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Special Citation: Portageville Chapel Organ Retreat

The Landmark Society’s 2014 Preservation Awards will be presented this year at a special event on Sunday, November 16 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.

A Special Citation provides recognition for projects that do not fit into other categories or recognizes outstanding individual or group accomplishments in the field of historic preservation.

Portageville Chapel Organ Retreat
Route 19, hamlet of Portageville, Wyoming County

Portageville Chapel Image courtesy of the Portageville Chapel
Portageville Chapel                                                             Image courtesy of the Portageville Chapel

Located in a magnificent setting adjacent to Letchworth State Park, the Portageville Chapel organ retreat was created to provide a place of rest and renewal for professional organists. Originally built as a Universalist church in 1841, this handsome Greek Revival building continued as a house of worship into the early 1980s. Local residents then campaigned to save the vacant building, which was converted into a retail shop. By the 1990s, retail use ceased, but merchandise remained in the building through the next twenty years.

In 2007, organist and Wyoming Co. native Tim Smith formed a not-for-profit organization, which purchased the property and began its restoration as an organ retreat. Overgrown trees, deteriorated structures and other debris were removed from the site. Funded, in part, by a grant from the NYS Office of Historic Preservation, the extensive rehabilitation project included structural repairs, a new roof, a modern electrical system and restored Gothic window sash. The original pews were returned to the sanctuary and a modern pipe organ installed. An adjacent house was purchased and refurbished to provide accommodations for visiting musicians. Listed in the National and State Registers of Historic Places, the restored Portageville Chapel organ retreat is unique in the U.S. and provides a new and exciting use for an important landmark in the Genesee Valley.

Newly installed modern pipe organ.
Newly installed modern pipe organ.                 Image Courtesy of the Landmark Society
Organ and original pews Image courtesy of the Landmark Society
Organ and original pews                                     Image courtesy of the Landmark Society

 

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Special Citation: Portageville Chapel Organ Retreat

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