goal, raising $555,000. Thanks to you, The Landmark Society will continue to promote preservation planning practices that foster healthy, livable, and sustainable communities as we look to the next 75 years. We extend a sincere thank you to everyone who helped make the Diamond Jubilee Celebration and the Campaign a success!

Award of Merit: Annex, The Mills at High Falls

The Landmark Society’s 2012 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 4 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 this week’s Awards Ceremony, over the next few days we’ll be featuring some of this year’s award winners.

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

Located in the High Falls neighborhood in the City of Rochester and originally known as the Teoronto Block, this is the oldest surviving row of commercial buildings in the city. Built between 1844-1854, this unique row of  Federal-style architecture is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings have historic significance because of their association with the Brown’s Race/High Falls neighborhood during its period of rapid growth as a milling center. In addition, the buildings have architectural significance for their well-preserved features typical of downtown commercial buildings of the period, including their three-story brick facades, original window openings, stone trim elements, common gabled roofs, and surviving original interior features.

Mostly vacant for the past several decades, five of the seven buildings in this row were purchased and rehabilitated into affordable housing by the Urban League of Rochester. Working with Barkstrom & LaCroix, Architects, Stantec Consulting Services, and Jensen/BRV/Engineering, this successful partnership of professionals overcame many structural challenges to complete this $7.5 million project, which  included the use of the Federal Investment Tax Credit Program and design review by NYS Office of Historic Preservation. This outstanding project was also a recipient of a 2012 Preservation Award from the Preservation League of New York State.

Some of the interior spaces that were adapted to residential units:

The banister and door below are some of the historic architectural details that were incorporated into the rehab project:

Visit our Success Stories page to see all of the 2012 Preservation Award winners.

Greentopia is back!

The Greentopia fest is back this year as Greentopia | ECOFEST. Running from Saturday, September 15th through Sunday, September 16th, Greentopia | ECOFEST is your one-stop destination for all things green. The same folks are also bringing you other great programs throughout the week, through Greentopia | INNOVATION, Greentopia | FILM, and Greentopia | MUSIC.

So what does preservation have to do with sustainability and Greentopia? Preservation is about reusing our existing resources (whether they be buildings, open space, parks, bridges), reinvesting in our historic neighborhoods (rural villages, urban neighborhoods, and downtown cores), and planning for smart growth. All of these principles are critical components of sustainability. Without using our existing resources creatively and wisely, without attracting people to our more dense and walkable communities, we simply cannot become a sustainable society.

You can learn more about the intersections of preservation, sustainability, and community at many Greentopia events this year. Below are just a few highlights. Be sure to check the official Greentopia website for details.

  • Greentopia | FILM presents Detropia, the story of a Motor City run out of gas.
    Thanks to auto-industry downsizing and other factors, Detroit is now a poster child for urban decay, with whole neighborhoods abandoned – but hope, determination and innovation among resilient residents suggest pathways to renewal and, just maybe, brighter days ahead.
    Wednesday, September 12, 6 p.m., The Little
    Thursday, September 13, 8 p.m., The Little
    >>Purchase tickets online.
  • The Greenest Building is One that Already Exists
    Wayne Goodman (Landmark Society Executive Director), Katie Comeau (Bero Architecture), & Paul Minor (architect)
    How does preservation fit in with overall sustainability?  Preservation is the original recycling!
    Sunday, September 16, 2-2:30 p.m., Centers at High Falls, Seneca Room
  • Preservation
    Andrew Meier (Historic building owner and Mayor, Village of Medina)
    Saturday, September 15, 4:30-4:45 p.m., Centers at High Falls, Atrium

If you missed it last time around, check out our Greentopia post from last year: Preservation & Sustainability–Resources You Can Use.

From Eyesore to Opportunity: Partners Building

Transforming Buildings & Neighborhoods

Recent discussions about the fate of the 120 year-old brewhouse at 13 Cataract Street got us thinking. Those in favor of demolishing the building say it’s an eyesore, beyond repair, and a haven for crime. With peeling paint, missing windows, and holes in the roof, certainly the iconic building has seen better days. And yes, crime does occur around the building; that is not an issue to be taken lightly. But will demolishing the building solve this problem?

If we demolished every “eyesore” in Rochester, would we have solved all the City’s problems? Or might we end up tossing the proverbial baby out with the bath water? Over the next few weeks, we’ll be highlighting some of these former “eyesores” to show that almost any building can be rehabilitated, to demonstrate how this rehab can, in turn, transform a neighborhood, and to remind us all of opportunities that were almost lost.

Partners Building
192 Mill Street

The Partners Building on Mill Street. From Eyesore to Opportunity: a snapshot of adaptive reuse in Rochester N.Y.

The Partners Building on Mill Street. From Eyesore to Opportunity: a snapshot of adaptive reuse in Rochester N.Y.

Located in the Brown’s Race Preservation District, this six-story building has been a highly visible anchor in the city’s oldest industrial area since its construction in 1881. Originally a paper box factory, the brick structure features a distinctive, Romanesque style corner entrance highlighted with sandstone trim. After years of decline, the building was acquired by the Norry Company in 1999. Listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the handsome structure was rehabilitated under the Federal Investment Tax Credit program for landmark designated, income-producing buildings. Working with the State Historic Preservation Office, architect James Durfee of the Rochester firm Handler, Grosso, Durfee Associates coordinated the project. The $6 Million rehabilitation included the installation of a new roof, all new utilities, and new elevators. The exterior brick was carefully cleaned and re-pointed. Window sash were repaired and new insulated glazing installed. The striking interiors created on the top three floors for the Wolf Group (now Partners + Napier) are the inspired work of F2 Design of New York City. Entercom Rochester now occupies the first three floors.

Download the PDF

Want to see more “eyesores” that have been turned into economic opportunities and assets for our neighborhoods and city? Visit our Success Stories page to see the full list.

From Eyesore to Opportunity: Parazin Building

Transforming Buildings & Neighborhoods

Parazin Building
208 Mill Street

The Parazin Building on Mill Street. From Eyesore to Opportunity: a snapshot of adaptive reuse in Rochester N.Y.

The Parazin Building on Mill Street. From Eyesore to Opportunity: a snapshot of adaptive reuse in Rochester N.Y.

Originally constructed as a two-story building (c.1826), this is one of the city’s oldest buildings and the first in Brown’s Race. Powered by the Triphammer Mill it was home to the Selye Fire Engine Company and later used for lantern manufacturing, shoe pattern production, and held an office equipment company. In 1984 it was donated to WXXI, used for storage, and sold to someone who wanted to redevelop it into a hotel. Those plans never materialized and the City acquired it through foreclosure. In 2006, Ben Kendig bought it from the City for $1 and converted it into mixed office and residential units. The $2 Million project resulted in the renovation of a structurally unsound but historically significant building being added back to the City’s tax roll. The roof, 126 windows, and the walls (which the inner floors were supported by) all had to be replaced.

Download the PDF

Want to see more “eyesores” that have been turned into economic opportunities and assets for our neighborhoods and city? Visit our Success Stories page to see the full list.

13 Cataract Street


In late November 2011, North American Breweries submitted plans to the City of Rochester for review to demolish two vacant former brewery buildings at 13 Cataract Street, on the Brewery’s campus.

The two buildings consist of a two-story brick structure, constructed in the 1930s and a larger, more visually prominent, 4-5 story painted brick Romanesque Revival style building constructed in 1889.

The demolition of the two buildings is proposed as part of a $2.6 million project to create a visitors center, museum, microbewery, and tasting room in another historic building adjacent to the Pont de Rennes bridge at 25 Cataract St. As part of this plan, 13 Cataract St. would be replaced with additional parking and green space.

The Facts

13 Cataract St. is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The buildings are also listed by the City of Rochester as “Designated Buildings of Historic Value.” What does this mean? Section 120-65B of the City’s Zoning Code prohibits the demolition of designated buildings of historic value thus the applicant must obtain an area variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Both buildings are historically and architecturally significant. The larger, 19th century building was designed by a prominent, nationally recognized architect, AC Wagner of Philadelphia.

Both buildings have also been vacant for a number of years. The larger building is in need of significant rehabilitation, however, it is not beyond repair.

Our Position

The Landmark Society believes that the buildings at 13 Cataract St. deserve strong efforts to preserve them. As National Register eligible buildings, as physical manifestations of Rochester’s brewing history, as potential magnets to bring visitors across the bridge from High Falls, and as potential catalysts for redevelopment and investment in the neighborhood, both are significant. The larger building, in particular, is unique and irreplaceable.

While stabilizing and/or rehabilitating 13 Cataract will require significant investment, North American Breweries will likely spend more money demolishing the structures than they would stabilizing them. The Landmark Society believes that the brewery has put too tight a timetable on this project without sufficiently exploring alternatives.

Such alternatives might include:

  • Pursue developers with incentives in hand such as gap financing, tax abatements, and a more flexible or phased timeline.
  • While the brewery is open to retaining the buildings if a developer comes forward with financing and a plan, the timetable they have put forward is again too tight. A phased approach–with stabilization and facade improvements occurring prior to the opening of the visitors center–represents a more realistic strategy.
  • Stabilize the larger building, redevelop the smaller building and use the cash flow from the latter to fund rehabilitation of the former.
  • Donate the buildings to a non-profit organization. This is a common scenario and is a win-win for the brewery, allowing them to take a tax deduction on the value of the donated property and avoid the high costs of demolition.
  • Donate a portion of the funds that would be used for demolition to a non-profit organization to help fund stabilization. Again, this is a common scenario that benefits all parties, including the brewery, those who want to see the building saved, and the general public.

The Landmark Society and other interested organizations such as the Rochester Regional Community Design Center need more time to explore these options.

What can you do?

Sign the Petition

Attend the Hearing

For additional information, see some of the local press coverage and links below: – A new website devoted entirely to 13 Cataract St. The site is a treasure trove of historical documents, articles, and images.

Democrat & Chronicle

City Newspaper