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2019 Inside Downtown Tour: East & Alexander

2019 Inside Downtown Tour: East & Alexander

Every year, The Landmark Society’s Inside Downtown Tour opens up urban environments where folks are creating exciting spaces to live and work in Rochester: we visit re-purposed spaces, renovated homes, lovingly preserved places, and newly built sites that are designed with sensitivity to the overall built environment. This year’s tour will take place in the neighborhood around East Avenue & Alexander Street in Rochester’s East End, on Friday, September 27 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, and on Saturday, September 28th from 11 am to 4 pm. The tour is self-guided, allowing tour-goers to visit sites in any order they would like at any time during the event that they would like, with the same sites open on both days. Ticket-holders can tour either or both days, but are allowed only one entry to each tour site over the two days. New this year, ticket holders may also elect to attend an after-party immediately after the tour closes on Saturday afternoon for an additional fee (more information below).

Tickets: Tickets sales online and by phone have closed. During the tour, tickets will be available at tour headquarters, Metro CoWork (350 East Avenue), at $35 for all. Tickets also remain at Parkleigh (215 Park Ave.) for that price. The Tour after-party at 80W restaurant is an additional $15 per attendee.

While getting tickets for the tour, consider this other opportunity in the neighborhood:

  • Friday Night Exodus to Jazz Concert at Anthology – Stay longer on Friday night to enjoy a concert by Toronto Jazz Fusion group Four80East, with opening act Paradigm Shift, at Anthology (336 East Ave.)! Tickets purchased using this link will generate a donation to The Landmark Society.
Four80East co-leaders
Four80East co-leaders

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Tour Neighborhood: The Tour will take us on East Avenue and Alexander Street, an area undergoing transformation. The former Inner Loop is no longer a “moat” separating downtown from the rest of the neighborhood. We will bridge that former gap by extending the tour up East Avenue into the East End, including The Sagamore and Charlotte Square.

2019 Inside Downtown Tour: East & Alexander 1
Home Leasing’s Charlotte Square development bridges the old Inner Loop, providing new connectivity in this historic downtown neighborhood.

 

East Avenue has been a major thoroughfare for over two hundred years, growing from a Seneca trail that was widened into a road in 1811 During Rochesterville’s early days, it was known as the Road to Pittsford and became a primary rural highway for local stages, many of which were bringing early tourists to see the High Falls of the Genesee. It wasn’t until the late 1830s that construction of the first elegant mansions began, including the section of Avenue we think of as part of downtown.

That residential nature was maintained on East Avenue and Alexander Street through much of the 19th century. The wealthy residents were pretty protective of their neighborhood. In 1863 they united to block the extension of horse-drawn cars by the Rochester and Brighton Street Railway on East Avenue. Instead the horse-cars were routed from East Main to Alexander Street, then back to Monroe, Clinton and Main – keeping the trolleys off of East Ave. I’m sure Hiram Sibley was relieved that his sprawling estate at the corner of East and Alexander would maintain a country air, complete with a “deer park” and goat yard.

How ironic that this very corner would lead to an advance in the automobile era rudely invading East Avenue: in the late 1890’s Rochesterian J. B. West invented the city’s first horseless carriage. He motored the steam-powered vehicle around the city, at a time when it was not determined whether they were safe – or legal. When his vehicle spooked a laundry cart and horse, destroying the cart, West was sued by the cart owner. The judge determined that horseless carriages had as much right to the road as other means of transportation – setting the precedent for the automobile invasion.

As the 20th century dawned and automobile traffic grew, East Avenue and Main became less desirable as a residential area – but quite popular for business ventures. Today we’ll see the growth of mixed use in the area – private residences, businesses and cultural attractions.

More tour sites are being added, the ones that have been confirmed include:

  • Charlotte Townhomes – an elegant townhome in a homeowners association, offering multiple floor living space.
  • Charlotte Square Apartments – several apartments showcasing different layouts, including one occupied by a master gardener. You’ll understand why she chose an apartment with a double width patio balcony.
  • 300 Alexander – several apartments in this historic structure will give you the flavor of life on Alexander Street… and see the most elegant workout room in Rochester.
  • Sagamore on East – you’ll get to contrast an “average”condominium with one of the expansive penthouses. There’s nothing average about either space!
  • CJS Architects and Roc Brewing Company – this mid-century modern building has perhaps the most unusual conference room walls. Plus: beer in the same building
  • Metro CoWork – our tour headquarters, but a tour stop in its own right. See the range of meeting spaces from a desk to an office suite – all beautifully designed.
2019 Inside Downtown Tour: East & Alexander 2
Metro CoWork, our tour headquarters, occupies the first floor of a recently rehabbed historic East Avenue building.

 

In addition, there will be two special events:

  • Friday Night Exodus to Jazz Concert at Anthology – Stay longer on Friday night to enjoy a concert by Toronto Jazz Fusion group Four80East, with opening act Paradigm Shift, at Anthology (336 East Ave.)! Tickets purchased using this link will generate a donation to The Landmark Society.
Four80East co-leaders
Four80East co-leaders

 

  • Saturday Evening After-Party – Extend the fun!  Join us for an after-party at 80W, a fabulous cocktail lounge in the tour area at 7 Lawrence St. Your additional $15 gets you light refreshments and your first wine, beer, non alcoholic drink OR the signature cocktail invented for us by the talented 80W bartenders, The Ward Wellington Ward Punch, named after a famed Rochester architect and inspired by a 1920’s cocktail recipe. Additional food and beverages available for purchase.