A Time Capsule to Call Home



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!


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.



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.


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!




Saturday Day Trip: In-depth Frank Lloyd Wright Tour in Buffalo

New, in-depth and this time on a weekend – Saturday, June 21st, 2014.

It’s the ideal way to enjoy the daylight of the longest day of the year. Spend the summer solstice with us enjoying the 2 hour in-depth tour of the Martin House Complex in Buffalo, the delicious luncheon in the birthplace of American Arts and Crafts at the Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, and then the 2 hour in-depth tour at the Wright designed summer retreat Graycliff, high above Lake Erie.

Photo Courtesy Darwin Martin House Complex


If you’ve been on the regular tour, revisit those areas and delve into spaces not open to the regular touring public. If you’ve never been, this is an experience not available anyplace else in the U.S.

Photo Courtesy Graycliff



We’ll meet in the Brighton area at 7 am (you can snooze on the motorcoach if you like) and get you back home by 7 pm.  Registration includes comfortable handicapped accessible motorcoach transportation, all tours and admission fees, luncheon, and the company of our executive director and staff escort.  No extra charge for the oooohs and ahhhs!


Fee per person: $158 for Landmark Members   $183 for nonmembers.


Complete the Registration Form and return to The Landmark Society by May 22, 2014. Deadline extended to June 9, 2014!

Click here to download the Registration Form.

To request a hard copy of the Registration Form, please email Carolyn Haygood or call 546.7029 x11.

Registration Deadline: May 22, 2014

$3.6M awarded for Eastman Dental Dispensary redevelopment

Eastman Dental Dispensary [photo courtesy Richard Margolis]

Eastman Dental Dispensary [photo courtesy Richard Margolis]

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Home Leasing LLC will receive $3.6 million in funding provided by New York State Homes & Community Renewal for redevelopment of the Eastman Dental Dispensary in Rochester! The project will transform this State and National Register of Historic Places listed property into mixed-income and affordable housing units.
>>Click here for the full press release of the funding announcement 

Five to Revive Eastman

We are grateful and thrilled with this news, as the Dental Dispensary was one of our 2013 Five to Revive properties. We can’t wait to see this building restored to its former glory!

>>Click here to learn more about the Eastman Dental Dispensary

Discover Sweden: 200 Years of Historic Architecture

Above is Lakeview Cemetery & its handsome Romanesque Revival chapel on Lake Rd. (Route 19) in the town of Sweden.  It’s a property that’s individually listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Designed by a noted Rochester landscape architect, the cemetery was the recipient of a Landmark Society Historic Landscape Award in 2010. This property is just a taste of what you’ll see at Discover Sweden.

The program will feature examples of historic resources in both the town of Sweden & its adjacent village, Brockport.  Come see views of Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian-era styles typical of western New York’s  19th-century, rural communities, through the early/mid 20th century with Craftsman,  Art Deco and International styles, to the  post-World War II suburban development highlighted by ranch, split-level and Cape Cods.

There will be distinctive examples of barns, canal structures, cobblestone buildings and other “hidden treasures” that are not widely known to the Brockport/Sweden residents. This is the first historic architecture talk that The Landmark Society of Western New York has ever presented in Sweden and one you do not want to miss!

>>Click here to view the program flyer

Discover Sweden: 200 Years of Historic Architecture


Join our Architectural Historian extraordinaire, Cynthia Howk, at the Sweden Senior Center this Saturday at 3:00 PM for a free lecture, “Discover Sweden: 200 Years of Historic Architecture.” This is the first historic architecture talk that The Landmark Society of Western New York has ever presented in Sweden and is part of the celebrations for the Town’s Bicentennial.

>>Click here for more details.

Best of 2013: 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 2013 with a highlight of 13 preservation successes.

1. Walk the Walk reaches over 1600 students

With a new specialized Rochester African-American History Rap program for 2nd graders, Walk the Walk this year reached a record-setting number of children–over 1600 students plus over 200 teachers and chaperones.


2. Preservation Conference

Our Preservation Conference in the village of Brockport was a roaring success with new speakers, timely topics and nearly 200 community advocates, municipal leaders, and preservation professionals in attendance.IMG_20130420_095329_505

3. Launched Five to Revive program

In May, we announced our inaugural Five to Revive list, with Mayor Thomas Richards, County Executive Maggie Brooks, and Senator Joe Robach (among others) in attendance. Since then, we have been working with stakeholders to find solutions to move these properties forward towards revitalization. Two of the properties have rehabilitation plans in the works.

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Five to Revive press conference held in May, 2013 at the Pulaski Library. [Photo courtesy Richard Margolis]

4. Free Academy

2013 saw the completion of the rehabilitation of the Free Academy at 13 S. Fitzhugh St. in Rochester. One of downtown’s most recognizable buildings, the Free Academy had long been vacant. The award-winnng rehab project was completed by developers George and Katia Traikos.

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5. Inside Downtown Tour

Our Inside Downtown Tour in the Cascade District sold out. Nearly 2000 ticket holders toured rehabbed historic buildings in a downtown Rochester that is experiencing an exciting revitalization. The Tour showcased pivotal and award-winning adaptive reuses, including Bridge Square, the mid-century modern 44 Exchange, the Free Academy, and modern infill townhouses on Plymouth Ave.


6. Stone-Tolan Historic Site

Due to the generosity of the Davenport-Hatch Foundation and the Rochester Area Community Foundation, this summer we were able to bring in some of the finest craftsmen in the region to bring this spectacular property back to its former glory.  Master carpenters Matt Sweger and Eric Cady rebuilt custom wooden storm windows, repaired trim, rebuilt animal pens and the wooden well as well as completed repairs on the historic barn. Tim McGrath and his meticulous crew of painters painted not only the house and barn but also the majestic wooden fence that encloses the heirloom apple orchard and runs the length of the property.


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Stone-Tolan Historic Site. Photo courtesy Richard Margolis.

7. Clarendon Stone Store

After a year and a half of cooperative marketing efforts and preservation advocacy with the Town of Clarendon, the Clarendon Stone Store was sold (for $1!) to new owners who have already begun rehabbing this iconic 1836 landmark. We can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

Town Supervisor Richard Moy, right, presented the keys of the Clarendon Stone Stone to Sue and Joe Fertitta on Friday. The couple also was presented a souvenir T-Shirt from the town’s bicentennial. An image of the store is on the back of the shirt. Photo courtesy OrleansHub.com.

8. Over $15,000 in grant money

In the second year of the Preservation Grant Fund program, we provided $15,100 to help kickstart rehab projects for at-risk properties throughout the region. Grant recipients included: the Sampson Theatre in Penn Yan, Genesee Baptist Church in Rochester, Pratt Opera Theater in Albion, Church of God and Saints in Christ (former Leopold St. Shul) in Rochester, Pulaski Library in Rochester, Valentown Hall in Victor, Kingston Hotel in Canaseraga, and College Hall at the Elim Bible Institute in Lima.

Pratt Opera Theater in Albion.

9. 660 W Main

Working with neighborhood residents, we advocated for the preservation and reuse of this vacant historic church in Rochester. Claiming that the building was a hazard and unfit for rehabilitation, in 2012, the owner proposed replacing the historic building with a new Dollar General store. A structural engineer’s report, funded by a Landmark Society grant, determined that the building was structurally sound. Although the ultimate fate of 660 W Main still remains uncertain, the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals denied the owner’s application for a variance to demolish the building.


10. Ghost Walk’s 20th Anniversary

The award-winning Landmark Society Ghost Walk reached its 20th anniversary of sharing Rochester’s architecture and historic in a dramatic, spooky format.


11. 19th Ward project begins

Working closely with the 19th Ward Community Association, we began a project to create four National Register Historic Districts in the 19th Ward neighborhood. National Register listing will allow homeowners to qualify for the NYS historic homeowner rehab tax credits, helping strengthen ongoing revitalization efforts in the neighborhood. To help complete this project, The Landmark Society and the 19th Ward Community Association were awarded generous grant funding from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, the Preservation League of New York State, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


12. Diamond Jubilee Celebration

Along with about 300 of our closest friends (members, donors and supporters), in November we celebrated 75 years of past accomplishments and the success of our new initiatives.

Over 300 members and supporters attended the Diamond Jubilee Celebration

Over 300 members and supporters attended the Diamond Jubilee Celebration

13. 75th Anniversary Campaign

At our Diamond Jubilee Celebration, we announced the successful completion of our 75th Anniversary fundraising campaign. Thanks to our many generous supporters we surpassed our goal, raising $555,000 to fund new initiatives and re-invigorate existing programs.

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Hudson River Valley Travel Tour

Hudson River Valley Sojourn- September 15-18, 2014
Registration Deadline: June 9, 2014

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We’re off to that storied region of New York State which features over 300 years of history, architecture, gardens, and breathtaking vistas!  This four day/three night coach tour will explore some of the most extravagant historic properties in the eastern United States when we visit 19th-century estates, restored mansions, and quaint villages along this fabled river valley.  You’ll get a chance to live the lifestyle also, as we include an overnight stay at the remarkable Mohonk Mountain House. One of North America’s most famous historic hotels and situated in a dramatic, fairy-tale setting amidst an 8,000-acre nature reserve, Mohonk was recently voted the number one spa resort in the United States.   So, save these dates:  SEPTEMBER 15-18, 2014 for an unparalleled experience discovering the scenic Hudson Valley.

For more info and to register for this trip, please click here.

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.


Photo Credit: Bero Architecture PLLC



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.”

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!

Stewardship Award: Clarkson Academy

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 Stewardship Award recognizes an organization or municipality that has provided continued care of and commitment to the preservation of an architecturally and/or historically significant property in our 9-county region over a period of years.

Clarkson Academy
8339 Ridge Road West, Town of Clarkson, Monroe County


Listed in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, this picturesque, two-story, Greek Revival schoolhouse was built in 1853, to replace the Academy, which burned the previous year.  For over 100 years, this landmark building was used for educational purposes, hosting Academy, high school, and elementary students in its two classrooms.  Located on the campus of the Clarkson Congregational Church, the building was vacant for over 20 years and suffered from deferred maintenance.  In 2003, the Clarkson Historical Society was established, with a goal to restore the Academy building, which is unique in Monroe County.  They negotiated a long-term lease for the Academy and began consultations with preservation architect John Bero.


For the next decade, Society members, led by president Don Lage, worked on this challenging rehabilitation, with hundreds of volunteers, in-kind services from local craftsmen, and on-going support from the Town of Clarkson.  Grants from the Rochester Area Community Foundation and New York State help fund this remarkable project, which included extensive repairs to the interior and exterior, restoration of the wood windows, new electrical, heating, and plumbing systems, as well as structural repairs to the bell tower. The restored building now hosts meetings of the Society, other local groups, and special community programs throughout the year.

Visit our Success Stories page to see more previews of this year’s winners and check out winners from 2012!

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


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!