Friday, February 22, 2008

Preservation Planning in Fairport

Congratulations to the village of Fairport on the enactment of a new preservation ordinance, described in an article in this week's Fairport-East Rochester Post. The ordinance gives the village the authority to designate landmarks and districts, ensuring that vital resources in the village survive into the next generation. (Not sure what a local preservation ordinance is or how it differs from the National Register? Here's an explanation.)

The article alludes to the many years of work that went into building support for the ordinance. The mayor of Fairport, Fritz May, will be a speaker at our annual preservation conference, along with Palmyra mayor Vicky Daly; both will describe how their communities succeeded in instituting this important local planning tool. We hope to see the members of the new Fairport and Palmyra preservation boards at the preservation board training workshop at our conference, along with their peers in the 25 other municipalities in our nine-county region that have local ordinances.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Advocacy Coordinator

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Living Green in a Historic House

Just by living in my 1920s house, I am saving 21,962 gallons of gasoline.

I figured this out using the neat new calculators at These tools estimate the “embodied energy” (the total amount of energy that went into a building’s construction) an existing building contains, and how much energy would be needed to tear it down, dispose of its materials, and build something new. You can then convert those figures into a more tangible scale: gallons of gasoline.

Of course, this is only an estimate, but it’s a great way for preservationists to start putting some figures behind what we’ve known for a long time: as architect Carl Elefante memorably put it, “the greenest building is the one already built.”

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Advocacy Coordinator

Friday, February 8, 2008

Walking the walk into the next generation

I'll never forget the look on that kid's face.

On stage a lone man stood. His voice rang out, crisp, clear and strong. He was talking about how, for years, he was the property of another man. How he wasn't able to chase his own dreams. How, no matter how hard he broke his back in the fields, the money he earned went into another man's pocket. How all he knew was this life....

It wasn't possible for this man to dream about anything much different since this was the only life he knew. Eventually, through various circumstances, this man woke up a free man for the first time. He asked the audience to imagine how that would feel. The kids joined him in a mighty roar of "HUZZAH!"

And there the little boy sat, fixated, listening, unmoving.

(Not sure how many of you are parents, but to get a third-grade kid to sit still and listen is a feat unparalleled.)

Austin Steward, played with conviction by David Dwayne Clark, captivated the mind of this child -- and many others in the audience at the Hochstein on Thursday morning -- with his tales of going to school for the first time at the age of 23, sitting with children who knew more than him in order to learn to read, write and do math, and chasing his dreams of owning his own business. The impressionable minds of the young audience absorbed each and every word of Steward's messages of education, hard work, and the power of the indomitable human spirit.

And that look on the boy's face I spoke of earlier? My words can't do it justice. It was like he was seeing hope for the first time. He looked stronger, if that makes sense, all through hearing the struggles of a man who lived hundreds of years prior.

This is the reason Walk the Walk is so important. Sure, it's a celebration of heritage....sure, it's a voice for the common threads of history that tie us all together...sure, it's even a commentary on the shared human experience. However great those reasons are, they pale in comparison to this one: if it gives the hope and strength to persevere and achieve great things to at least one child faced with hardship, it has served more purpose than most of us can ever aspire to in life.

Posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, Director of Marketing

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Walkin' the Walk on 13WHAM

Check out this video interview of Cindy Boyer on 13WHAM TV from this morning's school performance of Walk the Walk!

Hope to see you Friday night at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 7 p.m., for the FREE public performance! Click here for more details.

"Archi-Trash?" Rethinking the Mid-20th Century

Do you get excited by that retro-ranch on your street? Have a “thing” for the funky old gas station or drive-through on your commute? Marvel at the modernity of Midtown Mall? If so, you’re exactly the kind of person we need.

The Landmark Society of Western New York and the Rochester chapter of the American Institute of Architects are partnering through a public survey effort to raise awareness of recent past architecture. Read more about The Landmark Society's work on recent past architecture (including our statements on Midtown Plaza) here.

If you have a favorite mid-century building in the area or know of a landmark in your neighborhood that was built between 1930 and 1970, we want to hear about it. Visit and tell us what you know about this structure or site and why it is important. We're looking for everything from early garages to major downtown office buildings - anything that tells the story of the mid-20th century in the Rochester area.

Once completed, the survey will allow the AIA to create a searchable database for those doing research on Rochester architecture or planning. It will also allow for possible nominations to the National, State and/or Local historic registers. Most importantly, it will take the first step towards proactive protection for more modern buildings.

Mid-century resources raise fascinating and tricky issues for preservationists. After all, these are the very resources whose construction spurred the growth of the preservation movement, as large swaths of historic fabric were often taken down for urban renewal or other modernization efforts in the post-WWII era. These resources are aesthetically very different from their more traditionally ornamented predecessors, the buildings we generally think of as "historic" and worth saving. To many people, these buildings are just not old enough or pretty enough to merit the same treatment as our 19th and early-20th century gems.

Yet now we have to look at these resources with a new eye, recognizing that they have their role in the history of our community. After all, in the early- to mid-20th century, 19th century buildings were seen as unfashionable or worse, and were dismissed and destroyed just as mid-20th century buildings and landscapes are today. Boston, Washington D.C., and other cities are grappling with these issues as notable but widely despised 20th-century buildings are facing potential demolition.

So what are your favorite mid-20th century buildings, structures and landscapes?

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Advocacy Coordinator

Happy Birthday to Pike Stained Glass Studios!

Congratulations to Pike Stained Glass on 100 years of outstanding craftsmanship! In recognition of its long tradition of artistry, Pike Stained Glass has been awarded two Landmark Society awards in recent years: a Special Achievement Award & the Craftsman Award. To celebrate its 100-year milestone, the company has hung a banner on the side of its historic home, the Smith-Gormley building on St. Paul Street - check it out when you're in the St. Paul district of downtown Rochester.

The company was founded by William Pike and is now directed by Valerie O’Hara, the third member of the Pike family at the helm. From the beginning, they specialized in large-scale, religious windows. The company has made its mark on upstate New York: you can see their work in hundreds of windows throughout New York State, including St. John the Evangelist Church on Humboldt St., Third Presbyterian Church on East Ave., Elmira’s Park Presbyterian Church, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Roberts Wesleyan College, Buffalo’s Knox Presbyterian Church, Cornell University’s Sage Chapel, and Pittsford’s Christ Church. The studio is also known for its excellent work in stained glass restoration.