Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Survey Says...

How many of us remember that line from the old TV show "Family Feud?"

Here at The Landmark Society we are hoping to echo that line frequently in the next few weeks. And frankly, the answers will be up to you.

We're sending out a survey on family programming through our Landmark Alerts e-newsletter, on our website, and through this blog! We don't bug people often with a survey (I actually can't remember the last time) but we are really interested in getting feedback on what is important to our community members in family programming. We're searching for fun, enticing, convenient, affordable program ideas!

So here is our special request to take part in a brief survey on family programming at The Landmark Society.

If you have children, grandchildren or other young relatives under the age of 18 in the Rochester area, please participate! If you don't - please consider sharing the survey link with friends who might.

The survey is mostly multiple choice, and will take less than 10 minutes to complete. There are some optional comment sections, if you'd like to share more. All of the responses are confidential.

Here is the link to the survey: 2010 Family Survey

If you choose, you may opt to be entered in a drawing for some nice thank you gifts, including a Landmark Society family membership, free family admission to Full Moon Flashlight Tours, and other prizes.

We want really good representation from across the community, and we really need your help to spread this opportunity beyond our usual list of Landmark supporters. It's important that we hear from folks who may not know about our programs, not just those who have already attended.

Thank you so much for helping us "shine a light" on what is important in our family programming!

Submitted by Cindy Boyer, Director of Museums and Education


Friday, February 19, 2010

Campbell-Whittlesey to close, public meeting scheduled

On February 8, 2010, The Landmark Society Board of Trustees approved a motion to cease museum operations at the Campbell-Whittlesey house as of July 1, 2010, and to, in August 2010, begin actively marketing the property for sale.

The decision to close the house museum at Campbell-Whittlesey is the end result of over five years of strategic planning and in-depth studies of opportunities for the property's use. Last summer, we continued this process with the issuance of a press statement informing the public of our progress and inviting community participation in the dialogue about options for the property.

We have now scheduled a public meeting to hear your ideas that might assist us as we market Campbell-Whittlesey and seek its adaptive reuse. Our staff and trustees remain committed to the exploration of viable options that support the proper stewardship and the maintenance of the integrity of this historic treasure.

On behalf of the staff and board of trustees of The Landmark Society of Western New York, all are cordially invited to attend our public meeting on March 4, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the Powers Building, 8th Floor, 16 West Main Street in downtown Rochester. The Powers Building is located at the corner of Main and State Streets, and parking is available at the Sister Cities garage. Meeting attendees may only enter and exit the building from the 3rd floor skyway leading directly from the garage into the building. You may enter Sister Cities Garage from North Fitzhugh Street.

Refreshments will be served. Please RSVP by calling Carolyn at 546-7029 x 10 or emailing

About Campbell-Whittlesey: The Campbell-Whittlesey House is located at 123 South Fitzhugh Street in the Corn Hill Neighborhood. The 1836 house, one of the nation’s finest examples of Greek Revival architecture, has functioned since 1939 as a museum run by The Landmark Society. Options for the adaptive reuse of this remarkable Rochester historic site will help to re-imagine the building’s purpose as the Society seeks to reinsert it into active life.

posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, director of marketing


Friday, February 12, 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright gas station?

I learn something new in this job every day. FLW houses, yes. Even Lego sets. But gas stations? Who knew. Certainly not I. That is, until I saw this article from the Buffalo News:

Property transfer paves the way for Wright gas station
Helps plan to expand Pierce-Arrow Museum
By Jonathan D. Epstein

Updated: February 05, 2010

Businessman James T. Sandoro has transferred a pair of downtown properties to his transportation museum, paving the way for construction later this year of a re-creation of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed filling station and an expansion of the museum.

Sandoro this week shifted the properties at 211 Seneca St. and 268 Michigan Ave. to the Buffalo Transportation/ Pierce-Arrow Museum. The transaction was valued at $1.25 million, according to records in the Erie County clerk’s office, although Sandoro said it was just part of a “paper” transfer of all of his properties to the museum for estate planning purposes.

The move also was necessary as part of his plans to enlarge the transportation museum and build the gas station originally designed by the famous architect. He said he hopes that will draw about 50,000 people a year, up from about 10,000 now.

The entire project will ultimately cost $10 million to $12 million. Sandoro has already raised $6.3 million in state funds, with the rest to come from the state and private sources. He is contributing the real estate and his collection of about 250,000 pieces of transportation-related memorabilia, which are now housed in 13 buildings. The collection includes six Pierce-Arrow automobiles, thousands of car parts and other vehicles.

The 20,000-square-foot museum recently underwent a face-lift, with a new brick facade.

Sandoro, who owns several downtown parking lots and is executive director of the nonprofit museum, said he wants to break ground on the gas station in the spring with Gov. David A. Paterson.

He said he hopes to have the steel up by August and to finish the station by fall 2011, when the National Trust for Historic Preservation holds its annual convention here for the first time.

Plans call for a 60-foot-high glass-and-steel atrium that will enclose the gas station. Part of the gas domes and a 37-foot copper spire are already built and on display in the museum at Michigan and Seneca.

The next phase will be a 60,000-square-foot addition to the museum building, to house the rest of the collection and a minitheater that will show films on transportation and Pierce-Arrow history.

(Image: Artist’s rendering shows the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station that will be built at the Buffalo Transportation / Pierce-Arrow Museum at Michigan Avenue and Seneca Street by fall 2011.)

posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, director of marketing


Thursday, February 11, 2010

More than just a history program: come "Walk the Walk" with us on Friday

The Landmark Society is proud to present Walk the Walk: Encounters with Rochester's African-American Ancestors, especially at a time when our city needs as many strong role models as it can get. Please join us for a free performance this Friday.

This moving and entertaining performance features five "ancestors" from Rochester's past, each who illustrates a character lesson. Learn from from Austin Steward (David Dwayne Clark), a successful business leader in the 1830s, that one has to work for what is important in their life. The Dorsey orphan (Keyana Coley) shares how one should be friends with those who feel like they don't fit in. Anna Murray Douglass (Jacquelyn Dobson) and her husband, Frederick Douglass (K-Lon) emphasize that violence is never the answer, no matter how difficult the problem. All the vignettes are tied together by the often-hilarious, always poignant words of the narrator, Captain Sunfish (Shawn Dunwoody).

As you might guess, we strongly encourage families and youth to attend this program!

This unique event takes place at 7 p.m., Friday, February 12th at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, 141 Adams Street (directions). The performance will be followed with a cookie and coffee reception where you can chat with the actors and director.

Please help us spread the word by sending this information to your friends and colleagues - they will thank you for it! You may also read more about Walk the Walk, including our program for schoolchildren on our website.

Hope to see you there!

posted by Laura Keeney Zavala, director of marketing

Friday, February 5, 2010

If you walk the Walk, Talk the Talk, you can be anything!!!

Even the President of the United States……

Have you ever imagined if your ancestors came down back to life and told you about the struggles they went through to create a world that you enjoy today? How wonderful would that be? You can re-live the world that they lived and learn from their lives, experiences and will not repeat the mistakes they did…

Well over 1,000 school children had that chance today right here in your city at the Hochstein School of Music. What could be a better place to experience this magical moment of your history in such a pristine location? With its hardwood floors, plastered filigree detailed ceiling, curved balconies, stained glass windows and wood panels behind the stage— a perfect backdrop for such a performance. Yesterday and today, was the 14th annual presentation of Landmark Society’s premier program Walk the Walk, celebrating the Black history month. The program was an interactive illustration of significant snippets picked from Rochester’s history as told in a live theatre setting. Six eminent Black men and women from Rochester’s history came to life and spoke to the elementary and middle school kids and gave them lessons learnt from their lives.

The theatre was bustling with students all over and you could hear their chatter. From the back came a man in his frontier clothing with a stick made to resemble the antlers. He mentioned how different this place was now from the time he was here with wilderness and rattlesnakes everywhere. This was Captain Sunfish, our ancestor who introduces us to all the other ancestors.

Our first ancestor was Austin Steward, a very gritty slave brought into New York, who always had the dream of starting his own business. He talked to kids about bullying and how to never give up your dreams, even if there are hurdles on the way.

Following him, came our famed Frederick Douglass one of the most celebrated citizens of Rochester. He told kids the story of his life and how he traced his path from slavery to freedom. The most interesting part of his story was that he asked kids philosophical questions and helped them think for themselves. The first question was, do any of you want to be a slave? We get an automatic loud response NO. Then comes the tricky question, do any of you want to be a master? We get an instinctive response of YES, followed by an emphatic NO. To me, the most interesting aspect of this performance was the interactive element, where kids were questioned to think for themselves. I must applaud Mr. Douglass for resolving kid’s dilemma about being a master. He said that you can be a master of words. It is wisely said, a pen is mightier than a sword. So if you master your words, you can be an orator like me.

Mr. Douglass was followed by his wife Anna Murray Douglass, a deeply touching act, where she talked about the struggles of her day to day life. Although she was the wife of a world famous man, but at home she had to fight for equal treatment from people at home. After her came Mary Jackson, an orphan whose mom died of influenza and she was moved into an orphanage. She talked about her struggles being a colored orphan and how she was ill treated by other people in the community. She emphasized the importance of praying and working hard in life. She reminded the kids of the feeling of not belonging to a place. She said, “If you ever felt like this even once, promise to yourself, you will never make anyone else feel like this”.

With her emotional lesson, came our last ancestor for the day George Brown—a soldier, the last surviving Civil War veteran member of his church over on Favor Street. Mr. Brown used to be an enslaved person and was sold for $ 1450 in 1862. Mr. Brown told his fascinating stories of escape, struggle and hope. He emphasized the significance of hope to the kids and mentioned that hope can bring the change.

It was a wonderful presentation and a must-see for everybody in the community. This presentation did not only give you a peek in the African- American history of Rochester but taught you lessons from the past and emphasized not to repeat the same mistakes in the present. It was a wonderful learning tool for the kids to acquaint themselves to their past and if they believe and work hard, they can be anything, even the president of the United States.

For me, it was a great learning experience, especially because I am an immigrant. My only disappointment was that I did not see any kids from various suburban districts. There were kids primarily from the City School district. It is my kind request to all the schools to make this program a part of their curriculum. It is a unique way to engage the students in an intelligent interaction with their history which they will never experience elsewhere.

It’s not too late for you to have this experience also! We also have a public performance free of charge on February 12, 7 p.m. at Mount Olivet Baptist Church, 141 Adams Street, Rochester followed by coffee and snacks. So don’t miss it!!

Posted by Nimisha Thakur, Preservation Associate