Best of 2021: Preservation in WNY


We were so busy at the end of 2021 that we didn’t have a chance to look back at the 2021 preservation successes until early 2022!

Thank you to everyone who supports our work; together we can make a difference in communities across Western New York. You can continue to support successes in your community by donating to our organization.

Here’s to many more successes in 2022!

1. Landmark Staff (and office!) updates!

This year we bid farewell to Cynthia Howk and Beverly Gibson, who both retired in 2021.  We also welcomed four new staff members: Megan Klem started  as Preservation Planner at the end of 2020; Becky Timmons and Ryan Jarles joined in April 2021 as Preservation Outreach Coordinator and Preservation Planner; and Lori Ducharme took Beverly’s place as Horticulturalist in June.  We also completed work on the Warner Castle loggia, giving us another great space for small meetings and staff gatherings.

2. A new Five to Revive list and a few success stories!

In November, we announced our 2021 Five To Revive (read more here), which included the Inner Loop North Infill Project in the City of Rochester (Monroe County); St. Michael’s Church and Surrounding Neighborhood in the City of Rochester (Monroe County); Alasa Farms in the Town of Sodus (Wayne County); Phelps Hotel in the Village of Phelps (Ontario County); and Epworth Hall at Silver Lake Institute in the Town of Castile (Wyoming County). 


In 2021, we saw progress at several previous Five to Revive properties, including the Former Wollensack Optical Company Building in the City of Rochester (Monroe County, 2015 Five to Revive); Parrott Hall in the City of Geneva (Ontario County, 2018 Five to Revive);the Glenny Building in the Main St. East/North Clinton Avenue Retail District in the City of Rochester (Monroe County, 2015 Five to Revive); the Sampson Theatre in the Village of Penn Yan (Yates County, 2013 Five to Revive) and the Lehigh Valley Railroad Roundhouse in the Village of Manchester (Ontario County, 2017 Five to Revive). Click the links to read more about these exciting restoration and redevelopment projects.


3. YUPs continue sharing their love of historic architecture

The YUPs continued to expand their educational offerings this year, offering 27 in-person and virtual classes to over 600 participants. C with a new presentation on Rochester’s Great Architects. Adapting to the ongoing pandemic, they partnered with the Rochester Brainery to offer a number of Zoom classes on Rochester’s Great Architects, Historic House Interior Design, and a new Halloween-themed class called “Architecture in Film & Media: The Spooky Edition.” They also led several “Architecture in the Wild” walking tours in Rochester’s Maplewood and South Wedge neighborhoods.

4. National Register Nominations

As part of our Preservation Planning Services, Landmark staff completed five National Register nominations–one in the Village of Avon and four in the Town and Village of Naples (three districts and one individual nomination).  This 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. Listing these historic districts in the National Register of Historic Places will allow property owners access to state and federal historic tax credit programs. We also worked with Bero Architecture and residents of the Gregory Tract in the City of Rochester to complete an additional nomination.

5. Virtual Tours

We didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of our tours, we just got creative with them!  In 2021, we offered two Inside Downtown Tours, one House & Garden Tour featuring Waterfront Properties around the region, and a very special new Homes for the Holidays Virtual Experience. These four professionally-produced tour videos gave participants an inside look at properties that might never be accessible to the in-person public. Thank you to everyone that purchased tickets to these online tours to help us continue to meet our fundraising goals despite Covid-19 concerns.

6. Celebrating St. Joseph’s Park and Living Landmarks

This special urban park continued to host special events throughout the year. 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 a summer lunchtime concert series.

St. Joseph’s Park was also featured in Episode 2 of our new Living Landmarks video series, which premiered in 2021. Host and Landmark Trustee Shawn Dunwoody showed how partnerships and collaborations helped to save and repurpose a neighborhood landmark after a devastating fire. 

7. Historic Barn Rehabilitation Tax Credit signed into law

A tax program designed to help property owners restore historic barns across rural and upstate New York was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul.  This will allow property owners “to apply with the State Historic Preservation Office for a 25% tax credit to restore barns constructed before 1945 back to productive use or into small businesses such as craft breweries, event spaces, and the like, to foster economic growth.”  For more information, click here.

8. Conference goes virtual for second year 

We examined tough questions about the future of the historic preservation movement by again facilitating and administering The NY Statewide Preservation Conference. We started the Conference with a Small Developer Virtual Seminar presented by Incremental Development Alliance. Day Two featured a Keynote with Elon Cook Lee, Director of Interpretation and Education at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Sessions were offered in four topical tracks: Community-Based Projects, Preservation Project Case Studies, New Preservation Practices, and Big Picture Project Case Studies.

9. Administered GVRR Round 1 and opened up Round 2 

In partnership with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, we awarded Round 1 funding through our Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization grant program (funded by the National Park Service, with matching funds from the Rochester Area Community Foundation). Awards totaling more than $300,000 went to: Holley Odd Fellows Hall, Epworth Hall at Silver Lake Institute, American Hotel in Lima, Hollywood Theater in Gowanda, Mills Mansion in Mount Morris, and Palmer Opera House in Cuba. Round 2 applications are currently open and will be accepted through March 31, 2022.

10. Historic Resource Surveys  

As part of our fee for service work, Landmark staff completed a historic resource survey in the Village and Town of Nunda (Livingston County). 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 identified a proposed historic district in the Village of Nunda and a potential future historic district in the Hamlet of Dalton within the Town of Nunda. With these findings, Nunda 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.


11. OCTavern Festival and other new ways to celebrate Stone-Tolan Historic Site

We found new ways to celebrate Stone-Tolan Historic site, by developing Facetime Live tours for 4th and 5th graders unable to attend in person due to the ongoing pandemic. In October, we premiered a new, in-person event with Covid protocols in place: The OCtavern Festival. Reserved seatings offered a chance to raise a glass in the oldest extant building in our area, the 216-year-old tavern; an artisan festival on the grounds welcomed the community free of charge. Stone-Tolan is also featured in the third episode of our Living Landmarks series, which will be released in early 2022.

12. Landmark Travel Tours are back!

After a long hiatus due to the pandemic, we were finally able to resume travel his year, with our intimate small group trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake in early December. Twelve travelers joined Landmark staff on a three day trip that including wine tastings, two holiday shows at the world-class Shaw Festival (Holiday Inn and A Christmas Carol), sumptuous meals, and plenty of time for shopping, exploring the historic downtown, and relaxing at the Pillar and Post Inn and Spa.

2022/2023 trips are in the works, including a sell-out trip to Portugal/Douro River Cruise scheduled for April 2022; a Holland, Michigan’s Tulip Festival trip in May 2022; and a Rhine River cruise from Amsterdam, and ending with a stay in Switzerland in April/May 2023. 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!

13. New LGBTQ Landmarks Initiatives

Our 6th LGBTQ Historic Walking Tour in the fall celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Empty Closet publication and LGBTQ Women’s History. An in-person tour was held on November 6th, and a virtual tour, including additional sites, was presented on November 10th. Thanks to our partners, Evelyn Bailey of the Out Alliance, the Human Rights Campaign, ImageOut – Rochester’s LGBT Film Festival, and the City of Rochester. Visit our LGBTQ Landmarks Initiative page for more information. 

14. Completed Jewish Landmarks Survey

The Landmark Society was generously funded by the Farash Foundation and the Esther Krakower Fund at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester to conduct a survey of properties in Monroe County associated with the Jewish community. We worked with a committee that was comprised of leaders in the Jewish community, preservationists, local historians, and neighborhood advocates to identify sites of Jewish significance and narrow that list to approximately 80 representative sites for the survey. This survey is the initial step in a broader Rochester Religious Landmarks Initiative that LSWNY is introducing, although this particular project was not limited to Jewish houses of worship.

15. Expanded Rochester’s Third Ward Historic District

The Landmark Society worked with the State Historic Preservation Office to expand the Third Ward (Corn Hill) Historic District in Rochester (Monroe County). The original district, comprised of about seven blocks, was listed in 1974, and includes many of Rochester’s oldest homes. The boundary expansion adds nine new streets and more than 140 buildings, and the documentation for the expansion includes the African American presence in the neighborhood, which began in the 19th century and extended into the 20th century. Expanding the district will allow more homeowners to take advantage of New York State Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Tax Credits.

The Landmark Society continues to support the efforts of the Clarissa Street community and Center for Teen Empowerment. Youth History Ambassadors from the Center, along with Clarissa Street Elders, presented a session titled “Clarissa Uprooted: Youth & Elders Uncover The Story of Black Rochester” during the 2021 Statewide Preservation Conference held in November.

16. Provided Preservation Services in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood

We continued to provide quarterly workshops and mini-grants to homeowners in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood in Rochester (Monroe County).

17. Continued providing information and services through our Old House Help program

We continued to assist homeowners with historic tax credit applications, technical advice, and contractor referrals through our Old House Help program. Landmark Trustee Jerry Ludwig continued to educate readers on rehabilitation and common old house issues through “The Home Front” column in Landmarks Magazine.

18. Worked to expand districts in neighborhoods surrounding Highland Park

Working with our new neighbors, we partnered with the Highland Park Conservancy, Highland Park Neighborhood Association, Azalea and Lilac neighbors to expand tax credit-eligible historic districts in the neighborhoods surrounding Highland Park.

19. Worked to increase Tax Credits for rehabilitation of commercial properties in New York

Along with a statewide coalition, we successfully advocated to increase the New York State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit from 20% to 30% of the qualified rehabilitation expenses, for commercial projects under $2.5 million in costs.

20. Advocated for residents in the Inner Loop North/Hinge neighborhoods of Rochester

As American cities rethink urban highways, the City of Rochester has led the way with the removal and infill of the Inner Loop East. The City is now moving forward with evaluation and planning to convert some or all of the northern section of the Inner Loop. 

Along with residents on both sides of the Inner Loop and our friends at Hinge Neighbors, we are advocating for a neighborhood-driven and community-centered design that will physically reconnect neighborhoods and help foster equity and investment. With the Inner Loop North project, Rochester has the potential to become a nationwide model for equitable highway removal and infill.

We’ve named the Inner Loop North Infill Project one of our 2021 Five to Revive, and are actively working with Hinge Neighbors and Flower City Folk to collect oral histories and conduct a historic resource survey of the neighborhoods on either side of the Inner Loop North.

21. Historic buildings played an important part role in bringing more affordable housing to the region

Rochester’s historic Hickey Freeman building will soon house 134 affordable senior housing units within the structure that has operated (and will continue to operate!) as an upscale men’s clothing manufacturer on North Clinton Avenue since 1912. Home Leasing will be the developer of the new units.

The Landmark Society recently recognized Holley Gardens in the Village of Holley (Orleans County) with the 2021 Barber Conable Award in recognition of the impressive rehabilitation of the 1931 Holley High School into 41 mixed-income apartments and the new administrative headquarters of the village of Holley, a project completed by Home Leasing Corp., Edgemere Development LLC, and Glasow Simmons Architecture LLP using the Historic Investment Tax Credits for buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Home Leasing also partnered with the Urban League of Rochester Economic Development Corporation (ULREDC) to rehabilitate Rochester’s historic Wollensack Optical building into 22 apartments for small families. 


Best of 2021: Preservation in WNY