Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lightning strikes once...

How likely is it that when lightning strikes a neighborhood of several thousand homes, it hits the historic district? And how likely is it that of the several hundred historic structures it hits the one deemed the most important? And all that on the eve of the annual home tour... Well, this exactly what happened in Maplewood when on Friday, June 13 (no joke) lightning struck and severely damaged the Vanderbeck House on Lake Avenue.

The Vanderbeck House is one of the oldest and most prominent residences on Lake Avenue, and reflects Rochester’s post-Civil War expansion. Built in 1874 by Andrew Vanderbeck, a farmer and saw mill owner from Parma, it is one of the most distinguished examples of the Second Empire architectural style in the entire county.

This incident shows the inherent fragility of our architectural heritage. It is not enough to protect some of this heritage, we must protect as much of it as possible, for part of it will be lost to unpredictable events. In this particular case most of the exterior fa├žade, the molding and dentil trim flowing around each window on the third floor, and the large hood supported by heavy consoles over the second story window were mercifully not damaged. Given adequate funding the majestic gray and red slate mansard roof might still be saved. But we should view this event as a wake up call for the entire community to advocate preservation.

Posted by Nicholas Zumbulyadis, Maplewood resident and longtime Landmark Society volunteer

The photo of the Vanderbeck House is from the National Register nomination for the house. To see the complete nomination, search the name at the NYSOPRHP National Register search website (click "Basic Criteria in the upper right; enter "Vanderbeck" in the "Property Name" field and click "Results" in the upper right; you will then have the option of viewing text or photos).


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