Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Geva and Landmark Team Up To Celebrate Rochester's 175th Anniversary

Did you know that the building housing Geva Theatre Center was once a hospital? Did you know that as the Convention Hall, the building played host to prima ballerina Anna Pavlova, opera legend Enrico Caruso and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name a few? There were even dog shows at the former Convention Hall, as shown by the lovely woman to the right.

Geva Theatre Center and its employees are very proud of the fact that they reside in a building steeped in so much local history. And, of course, The Landmark Society is proud to fulfill our mission of sharing local history with the community and celebrate this rich legacy. We've teamed up to celebrate Rochester’s 175th Anniversary with a free lecture/discussion!

Cynthia Howk, Architectural Researcher for The Landmark Society and much sought after local lecturer will present The Historic Armory Building and the Washington Square Neighborhood on Saturday, October 3 at 11 a.m. in the Nextstage at Geva. Tickets are free, but must be reserved in advance by calling the box office at (585) 232-Geva or online here by clicking the "buy now" button.

(Photo courtesy of the Albert R. Stone Collection, RMSC)


Monday, September 28, 2009

A wealth of weatherization resources

Our beautiful September weather (in Rochester, anyway) has just turned blustery and cold! As the weather changes, you may be thinking about making your house more energy efficient. The National Trust recently put together an excellent Weatherization Guide for Older and Historic Buildings to help homeowners with this very topic. Here you'll find practical information on a variety of topics, including:

Of course, we have plenty of resources here in Rochester as well! Check out our publication Rehab Rochester, especially Chapter 6: Energy Conservation. You'll also want to attend our "Your Old House" workshop series, coming up in October and November. This fall's topics include sensible (and sensitive) options for heating and cooling old houses, sustainable and green practices to make your house more energy efficient, siding repair, and lead-safe work practices.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fulsome Frank Lloyd Wright Frenzy

Landmark Society’s Day tour

This past summer, I was a part of Landmark Society’s day tour to Buffalo for Frank Lloyd Wright’s legacy. Being an architecture graduate, I always wanted to visit these places and see the wonders of his thought and to determine, if what we were taught was really true or just exaggeration! I must admit, I was completely enthralled!

I have always been awed with FLW’s work, to me he is not only one of the father’s of modern movement, but somebody who laid the foundation of American architecture with his path breaking philosophies and designs for his time and age. Our tour started with a mystery bonus stop at the Boathouse, a project designed by FLW as a boathouse for University of Wisconsin, but could only be constructed in 2007, now the headquarters of West Side Rowing Club. It was fascinating to see, how FLW had the ability to make architecture which was timeless, after more than 100 years later, this piece looks so modern and appropriate even today. Unfortunately we could not go inside the building, but we got a sneak peek from the bus.

Our next stop was Darwin Martin house complex; we took an hour long tour of the facility and were fortunate enough to see another architectural marvel by one of the contemporary architect Toshiko Mori. This beautifully constructed glass box is an interpretive center where you can see the state of the art film on Darwin Martin, the businessman and the greatest architect of America, Frank Lloyd Wright. For me, visiting this house was very special as in my modern architecture class, I always learnt about the principles of Wright’s organic architecture, merging the interiors with exteriors, breaking the box and his itch for Beaux Arts style. Now I could see all these principles such beautifully tackled at the Darwin’s house. It was also fascinating to learn stories about his quirky nature and how he ruled his designs. It was interesting to learn that how obsessed he got with details and even designed the movement pattern in the house, with lowering the heights and narrowing the doorways.

We had a lunch stop at the famed Roycroft Inn in East Aurora, the unique Arts and Crafts community in upstate New York. It was interesting to learn that Elbert Hubbard, the original owner of the inn was Darwin Martin’s brother- in-law and hence was also related to Frank Lloyd Wright. The building was a great example of Arts and Crafts style but to me, the most fascinating aspect was the stature of this place in the history. I was so pleased to see that the building was saved with advocacy efforts by the Landmark Society and how it adds to the architectural and historical splendor of the area.

Our last and final stop was Graycliff, summer home of Isabelle and Darwin Martin in Derby. It is believed that Isabella never liked her house in Buffalo as the large eaves of the house could never let enough sunlight in and for this house she wanted Wright to design a house of sunlight. I have not yet been to falling waters, to me this house truly exemplified the philosophy of organic architecture, designing from the site and deriving inspiration from nature. The house stands on a 60’ high cantilevered cliff above Lake Eerie. He tried to recapture nature by merging the interiors with the exteriors by cantilevered, floating second floors, and corner glass window with uninterrupted views of the lake.

This tour is a must for all Frank Lloyd Wright’s admirers and we would like to thank everybody who could be a part of the trip. We have this tour next year as well, so sign up, before you miss it!

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reclaim some asphalt

PARK(ing) Day returns to Rochester this Friday!

PARK(ing) Day
is an annual, one-day, global event where community artists, activists, organizations, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks. Since 2005, the project has blossomed into a worldwide grassroots movement: PARK(ing) Day 2008 included more than 500 “PARK” installations in more than 100 cities on four continents, including several in Rochester!

(Ours last year was a blast. Hammocks, sidewalk chalk, books, relaxation and good conversation. A perfect way to spend a Friday!)

Creating these temporary parks allows an additional place for rest, respite, and socializing. This year's site, also at RoCo, will reflect the missions and current work of Rochester Contemporary Art Center(RoCo), RochesterCityLiving and The Landmark Society, affording visitors an opportunity to see what’s been lost to asphalt in this community, and to envision how this asphalt can be beautifully and productively reclaimed, thus illuminating the need, importance, and value of such spaces in our communities.

Come out on Friday to RoCo at 137 East Avenue and check out our park. This year's park is being created with a partnership of RoCo, the RochesterCityLiving program of The Landmark Society, School Without Walls, the City of Rochester, and Barthelmes Manufacturing Company, Inc.

Make your own! Let us know where you'll be. Anyone can participate in PARK(ing) Day, though it is strictly a non-commercial project, intended to promote creativity, civic engagement, critical thinking, unscripted social interactions, generosity and play. It was started in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design collective.

For more info on International PARK(ing) Day, see

posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, Director of Marketing


Monday, September 14, 2009

Save the gas station? Vote today!

An unusual, early 20th-century gas station in Geneva, NY is the topic of an online poll in the Finger Lakes Times today. (Scroll down to find the poll on the left-hand side of the page.) The Gigliotti Gas Station was named one of the Preservation League of New York State's "Seven to Save" sites in 2007. Read more about why it was so honored on the League's website, then take a moment to vote in the poll!

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


Thursday, September 10, 2009

More tax credit workshops!

Last week I posted a piece about two rehab tax credit workshops planned for September 22. If that's not enough education for you, you can also attend seminars in Syracuse and Buffalo (the latter includes a session on the tax credit available to owners of historic houses), as well as a conference in Schenectady on the broader issue of sustainable development. I've posted the list of events on our website, and will add to them if I hear of any others!

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Many "Who Knew?" and "Wow!" moments await you at the 2009 INSIDE DOWNTOWN TOUR

Mark Twain famously said something like "the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated" after his obituary was erroneously published in the New York Journal in 1897. This quotation has enjoyed wide usage in the ensuing century, employed by those needing to express that a certain expire did not actually transpire.

I succumb to the temptation to use this famous quote to describe downtown Rochester, to point out that in fact downtown is not only alive, but kicking rather auspiciously and enthusiastically. I must add that these are not the kickings of something clinging to life, but those of a group of energetic, enthusiastic, talented, and dedicated people responsible for downtown's progress and potential!

One great way to disavow any of your own grim notions of downtown's state--or similar notions planted into your head by others--is to join our upcoming, exciting INSIDE DOWNTOWN TOUR.

This annual tour, with tour opportunities on both Sept. 25 and 26, will be sure to provoke "Who Knew?" moments, and (re) invigorate your opinions and feelings about the present and future of our downtown.

This year, the tour focuses on the High Falls and Cascade Districts, where excellent urban living/working/playing is taking place within an array of beautiful renovated spaces and places, such as the Parry and Parazin Buildings, the Daily Record Building, and Buckingham Commons (whose rooftop terrace is by itself worth the price of the tour ticket). In addition, the tour will include a look at the Mills at High Falls, a handsome, brand-new residential development-- featuring 17 different floor plans--that's risen on the site of an old surface parking lot. The tour also includes a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Frontier Field complex, a marquee piece of the High Falls and Cascade Districts!

On the evening on Friday, September 25, the tour invites you to High Falls to see fabulous office spaces of several firms that have made High Falls their home.

Some of you might remember that we featured High Falls just three years ago on our Inside Downtown Tour. Why do it again, you might wonder? Well, so much remarkable new development has occurred in just that time, that we felt strongly behooved to invite you back for another inspiring inside look at our impressive downtown.

Downtown is the core of the city that is the core of our region. It is an important place, and an increasingly interesting and exciting place to live, work, and play. Join us September 25 and 26 to witness the important and inspirational development ongoing in this core of the core!

by Evan Lowenstein

Evan is Coordinator of RochesterCityLiving at the Landmark Society.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Learn more about the NYS Commercial Rehab Tax Credit

September 22 must be NYS Commercial Rehab Tax Credit day - there are two fantastic, free opportunities to learn more about this newly improved program.

Nixon Peabody LLP is hosting a free morning seminar at its Rochester office from 8 to 11 a.m. that day, cosponsored by the Preservation League of New York State, The Landmark Society of Western New York, Reznick Group P.C., and MacRostie Historic Advisors, LLC. A description of the program and online registration can be found here.

In the afternoon, Cannon Heyman & Weiss, LLP, is presenting a webinar on the commercial tax credit from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Learn “just the facts” from CHW about the Federal Historic Tax Credit and the newly expanded New York State Historic Tax Credit including a discussion of practical issues, monetizing credits to supplement other development sources, and the SHPO application and approval process. Conveniently log in on your desktop computer from the comfort of home or work. Questions may be submitted in advance or live during the Webinar.
For more registration information, contact Amanda McCrady at

Note that both of these educational opportunities will cover the commercial credits only (those available for income-producing properties, including rental residential, office, industrial, or retail buildings) - there will be no discussion of the residential credits available to private homeowners. For more on those credits, now available to thousands more homeowners in our region, stay tuned - we will be working with our partners at the state level to present workshops as the implementation details come together.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services