Best of 2019: 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 2019 with our Top 19 preservation successes.

Thank you to everyone who supports our work; together we can make a difference in communities across WNY. You can continue to support successes in your community by donating to our Annual Fund.

Here’s to many more successes in 2020!

1. The Landmark Society moves!

We sold our longtime headquarters in Corn Hill, the Hoyt-Potter House, to an excellent steward, Monica McCullough of MM Development Advisors (check out the Member Profile in our Winter issue of Landmarks magazine to learn more about Monica). And we moved into our new home in Highland Park at Warner Castle. Interior construction is still ongoing but we’ve made a lot of progress and are loving our new home!

2. Holley High School begins its long-awaited transformation

Home Leasing began a $17 million rehabilitation of the former Holley High School. One of our first Five to Revive listings in 2013 and vacant since the 1980s, this was a property that many thought could never be saved. Home Leasing is converting the property into a mixed-income, mixed-residential, and commercial development with 41 affordable apartments for seniors. We couldn’t be more delighted to see it moving forward!


3. Another Five to Revive building safe!

Facing demolition to make way for a gas station and convenience store, we included the Huntington Building in Seneca Falls on our 2018 Five to Revive list. Things were not looking for good this former factory until a last minute change of heart by the owner, who now plans to transfer ownership to a local developer who will rehabilitate the building into residential units. It looks like we can call this one safe!

4. Progress at Parrott Hall

Parrott Hall took a major step forward this year as we worked with the Parrott Hall Coalition to fundraise and begin stabilization. This summer, the Coalition gained access to the building and took its first look inside. There is a lot of work to be done but we’re optimistic that 2020 will bring more progress. As we speak, plans are underway to stabilize and patch the large hole in the main roof.

5. Tour of the Boynton House

We partnered with the team that managed the extensive rehabilitation of Rochester’s only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, Bero Architecture, PLLC, to host the first ever ticketed public tour of the house. Thanks to our volunteers, Bero Architecture, and, of course, the property owners, we raised over $9,000 and nearly 200 members of the public got a look inside this architectural gem.

6. YUPs share their love of historic architecture

The YUPs expanded their educational offerings this year with a new presentation on Rochester’s Great Architects. They partnered with the Rochester Brainery early in the year for the debut of this talk and repeated it again this past fall–both to crowds of over 150! The YUPs loved seeing the enthusiasm for our local architecture and its designers!

7. Woodlawn Cemetery Chapel restoration completed

Our staff have been involved with this project since 2015, when we first toured a dark, neglected building with failing plaster and water leaks. In November, the Canandaigua Cemetery Association unveiled the completed project. The non-denominational chapel is now available for meetings, weddings, special events, and more. Such an exciting and satisfying transformation!

8. Historic Resource surveys around the region

As part of our fee for service work, Landmark staff completed three historic resource surveys–in the Village of Avon; Town and Village of Naples; and in the hamlet of Port Gibson in the Town of Manchester (the only community in Ontario County that touches the Erie Canal!). This survey work was funded in part by the Preserve New York grant program, a signature grant program of the New York State Council on the Arts and the Preservation League of New York State. Our survey results identified three potential historic districts in the Village of Naples and one large residential and commercial historic district in Avon. With these findings, Naples and Avon can choose to move forward with listing the historic districts in the National Register of Historic Places so that property owners can get access to state and federal historic tax credit programs.

9. The House & Garden Tour goes to Irondequoit

For the first time in many years, we took the House & Garden Tour to the Town of Irondequoit and we’re sure glad we did! We enjoyed a great welcome from the Town of Irondequoit and its citizens. We had over 1800 attendees, many of whom attended the Tour for the first time. Stay tuned for info about 2020–the Tour’s 50th anniversary!

10. St. Joseph’s Park a special gathering place

Photo courtesy JMS Studio & Gallery

This special urban park continued to host special events throughout the year, including a magical snowy wedding in January. Thanks to our partners at Bella Events, the park was booked solid during the wedding season. We also partnered with Eastman School of Music to host new musical offerings–the Gamelan Ensemble and JapKam Duo.

11. Tavern Takeovers expand

In August, we partnered with RocCity Rotary, WXXI, and WXXI’s Flower City Beer Choir on another successful takeover of the historic tavern at the Stone-Tolan House Historic Site. Beer from Silver Lake Brewing Project, live music, campfire s’mores, and more was enjoyed by all!

12. Driving Park Hotel saved

Driving Park Hotel – After

The only remnant of the Driving Park racetrack, this former hotel building was abandoned and slated for demolition early this year. The YUPs showed it some love in February with their annual heart bombing. With assistance from our Preservation Grant Fund, Rochester Refugee Resettlement Services was able to negotiate a transfer of ownership with the bank and this summer and fall they rehabilitated the building to provide housing for refugees.

Driving Park Hotel – Before

13. Travel Tours back by popular demand

This year, we repeated some of our most popular travel tours: Cuba, Niagara-on-the-Lake, a holiday trip to Canada, and the Hudson Valley. Plus we took new trips to New Orleans and Prague. These trips offer an opportunity for us to get to know our members, see new architecture, get to know different cultures, and they provide an important source of revenue for our work. Thank you to all who joined us!

14. Park Avenue Historic District complete!

After several years of fundraising and painstaking research, the Park Avenue Historic District is officially complete! The district was approved by the NY State Review Board in September and has been sent on to the National Park Service for a final sign-off. Homeowners can now take advantage of the NYS Historic Homeowners Tax Credit program. Don’t forget! You can still support the district and show your neighborhood pride by purchasing a Park Ave. is Porches t-shirt.

15. We turned 80!

Civil War Veterans Memorial in Cattaraugus County, a past grant recipient.

Thanks to the support of so many of our members, grant funders, and corporate sponsors, we exceeded our goal for our 80th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign. With your help, we raised over $300,000 to support our Preservation Grant Fund, our historic properties, and our mission-driven work.

16. Stonewall: 50 Years Out exhibit

Through our LGBTQ Initiative, we partnered with the City Historian, the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, and many others to organize the exhibition, Stonewall: 50 Years Out. This exhibit commemorated the 50th anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in NYC which sparked the modern LGBTQ+ Civil Rights Movement. It focused on Rochester’s significant role in the Movement, including passage of the NY State Marriage Equality Act in 2011.

17. Another save in the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood

Just this month, we celebrated along with neighbors and City officials, as neighborhood resident and property owner, Cynthia Silver, unveiled the completed rehabilitations of the homes at 54 and 54.5 Madison Street. Both of these homes were in dire condition prior to rehab. Using salvaged materials and respecting their historic character, Cynthia created another amazing success story for this special city neighborhood. (Click here for more before and after images).

18. Conference shifts focus to diversity, equity, and inclusion

The NY Statewide Preservation Conference and preservation in New York State took another step forward this year with content focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in historic preservation. We started the Conference with a daylong workshop, Increasing Cultural Competency in Historic Preservation, increased the diversity of speakers and topics in our breakout sessions, and featured a Keynote with Lee Bey focused on creating a new blueprint for addressing the importance of diversity in preservation. The 2020 Conference will continue this focus because preservation must help tell the stories of people from all racial, ethnic, cultural, gender, and generational backgrounds.

19. Landmark Society receives grant from 1772 Foundation

In early 2019, we were honored to receive a grant from the 1772 Foundation, a nationwide organization that works to ensure the safe passage of our historic buildings and farmland to future generations. With this grant, we are studying the feasibility of launching a Preservation Revolving Fund, an important tool used by many preservation organizations to help save at-risk properties. Stay tuned for updates in 2020!

Of course, none of these successes would be possible without the support of our members, donors, sponsors, tour-goers, and the community at large. So THANK YOU for supporting our work to protect irreplaceable historic places and revitalize communities.


Best of 2019: Preservation in WNY