Bicentennial Snapshot No. 45: Speakeasies

Today we continue our Prohibition in Greece story with a look at the speakeasies that dotted the town.

Clinton N. Howard

Clinton N. Howard was a powerful, passionate, and persuasive advocate against alcohol. He was called the “Little Giant” (he was only five feet tall) and the “Apostle of Prohibition.” Widely known as a brilliant orator, it was said that between 1901 and 1920 when the 18th amendment was passed, he had addressed more people than any other living individual. He visited almost every town and city in the nation. He gave more than 3500 sermons just in the Rochester area alone.

Broadside promoting Clinton N. Howard from digital.lib.uiowa.edu
Headline from Democrat & Chronicle July 31, 1928

Howard damned Latta Road as “the Highway to Hell” because of the number of speakeasies along its length. Once Prohibition went into effect, Howard was a constant watchman to see that it was enforced. He disguised himself (sometimes as a woman) and went into places to obtain evidence the law was being violated in more than 300 cases. During the first week of April 1921 alone, a disguised Howard (he looked like a derelict), along with two US Secret Service agents. visited 138 bars and was served whiskey at 137. He did so to prove his claim that the Rochester area was openly flouting the law and that local police were doing little or nothing to enforce it.

But the beach resorts and hotels that catered to the tourists and summer vacationers were going to continue to give their clientele what it wanted, law or no law.

Limburger Cheese Club at the Grand View Beach Hotel from the Office of the Town Historian

Grand View Beach Hotel

Grand View Beach from GHS

Anthony Kleinhans built the Grand View Beach Hotel circa 1882 at 2200 Edgemere Drive (today Old Edgemere Drive). Joseph Rossenbach, Sr. took over and then was succeeded by his son, Joseph Rossenbach, Jr. who was a proprietor during Prohibition. Newspapers referred to the Grand View Beach Hotel as an “exclusive lakeshore nightclub.” Thousands of dollars had been spent to transform the wooden building, which faced the lake, into an attractive resort. It was “one of the most exclusive of the lakeside night clubs…having long been popular with merrymakers who seek recreation at the midnight hour.” Right from the earliest days of Prohibition, the Hotel was a favorite target of dry agents.

But the year 1930 was extraordinary; in August three raids were made on the Hotel in quick succession. The raids marked the first time within the memory of any of the Rochester agents that a place had been visited two nights in succession. When the agents staged their surprise raid on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6, four barrels of beer, immersed in the cool waters of Lake Ontario which flowed through a cellaret under the bar room were found.

Headline Times-Union August 7, 1930
Headline Times-Union August 8, 1930

The warrant used in the raid on the night of August 7 was executed in Buffalo on a complaint of two special agents, who reported they had made several “buys” of liquor at the Hotel on Wednesday night, scarcely two hours after the first raid. Agents swarmed into the crowded barroom just as the evening’s gaiety was getting underway. Catching a glimpse of the raiders approaching the door, Harry Lames, the bartender, began smashing every bottle within reach. The tinkling glass spurred the agents to greater speed. One started to leap over the bar shouting threats. Lames desisted in his efforts to destroy the evidence.

Although the agents did not enter the crowded dining room of the Grand View Beach Hotel on August 7, “news of the raid spread quickly and in a moment the place was in an uproar. Glasses were emptied surreptitiously under the tables or tossed into handy flowerpots. Agents reported several cuspidors in the barroom were filled to overflowing with liquid smelling strangely like alcohol as worried customers stood awkwardly nearby with empty glasses in hand.” On August 9, in the third raid in four days, State Troopers seized liquor samples in a midnight raid on the luckless hotel once again. Ultimately, the Grand View Beach Hotel Bar was ordered padlocked for six months in October 1930.

Headline Times-Union October 8, 1930

Sea Glades Hotel/Bar/Restaurant

Sea Glades Hotel, 1920, from the Office of the Town Historian

The Sea Glades hotel/bar/restaurant located at 788 Edgemere Drive was known by various names over the years, Outlet Cottage, Lake View, The Breakers, Surf Club, and Edgewater, but during the height of the Prohibition era, it was called Sea Glades. The proprietor, Ward Vaughn, was considered the most genial of hosts and a “highly personable character.” At the Sea Glades, Vaughn had a “class trade” who liked to spend freely and stay late. It became Vaughn’s custom to invite his customers to the darkened porch of the Sea Glades to watch the cases of whiskey and bags of ale as they were “imported” from Canada from a boat idling just beyond the sandbar. He figured it proved his claim that his product was “right off the boat.” The rumrunners, however, didn’t like so many witnesses, so they shifted to a nearby cove and loaded the liquor into an automobile, and then delivered it to Sea Glades. Vaughn, reluctant to give up his nighttime drama, just substituted his own employees offloading empty wooden cases from a boat borrowed from a friend, his customers none the wiser about the charade.

Mike Conroy Boxing Career

An immigrant from Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium whose real name was Clement J. Versluys, Conroy made his professional boxing debut on May 31, 1920; and during his ten-year career, with 57 bouts he won 34, 22 of them were KOs, Lost 19, 8 of them were KOs., and 4 Draws. The remaining matches for Mike Conroy’s carrier were before he turned pro which put his record at 31 Wins, 22 of them were KOs, and 2 were either losses or draws before he went pro which puts his overall wins at 65 wins of his 79 bouts, 42 of them by knockouts (KOs). He also won several heavyweight titles here in New York State and on December 13, 1924, Mike Conroy won his match in Havana, Cuba against Antolin Fierro the match was planned to be a 10-round match but by the 5th round, Mike had successfully Knocked out Antolin Fierro and took home the Cuban Heavyweight title to Greece, New York. He was a sparring partner of Gene Tunney during the five years leading up to Tunney’s defeating “Battling Jack Dempsey” (Henry Peaks) for the heavyweight crown. Conroy also fought exhibitions with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey and Tunney were the two leading boxers of the Prohibition era.

Mike Conroy Stats from BoxRec.com and according to BoxRec.com the stats they have for Mike Conroy’s professional debut. any Fights listed in his record before that date of this fight, in record published in THE RING, were amateur affairs.

divisionheavy
statusinactive
bouts57
rounds359
KOs38.6%
career1920-1929
debut1920-05-31
ID#038308
birth nameClement J. Versluys
sex male
nationality USA
residenceRochester, New York, USA
birth place Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
BoutsWins
5734
LostDraws
194
Mike Conroy’s Professional Boxing Stats
Mike Conroy matchbook cover
1925 Flyer

Pine Tree Inn

Pine Tree Inn from GHS

Mike Conroy’s Pine Tree Inn, located at 1225 Ridge Road West at the terminal of Mount Read Blvd, was formerly the home of the Lay family, one of the early settler families in Greece. The name comes from the pine trees which used to surround the apple orchards. It was converted to a tavern-hotel around the turn of the 20th century and was purchased by Conroy in December 1928. The congenial Conroy, known as the Bull of Ridge Road, didn’t let the Volstead Act get in the way of his turning the Pine Tree Inn into a local hotspot. His establishment was raided by dry agents in August 1929 and in May 1930 and padlocked in December 1932. Conroy’s inn straddled “the line between the town of Greece and the city of Rochester,” and his lawyers used that quirk to beat convictions. If the warrant said the property was in Greece, the lawyer produced a paper, such as a gas bill, saying it was in the city and vice versa. In due course, agents learned to make out warrants both ways.

Domino Inn / Cosmo Club

As we told you in Snapshot 24, the hotel at Latta and North Greece roads had many names during its 108-year history. It was the Domino Inn and Cosmo Inn during Prohibition. In August 1922, private detectives caught proprietors Harry Wilson and Lewis Dustin serving highballs, cider, and whiskey. Wilson and Dustin were ordered to appear in court to show cause why they should not be removed from maintaining their property. On April 16, 1926, the Domino Inn was raided by a squad of federal agents; they confiscated a pint of gin and proprietor Lewis Dustin again had to answer for it in court. Under new ownership with a new name, the Cosmo Club, the inn was again a target for dry agents in 1932 when proprietor Ray Keck (who previously owned a restaurant at the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road) was arrested for possession of two half barrels of beer and a small quantity of liquor.

North Greece Hotel/Domino Inn from GHS

T.W. Beatty & Son. Island Cottage Hotel

Island Cottage Hotel from GHS

Beatty’s Island Cottage Hotel, at 953 Edgemere Drive near Island Cottage, was a lakeshore landmark built by Thomas Beatty in 1891 shortly after the opening of the Charlotte Manitou rail line. It soon became the spot to go for summer outings and picnics. Raymond Beatty took over the operation of the hotel in 1917. It was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1932. Ray Beatty and Walter Riddell, the bartender, were arrested after a raid on July 23, 1932, when seven half-barrels of beer, 330 gallons of cider, and assorted liquors were impounded. Riddell was arrested and fined again in May 1933 just months before the law’s repeal.

Reardon’s Inn / Braddock Bay Grill

Braddock’s Bay Hotel from GHS

Reardon’s Inn, later the Braddock’s Bay Hotel, was located at 372 Manitou Road. William and Jane Reardon owned and operated Reardon’s Inn. Jane Reardon was arrested on August 13, 1931, for possessing two half barrels of beer, two gallons of cider, two ounces of whisky, and two ounces of gin. She pleaded guilty in September and was fined $100.00. Today it is the Braddock Bay Grill.

Braddock Bay Grill, 2019, photo by Bill Sauers

Grove House

Grove House, the 1910s from the Office of the Town Historian

Grove House, located at 187 Long Pond Road was established at least as early as 1880. It was considered a roadhouse compared to more upscale speakeasies.

The arrests made during raids were for comparatively little alcohol; there was “some beer, wine and cider” on August 28, 1929; 16 one-gallon jugs of cider on November 29, 1929; and a mere two gallons of cider and one barrel of beer in August 1931.

Grove House, undated, courtesy of Bill Sauers
Public Nuisance Sign from GHS

The bar was padlocked for several months in 1932.

Grove House’s alcohol was supplied by the Staud Brothers. According to Dwight Bliss, George Staud told him that they kidnapped a federal agent, who infiltrated the Staud organization and held him in the basement of Grove House where they threatened him with a “one-way ride to Lake Ontario.” The agent managed to escape, but possibly still in fear of the Stauds, requested a transfer to Detroit where he thought he’d be safer.

Grove House bar, undated, courtesy Bill Sauers
Grove House, 2008, photo by Bill Sauers

After Prohibition, George and Eddie Staud operated the restaurant at Grove House.

After the Staud brothers, Fred Rotunno owned it for a bit before it became Barnard’s Grove you can read more on the Grove house from Fred Rotunno and Edmond Uschold interview that was done by George Caswell and Edwin Spelman on August 10, 1977.

Today, it’s Barnard’s Grove Restaurant.

Barnard’s Grove, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Explore the Prohibition and Speakeasies Exhibit – Ongoing

Prohibition exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo by Bill Sauers

To learn more about the Prohibition Era in Greece visit the Greece Historical Society and Museum at 595 Long Pond Road, where Rumrunners, Speakeasies, and Bathtub Gin is an ongoing exhibit. The Museum’s hours are Sundays, 1:30-4 pm, March through December.

Below is a custom map created by members of the society that shows all the locations of the speakeasies.

On the Map Below the Reardon’s Inn is actually supposed to be marked on the John Mose 4 acres lot and not on F.H. Straub land

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 44: Rumrunners and Bootleggers

Today we are exploring the wild and lawless days of Prohibition.

Prohibition Poster from nebraskastudies.org

In 1909, a vote to make Greece a “dry” town was narrowly defeated. The agricultural interests of the town clashed with the beach resorts and tourist attractions that catered to a clientele that drank. One newspaper account said, “The grudge of the farmers was that their hired help deserted as soon as they got a month’s pay and bathed in the alcoholic delights of Charlotte and Ontario Beach.” On the other side of the debate were the many town residents of Irish, German, and Italian descent for whom wine and spirits were an everyday part of their culture.

By the time Congress took up the question of national prohibition, 33 of the 48 states were already dry. When Congress sent the eighteenth amendment to the states for ratification, where it needed three-fourths approval, they allowed a generous seven years for its passage, but in just 13 months enough states said yes to the amendment. Drinking liquor was never illegal. People were allowed to drink intoxicating liquor in their own homes or in the home of a friend when they were a bona fide guest. And it was legal to make or consume wine or cider in the home. Buying and selling it was illegal; people were not allowed to carry a hip flask or give or receive a bottle of liquor as a gift.

Headline from The American Issue, Westerville, Ohio, January 25, 1919
Prohibition-era prescription for whiskey, from US Treasury National Archives

Exempted from the law was the use of alcohol in lawful industries, for religious practices such as communion wine, and for scientific and medicinal purposes. Intoxicating liquor could be obtained via a doctor’s prescription; the rate of sales for medicinal alcohol went up 400%.

Mother’s in the kitchen
Washing out the jugs;
Sister’s in the pantry
Bottling the suds;
Father’s in the cellar
Mixing up the hops;
Johnny’s on the front porch
Watching for the cops.

Poem by a New York state Rotary Club member during Prohibition

The poem to the right says it all; ordinary people, probably law-abiding citizens before 1920, were defying the law. And many were living in the town of Greece.

Poem by a New York state Rotary Club member during Prohibition
1924 Map of Greece With Current Street Names over the main roads in the town

Rumrunners were smuggling liquor from Canada by sea and bootleggers carried it over the roads. With eight miles of shoreline and roads leading to downtown Rochester and points west and east, Greece was a hotbed of prohibition defiance.

Some of these prohibition slang were used during the era of prohibition and speakeasies

*got to see someone about a dog –going out to buy bootleg whiskey

*needle beer –filling a syringe with pure alcohol and piercing the cork on a bottle of “near beer”

*whisper sister, ladylegger –female proprietor of a speakeasy

*white lightning –whiskey

*giggle water –alcoholic beverage

*hooch, bathtub gin –illegal moonshine

*cutting –making counterfeit liquor by mixing it with artificial ingredients to simulate the real thing

*set-up –ginger ale or soda served by speakeasies, to which customers added their own liquor from hip flasks

Canadian Ben Kerr, the self-styled “King of the Rum Runners,” was one of the most successful of the rum smugglers. He made regular trips to the beaches from Greece east to Pultneyville; he refused to land on American shores, customers had to row out to his boat, he frequently changed his drop days, and he wouldn’t travel under a full moon, preferring dark, foggy, or hazy nights. There are used copies available on Amazon via Thriftbooks or you can get it on the kindle https://smile.amazon.com/Whisky-Ice-Canadas-Daring-Rumrunner/dp/1550022490 you can preview the book here on the right.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Dundurn Press; Illustrated edition (July 26, 1996)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 26, 1996
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 192 pages

As of this post there is 1 new copy and 11 used copies available on Amazon

Preview of The Saga of Ben Kerr

Preview of Berine you’re a Bootlegger

Joan Winghart Wilcox Sullivan wrote about her father, Bernie Winghart, her paternal uncle, Ernie, and her aunt, Mamye (who was a Schaller); they were known as the Bootlegging Trio. As of this post, there are 5 new and 2 used paperback copies available on Amazon and it is also available to read on the Kindle. Check out the preview of the book on the left.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Trafford Publishing (July 15, 2010)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ July 15, 2010
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 88 pages

Andrew Wiedenmann was born on November 15, 1865, to Michael and Anna (Merdler) Wiedenmann who had eleven children together. His father Michael Wiedenmann was a cooper and worked in that trade just like Tom Toal we talked about in a previous snapshot. Anna (Merdler) Wiedenmann survived until May 1909. Three of the Wiedenmann children served in three different parts of the City of Rochester Government, William served on Detective Force; Frederick was an Attorney of the city and a member of the City Council representing the 15th ward for thirty-two years, and Andrew featured in the picture to the right, his other brother George Wiedenmann died in 1905 and was a Profession Baseball Player for the Detriot Ball Club. Anna and Edward died young. His sisters included Katherine, Julia, Minnie, and Anna (Wiedenmann) Kugler.

Andrew Wiedenmann was Collector of the Port of Rochester for much of Prohibition and as such he supervised many of the sorties against rumrunners on both lake and land throughout his district. This area covered 178 miles from the western end of Orleans County east to Oswego County. He was diligent, aggressive, and resourceful in his quest for Prohibition scofflaws.

But before he became the Customs Collector at the Port of Rochester, he attended the Whitney school as a boy later he attended the Rochester Free Academy. From 1886 to 1890 he was a Professional Baseball player for Rochester, Buffalo, Hamilton, Ontario, and Portland, Maine clubs. He went on to hold his first public office as the deputy collector for the Internal Revenue Service for his district from 1897 to 1901, then made a police court investigator for sixteen years, and then in 1917 he was elected sheriff of Monroe County and held that role until December 31, 1920, and in 1924 President Calvin Coolidge appointed Andrew Wiedenmann as the Collector of the Port of Rochester.

Andrew J. Wiedenmann taking the oath of office, Times-Union, April 30, 1928
Lake Ontario shoreline at Braddock Bay from media.defense.gov

His keen eyes and his investigative skills came in handy as well he was the Collector of the port of Rochester when he was the Head Sheriff of Monroe County he knew places where he would watch for people to sneak stuff into town and where to spring traps to collect the crooks. He once walked the beach from Charlotte to Manitou investigating rumors of liquor shipments being off-loaded in obscure spots. On the walk, he came across a group of people hiding under a tarp with contraband alcohol.

As the Customs Collector at the Port of Rochester, Wiedenmann often accompanied the Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.S) in their pursuit of rumrunners in the darkest hours of the night. He would shout: “We are United States Customs Officers. I order you to halt.”

36’ Double-cabin picket boat from U. S. Coast Guard History Program
Ridge Road near the Pine Tree Inn, 1920s, from the Office of the Town Historian

On July 12, 1924, he and his agents chased a truck laden with 1200 bottles of ale 18 miles along Ridge Road. Bullets flew as gunfire was exchanged.

Andrew Wiedenmann caught both Ben Kerr and the Bootlegging Trio. But his biggest challenge was the notorious Staud brothers from the town of Greece. By the way, all three of the books mentioned here today are in the museum’s reference library. You can at least get the first two books on a Kindle by Amazon but the book Booze, Barns, Boats, and Brothers which is about the Staud brothers is only in the museum reference library and can be viewed when the museum is open or by making an appointment to look at the book.

Booze, Barns, Boats and Brothers” by H. Dwight Bliss III
Grand View Heights Beach neighborhood, 1924,

On July 8, 1930, the Democrat & Chronicle wrote this about the Staud brothers: they are “The most dangerous and intrepid gang of rum runners in Western New York.” Local newspapers also characterized the brothers as the “most daring,” “most powerful,” and “notorious” of smugglers. The gang operated out of a home on Grand View Heights Road (today, South Drive).

Look pretty innocent, don’t they? But they were ruthless thugs when they grew up. From right to left, Karl, George, Edward, and Milton, called Midge.

Photo of Staud brothers when they were young and innocent or were they?
George C. Staud from H. Dwight Bliss III

They were the sons of George C. and Ida Staud (the couple also had three daughters); their father was the postmaster of Rochester from 1917-1921 while Andrew Wiedenmann was the Sheriff from 1917-1920. He had plenty of trouble with them as teenagers, but did not live to see their Prohibition notoriety. Their mother had also died, but their stepmother was living. Between Andrew Wiedenmann and his brothers, William who served on Detective Force; and his brother Frederick who served as an attorney for the City of Rochester may have had other run-ins with the Staud Brothers. Before the Staud Brothers went into the bootlegging business during prohibition.

Karl was the eldest, born about 1895. His nickname was “K-the Bishop.” He had a muscle infirmity and walked with a limp. He acted as the gang’s accountant, keeping the books for shipments and payments, and also for Midge’s speakeasies. He also frequently provided bail for George and Eddie. George was born in early 1900. He was described as a “scrapper,” tall and lean. Eddie, born also in 1900, “did most of the dirty work.” “Midge” was born in 1901. He was broad-shouldered and tall at 6’3”. Although the youngest, he was the boss and brains of the gang. The newspaper called him the “‘Little Caesar’ of Rochester’s rum-running hierarchy.” The reference of course being to the Edward G. Robinson movie.

Kidnapper gang from Times-Union July 19, 1930
Midge Staud and Jack Foran in Midge’s first boat, courtesy of Bill Sauers

The brothers quickly established the lakefront from Sodus Point to Oak Orchard as their “domain” and were ruthless in enforcing the boundaries.

Midge Staud had a fleet of large cars, Pierce-Arrows, and Studebakers, which he altered so they could stash up to 500-quart bottles of whiskey “in the seats, in backs of the seats, false floors and even false side panels in the doors.” The Stauds’ uncle, Fred, owned a shoe store and they would hide whiskey bottles in shoeboxes at the rear of the store until they could sell or transport them.

If you want to learn more about Pierce-Arrow cars you can visit the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum before you go to their museum check out their website to view their current museum hours at https://pierce-arrow.com/.

1928 Pierce-Arrow from eBay
Staud’s poison car, from Times-Union, circa May 1929

The Stauds altered this car so that poisonous mustard gas was emitted from the exhaust pipe. It was registered under a false name or now it is referred to As Known As or AKA or an alias which would allow someone to hide their identity or business from either the government, local authorities, or other gangs that were in the business of rum running, but there was enough evidence that proved that the car was owned by Midge. George was arrested wearing only his underwear trying to escape capture after the car was stopped by agents. This same car was involved in a Christmas Eve raid led by Andrew Wiedenmann.

The Stauds would find a cooperative farmer who would let them hide the liquor in a barn. Some had underground tunnels linking the shore to barn basements. Late at night, the beer, whiskey, ale, and wine would be transported in modified cars to speakeasies all around the area including the many that populated Greece.

Stauds’ barn on Norway Road in Kendal, New York for H. Dwight Bliss III provided by Bill Sauers
Christmas Eve Raid, Times-Union, December 26, 1928

This photo shows 200 cases of assorted liquor which was seized by border patrolmen Monday, December 24. Midge and George Staud along with four other men in their gang were arrested in connection with the raid. The liquor, which was composed of whisky and champagne, was intended for the Rochester holiday trade. Tire tracks in the snow alerted agents to this cache in a farmer’s barn.

 Towne Tavern sometime after 1945 Courtesy of Bill Sauers

George served some jail time on a few occasions, but nothing major. Authorities could never get a conviction against Midge. Later in life, Midge ran the Towne Tavern (Left) on Gibbs Street in Rochester and for many years he, George, and Eddie had an interest in the Grove House in Greece. Their career as rumrunners and bootleggers was mostly forgotten.

Family gathering of the Staud family, inside the Towne Tavern photo courtesy of Bill Sauers
Grove House bar courtesy Bill Sauers

So where was all that booze going? Quite a bit of it was staying right here in Greece. And that’s the subject of our next Snapshot.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we take a look at Greece speakeasies.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 43: Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872 Part 2

Today we will conclude our tour of the old district schools in Greece.

Common School District in this snapshot:

Common School District # 7

The original No. 7 schoolhouse was torn down in 1899 and replaced with this one-room wood-frame building located on the north side of Frisbee Hill Road just east of North Greece Road. The belfry-topped schoolhouse closed its doors to students in 1944. Two years later, the property and building reverted to the Frisbee family who had made an initial agreement with the school district for it to be used solely as a schoolhouse.

District 7 Loses old-school by Court rule. Florence Haskins 150 Frisbee Hill Rd. sued Myron B. Kelly, as trustee of the school district for possession of the schoolhouse and the quarter-acre of land her great-grandfather had turned over for school purposes.

Justice Cribb upheld the decision that The $1 lease terminated in 1944 and the school building goes with the land.

The school was abolished in 1944 when they agreed to send pupils to Union Free School District #4 Parma, Hilton School districts.

This information came from the Democrat Chronicle on May 11, 1948.

The schoolhouse was built at a cost of $700 on a quarter-acre plot of land leased by Edward Frisbee, a North Greece pioneer, in September 1833, as long as it was used as a school. Mrs. Cancella was a teacher at the one-room schoolhouse. Lou Frisbee was the bus driver. The school had about 15 students and went from K – 10 or 11 grade.

Dorothy Frisbee used to serve soup, sandwiches, and cookies to the kids if they didn’t bring any lunch says Ruth a former student. The most difficult time was in the winter on the bus because she said the winters were tough and it was difficult for the bus to get through the snow. The roads weren’t plowed like today and the drifts were quite high. She didn’t remember how they heated the school but she said it got quite cold inside on occasions in the winter.

Common School District # 7
Common School District # 7
Common School District # 7
This is how it looks today. Common School District # 7. photo by Gina Dibella

Common School District # 8

Common School District # 8
Common School District # 8
Common School District # 8 on the 1872 map

Other than its location on the south side of Mill Road, also known as Podunk Road, just west of North Greece Road, little is known about this school. No doubt it was similar to the other schools. Each of the common school districts had a one-room school building with a single teacher who taught all grades. There is only one building left in this area and that is the Covert-Brodie-Pollok House at 978 North Greece Road the other house was another cobblestone house at 543 Mill Road but that one had to be demolished due to it being structurally unsafe, you can learn more about these two houses in the Cobblestone house snapshots.

Common School District # 9

District 9 had two different schools on the east side of Long Pond Road bordering Round Pond Creek between Mill Road and Maiden Lane. The earlier schoolhouse was made of fieldstone (hence the name “Stone Schoolhouse”)

Common School District # 9
Common School District # 9
District No. 9 Stone Schoolhouse

One out of the 17 district schools and the 2 joint districts in the 1800s were built using cobblestone the rest of the school districts were built with wood. The cobblestone school was in school district 9 on the 1872 map of the town of Greece and it was located at 980 Long Pond Rd.

In 1917 it was replaced by a two-room schoolhouse. The cobblestone school was sold for $ 5.00. Arthur Koerner and Willis construction firm was awarded the contract to build the new two-room wooden school at 1048 Long Pond Road. Also, The Greece United Methodist Church formed inside School Number 9 on July 25, 1841, when Reverend William Williams met with a group of people to start the church, and then another group meeting at the Greece Center schoolhouse at district school number 17 on Latta Road and the church grew to 21 members. Students were educated in that building for 30 years until it closed its doors around 1944.

Common School District No. 9 Fieldstone School in front of the two room school house
Common School District No. 9 Fieldstone School in front of the two-room schoolhouse
District No. 9 Wood Schoolhouse– A tall flagpole stood in front of the schoolhouse.

The current two-room schoolhouse was later sold at a district auction at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, 1949, and was purchased by Harold Tebo. Harold then hired Arthur Korner to draw up plans to convert the schoolhouse into a private home and one of the features of the old school hidden above the now lowered ceiling is a tin ceiling that was used to reflect the heat and keep it in the building.

One Day in 2003 during the summer an elderly lady had shown up at Gene Preston’s stand and said she had attended the two-room school what I don’t remember from that day was whether she was a student or a teacher at the school, she did say that the teachers entered from the rear of the building as seen in this picture here they did have 2 classrooms and at this school, they broke the class in half were grades 1 to 4 were in one class and students grades 5 thru 8 were in the other side this way they could teach more students and possible a couple of the students were that of W.N Britton who had a house on Long Pond Road 8 houses south of Common School District # 9.

Common School District No. 9 Teachers Entrance
Common School District No. 9 Teachers Entrance
In the photo with the students you will notice the well pump to the left of the doors.
In the photo with the students, you will notice the water well pump to the left of the doors.

In the photo with the students, you will notice the water well pump to the left of the doors.

You can read what the society has in terms of minutes from Common School District Number 9 it contains not that many entries but it starts on August 10, 1910, and ends on May 5, 1942. It contains some interesting facts about how much it costs to install electricity, and water in the school and how much tuition costs.

The school had a sidewalk running to the street from the front doors. This was twice as wide as sidewalks today. When the sidewalk was removed after the house was sold the old sidewalk was put along the banks of the creek.

Barb Worboys (Left) Harold Tebo (Right) Photo was in the Mid to Late 1970s

Ever since my mom, Barb Worboys’s Grandfather Harold Tebo bought the house from the District in 1949 did not modify the exterior except for removing the front entrance and adding a large slab concrete pad in front of the front door and a second chimney at the end of the south end classroom.

Left is the large blue barn Preston, Foreground Common School District # 9

The only modifications were done on the interior of the structure only where Arthur Korner and Harold Tebo agreed on changes regarding where the stairs are to be moved to, how to use the coal chimney that was in the center of the house with a second chimney at the end of the south classroom, a garage door, and basement access below and in the rear on the north side above ground was where the teachers had once entered the school from to open the school up for the students to enter for school, and above the lowered ceiling in some parts is still a tin ceiling which helps in a few small areas to help with heating the house.

Doug Worboys

Common School District #10 / Abelard Reynolds School No. 42

In 1856, Greece School District No. 10 was divided and the old schoolhouse at Stone Road and Dewey Avenue became District No. 15.  A one-room brick schoolhouse for District No. 10 was built on Lake Avenue opposite Stonewood Avenue.  This building served the district for about 40 years.

Around 1896, a two-room frame schoolhouse was built.  After about 20 years of service, that building was sold at auction, taken down, and reconstructed as a private dwelling on Lake Avenue south of Boxart Street.

In 1916, a modern brick building replaced this frame building.  This new building had four classrooms, a gymnasium, and rooms in the basement for manual training and domestic science. This was similar to Greece School District Number 5 which had 4 classrooms, a gymnasium, an assembly hall combination, a teachers’ room, a store room, and inside lavatories all on a nine-acre plot. But Common School District Number 12 was a two-room Brick Building that only had 2 classrooms and had inside lavatories.

On January 1, 1919, Greece School District No. 10 came under the control of the City of Rochester, when a portion of the district was annexed to the city. In the fall of 1924, the gymnasium was remodeled for use as a kindergarten.  (There had previously been no kindergarten.)  The other basement rooms had also been set up as classrooms.  Within seven years of being built, School 42 was outgrowing this building.   In the summer of 1925, a six-room portable addition was built.  In January 1926, the eighth grade was transferred to Charlotte High School. By September of 1926, the seventh grades were moved elsewhere and School 42 became a regulation elementary school.

Contracts for the construction of the current building were awarded in July 1927.   A portion of the present building was ready for occupancy in the spring of 1928 and the rest was completed by September of that year.   This new building contained 20 classrooms, a kindergarten, an auditorium-gymnasium, a teachers’ lunch room, a kitchen, school nurse’s quarters, and the usual offices.

On October 9, 1952 plans were approved for a three-story addition to School 42 to be built on the back of the U-shaped building.  This addition would include seven new classrooms and a combination lunchroom-community center.

On May 29th, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill into federal law that specifically allowed Abelard Reynolds School No. 42 to acquire a set of chapel bells from London, England – duty-free.  The bells arrived shortly afterward aboard the Queen Mary.

There have been additional improvements made to the building through the years.  School 42, standing two miles south of Lake Ontario, now proudly serves a diverse population of approximately five-hundred students from the City of Rochester.

Three schools have occupied this site on the east side of Lake Avenue directly opposite Stonewood Avenue. The first was a one-room brick structure.

Who was Abelard Reynolds:

  • Was born on October 2, 1785, at a place called Quaker Hill, near Red Hook, NY.
  • In 1812, purchased lots (23 and 24) on the north side of what became East Main Street and built the first frame house west of the Genesee River.
  • Moved his family to Rochester in 1813.
  • Was the first saddle-maker, the first magistrate, and the first innkeeper on the “one-hundred-acre tract.”
  • Became the first Postmaster of the incorporated city of Rochester in 1812, appointed by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester.
  • Moved his house in 1828 to build the Reynolds Arcade on Main Street: a multi-storied brick building 56 feet deep with 86 rooms and 14 cellars. 
  • Was one of the founders of Rochester’s first public library.
  • Was a member of the Masonic order and a Prelate of the Knights Templar.
  • Was a member of the first Board of Education.
  • Died on December 19, 1878, in Rochester, NY.
Common School District # 10
Common School District # 10
Common School District No. 10
1916 Common School District No. 10
1927 – Abelard Reynolds School No. 42. From Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division
Abelard Reynolds

Common School District # 11

Common School District # 11
Common School District # 11
District No. 11 Frederick Lay School photo from GHS

This school was located on the north side of Ridge Road just west of Mt. Read Boulevard [formerly known as Eddy Road]. In addition to the original one-room building created this two-room brick and shingle structure. All Greece schoolhouses were equipped with an outdoor lavatory, also known as an outhouse or privy. Some schools were fortunate enough to have luxuries such as an organ or a furnace. This school was one of the first to have a furnace, although it still had outdoor privies.

District No. 11 Frederick Lay School
Class photo of District #11, located on Ridge Road (where Home Depot is currently located), 1906. William Britton is far left, back row.

Each of the common school districts had a single teacher who taught all grades. High schools did not develop until the very end of the 19th century.

Common School District # 12 – Greece Ogden School

Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
District No. 12 South Greece School or Henpeck School today, photo courtesy of Bill Sauers

The Granite brick in the center at the top of the schoolhouse in south Greece reads:

School District #12
Greece Ogden school.
Erected 1864.

Students living in the South Greece area known as Henpeck attended school in this brick one-room schoolhouse on the east side of Elmgrove Road just south of the Barge Canal. This one-room schoolhouse closed in 1930 when a new schoolhouse was built further south on Elmgrove Rd due to the one-room schoolhouse reaching capacity for students to attend school the new District #12 school was built on Elmgrove Rd at Elmore Dr, The Elmgrove School District joined Spencerport Central District when it was formed in 1949.

The old two-classroom school at 463 Elmgrove Rd. was sold at auction on March 1, 1959, and bought by Harold Tebo. Harold’s intent was to make this a bowling alley. He had bought alleys and other fixtures from a bowling alley in Rochester that had closed. He stored the items at the old school #9. Later he sold stock to people to make the lanes a public company. The idea didn’t work out. The building was later sold again and is a small private apartment in 2007.

In 1959, the red brick building was auctioned off and today is a private residence.

Each schoolhouse was equipped with a pot-bellied stove for warmth during the cold winter months. Every day the teacher assigned one boy to gather enough wood for the day from the woodpile behind the schoolhouse. Another student was responsible for getting fresh water from the well of a neighboring home. The water bucket and ladle were placed in the front of the classroom for all the students to use.

Students from District No. 12 South Greece School, date unknown from the Office of the Town historian

Common School District # 13 – West Greece Hoosick

Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13
inside of Common School District # 13
inside of Common School District # 13

This school was located on a hill at the southwest corner of Ridge and Manitou Roads. To the south of this two-room frame schoolhouse, was the Hoosick Cemetery. Manitou Road has since been straightened. The schoolhouse was moved to Dean Road in the town of Parma and used as a private residence.

Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13 is now a private residence photo taken in 2001 by Doug Worboys

Common School District # 14

The plot of ground on which this school building stands today was donated to the district, to be used for the purpose of a school building, by Terry Burns (Great-Great-grandfather of Art Newcomb) on June 8, 1852. This was a quarter-acre plot. Some of the early teachers of this school were, Lotta Janes, Jennie Martin, Mary McShea, Mary Burns, Miss Grinnen, Bridget Beaty, Ellen McCarthy, Miss Johnson, Lillian burke, and Mary Ann Mellon. June 1945 the teacher Florence (kirk) archer Bygrave, rang the school bell to summon pupils to the last lessons ever to be said there. That afternoon the schoolyard flag came down for the last time, thus ending nearly one hundred years of dispensing education to the children of this community. The following year the school joined with No. 5 school at Latta Rd. and Mt. Read Blvd., and after being vacant until the spring of 1947, it was sold at public auction, and was converted into a private dwelling.

School Days at Dist.14 School

From the Memoirs of Art Newcomb

Some of my schoolmates at the one-room school were Fred and Jimmy Beaty, .At that time the schoolroom contained several rows of large double desks. Two pupils sat together in the double seat. I usually sat with my brother Floyd and sometimes with Austin Beaty. At one time Floyd, Austin and myself, all shared the same seat… Some of the games we played were “Fox and Geese” in the snow, “Duck on a Rock”, “Tickly Bender” on the thin ice in the creek, tag, beanball and baseball.. Everett Kirk was the school cut-up, and one time brought eight sticks of dynamite to the school in a market basket. He had found the dynamite at the site of some blasting project in the neighborhood. He hid two of the sticks under the bridge nearby, and brought the rest into the school and concealed them in his desk. Later he terrorized the teacher and most of the pupils by juggling a few of the dynamite sticks from hand to hand , frequently dropping one on the floor in the process. Fortunately , however, none exploded and he was finally induced to remover the dynamite from the premise. The school contained an organ which was pumped by foot. Several times a week, Emma Kirk played the organ and we all sang. One afternoon an incident of great disturbance occurred, the occasion of which, was prompted by the boy pupils in pursuit of a mouse which had taken refuge inside the organ. In the ensuing scuffle the organ was overturned and in the frenzied effort to capture the mouse the organ was completely demolished … On very cold winter days all the pupils would move in closer to the part of the room nearest the stove to keep warm. All eight grades were taught by the one teacher, and each class moved to the front seats, at the front row of desks, when it was time for their lessons to be recited. Hats and coats were hung on hooks and nails on the walls about the room. Each morning, two of the boy pupils were sent down the road to fetch a pail of drinking water from one of the neighbor’s wells. The pail was set on a bench in the schoolroom, and a tin cup was provided from which to drink.

Memoirs of Art Newcomb
Common School District # 14
Common School District # 14
District No. 14 Beatty Road School
Common School District No. 14 Beatty Road School now, photo courtesy of Gina DiBella

Today the former Beatty School is a private residence.

Common School District # 15 – Barnard School

The second school was erected on the north side of Stone Rd on 1/2 acre donated by Mr. Bartholf, inside it had a big wood stove, wood box, water pail, and dipper. This was used until 1916 and sold. The buyer was Edward Parsons who moved it and converted it into a garage at the rear of 622 Stone Rd. In 1916 a third structure, a two-room schoolhouse, was located at the apex between Maiden Lane and Stone, facing Stone Road, this was completed and considered a model rural school building for its time. By 1924, however, it was overflowing and another building became necessary. A school (shed rented) at the rear of Dewey Avenue Union Church on the southeast corner of Dewey Avenue and Haviland Park (now Bethany Presbyterian) temporarily accommodated grades seven and eight. The school had folding chairs, rough lumber tables, and inadequate heating. Grades 1 thru 6 were taught by Mrs. Mildred Bates, Miss Mary Collins, and Mrs. Martha Abigail taught 7th and 8th grade.

On September 5, 1924, the cornerstone for the new school was laid. John A. Garrison, a former pupil of the second school in 1860 laid the cornerstone. The formal opening of the new brick school was held in May 1925. The school had two classrooms, a library, and a science room. The 1925 PTA held a membership drive. The first project was to secure playground equipment. Proceeds provided two slides for the playground.

Barnard School
Barnard School
Common School District # 15
Common School District # 15
Common School District # 15 – Barnard School
PositionName
PresidentMrs. Walter Brewer
Vice-PresidentMrs. Howard Badgerow
SecretaryMrs. Hiram Mume
TreasurerMrs. Fred Bartels
First Staff at Barnard School

Kindergarten and first grade still met in the old wooden school house for many years. It was relocated to the northwest corner of the 1924 structure. The north section of the present building was finished in 1928. On April 30, 1930, the district was reorganized as Union Free School District 15. In August 1938 voters in the Barnard District were split on building on a 10-acre plot at Dewey Ave. and Britton Rd. The PWA would furnish $135,000 and the remaining $165,000 would be raised by a bond issue. Arguments by objectors felt first a need for a new school had not been demonstrated. Objectors wanted guarantees that would show a second high school in the northern section of the district could be filled. The plan was for a 10-room structure capable of handling 170 pupils below 7th grade plus making the possible establishment of a 9th grade at the present school, thereby avoiding the need to send the 9th-grade students into Rochester City Schools. Northern residents sought approval while residents in the southern portion of the district disapproved of the issue since it was not needed and would increase taxes. Gross registration in 1938 was 612 total, and attendance was 527, including 411 in the main building and 116 in the second structure. The efficient operation was 448 for the main structure and 128 for the other. Britton Rd Junior High school became the second school of Union Free District #15. On October 29, 1947, a resolution was passed to build at the corner of Dewey Ave. and Britton Rd. The cost was $475,000. The school held grades K-6, and each grade had two classrooms for a total of fourteen. In 1949, Harold Kimber became Principal. On August 25, 1953, the voters approved an addition. The school remained K – 6 until 1965. A two-story addition was added to the building on the north end. This consisted of two Industrial arts and Home economics rooms, art, gymnasium, and eight classrooms. After the addition, they took in 7th and 8th grades. This school remained K-8 until 1960 when English Village Elementary School opened. Eventually in 1981 Britton Rd. school closed while enrollment was in a decline. The school was torn down after Wegmans Food Market bought the Property and the new Wegmans Store opened in December 1983.

Today it houses a private Jewish School, Derech Hatorah (derek ha tor a) of Rochester.

Derech Hatorah (derek ha tor a) of Rochester photo by Bill Sauers

Common School District # 16

Common School District # 16
Common School District # 16

District #16 in 1872 was located at Greenleaf Rd. near Ling Rd. as shown on the map of 1872. There is a discrepancy between this district and District #2 in 1822. Then there is a conflict following the 1872 map and the 1887 and 1902 maps show a school located across from the Upton-Paine house where the entrance to Elmridge Plaza calling this district 16 but because when they submit the Trustee’s reports the was nothing on the report indicating the address of the school or its location for record-keeping on that paperwork only the committee members knew which one went to which actual school location or it was kept in another register that was lost and never digitized by the State of New York Education Department or State University of New York kept it on file has yet to digitize these records for research and for the historian and local historical societies to store them for preserve for as long as the schools were in use for but we will never know.

District No. 16, David Todd School

There are some questions about where District 16 was located. On 1852, 1887, and 1902 maps of Greece, there was a school indicated on the north side of Ridge Road across from and east of the Upton-Paine House (now Ridgemont Country Club)’ It was thought to be District School No. 16 by some. However, the 1872 map shows a school on what was first the Blanchard property and later property owned by Patrick Fleming. The 1872 map clearly says that this was District 16. It is because of record keeping that we do not have a clear answer to the location of which location is the correct Common School District 16 location. From what we can tell based on later maps the town was growing in population and that forced the town to rearrange the Common School Districts 3, 8, 9, 12, and 13, which may have led to the restructuring of the common school districts to create this school, and the students that went to the Patrick Fleming farm may have been forced to either to go to school # 5 at paddy hill or District 4 in Charlotte but we will never know.

The bell that called students to class at the one-room schoolhouse known as the David Todd school is now on display at the Greece Historical Society and Museum. Although all ages of children were in the same classroom, students were taught separately according to their grade levels. Those being instructed at a particular time would move to the front desks, while the remainder of the students worked on their lessons at desks at the back of the room.

1910 School Room exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo from Bill Sauers

Common School District # 17 – Greece Center Latta/Long Pond

Common School District # 17

In 1824 the minutes of the Greece Common School board meeting list the forming of district 17. On April 25, 1828, District 17 was divided with Parma, Parma retained the old school building and property judged at $12 (USD in 1823 dollars) (340.24 in today’s cost) of that $6 (USD in 1823 dollars) (170.12 in today’s cost) was to be paid to the Town of Greece for its inhabitants. The commissioners then adopted new school lines for District #17. Sometime around 1919 district #17 changed to District #2.

Late 1933 – The school had eight rows with one to five students in each row of first to eighth grade. The school had a pot belly stove that the older boys had the job to keep burning. The water was retrieved from an outside well with a hand pump. Lighting was by electricity this year because power ran north to the highway garage. At some point, said the Late Pat Preston spouse of Gene Preston, the school had just the 1st to 4th grade and then the students would go to School 38 on Latta Rd (2007 is now a condominium complex), and then high school they would attend was Charlotte High School on Lake Ave. Mrs. Heard was a teacher during that time and classes started around 9 a.m. The bathroom was double separated. A large cardboard circle colored green and red hung on the doors. Red meant the room was in use and green meant the room was available. Lunch was at your desk or outside, weather permitting. As far as punishments well those couldn’t be recalled whether any were handed out. The teacher was without question in control. There was a period for recess and the favorite game was hide & seek.

Greece Grog Shop in former No, 17 school, Greece Historical Society’s Archives

When no longer a school, for a number of years, it was a liquor store.

District No. 17 Greece Centre School, photo courtesy of Bill Sauers

John Geisler set up his realty company here and then a CPA joined Geisler using the school for their offices the D&C Staff Writer Meaghan M McDermott wrote an article on February 7 2007 about John using the old school as his office. Titled One-Room Schoolhouse to be Rescued

Former District No. 17 Greece Centre School, 2022, photo Bill Sauers

It is currently vacant.

Joint District of Parma and Greece

In addition to its other District schools, there were two joint districts shared with Parma.

Greece Parma Joint District # 13

Greece Parma Joint District # 13
Greece Parma Joint District # 13

This school was located on Manitou Rd at the corner of Payne Beach and Manitou Beach Roads. It is shown on the 1872 Map and believed to be used up until 1944. At this point, students then went to the Hilton Schools.

No pictures or other info is available on this school.

Greece Parma Joint School District No. 14

Joint School District No. 14 from the Office of the Town Historian
Greece Parma Joint School District # 14
Greece Parma Joint School District # 14

The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane’s Corners School, was located at the southwest corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.

Class photo of District #14 students and teachers, 1903. The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane's Corners School, was located at the south west corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.
Class photo of District #14 students and teachers, 1903. The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane’s Corners School, was located at the southwest corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.

New Greece Central School District and Consolidations Forming in 1928

Greece Central School District # 1 – Willis N Britton / Hoover Drive / Odyssey / Now Discovery Charter School / Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester

Greece Common School Districts Nos. 3, 11, and 16 were consolidated to form Greece Central School District No. 1 in 1928 located at 133 Hoover Drive. It was the first centralized school district in Monroe County and the 13th Central School District in New York State. Nearly three decades later, voters approved the annexation of Greece Central School District No. 1 with Consolidated School District No. 5 and Union Free District No. 15, both consolidations of former Greece common school districts, in May 1955. On July 9th, 1928, voters approved the acceptance of the donation of five acres of land in the Koda-Vista tract, from Willis N. Britton. The school district did look at a few other properties before approving the Willis N. Britton site, the property at Ridge Road and Latona Road where Mrs. Clark had property near Falls Cemetry and near the Colby-Shearman House. There is a clause on the land that the Willis N. Britton family that land was to be used as a school and if at any time the land was not going to be used as a school it would revert back to descendants of the Willis N. Britton family who owned the land before. The first formal organization of the first school board in 1929 was John Easton, Norman Weeks, Adelbert Lanctot, Arthur Kerkel, and Arthur Koerner. Norley Pearson was District Clerk. John Tallinger acted as Treasurer and Mr. Lanctot, President. Willis N. Britton officially opened in 1929 at a cost of $200,000 but they decide to tack on the building the third floor at that time so instead of building 2 stories at $200,000 they raised an additional $25,000 for a total of $225,000, and the original gross square foot of Willis N. Britton School was 40,326 square feet and 18 classrooms. In 1948 Willis N. Britton School gained its first expansion to the building and expanded the gross square footage by 29,134 square feet to now a total of 69,460 square feet and 14 additional classrooms making the school able to have 32 classrooms in the school. In 1952 another addition was added to the school expanding the school to another 10 classrooms and 18,273 square feet to the building making it now 24 classrooms and 87,733 square feet. In 1957 is when the gym was added to the building and 3,670 square feet were added to the building bringing it to 91,403 square feet. Then in 1961/1962 the wing that housed the home ec and the technology shop was added that adding an additional 26,845 to the school for a total of 118,248 square feet to the school and in 2004 an additional expansion occurred to create a music wing that added additional square feet to the building, according to the Monroe county real property portal it reports that the square footage for the property at 105,271 square feet when Greece Central School District finally closed it’s doors for good at the end of 2011 – 2012 school year at 133 Hoover drive and moved Odyssey Academy to Maiden Lanes at the Old Cardinal Mooney / Greece Apollo Middle School Campus at the start of the 2012-2013 school year due to the drop in student enrollment, one of the other reasons for moving Odyssey to the Maiden Lanes location was the lack of space for the outdoor sports programs and the gym was getting old where it was deemed a little bit small by Section V standards if the school district had expanded towards Corona Rd it might have been able to stay as a District school but we will never know what the school could have been if it was able to stay and grow. One of my classmates Erin Gallenger painted a mural of a Snow Leopard at the North Entrance to the main Parking lot and redesigned the school’s logo as her Graduation Gift to the school before the Class of 2002 exited the campus as graduates and the following year is when the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme started.

Willis N Britton / Greece Central #1
Willis N Britton / Greece Central #1

Willis N. Britton was one of the Town’s Largest Peach Growers in the Town and was appointed to the role of town supervisor in 1903.

You can learn more about Hoover Drive’s Odyssey

Odyssey’s Motto
1950s School Room exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo from Bill Sauers

What is unique about the pull-down map at the Greece Historical Society and Museum?

On our Facebook post for this snapshot take a guess what is unique about it there is something missing on it compared to modern pull-down maps of the United States look at pull-down maps or just maps of the United States. There is a clue in the description of the picture.

The District’s name was officially changed to Greece Central School District in April 1973.

Current Greece Central Logo

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we start our look at Prohibition.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 42: Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872 Part 1

Today we will take a tour of the old district schools in Greece.

Common School District in this snapshot

Our Snapshot this week is based on an exhibit researched and written by the late Gloria LaTragna and edited and designed by Gina DiBella in 2001 and updated for showing at the Greece Historical Society in 2018. This photo exhibit, Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses, is currently on display in the new Greece Office of Student Transportation Services at 1790 Latta Road. We greatly appreciate Gina sharing it with us for this Snapshot. Some corrections and updated information were provided by Pat Worboys who was doing research at about the same time and found things that were not included in the exhibit Restore, Renew, Rediscover Your Neighborhood Schools that are currently on display and Greece Central School District’s Greece Office of Student Transportation and Student Services Facility. My research started because my mom’s grandfather Harold Tebo, purchased not only Common School District Number 9, he also purchased the larger 2-room school on the northwest corner of Elmgrove Road and Elmore Drive the Greece Ogden School Number 12 which you will see in Part 2 of Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses that I became interested in researching the school houses of Town of Greece and with my dad Doug Worboys, we started doing more digging in on the research which took us to the Landmark Society of Western New York and there we found some information that I had Maureen correct before we recorded Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872 Parts 1 and 2. One of the most unique things that happened in the summer of 2003 was when Gene Preston came over and got both me and my dad to come over to the stand, and said he has an elderly lady who had either taught at school # 9 or was a student once we got to the stand we started talking with her by the way we never got her name before she left the stand. She told us about some of the interesting things about Common School District Number 9, how the teachers would enter the school from the rear and the students entered from the front. I will fill in more of this in part 2 of Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872.

Credit page for exhibit courtesy of Gina DiBella
Map of Common School District in 1872
Map of Common School District in 1872

Long before the establishment of the centralized Greece School District, students in the Town of Greece were educated in schoolhouses scattered throughout the town. Students in the area previously known as the town of Northampton have had the opportunity for a formal education since 1798 when the first school commissioner was elected. In 1823, one year after the Town of Greece was established, it was divided into Common School Districts. By the end of the 19th century, Greece had 17 common districts and two Joint districts that sat on the Parma Greece border just north of the North Greece Common School District # 6 area and west of the Frisbee Common School District # 7. There were some Districts that ended up being renumbered and restructured when the number of students kept increasing which occurred around 1919 and included the annexation of some of the districts into the City of Rochester School District as well.

Common School District #1

Common School District No. 1 school was located on the west side of present-day Lake Avenue, just north of Little Ridge Road [now West Ridge Road]. This one-room schoolhouse served the students in Hanford Landing. Today Kodak Park occupies the site of the schoolhouse and surrounding farmlands.

District No. 1 Hanford Landing School
District No. 1 Hanford Landing School

After moving from this location the school was located in an old frame building on Dewey Avenue north of Lewiston Avenue (Ridge Rd). The school housed 50 students. Mrs. O. H. Gordon was the principal until 1912. In the spring of 1912, the new present Kodak school 41 was completed. The school was admitted to the University of the State of New York. The name of the school switched to Kodak Union (Kodak No. 41) school in 1916. George H. William was the principal. At about that time a high school department was added with about 18 pupils. In 1917 an addition was added due to tremendous growth. In 1919 the school came into the city system. The student population at that time was 350 students in grammar and 45 students in high school. The high school became known as Kodak High School. Districts # 1, 4, and 10 were consolidated in 1916 when they were annexed by the city. Later high school students would attend John Marshall or Charlotte High School.

Common School District 1
Common School District 1

Common School District # 2

Common School District #2 Big Ridge School was located on the north side of Big Ridge Road [now Ridgeway Avenue] between Long Pond Road and Latona Road. A 1902 map, however, no longer shows a schoolhouse located on this site. There is no picture of this school located on Ridgeway Ave based on overlaying the 1872 map over a current map that puts the structure between Wehner Mower and Ventdi Septic Services on Ridgeway Ave today. The only thing we have from a Common School District No. 2 town of Greece of County of Monroe for the school year ending July 31, 1919, to Fred W. Hill who was District Superintendent at the time and you can see that Trustees Report here

District No. 2 Big Ridge School on 1872 map Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

Common School District # 3

Common School District #3 – Walker School

Common School District #3 – Walker School was located on the west side of Mitchell Road near the site of the former Mitchell Road branch of the Greece Public Library. This school sat right on the Walker Property and the house still stands today. In 1912 – 1913 Elizabeth J Crawford was the teacher at Common School District #3 and Fred Hill district Supt.

Common School District # 3
Common School District # 3

Common School District #4

Common School District #4
Common School District #4

Perhaps in existence back in 1817. The first known teacher was a member of a pioneer family, Miss Adeline Holden. The school was located at Latta (Broadway) and Stutson (Holden) streets. In 1837 George Latta donated a site at the North side of Stutson St. A new one-room brick building replaced the old one. In 1837 bricks used for the building were made on-site. In the 1860s the school was overcrowded with 1 teacher handling 80 students. In 1868 a new school was built at the corner of Latta Rd and River Streets serving students grades 1 thru 8. In 1893 a two-story addition was completed at a cost of $ 6,200. In 1907 a second school was constructed on site which was Charlotte High school’s first building, and finished in 1908, sat on the site of the present Rochester Fire Department’s Engine 19 / Marine 1 / Gator 2 / Brush 1 at the Y where Lake Avenue and River Street meet right next to the Charlotte Cemetery. In 1911, the district employed 13 teachers. Both school buildings were demolished in 1937.

Common School District #4
City of Rochester Fire Department Station RFD E19 / Marine 1 / Gator 2 / Brush 1
Common School District #4 (Rear) Charlotte High School (Front) Charlotte School from Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

After annexation, Rochester built school # 38 on Latta Rd in 1928 and put on an addition in 1953. School # 38 Latter closed and is now home to Lake Breeze Condominiums. And Charlotte High School moved across and down the road no more heat 30 feet to the north where it used to sit. Students in this area ended up going to District #10 Greece or what is now called the City of Rochester, District # 42 – Abelard Reynolds School more on this School in Part 2 of Common School Districts of 1872.

Charlotte High photo by John Cranch
Charlotte High photo by John Cranch

Common School District #5 – Paddy Hill

District No. 5’s frame structure originally stood on the same parcel of land that Paddy Hill Elementary School occupies today. On the southwest corner of Latta Road at Mt Read Blvd, Mother of Sorrows Church and Cemetery were and still are located across the road. This district was in existence seven years after the Town of Greece was formed. The first school was located on a 60 x 60 lot on the southwest corner of Latta Rd. It was created by early settlers. The land was donated by Judge or Squire Nicholas Read. In the middle of the room was a three-legged pot belly stove that heated the room during the winter. Double benches could seat a total of three students. were the fixtures. In 1887 the student numbered 83. By 1894 the number had grown to 92. Miss Kate McShea and Miss Mary Burns were two of the earliest teachers. The salary in those days was $395.00.

District No. 5 Mt. Read School – The north end of the Mother of Sorrows shed for horses and carriages are seen at left. Notice the fork in the road where Mt. Read approaches Latta Road. 

The schoolhouse was closed in 1929 due to a fire that damaged parts of the school it would cost 5,000 to repair the building instead of it getting torn down the structure was salvaged and purchased by Milton Carter who moved it down the hill on Latta Rd so he could use it for his residence. The old school serves as a home presently.

Chief of Greece Police – Milton Carter residence
Common School District #5
Common School District #5
Nicholas Read
Nicholas Read
District # 5 / Paddy Hill (1932-1955)

Students attended Barnard School from 1929 until 1931 when a new brick school was opened across from the old frame building at 1790 Latta Road in 1932. A much-mentioned feature of this new school was the indoor lavatories. This one had 4 classrooms, a gymnasium, an assembly hall combination, a teachers’ room, a store room, and inside lavatories all on a nine-acre plot. Only one classroom was used for many years. The school grew to 11 teachers. When this closed in at the end of the 1954-55 School year the students then went back to the southwest corner of Latta Rd and Mt. Read Blvd when Paddy Hill Elementary school opened.

In 1955, Paddy Hill Elementary School was built and students moved across the road once again.

Paddy Hill (1955- Present) Photo Take 2011 Bill Sauers
Historical marker photo by Bill Sauers

There has been a public elementary school at this intersection since 1839, either here or across the street making it the second oldest continuous location in the county. The Greece Historical Society received a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation to install this historical marker.

The large brick school building No. 5 was converted to administrative offices for the Greece Central School District. It was torn down in 2021…

Greece School District # 5 photo by Bill Sauers
Greece Office of Student Transportation and Support Services, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

to make way for the Greece Office of Student Transportation and Student Services Facility. This is where you vote for the school budget each year and it also holds the District Board Meetings instead of at Greece Odyssey Academy. In the back of this complex is a sea of buses that brings the students to and from school each day and behind that is Arcadia Middle and High School

Several artifacts from the building were saved including this sculpture of the Torch of Knowledge which is now mounted in the backyard of the Greece Historical Society and Museum. Gina DiBella, on behalf of the Society, is preparing a report documenting the history of the building for the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

Torch of Knowledge from District No. 5 building photo by Bill Sauers
Stone name plaque from District No. 5 building, photo by Bill Sauers

The name plaque above the entrance door was also preserved. According to sources both within the School District, the Town of Greece, and Members of the Historical Society, said there are plans to mount this 10-foot by four-foot slab near the flagpole of the new building with a time capsule buried with the students from Paddy Hill school participating. But as of this post that has not occurred yet when it does happen it will be added to this post and in a story as well in the January Newsletter will be a story on Paddy Hill School written by Bill Sauers, and when the museum reopens in March we will Feature this school as the featured exhibit of the year for 2023.


Common School District #6 – The Gooseneck School

The irregular direction of College Avenue as it winds from North Greece Road to Latta Road forms what appears to look like a gooseneck. Although this road does appear on the closeup map of the North Greece area in the 1872 Monroe County Plat Map by Beers, F. W. (Frederick W.). Atlas of Monroe Co., New York: From Actual Surveys by and Under the Direction of F. W. Beers. New York: F. W. Beers & Co. which you can see on the Monroe County Public Library http://photo.libraryweb.org/rochimag/mcm/mcm00/mcm00009.jpg

If you look at the overall 1872 Plat Map of Greece as seen on this link here even if you zoom in on the map you will see the outline of the gooseneck area but the above link will take you to the close up area http://photo.libraryweb.org/rochimag/mcm/mcm00/mcm00008.jpg

The name of the street is said that the name of the road came about due to the school. The first school on this site was a brick structure.

In 1927 the school had swings, slides, and teeters (teeter-totters or seesaws) outside. The pupils in the upper grades played baseball in the back of the school on the baseball field. The school had two rooms, with four grades in each room. The school was heated with a coal furnace. They had a bathroom for boys and girls. that same year they had regular electric lights.

Common School District #6 – The Gooseneck School

The children of the small hamlet of North Greece attended this school until 1949 when Common School District No. 6 joined the Hilton School District.

Common School District #6 - The Gooseneck School
Common School District #6 – The Gooseneck School
Common School District #6 – The Gooseneck School
Map of North Greece 1872
Map of North Greece 1872
Hotel DeMay, 2007, from Bill Sauers

After the school closed, the school bell was relocated to the top of the chimney of the former Hotel DeMay.

The school building still stands today as a private residence.

Common School District No. 6- Now
Common School District No. 6 – Now a Private Home photo courtesy of Gina DiBella

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we continue our tour of the old Common School District with Districts 7-17 and Joint Districts 13 and 14.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 41: Northgate Plaza

Today we are talking about Northgate Plaza.

Two-page ad announcing the opening of Northgate Plaza, Greece Press October 29, 1953

On October 29, 1953, “the first major suburban shopping center in Monroe County and one of the largest open-air malls in the eastern United States” opened at 3800 Dewey Avenue. On the site of the Dobson Farm.

Northgate, as the plaza was called because it was “the northern gate of the city” of Rochester, was the brainchild of developer Emil Muller. A Swiss émigré, Muller was a self-made, multi-millionaire known for his “expertise in building shopping plazas.”

Emil Muller developer of Northgate, from his obituary, Democrat & Chronicle, November 28, 1989
Dobson farm on 1902 Map

Muller built Northgate on land he purchased from the Dobson family. On this 1902 map, you can see the Dobsons farmed on both sides of Dewey Avenue. Dewey Avenue at that time was called Barnard’s Crossing and Denise Road was Clinton Avenue.

Muller chose Dewey Avenue for its demographics—it was densely populated and Greece was growing by leaps and bounds. On this Aerial view of the Northgate Plaza, you can see the following Greece Schools from closest being English Village School, then Britton Road School, and Lakeshore School, in the top left is Rochester Gas and Electric Rusell Station Power Plant, and in the top right of the aerial view is the pier and the Genesee River.

Aerial view of Northgate area to the Lake, circa 1960s, from GHS
Original L-shaped layout of Northgate, from GHS

The plaza had 24 stores grouped in an L shape. The more familiar horse-shoe layout would follow in 1956 when it expanded to 30 stores.

Another first for the plaza and Greece, when McCurdy’s opened a store here it was the first time a large downtown department store extended “on-the-spot service to a local suburban area.”

McCurdy’s at Northgate, 1957 from GHS
North end of the plaza, 1957, from GHS

Among the other original stores were Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, Fanny Farmer’s Candy, Scrantom Book & Stationary, Security Trust Bank, Woolworth’s, and not just one but two supermarkets, Star Markets, and Wegmans. To keep customers safe while walking to the stores and to protect them from inclement weather Muller erected an eight-foot-wide marquee that covered the sidewalks. Parking was free. There were 3,000 parking spaces but sometimes that wasn’t enough.

A favorite of children was Gray’s Hobbies which later became Wynken Blynken and Nod.

Wynken Blynken and Nod, 1960, photo by Tom DiBello
Publicity still for Cisco Kid (Duncan Renaldo)
Cisco Kid Ad
Cisco Kid Ad

The three-day grand opening event featured appearances by currently popular tv characters the Cisco Kid and Poncho.

The Cisco Kid is a 1950–1956 half-hour American Western television series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, the Cisco Kid, and Leo Carrillo as the jovial sidekick, Pancho. The series was syndicated to individual stations and was popular with children.[1] Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados wanted for unspecified crimes,[2] but were viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help.[3] It was also the first television series to be filmed in color,[4] although few viewers saw it in color until the 1960s. The show would run for 6 seasons with 26 episodes per season for a total of 156 episodes you can find episodes of The Cisco Kid on a variety of streaming services. Here is a link to a Google Search that will let you find and watch whichever episode you would like to watch https://g.co/kgs/RQEhd1. In Rochester, Cisco Kid aired on WHEC-TV/WVET-TV channel 10 at 6:30 PM.

Fun Fact Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo did do most not all of the horse riding themselves they were very talented horse riders.

One of the streaming services you can watch the Cisco Kid is Freevee on Amazon Prime

The Cisco Kid. (2022, December 7). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cisco_Kid_(TV_series)

Publicity still for Poncho (Leo Carrillo)
Ad for Miles Shoe Store, Greece Press, October 29, 1953

There were added incentives to draw customers, such as a free handbag from Miles Shoes, but they probably weren’t necessary. 60 to 70 thousand people attended over the three days.

Needless to say, Christmas brought scores of people out to shop in Northgate Plaza.

Northgate Christmas ad Greece Press, December 8, 1955.
Nearly full parking lot at Christmas, 1957

By 1957, there were 30 stores in the plaza including J. C. Penney’s which opened in 1954, and W. T. Grants in 1956. The parking lot was nearly full during the Christmas season. It was quite a distance to walk to your car from McCurdy’s to the front entrance.

W. T. Grants Logo c. 1951-1965
J.C. Penney’s logo 1951–1962
Northgate sign, 1960
Greece woman drives home in wrong car, Times-Union, May 3, 1958

Finding one’s car could be problematic. Such was the case for the mother of our Society’s President, Bill Sauers. And it wasn’t even Christmas.

On May 2, 1958, Mrs. William Sauers drove to Northgate Plaza in the new Chevy Impala that they had owned for only a few days. After finishing her shopping, she returned to her car but had trouble getting the key into the ignition. She complained to her husband that she shouldn’t have had that much trouble with a brand-new car. Well, the police showed up at her house at 11 pm to tell her that she had driven away in someone else’s car, a Chevy Bel Air. The police who had been called by the owner of the Bel Air were able to determine who had taken her car when the only car left in the Northgate parking lot had tags registered to the Sauers and they righted the unintentional car switch.

’58 Bel Air
’58 Impala
Northgate sign 1980s from the Office of the Town Historian

Northgate had a difficult time competing with the new indoor malls that were constructed, particularly Greece Towne Mall and Longridge Mall in the 1970s—and by the time the two malls were combined in 1997 Northgate was in terrible shape. We discuss the Mall at Greece Ridge in BICENTENNIAL SNAPSHOT # 12 – THE RIDGE PART 2

The south end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010
North end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010

There were still businesses on the south and the north ends of the plaza.

Middle of Northgate plaza, June 2010, photo by Travis Beaver

But the middle section that once housed McCurdy’s was crumbling and had to be cordoned off.

Panoramic view of Northgate, 2009, photo by Bill Sauers

Now there were more seagulls in the parking lot than cars.

Tearing down where Big Lots was in Northgate Plaza

Walmart purchased the plaza property in 2007 and after several years of legal wrangling, got the go-ahead to build a Walmart Supercenter and reconstruct the plaza. Some of the issues for the area where the amount of shoplifting that occurred at Wal-Marts, traffic issues that could cause backup on Dewey Ave, English Road, and Denise road, and no Auto Center at this Wal-Mart Location.

The new Northgate sign, 2017, from the Office of the Town Historian

The new Northgate opened on August 12, 2012. and just to the left about no more than 15 feet, you will come across this Historical Marker that was unveiled at the ceremony marking the grand opening a historical marker was erected acknowledging the Haudenosaunee who used to camp on the site, the pioneer Dobson family, and the “first major suburban plaza in Monroe County.”

Historical Marker at Northgate, 2012, photo by Bill Sauer
Northgate Plaza Shopping Center By Marie V Poinan

If you would like to read more about the history behind Northgate Plaza, the Society’s publication, Northgate Plaza Shopping Center, compiled by Marie Poinan, is available in the Museum’s gift shop.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 40 – Growing up on Paddy Hill Farm

Today we’ll share with you what it was like growing up on a farm on Latta Road.

The Whelehan farm at 1438 Latta Road is the last of the Irish family farms in the Paddy Hill community. In 1990, a volunteer with the Greece Historical Society interviewed Francis Howard Whelehan, who lived his entire 94 years there. He described his life growing up on the farm.

Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers
Nicholas Read

Howard’s great-grandparents, Thomas Whelehan and Mary Ryan Whelehan, came to the Town of Greece from King’s County in 1836. Mary was Squire Nicholas Read’s grandniece. They had seven children, three sons, and four daughters. One of their sons, William, inherited the Read farm.

Thomas and Mary’s son, Patrick, born in Ireland in 1832, was Howard’s grandfather and his grandmother was Margaret Goodwin, from another Greece pioneer family; she was born in 1834 to Patrick Goodwin and Rosanna Beaty. Howard’s father, born in 1877 was John Patrick Whelehan. In this photo, which hangs in the living room of the Society’s museum, Patrick is the bearded gentleman in the front row; John Patrick stands directly behind him. Margaret Goodwin Whelehan is seated second from the left.

Patrick Whelehan Family, circa 1880s, from the Office of the Town Historian
1902 Map from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

As you can see from this map, members of the Whelehan family had farms along Latta Road and down Mount Read near Our Mother of Sorrows Church.

After Father John Patrick Quinn became pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Church,

Father John Patrick Quinn from Mother of Sorrows Church, 1829-1979
Our Mother of Sorrows Church postcard, circa 1910, from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

his sister, Matilda (Tillie) Quinn, moved to Greece, became the organist and choir director of her brother’s church, met John Patrick Whelehan who was in the choir, and married him in 1899.

They moved into the home at 1438 Latta Road which was built for the newly married couple by Patrick Whelehan. Their first child J. Donald was born in 1903 and their second son, F. Howard in 1905. The farm was large and by 1908 they were expanding the number of barns to store hay and grains,

Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers
Whelehan tombstone in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, photo by Joe Vitello

but shockingly, John Patrick died in early 1909. Tillie, a widow at the age of 38, was left with a six- and a four-year-old. As she said when she got home from the funeral, she had two things in life, two little boys and five dollars.

After their father died, Arthur Yates from Elmtree farm…

You can read more on the Yates-Thayer house in A Gentleman’s Country Estate and also check out snapshot # 31 – Iconic Homles in Greece

Yates-Thayer home, 710 Latta Road, photo by Gina DiBella
Latta Road, 1910s, from the Office of the Town Historian

sent the two little boys a pony.

Although Tillie grew up on a farm in Macedon, she was a school teacher before her marriage and knew little about managing a farm. In addition to the crops, the farm had chickens, pigs, horses, and cattle. Neighbors and family helped initially but she knew she’d have to get some permanent help. When she inquired around, she was told there were two or three men she might hire, but they all had “the same little trouble” Howard recounted in the interview “they liked to drink a little too much.” She did hire one of them, she needed the help.

Dairy cow photo by Keith Weller USDA, www.ars.usda.gov
Chicken by William Baptiste Baird from the Library of Congress

Farming under the best of circumstances was hard. Most of Tillie’s needs could be met from the farm itself, but when she needed to buy additional goods, she didn’t have ready cash. She would gather 10 to 12 dozen eggs and take them to the grocery store in Charlotte. The grocer always took her word for how many there were. He’d tally up the amount she was due, for example, $3.25. Tillie had her list and she’d walk around picking up coffee, tea, sugar, flour, etc. When the grocer told her, Mrs. Whelehan, you’re getting close to the $3.25, that was it; she had no more money.

Tillie would keep old papers and iron bits like plow points for the rag and scrap men who would come from the city to collect them. She stored them near the chicken shed.

Ragpicker by Thomas Waterman Wood circa 1865

One time a scrap man stopped at the farm, he weighed the paper and iron she had, and paid for them. But the next day, Tillie discovered that every one of her hens was gone. Most likely the scrap man had stolen them. Tillie depended on those hens for her grocery money. Soon all her neighbors each gave her two hens, and her hen house was soon replenished.

In the early decades of Howard’s life, there was no electricity or running water in the house. The house was heated by a cook stove in the kitchen and a pot-bellied coal stove in the parlor. Taking a bath was quite an undertaking which is one reason why they didn’t have one very often. If they were going to see the doctor or the dentist or before going to church on Sunday, Howard said, “naturally we would have to take a bath.” They would pump about two pails of water to heat on the stove. That could take up to 40 minutes. Then they had to haul the heated water down to the basement where there was a tub (chamber pots and washbowls) they could bathe in. The Smithsonian has a good collection of 19th and early 20th-century Portable Bathtubs that can be viewed at https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/portable-bathtubs-tub-bathing-from-the-early-19th-and-20th-centuries.

Tin Bucket used as a portable bathtub from familyheritageliving.com
Anthracite chestnut coal from northeastnursery.com

In late summer or early fall, they would hitch a team to a box wagon and drive down to Greece Lumber on Latta Road (near the bridge over the parkway today, where the now-closed Latta Lea Golf was and a townhouse complex, built next to the parkway) which sold coal and lumber, they filled the wagon with two tons of chestnut coal. They’d store it in the cellar and use it all winter in the pot-bellied stove in the parlor.

In addition to growing potatoes, cabbages, and “every kind of berry” for themselves, Tillie also had a contract with a hotel on the Irondequoit side of the river. This was in the days before the Stutson Street Bridge. Howard and Donald would load up a wagon with potatoes and they and horse and wagon would cross the river on a flatboat called the Windsor that ran on a chain.

Stutson Street Bridge Marker
Stutson Street Bridge Marker
Windsor Ferry at Charlotte from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

Howard also recalled that there were two major parties during the winter. One was always at Leo Whelehan’s home next to Our Mother of Sorrows Church.

Also, Leo Whelehan had reported some of the unusual phantom stories written in Eight Miles Along the Shore. The story of the Phantom Man was featured in our Halloween special for the Bicentennial Snapshots in snapshot 32.

Leo Whelehan home courtesy of Alan Mueller
Bell-Larkin-Janes-Beaty house at 543 Long Pond Road from google maps

The other was the Janes family home on Long Pond (which was the former Peter Larkin home). Now home to the Lang Dental Group.

In summer they looked forward to going to the Farmer’s picnic every year at Manitou Beach.

Swimming at Manitou Beach, 1917, from the Office of the Town Historian
Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)

Another of his relatives, State Senator Frederick Slater, organized it every year. In this picture, Senator Slater is on the far right. On the way home he’d start making plans for the next year’s picnic, because said Howard “none of us had any pleasure between them.”

Howard also talked about the Big Freeze of 1934. They raised apples on their farm, some to be sold to Duffy-Mott. He recalled lying awake at night hearing the apple trees breaking; he said it sounded like a man was out there with a big board hitting the barn as hard as he could. The next morning when they went out, they could put an arm through any tree, because they had all split open. More on this in snapshot 33 extreme Weather Part 1.

Damaged fruit trees in Greece, NY 1934
Snow on the ground at the Whelehan home and Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers

Matilda never remarried. Even so, she successfully ran that farm for years and was able to send her oldest son, Donald, to the University of Rochester and Harvard Law School. Howard took over the farm.

The transcript of the interview with Howard Whelehan is attached below for anyone interested in finding out more about growing up on Latta Road.

FRANCIS HOWARD WHELEHAN Q&A

Thank you for joining us today; next week we go shopping at Northgate Plaza.

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One-room schoolhouse to be rescued

Realtor to perk up old School 17, retaining the feel of the time

Meaghan M. McDermott
Staff writer

Originally posted on February 21, 2007, on the Democrat and Chronicle and listed with the town of GREECE next to the date

John Geisler is proud of his one-room schoolhouse.

“I’m a member of the historical society and very much interested in preserving old structures,” said Geisler, who has run his real estate agency, Geisler Realty, from the former Greece School 17 at 3100 Long Pond Road since 1977. “I like history and wanted to preserve this building by not letting it go anywhere.”

The building, with its wooden clapboards and original 12-foot by 5-foot windows on the west side, served as a school from the early 1800s with the Greece District 17 until the mid-1950s. After that, it was known as the Grog Shop liquor store, and its bright brick red facade was a familiar sight to those driving near Latta and Long Pond roads.

“When we got it, it was all one room and paneled,” said Geisler. “We converted it into an office,” he said. “The old School 17 is one of only about three of Greece’s old one-room schoolhouses that are still standing,” said Alan Mueller, town historian. “By 1900, most of the school districts were already on their second buildings,” he said, noting that many of the original one-room schools weren’t built for longevity. In the late 1800s, there were at least 17 school districts for the children of Greece and surrounding areas in Parma, Gates, Ogden, and Rochester. A report from 1881 held by the historian’s office shows those districts received about $3,000 in total aid from the county commissioner that year. “Taxes, though, they were pretty much, ‘I’ll pay $10 for books, and you fix the roof, and you shovel when it gets bad outside,'” said Mueller. He said Greece started consolidating its school districts after 1925, when the state Legislature passed the Central Rural School act, and gave state aid for libraries and special aid for building, enlarging, and remodeling school buildings as well as for transporting students to and from school.

“That’s when people really started saying we can’t have all these little rinky-dink things out in the hinterlands,” he said. He said the only one-room schoolhouses he’s aware are still standing are Geisler’s building, one on Frisbee Hill Road that has been converted into a residence, and the old School 9 on Long Pond Road, which was actually a two-room schoolhouse before being converted into a home in 1949.

Geisler said he plans for his building to keep standing: and even has some changes in the works for the old 14,000-square-foot school. He’s planned a 5,400-square-foot addition that he said will adhere to the original old-school architecture of the schoolhouse.

“You don’t see buildings like this with such high peaks,” he said, pointing to the steeply pitched roof. “There’s a lot of ambiance to this old structure.”

The addition that Geisler has proposed would have clapboard cladding similar to the original building and would replicate the old school’s high-pitched roof and large windows.

“We don’t want to detract in any way from the building we have,” said Geisler. “We want to build something that will be memorable.” The project is in the midst of Planning Board hearings, and if it is approved, construction wouldn’t begin until summer.

“I will be really happy when it’s finished,” said Geisler. “The schoolhouse is a close piece of my heart, it’s a great property.”

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 39 – Paddy Hill, Read’s Corners, Latta at Mount Read

Today our topic is Paddy Hill.

Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley
Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley

In 1878 Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley wrote in his journal “A miniature Ireland grew up here, free from the annoyances and the oppression of the Old Country. Industry secured prosperity. It has been a saying that if there is a good farm for sale, there is an Irishman with the money to pay for it.” The miniature Ireland he was referring to, of course, is what is still called today, Paddy Hill.

Emerald green from irishcentral.com

Between 1805 and 1830 the first stream of Irish immigrants came to Greece, some by way of Canada. They came from places such as County Fermanagh, King’s County, County Wicklow, and County Wexford. These immigrants were a relatively prosperous group of families who “left Ireland decades before the potato famines of the 1840s forced millions of Irish from their impoverished homeland.” Many of the men were skilled tradesmen such as stone masons, mechanics, and coopers.

Aerial of Latta Road at Mount Read, 1960s, from GHS

What they sought was land, something they were prohibited from owning in their native country. Unlike later generations of immigrants, these Irish farmers were able to purchase tracts of fertile acreage and establish themselves quickly as prosperous landowners.

By the second quarter of the century, orchards and grain crops crowned Paddy Hill and the farms prospered. Like The Rigney and the Whelehan Farm in the Picture to the right.

We will learn more about what Francis Howard Whelehan remembers about his family farm in next week’s snapshot.

Paddy Hill approached Mt Read Blvd., the 1920s, from GHS. On the left is the Rigney Farm, and on the right is a Whelehan Farm

Felix McGuire

Felix McGuire Memorial marker in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

One of the first Irishman to settle in the area was Felix McGuire. Born in County Fermanagh (Fer-man-a) circa 1770, he arrived in Greece between 1805 and 1807. He was a leading Catholic layman in his day in Monroe County and a “substantial figure in the history of the Town of Greece.” By 1810 he was elected as a path master for the town of Northampton. The Catholic tradition in Rochester and in Greece is that Felix was the man who brought the first priest to the Rochester district to celebrate Mass in 1818. He also was a founder of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Rochester in 1823.

Nicolas Read

Nicholas Read was a contemporary of Felix McGuire. A prosperous, well-educated Irish immigrant, he took up residence in Greece circa 1823. “Already a man of substance, he purchased a considerable amount of acreage on the crest and slopes of the highest point in the town of Greece between Ridge Road and the Lake, now called after him, Mount Read.” Maps labeled the intersection with Latta Road “Read’s Corners” before it was ever called Paddy Hill. A civic and religious leader, Read “served as justice of the peace for over twenty years, and for three years was one of the associate judges of the county. Many called him “Judge” Read because of his judicial positions. He was more widely known as “Squire” Read.”

Nicholas Read from Greece Historical Society’s Collection
Historical marker at Mt. Read and Latta, photo by Dick Halsey

The heart of the Irish community at Read’s Corner was their church and Felix McGuire and Nicholas Read were instrumental in its founding. Nicholas Read donated the land for the church and cemetery. Principally through their efforts, a frame building was begun in 1829. It was named St. Ambrose Church but was more commonly called “The Church in the Woods,” a name given to it by the local Native Americans. That was what the church was called before receiving the name Our Mother of Sorrows, It was the first Catholic church built in any rural area in New York State.

Diocesan historian Robert McNamara wrote: “The Irish were so numerous in the north part of Greece that for many years a long stretch of Latta Road on either side of Mount Read was flanked by an unbroken line of Irish Catholic farms. It is no surprise that the Mount came to be called “Paddy Hill.” But the Grecian Irish deeply resented this nickname, for “Paddy” was an ethnic slur.” But it is the name that lingers to this day. Judge Read was particularly active in fighting anti-Irish/anti-Catholicism sentiments.

The image on the right is a pen and ink original art by noted cartoonist Frederick Opper (1857-1937), noted for comic strips “Happy Hooligan, Alphonse And Gaston, Her Name Was Maud” and others. Opper also drew political cartoons for William Randolph Hearst’s “New York Journal.” This single-panel cartoon dates to c. 1885, during the height of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment in America, and features a man with a bucket and paintbrush standing outside of a wooden shack decorated with shamrocks and Irish harp, with freshly painted “Down Wid Toyrunts! No More Irish Paupers Wanted In The U.S.” text. Irish woman looks out of the window as goat w/painted shamrock look on. Nightshirt w/harp image hangs off the post over the door like a flag. Opper has signed at the lower right. The lower left corner has a .5×1″ corner tip-off (not affecting art) w/2″ corner crease. Artboard has evenly aged some corner foxing and scattered dust soiling.

Printed in the New York Journal c. 1885
Frederick Burr Opper, 1857-1937

Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin from Mother of Sorrows Herald No. 2, Easter 1930, from GHS

Peter Larkin was born circa 1809 in Ireland and emigrated to this country around the age of 30. He, along with his good friend Joseph Fleming, succeeded Felix McGuire and Squire Read as leaders of the Irish Community of Read’s Corners. Before coming to Greece, both men worked on a number of canal projects around New York State and in Canada. In addition to his farm, Peter was a prosperous property owner around what was known as Greece Center—the Latta/ Long Pond intersection and where the Greece Town Hall campus is today. Peter was elected supervisor of the town three times: 1861–1862, 1872, and 1876.

Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, is now home to Lang Dental Group.

Lang Dental Group Posing in front of Peter Larkin’s Homestead
Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, now Lang Dental Group, photo by Bill Sauers

Joseph Fleming

Joseph Fleming Home, photo by Bill Sauers

We told you about Joseph Fleming and his home in Snapshot 31 – Notable Holmes in Greece NY.

Our Mother of Sorrows and Father Jean Louis Maurice

Larkin and Fleming recommended that a French priest, Father Jean Louis Maurice, or Father John Maurice as he anglicized his name, be made pastor of St. Ambrose and he was appointed in 1856. When it came time to construct a new church to replace the 30-year-old wooden frame church in 1859, Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming were the general contractors and Peter personally built the lentils and windows of the church. They donated their labor. Father Maurice was the pastor for 39 years until his death on Christmas Day, 1895 at the age of 83.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church, photo by Bill Sauers
Peter Larkin designed the lentils and frames for the stained glass windows sit in as seen in this 1991 D&C Photo of Paddy Hill Library
"Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming"
When you click on this image to view it full size you can see at the bottom in black text on this stained glass window it say “Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming” on the glass

This church continued to be at the heart of the Irish community.

Father Jean Louis Maurice
Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)

A highlight in the history of this community and its church was the centennial celebration in June 1930. Five thousand parishioners and former parishioners attended the ceremony. Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor were among the dignitaries helping to mark the anniversary.

In 1968 it was replaced by a new church just south of the cemetery. The congregation outgrew the little church at the corner of the Latta and Mount Read Blvd building a new church could give them more room for more members to attend services and around 1950 they added a Private Catholic school on the grounds years later to help with the number of congregational members growing because the town’s population was booming. But in the 2000s Mother of Sorrows school started to see a decline in admissions of students to the school which forced the church to sell the school building and in 2017 Rochester Academy Charter School bought the building and serves as their high school.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church from dorchurches.org

Paddy Hill Library/Rochester Academy Charter School

Black and White 1990s Picture of the Inside of Paddy Hill Library
Greece Public Library before the expansion of the children’s library area on the Greece Town Campus

The old church was leased to the town of Greece for the Paddy Hill Branch Library, “with the understanding that any inside adjustments necessary could be made, but that the old red-brick Romanesque exterior would remain the same.” The library closed circa 1999 with the opening of the new library on the Town Hall campus in 2000. There is a second library branch that opened up in the Dewey-Stone area but since COVID it has not reopened the small storefront location.

Between 2000 and 2017 it was used by the Greece Central School District as well for a short period for certain programs and offices due to building constraints of the district at the time. Today the building is owned by the Rochester Academy Charter School.

After Greece Central School District was done using it for some of the programs the district had running.

Look at this 1902 map and you can see that Read’s Corners is still surrounded by Irish family farms.

Close up of Paddy Hill on the 1902 Map
Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers

Today, the Whelehan’s Allyndaire Farm is the last of them on Latta Road. More about them in our next Snapshot.

Paddy Hill School / Common School District # 5

Equally important to the community was its school, which was and is located across the street from Our Mother of Sorrows Church. The year after the Town of Greece was established in 1822, a new local public school, Common School District No. 5 Town of Greece was set up on the west side of the half-intersection of Latta Road and the present Mount Read Blvd. There has been a public elementary school at this intersection since 1839, either here or kitty-corner from the church, making it the second oldest continuous location in the county. The Greece Historical Society received a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation to install this historical marker.

Historical marker photo by Bill Sauers
Paddy Hill School courtesy of Randy Phillips

With the school and their church established in 1829, the community “began to envision that intersection as the nucleus of a future village.” But the commercial hubs developed in Charlotte, and around the Dewey/Latta, and the Latta/Long Pond intersections. Even today the surrounding environs are predominately residential.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery

Very few of the early settlers around Paddy Hill chose to leave for other places; there were many marriages among the tightly-knit families. One only has to walk the quiet paths of Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery and read the names on the grave markers: McGuire, Read, Larkin, Fleming, Rigney, Bemish, Burns, Whelehan, McShea, Slater, Goodwin, Gallery, and Hogan. A who’s who of the early pioneers of the town. Many of the descendants of these families still reside in Greece.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

Thank you for joining us today, next week our Snapshot is about growing up on Paddy Hill.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No 38: Our Town in World War II

Today we’ll tell you about the town of Greece during World War II.

Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit
Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit – Presenting the Colors
Aerial view of Long Pond Road at Latta where Wegmans supermarket is today, 1940s, from the Office of the Town Historian

Encompassing more than 50 square miles, the town of Greece in 1940 was primarily made up of farms and the population was 14,925 as of the 2010 census the town of Greece’s Population was 96,095 people that’s 3,905 people shy of 100,000 people in the town.

The town was protected by a ten-member police force led by the town’s first police chief, Milton Carter, and four volunteer fire companies.

Chief Milton Carter (Right)
Charlotte High School, Lake Ave 1940s
Aerial view of John Marshall High School Ridgeway Ave Rochester, NY

There were nine churches. However, there was no town public library, nor high schools; students attended Charlotte or John Marshall High Schools in the city.

That meant if you went to school at one of the many smaller elementary schools or 1 and 2-room schools in the town of Greece you by the time it came for 9th grade you would either end up doing trade by the 9th grade or attend High School at Charlotte High School on Lake Ave in the Villiage of Charlotte or John Marshall High School on Ridgeway Ave in the City of Rochester. More on the education system prior to the modern education system in a 2 part snapshot coming soon.

There were 39 registered organizations for men, women, and young people including a large chapter of the American Legion, eleven PTAs, political clubs, Grange Hall, Boys and Girls Scouts, and Fireman’s Associations as well as 38 church-related groups.

Grange Hall on Ridge Road, 1945, from the Office of the Town Historian

That All changed on December 7, while it was just getting to lunchtime on the East Coast the sun was just coming, on that day Stanley Hwalek one of the veterans that we interviewed for the exhibit was stationed at Pearl Harbor here is a quote from him in 2015 for the exhibit and you can read his entire veteran’s profile by picking up a copy of Our Town in World War 2 book in the museum gift shop.

Picture of Stanley Hwalek taken in 2015 for the exhibit

“Well, December 7th was just a regular Sunday morning. We were up at 6:00 because on Sundays they let us sleep a half hour longer. Usually during the rest of the week, reveille was at 5:30, but Sunday you were able to sleep until 6 o’clock and they had breakfast from 6:30 until 7:30. After breakfast, I went out on deck with one of my shipmates and I had the morning newspaper. As I’m reading the paper there about 7:30 or so I looked up, we were near this Navy air station at Ford Island, I saw a lot of smoke coming out of the hangars. I said to my shipmate, ‘Look. The Army must be having maneuvers or something because they’re making a lot of smoke out there.’ All of a sudden a plane comes over our ship and starts strafing.”

Stanley was one of the many veterans that survived the attack at Pearl Harbor that December 7th, 1941. On Monday, December 8th, 1941 in a full joint session of Congress President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Nation and asked for Congress to approve the Declaration of War against Japan and to respond to the attacks at Pearl Harbor.

Headline from Greece Press, December 12, 1941

Grecians answered the call to join the war effort. By March 1942, 1500 men and women had volunteered for civilian defense positions.

By the end of 1944, town residents had collected 165.5 tons of scrap metal, 384 tons of waste paper, 3 tons of rubber, 4 tons of old rags, and 200 bags of milkweed. This gun, captured from Germany during World War I, was donated to the war effort for scrap metal. These stats are from Accept, Buy and Volunteer: The Homefront Experience of the Town of Greece, New York, 1941-1945 by Timothy Dobbertin.

You can read also read the following article that the Society’s President Bill Sauers wrote and published in the Greece Post titled “A German Gun Helps Win the War” about Police Chief Milton H. Carter, who acquired a 105 mm German Howitzer. https://greecehistoricalsociety.org/2008/11/13/a-german-field-gun-helps-win-the-war/

Gordon Howe, Town Supervisor, lays a wreath on Memorial Day at the Town Hall, 1941, from the Office of the Town Historian
Victory Garden Enrollment Form, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

Residents were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens with vegetables, but to also continue to grow ornamental flowers as they would be morale boosters.

Headline, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

By the spring of 1942, 300 had enrolled. By the spring of 1944, there were more than 25 acres of Victory Gardens under cultivation in the town.

The Odenbach Shipyard was the main employer in Greece during the war years, employing thousands of workers at the 4477 Dewey Avenue plant. They made cargo barges, Y-boats, and cranes for the United States Army. At the height of production, they averaged one ship every two weeks.

Kodak, Bosch & Lomb, were also employing workers from Greece and other parts of the community as well but because of the City Annexation of where Kodak’s Lake ave facilities were, they were no longer considered the main employer located in the town boundaries.

Workers at Odenbach Shipbuilding Corp., 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian
The flag of stars flew at Greece Town Hall to call attention to the number of Greece Men and Women in service during World War II. Additional stars were added as the numbers grew. From Left to Right Town Supervisor Gordon Howe, Police Chief Milton Carter, and Lucius Bagley World War I Veteran

Almost 2,000 town residents served in the military.

War Mothers Service Organization, 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian

Families waited at home hoping and praying for the safety of their husbands, sons, and brothers.

cemetery of fallen soldiers and veterans
Photo by Veronika Valdova on Pexels.com

Thirty-four Greece residents made the ultimate sacrifice for their county. They were:

Clip 45:

Back Cover of Our Town in World War II

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, there are now only about 150,000 still living. In 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of VE day, the Greece Historical Society opened Our exhibit, Our Town in World War II.

In the Video, we Hear from William Sauers the President of the Greece Historical Society & Museum. Don Riely, was our Master of the Ceremony. Color Gaurd from VFW Post 468. 2015 Greece Town Supervisor William D. Reilich Speaking about what it was like on the homefront during World War II. Jack Foy talked out his tour of duty during World War II. Senator Joe Robach read the list of 32 soldiers. Finally Maureen Whalen the exhibit chair gave a brief overview of the exhibit. can view the entire program below.

Twelve veterans of the war were interviewed for the exhibit. Today, only one of them is still living. But their recorded interviews are available at our museum.

You can explore a digital copy of the museum exhibit that is located in the past exhibits section.

We had a great turnout for the exhibit and when the museum went to the Museum Association of New York the following year we received an award for the exhibit.

You may read about these vets and Greece during the war years in the Society’s publication Our Town in World War II by Maureen Whalen and Marie Poinan.

Our Town in World War II

Thank you for joining us today. Next week our topic is Paddy Hill, What a journey we have had so far exploring the History of Greece through each snapshot that Maureen Whalen and myself Pat Worboys, and thanks to Joesph Vitello, William Sauers, and many our other contributors to these snapshots. These help you learn what life was like through different eras in the town of Greece.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 37: Unsolved Arson Case – The Holiday Inn Fire of 1978

Today we look back at the horrific fire at the Holiday Inn in Greece in which ten people lost their lives while staying at the Holiday Inn. Every year goes by when the generation of people who were are the scene of the horrific fire and the temperature was a balmy chilly 20°F (-6.7°C) temperature and winds out of the north around 10mph. Remember when we told you about the town of Greece didn’t join the 9-1-1 call center and operations until around 1986, before that time you would have to call the station directly or if the business had an alarm system properly wired up to the fire company’s alarm system to alert the firefighters that there was a fire at certain places of business, this also played a roll in the case of this tragic hotel fire that took the lives of ten people.

Even though the Ridge Road Fire District and North Greece Fire Department are celebrating their centennials this year there is one fire that has effect everyone at both. Every fire district in the town has battled large and small fires, auto accidents, attend training, practiced at the fire training grounds, routine fire inspections, community programs, and outreach, but never prepared them for what would become Ridge Road’s most unique fire they had to deal with in the companies first 100 years of service.

Chase-Pitkin fire, August 30, 1980, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Ridge Road Fire Department has battled many fires,

large…

…and small.

Greece Baptist Church courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Holiday Inn Fire, 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

But never anything like the Holiday Inn Fire on November 26, 1978.

On Sunday, November 26, 1978, there were about 200 people staying at the Holiday Inn in Greece. According to the report Fire command, Volume 46. National Fire Protection Association, 1979 in that publishing it states there were 91 guest rooms at the hotel, but the exact number of guest rooms on November 28, 1978, is unknown due to the owner of the hotel began changing some of the guest rooms were converted into conference rooms. Among the guests were visitors from an Ontario, Canada bus tour here to take advantage of Thanksgiving weekend shopping specials, members of two wedding parties, a John Marshall alumna in town for her reunion, and attendees at the hotel’s Saturday night singles party.

Holiday Inn postcard courtesy of Bill Sauers
Holiday Inn sign courtesy of Bill Sauers

Around 2:30 am that frosty Sunday morning, a fire started among the paper products and towels stored in a closet area tucked under a first-floor stairway and that metal door for the closet area was not fire-rated or UL-labeled. The blaze spread quickly up the stairs where the fire doors had been propped open, raced down corridors, ignited the ceilings, and invaded the roof. And with strong winds from out of the north-north-west, and the temperature was hovering around 24.2°F (-4.333 °C) but with a wind chill, it would make it feel like 16.1°F (-8.333°C).

Two off-duty firefighters, one from the Greece Road fire department, the other an Albion FD fire chief, each driving on Ridge Road on the way home from a different workplace, spotted the orange glow of the flames approximately eight minutes after the fire started. The Greece firefighter radioed in the fire from his car and they both entered the building to start evacuating guests. Other people were calling from nearby payphones to report the fire. 911 wasn’t instituted until 1986 in Rochester (even later in Greece) and of course cell phones hadn’t been invented yet.

Greece 1970 Interactive Historic Data Map Monroe County https://maps.monroecounty.gov/Html5Viewer2/index.html?viewer=Historic#
Fighting the inferno, 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Greece Ridge put in the call for mutual aid to help with the scene unfolding at the Holiday Inn on Ridge Road next to Corona Road. The companies that came to assist Greece Ridge were Barnard, North Greece, and the City of Rochester, who fought the blaze for two hours with more than 125 firefighters. Ten ambulances were needed at the scene. Gene Preston who was a member of Kodak Fire at the time, remembers that Kodak Fire did offer to lend assistance by connecting Greece Ridge trucks to Kodak’s water source on the ground of the Latona Road Complex, but Greece Ridge turned down Kodak Fire Department’s offer to hook up to their water source.

Rescue crews piloted 170 guests, most of them still in their night clothes and many barefoot, outside into the 16-degree cold.

As you can see on this map where (Greece Ridge) Ridge Ridge had command of the scene and the Greece Ridge chief became the incident commander, he issued the call to request mutual aid as Barnard, North Greece, and City of Rochester companies arrived at the scene, Greece Ridge fire chief began assigning the assisting companies where to deploy their firefighting equipment at the scene. The blue lines on this map are hoses that ran to the water from the fire hydrants to the trucks and from truck to truck. The green lines on this map of the scene represent the hoses that were in the firefighter’s hands. A large contingent of the firefighting efforts was coming from pumper 253 on the west side of where the origin of the fire started. The red arrows represent the direction of where the fire was traveling outward from the origin to the shaded reddish, orangish zone was where the fire able to be stopped from consuming the rest of the structure.

What is a Squrt™️ fire truck? The Squrt™️ fire truck is a brand of fire truck Trademarked by SNORKEL FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY CORPORATION on November 4, 1969, as you can see in the Trademark filing on the USPTO website https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4810:yri038.2.3 and licensed to different manufacturers that built these kinds of fire trucks like the one in service in North Greece was built by Young Fire Equipment Corporation in Buffalo, New York.

map of units on scene
Map of Units on Scene at Holiday Inn Fire courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Here is a list of the abbreviations of each of the different trucks at the scene means after each of the different fire fighting apparatuses is the number of that engine.

  • E – Engine
    • E-10
    • E-11
  • L – Ladder
    • L-221
    • L-251
  • M – Medic
    • M-220
  • R – Rescue Engine
    • R-222
  • P – Pumper
    • P-251
    • P-252
    • P-253
    • P-254
    • P-255
    • P-273
    • P-274
    • P-453
  • T – Truck
    • T-3
    • T-8
  • Squrt™️
    • Squrt 1
After the fire, in 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

By 4:30 the fire was out, but the building was a total loss. A few guests leaped from second and third-story windows to save themselves. Thirty-five people were injured. Tragically, ten people perished in the fire from smoke inhalation.

We Remember the guest that perished that early morning on November 26th, 1978

List of Canadian citizens who died in the Holiday Inn Fire

They were: Rubina “Ruth” Cushinan, age 81, and her daughter Ruby Cushinan, age 61, from York, Ontario, Canada; four people from Etobicoke, Ontario, Maguerrette Duncan, age 57, 67-year-old Edward Farley and his 62-year-old wife, Lorene, and Pamela Sagriff, age 30, and from Bramalea, Ontario, Huguette Sundude, age 30.

Names of the remaining three people who died

Joyce Plumb age 42 from Arlington Virginia who had attended her 25th high school reunion from John Marshall High School the day before; Stephen Gregory Ford, age 29, from Ypsilanti, Michigan who was in Rochester for his best friend’s wedding, and from Pompano Beach, Florida, Nancy Garrett, age 26.

white rose
Photo by Aidan Nguyen on Pexels.com

Results of the Fire Investigation

The hotel had a host of structural faults that contributed to the easy spread of the conflagration: The “primary factors that led to the fatalities in this incident were the combination of the highly combustible interior finish, [and] unprotected openings that existed in the stairway,” there was only one vertical firewall between the two wings and the firewalls in the buildings did not extend to the roof, allowing the fire to rip through the top floor of each wing.

Aerial view of the hotel courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Sprinkler head from fessa.com.au

The hotel was equipped with a fire alarm system that included manual-pull stations and combination rate-of-rise, fixed-temperature thermal detectors as initiating devices yet it failed to do what it was intended to do to prevent the loss of life. It lacked a sprinkler system and Emergency Lighting. The alarm system wasn’t connected to the Greece-Ridge Fire Department or any other security agency.

The alarm system consisted only of one bell in the middle of each of the two wings’ five floors. The alarm didn’t have a distinctive sound nor was it loud enough. Guests didn’t recognize it as a fire alarm; they thought it was a phone in the room or an alarm clock. Furthermore, when hotel employees realized the alarms were ringing, they rushed to get people out, but no one remembered to call the fire department.

Burned-out corridor, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Greece Police Headquarters Precinct 1, 1983 Office of the  Town Historian
Greece Police Headquarters Precinct 1, 1983 Office of the Town Historian

As news of the fire spread, the police department was flooded with calls. One volunteer Doug Worboys, recalls that after the fire he arrived home at 10:30 am, grabbed a little sleep, and returned to work the noon to 11 pm shift at the police dispatch office desk with fellow dispatchers Ron Timmons and Jim Leary. “We had callers from throughout the US and Canada; the farthest away, I think, was Puerto Rico. We referred most of the Holiday Inn inquiry calls to the front desk officer who was assigned to take all those types of calls. The next day they had a special line set up for further calls. You hear things like that happening in other places, but you never expect one like that in your own town. That day was a very busy day with all those calls along with calls for normal situations that occur day to day. That day was a very somber day for us dispatchers and all people involved in this fire.”

Although at first it was said that the fire was accidental, Police Chief Gerald Phelan, when speaking to reporters at the time, said that “his gut told him the fire was nonetheless suspicious due to its speed and intensity.”

Police Chief Gerald Phelan with Greece Town Supervisor Don Riley from the Office of the Town Historian

John Stickever joins the case

John Stickever, photo from his obituary New York Daily News, February 22, 2017
Butanone. (2022, November 8). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butanone

16×9 – Lost in the Flames: Legacy of historic Holiday Inn fire

Part 1 – A deadly blaze engulfs a Holiday Inn in upstate New York more than 30 years ago, claiming the lives of 7 Canadians. Investigators called it an arson but never caught the criminal responsible. Part 2 – Thirty years after the fire, a deadly arson remains unsolved.

16×9 Program on Global News From Canada

John Stickever joined the FDNY in 1959 and was assigned to Engine Co. 231 in Brooklyn. He became a fire marshal six years later. Durning Stickevers first 37 years as a fire marshall where he investigated numerous fire scenes where some were arson, and some were just accidents. In 1978, John Stickever, a New York City Fire Firefighter was just promoted to the rank of Supervising Fire Marshall in July 1978 and was an Investigator who specialized in arson and “essentially wrote the book on fire investigation training,” which is linked below. Mid-week following the fire on November 26, 1978, is when then Greece Police Chief Gerald Phelan contacted Commission Augustus Anthony Beekman of the New York City Fire Department to see if the City could send someone to help the Greece Police and Greece Ridge Fire Department to examine the Holiday Inn fire scene. It was Commissioner Augustus Anthony Beekman who called Stickever at home and the commissioner said he was the one who was selected to head to upstate New York to help with a case in Greece, NY.

When Stickever arrived he started to have firefighters clear the floor and in front of doors and other areas in the hotel, he began to notice things that the Greece Police and Greece Ridge did not see at the time of the fire which stood out to him. Stickever concluded that an accelerant of some kind had been used in starting the fire and declared it arson and the ten deaths were now ten murders. Stickever with his knowledge found burn patterns, and damage to the kickplate on the fire doors, and when the results came back from the labs, they found traces of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) otherwise known as Butanone was used as an accelerant which made the fire grow quickly in the stairwell, and with the winds at 2 A.M. were at about 10 miles an hour out of the North which help spread the fire quickly through the hotel, with that information both Stickever and then Assistant Monroe County District Attorney Crane, during in 1978 knew it had to be someone with the knowledge of MEK. In 1978 Stickever and then ADA Crane believe that someone would have to have knowledge of MEK and firefighting skills to know that MEK according to ilo.org a website that has information on all different types of hazmat chemicals notes under PHYSICAL & CHEMICAL INFORMATION that the Physical State and Appearance is a colorless liquid with a characteristic odor from ILO and WHO 2021. The other types of accelerants would have been easily found but because MEK was used as the accelerant it made it more difficult for the firefighters to fight the fire. If the chief of Greece Ridge had requested the airport chemical fire truck from the airport which was a carbon dioxide, dry agents, or alcohol-resistant foam-based fire suppression agent in its tank would have halved the time for the first responders that day, but no one knew what accelerant was used to start it.

According to an interview Stickerver did with Crime Beat TV’s 16×9 – Lost in the Flames: Legacy of historic Holiday Inn fire and aired April 30, 2012, on Global News a division of Shaw Media Inc., in Canada, he remembers the interview one Greece Ridge firefighter said on the news and the body language of that firefighter on video, it set off some signs that were a sign that Stickever could tell that he was the critical suspect because during that interview that firefighter said he was driving towards the My Apartment Bar when he called the fire in. Stickevers pushed for the state to give marshals “police officer” status so they can enforce just like the police officers but with the ability to issue tickets, fines, fees, and official notices on properties that violate fire codes, fire safety, or other aspects of a building that would make the fire marshals not want to give okay to open the building or had to close the place down until it was brought up to code to ensure that it was safe for the public to enter said structure with that state approved this the bill that created and gave the power to create a program on fire investigation and arson in every municipality in New York State you can read the bill along with the supporters and documentation by reading the New York State bill jackets – L-1979-CH-0225 by clicking the link here to see the full text of that bill https://nysl.ptfs.com/aw-server/rest/product/purl/NYSL/i/f6d59c1f-e1a7-405a-9359-6f4fe1deacd8

Here is a link to the article that was written by John Stickever in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletin in 1986 that describes the way he does arson investigations https://books.google.com/books?id=d_dcT71FVsUC&lpg=PA1&ots=auNtB2w7hF&dq=john%20stickever%20new%20york%20city%20fire%20department&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=john%20stickever%20new%20york%20city%20fire%20department&f=false

Phalen’s Arson Taskforce

Phelan formed a special arson task force, operating a command center out of the Pop-Lar Motel down the road from the fire site. The team of 23 local and state investigators conducted more than 400 interviews in the days after the fire. They settled on five “persons of interest,” but didn’t have enough evidence to bring charges against anyone. The two main suspects were the Greece Ridge firefighter who had radioed in the fire and a man who “had lived in two apartments that had caught fire, then, using insurance coverage, moved temporarily to the Holiday Inn. However, he had a confrontation with a staff member shortly before the fire, and was booted out of the hotel.” Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Crane along with his boss Monroe County District Attorney Lawrence T. Kurlander was given a list of 5 persons of interest and 2 main suspects that the Police gave to them as the possible suspects but without enough evidence from the fire scene and testimonial from guest, hotel employees, and people who lived around the area, it made the District Attorney office hard to pin a person to be held accountable for a change in one count of first-degree arson and ten counts of murder from the fire as well.

Here is what the New York State’s statute says Arson in the first degree from New York Laws › Penal Law › Part 3 › Title I › Article 150 > Section 20:

N.Y. Penal Law § 150.20 Arson in the first degree.
  1. A person is guilty of arson in the first degree when he
intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an
explosion or a fire and when (a) such explosion or fire is caused by an
incendiary device propelled, thrown or placed inside or near such
building or motor vehicle; or when such explosion or fire is caused by
an explosive; or when such explosion or fire either (i) causes serious
physical injury to another person other than a participant, or (ii) the
explosion or fire was caused with the expectation or receipt of
financial advantage or pecuniary profit by the actor; and when (b)
another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in such
building or motor vehicle at the time; and (c) the defendant knows that
fact or the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such
person therein a reasonable possibility.
  2. As used in this section, "incendiary device" means a breakable
container designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion upon
impact, containing flammable liquid and having a wick or a similar
device capable of being ignited.
  Arson in the first degree is a class A-I felony.
Postcard of Pop-Lar Motel, 2976 Ridge Road West, circa 1960 from mcnygenealogy.com
Assemblyman Roger Robach (right) with Governor Hugh Carey (center), 1979, from New York State digital archive

Assemblyman Roger Robach, who represented Greece, co-sponsored a bill in 1980 requiring hotels and motels with more than 30 rooms to have smoke detectors in every room and in hallways. It passed unanimously in the Assembly and after it was passed by the Senate was signed into law by Governor Hugh Carey.

Although an open case, it had laid dormant until 2010 when the Greece Police department, first under Chief Todd Baxter and then under his successor Patrick Phelan, gave new life to the investigation. Everything was reexamined and witnesses were interviewed again. They concluded that the firefighter was the arsonist. The Greece PD submitted its report to the Monroe County District Attorney in 2015. At the same as Cheif Baxter began his investigation, the Canadian Government want more answers from the hotel fire as well because this was an international issue and yet to date, the Canadain Government and the families of the seven Canadians that lost their lives have not gotten any answers and are left in limbo they wish this case could be solved.

Press release from the Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan
After the fire, in 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

The District Attorney’s office, however, was not convinced that there was enough evidence to prosecute anyone. In the years since the 1978 fire, the science of arson has evolved and she didn’t feel that it was still conclusive without a doubt that it was even arson.

So, the families and friends of ten souls lost in that fire may never see anyone brought to account. The Holiday Inn Fire of 1978 was not only the deadliest fire in the history of the Town of Greece but in all of Monroe County.

Front page of the Democrat and Chronicle, November 27, 1978, clipped from newspapers.com

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we pay tribute to “the greatest generation.”

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Bicentennial Snapshot No.36: Centennial Celebration of North Greece and Ridge Road Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Bicentennial 200

Today we are spotlighting the two Greece fire districts that are celebrating their centennial years and they are the North Greece Fire Department and the Greece Ridge/Ridge Road Fire District

Bucket Brigade from Monroe Historical Society

As a rural agricultural community in the 1800s, there was no formal fire brigade or fire department in Greece. Fires were common “in an era when most buildings were made of wood, when candles and fuel lamps provided lighting, and when wood stoves were used for cooking.” Bucket brigades fought fires. Water was taken from whatever source was nearby—streams, lakes, ponds, or cisterns—and a line of men formed to pass the buckets from one man to the next until it reached the fire. It was an ineffective way to fight a fire.

In 1890, John Fetzner of Fetzner Carriage shop and Peter Knipper, owner of the Falls Hotel, (we told you about them in Snapshot 16), imported a chemical fire wagon from France. They stored the fire wagon in a shed on the hotel property next door to Fetzner’s carriage shop making it readily available to serve them and their neighbors. The apparatus was on a wheeled carriage base and had to be pulled by volunteers on foot. A chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and a premixture of sodium bicarbonate in one tank propelled water in the other tank through a hose; it could create a stream of water up to 30 feet high. This is the oldest piece of fire equipment in Greece, and one of the oldest in Monroe County. It is on display in our museum. You can read the full interview on how Society acquired the fire wagon from Bud Steeb by Kay Pollok.

Journey of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon Story an Interview with Bud Steeb
Fetzner-Knipper fire wagon photo by Bill Sauers
Clip 3: Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June, 2020, prepared for: Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research
Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June 2020, prepared for Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District, and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research

The Town of Greece does not have a centralized fire department; there’s no GFD on the back of our firefighters’ turnout coats. Rather the town is served by four separate fire districts: North Greece, Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge), Barnard, and Lakeshore. North Greece and Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge) have three stations, Lakeshore had three stations but decommissioned the station near in Braddock Bay Heights area, and Barnard has only one, which makes nine total in the town. Some calls may receive mutual aid from other fire districts they are Hilton, Spencerport/Odgen Fire, Gates Fire, and the City of Rochester, depending on the type of assistance that is needed.

North Greece Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch

Founded June 1922

In June 1922 the Carriage and Blacksmith shop once owned by Lewis Combs became North Greece Fire District's first firehouse and the town’s first fire station and their…

North Greece Fire Station, 1926
North Greece fire department testing Pierce Arrow truck, circa 1928, from the Office of the Town Historian

…Pierce-Arrow truck was the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. This is their centennial anniversary.

In 1958, North Greece added a second Station on Latta Rd at Mt. Read Boulevard. Up until the mid-1980s, the fire district had an all-volunteer force.

Dedication ad from the Greece Press, July 24, 1958
Station 1, the 1960s, the Office of the Town Historian

The North Greece Fire District Headquarters were moved from Station 1 at North Greece and Latta to Station 2 at Latta and Mount Read in 1970.

In 1983, a third station was opened on English Road.

North Greece Fire District Station 3
North Greece Fire District Station 1 North Greece and Latta Roads, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Encompassing more than 27 miles, today, the North Greece Fire District serves the largest geographic area in the town and a population of about 41,000. As of January 2020, the district had 45 career firefighters and 33 volunteers.

Between 2016 and 2018 they responded to an average of 3,539 calls per year; 62 percent were EMS-related. [1]

Fire at Harris Dairy Farm, English Road, 1938, from the Office of the Town Historian
North Greece Fire District Headquarters, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

In 2019, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rated the North Greece Fire District at a 2 which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years

August 3, 1922

The Greece Ridge Fire Department, now Ridge Road Fire District, was established on August 3, 1922. It was first located at 2550 Ridge Road West, the northwest corner of Long Pond Road and Ridge Road. The building was shared with three businesses on the upper floor: H. A. Herrick Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor, J.V. Gallagher Realtor Real Estate Insurance, and A.R. Koerner Contractor Builder. At the back of the site was Buchman’s Dairy then a Walgreens and now an Orvilles Appliance store.

First Greece-Ridge Fire Station at 2550 Ridge Road West, circa 1924, courtesy of Bill Sauers
RRFD fighting a fire at Fetzner’s Garage, 1969, from ridgefire.org

By the way, Peter Knipper and John Fetzner also helped found this department.

Like North Greece, the Ridge Road Fire District is celebrating its centennial.

Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01

In 1922, A. R. Koerner besides being a building contractor became the first Fire Chief of the Greece Ridge Fire Department (Ridge Road Fire District). He served as Chief from 1922 to 1939, encompassing three different town administrations: Frank J. Mitchell from 1922-1927, William F. Schmitt from 1928 - 1933, and finally Gordon A. Howe from 1934-1939. Gordon A Howe was the Town Supervisor from 1934 to 1960. A.R. Koerner's chief helmet was received into our collection in 2015 and has been on display since with the chemical fire wagon that is pictured at the beginning of this snapshot.

Like North Greece, Greece Ridge started with a Pierce-Arrow fire truck which was built in Buffalo, NY.

1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
Amelia & Frank Siebert, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook

In 1930 Frank Siebert, a co-founder, and volunteer with the department became the district’s first paid firefighter. The firehouse was remodeled and included an apartment for Siebert and his wife and children.

Amelia & Frank Siebert (Kathy's Great-Grandparents) with Jack - Kathy Gray's Father, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook
Firefighters are pictured here in front of the 1922 Pierce Arrow pumper, celebrating their 3rd Annual Field Day. The Greece Ridge Fire Department was incorporated on August 3, 1922. The first firehouse opened in 1924 on the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Office of the Town Historian.

He was on duty 24 hours a day, with about 8 hours off per week. He was assistant chief and later chief commanding volunteer operations during fires.  He and his wife continued to reside at that apartment above the station at least until 1953 and most likely until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 79. Frank and A.R. Koerner are in this picture to the left but without notes, on this picture, we are not sure who is all in this picture.

As the population of Greece soared, so did the demands on the department. A new firehouse was opened in 1962 at 1299 Long Pond Road. It is the district’s Headquarters. Today the district serves a population of 27,000 in an area of just under 14 square miles.

Ridge Road Fire Station, 1299 Long Pond Road, 1967, courtesy Bill Sauers
Stoneridge Station, 2020, photo by Bill Sauers

The Stoneridge Station (Station #2) was opened in 1971 and was renovated in 2001, while

Headquarters of Ridge Road Fire District
third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007 - Matthew Pillsbury, RRFD Historian

The third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007.

Quint 250 parked outside at Ridge Road Station #3 on Ridgeway Ave

A hallmark tradition of the Ridge Road Fire Department, begun in 1935, is that their fire trucks are white rather than the traditional red or even yellow.

Frank Siebert and the Volkmars, Democrat and Chronicle, October 8, 1962, photo by Gordon Massecar

It is often a family affair for Greece residents who answer the call to fight fires as it was for this Greece Ridge family. At the dedication of the new firehouse in 1962, three-year-old Stephen Volkmar receives a salute from his father Chief at the time John Volkmar, his grandfather, former chief Alfred Volkmar, and his great-grandfather, none other than Frank Siebert. Although the Ridge Road fire district started as a volunteer company, today it does not have any active volunteer firefighters and has not had any for the last 20 years.

You can read more about the Volkmars as well as the Fetzner and Knipper families in the Society’s Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece available in the gift shop.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece by Marie Poinan, and Joann Ward Synder

In 1947, Ridge Road responded to 52 alarms; in 1959 it answered 126 alarms. Between 2016 and 2018, the district had an average per year of 7,390 calls for service, 68% of which were EMS calls. [1]

RRFD is the only one of the four districts in Greece and one of three in New York state to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, CFAI. The District first achieved accreditation in 2005, and again in 2010, 2015, and 2020. In 2017 it also received a rating of 2, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

With all the training and resources that these firefighters do on a daily basis from doing routine inspections of fire systems in every business, drills, learning new techniques to battle fires, rescuing you from a motor vehicle accident, providing assistance to medical facilities for lift assist and other services they provide, could not prepare them to save ten guests at the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road, from the town's deadliest fire at the Holiday Inn in 1978 even though the hotel had some of the fire prevention systems in place and yet it failed and Ridge Road Fire District had the equipment to fight the fire and resources to rescue the guest from the hotel and fire companies within a 6-mile radius of the hotel came to assist Ridge Road Fire District to get the fire under control, we will dig a little deeper next week into the Holiday Inn Fire.

We at the Greece Historical Society & Museum would like to congratulate the Ridge Road and North Greece Fire Departments on Celebrating their Centennial anniversary.

Thank you for joining us today.

Citations

[1] source from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece June, 2020, https://www.cgr.org/greece-fire/docs/GreeceFireStudyBaselineOptions.pdf

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 35: “Lafayette, We Are Here!”

Today we pay tribute to the men from Greece who died in World War I.

Every November 11, we honored our military veterans. But as many of you know, the holiday used to be called Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. The United States’ involvement in the first world war has a connection dating back to the Revolutionary war.

Armistice Day in downtown Rochester, November 11, 1918, from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

In her quirky history, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Sarah Vowell describes Lafayette’s celebratory tour of the United States in 1824-25, just before the country marked the 1826 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

You may recall that the Marquis de Lafayette as a nineteen-year-old fought in the American Revolutionary War. As Vowell relates stories of his appearances in various cities, she emphasizes that America would not have won the war without the help of France. Of course, the author wasn’t able to write about every place Lafayette visited. One place she left out was the Town of Greece.

Lafayette as a major general by Charles Willson Peale, circa 1799
Broadside announcing Lafayette’s visit on June 7, 1825, from GHS

Lafayette came to Rochester from Lockport on June 7, 1825, via the Erie Canal. He disembarked in Greece…

Map showing the western wide waters from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division

…at what was called the Western Wide Waters. Today it is where the parking lot for Rochester Products is. The surrounding land at the time was owned by Bradford King, the eldest son of Gideon King who was one of the founders of the first European settlement west of the Genesee at King’s Landing. We told you about King’s Landing in Snapshot No. 4, in snapshot 15 you learned about the Erie Canal, and in snapshot 19 we mention Blanche Stuart Scott who owned land next to the Western Widewaters area.

Arriving on the Seneca Chief, leading a flag-decked flotilla of twelve canal packets, Lafayette and his son, George Washington Lafayette, were greeted by booming cannon and “the ringing of every bell in the village.”

Lafayette as he appeared in 1824 painted by Ary Scheffer, now hanging in the U.S. House of Representatives
Lafayette’s tomb in Picpus Cemetery

After the Americans liberated Paris, the French celebrated July 4, 1917, with a ceremony at Lafayette’s tomb. American Colonel Charles E. Stanton began his speech by saying “Lafayette, nous voila” Lafayette, we are here, implying that the American soldiers were repaying the debt owed to France for their aid to this county during the Revolutionary war. The World War Service Record of Rochester and Monroe County lists seventeen men from the town of Greece as giving their lives in World War I. They are:

These are the men from Greece who lost their lives in World War I according to the World War Service Record of Rochester and Monroe County

James P. Armstrong

James P. Armstrong was born in Greece on March 1, 1889; he was killed in action, on August 22, 1918, while attempting to cross the Vesle River during an engagement near Reims, France.

Clarence S. Baxter

Clarence S. Baxter was born in Charlotte on October 6, 1895. He served in the Army infantry. He died of pneumonia on October 27, 1918, just days after his 23rd birthday.

William H. Brown
William H. Brown

William H. Brown was born in North Greece. He enlisted in the regular Army and served eight different enlistments. A veteran of three wars and several military expeditions, Sergeant Brown was still in service when he was taken to the Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington, D. C. He died in that hospital, on February 18, 1923, from gas burns, suffered in World War. He was buried, on February 23, 1923, in Greece with full military honors.

Wesley John Christian

Wesley John Christian was born at Barnard Crossing in 1893; in August 1917 he joined the United States Marine Corps. He died June 6, 1918, at Chateau-Thierry, from wounds received in action there. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery.

George J. Dietrich

George J. Dietrich was born November 25, 1897. He was killed on October 15, 1918, near St. Juvin, Meuse-Argonne, during the final 47-day allied offensive against the Germans from September 26, 1918, until the Armistice of November 11, 1918.

Charles A. Emerich

Charles A. Emerich first enlisted in the New York State National Guard in 1917. He was sent overseas with the Army in May 1918. He was killed in action, on September 29, 1918, during the battle of St. Quentin.

Romolo Epicoco

Romolo Epicoco was born in Italy. He died of pneumonia on October 17, 1918. He is buried in the Charlotte Cemetery.

Carl A. Glanzel

Carl A. Glanzel, who lived on Stone Road near Barnard Crossing, was born in Germany circa 1896. He joined the Army in November 1917 and was killed in action in France, on August 19, 1918.

Frank Leo Guillod

Frank Leo Guillod was born in Buffalo, on May 24, 1897. Before he joined the Marines, he was an outstanding athlete, particularly with the Kodak Park basketball team. Sergeant Guillod died June 11, 1918, at Belleau Wood from wounds received in action that same day.

Thomas Herbert Imeson

Thomas Herbert Imeson lived at Barnard Crossing. His Regiment was part of the famous Fourth American Brigade; he went missing in action at Soissons, France, and was not reported after that time. A certificate of presumptive death was issued by the United States Marine Corps. Their official report said: “Died of wounds received in action, July 19, 1918.”

Ira James Jacobsen

Ira James Jacobsen was born in Charlotte on January 25, 1897. Before his enlistment Corporal Jacobsen was captain of the Charlotte Fire Department. He was killed in action, on October 18, 1918, at LaSelle River, France.

Pierre Cornelius Meisch

Pierre Cornelius Meisch was born in Charlotte on October 15, 1892, Like his grandfather and father before him, he was Superintendent of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. He was the Company Sniper positioned in front-line trenches for 120 days. He died of pneumonia, on October 13, 1918; Private Meisch was a member of Whittlesey’s “Lost Battalion,” and the direct cause of his death was due to exposure and experiences with this Battalion.

Raymond J. Quinlan

Raymond J. Quinlan was born August 12, 1889. He died of pneumonia, on February 6, 1919, shortly before his unit sailed for home.

George W. Quinn

George W. Quinn was born September 3, 1889, and lived in Charlotte. He also was a member of the Lost Brigade. He died September 29, 1918, while trying to deliver a message to Whittlesey. Nothing was learned of Quinn’s fate until four months after the Armistice. “After lying out in the depths of the Argonne all winter, almost buried by vines and underbrush, his body was accidentally found by an American burial squad.” His mother found out about the circumstances of her son’s death when a poem about him was published in the Saturday Evening Post.

James H. Scorse

James H. Scorse was born August 4, 1894, and lived at Barnard Crossing. He was twice wounded in action at Soissons, in August 1918, and again in September. After he recovered, he returned to the battlefront. Corporal Scorse was cited for bravery and was the recipient of a medal of honor from the French Government. He was killed by a shell fragment on October 4, 1918.

William E. Sundt

William E. Sundt was born in Charlotte on May 31, 1893. He died on November 30, 1918, another casualty of pneumonia.

Sam Taccone

Sam Taccone was born in Italy and came to America at the age of 17. He lived on Fleming Street in Charlotte before the war. His service continued after the Armistice, but he died of pneumonia, on February 11, 1919.

Arthur J. Tallinger

Arthur J. Tallinger, born circa 1889, was another soldier who died of pneumonia. His death occurred on February 8, 1919. He is buried in the Falls Cemetery.

The Invention of Penicillin

World War II poster for the Invention of Penicillin located in the National World War II Museum

A staggering number of soldiers died during the first world war of non-combat illnesses; bacterial pneumonia was one of the chief causes of death. Penicillin which could have saved these soldiers’ lives was discovered in 1928. It was administered to soldiers in World War II, before being widely used by the general public beginning in 1948.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about two Greece Fire Departments.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 34: Extreme Weather Part 2

Today we continue our look at historic weather events.

Clip 1: DPW salt barn, 2018, Office of Town Historian

DPW salt barn, 2018, Office of Town Historian

For the most part, we Grecians take snow storms in stride; they are inconvenient but manageable. We can count on the Greece DPW to have our roads plowed and salted in a timely manner.

Most of us around the Town of Greece and Monroe county are unsure if March is going to come in like a Lamb or Lion and go out like a Lamb or Lion or surprise us with some Lamb and Loin weather events in the middle of the month not just at the beginning or end of March.

However, one has to agree with local meteorologist Stacey Pensgen, hearing the words ice and high winds in a forecast can cause some anxiety in these parts or as the cliché states, once-bitten, twice shy. Two storms, in particular, come to mind: the Ice Storm of 1991 and the Wind Storm of 2017.

ice on the tree branch
Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com
Stacey Pensgen

Ice Storm of 1991

Meteorologist Kevin Williams

Meteorologist Kevin Williams in explaining what happened said: “the ice storm commenced on March 3, 1991. It resulted from low-pressure tracking from the south into central and eastern New York. This allowed warm air from the Gulf states to flow into the upper levels of the atmosphere over Rochester, while northeast winds at the surface drew subfreezing air into the area from Ontario. Snowflakes which fell from the cold clouds above melted into raindrops upon reaching the warmer layer above the surface, only to freeze upon reaching the ground, where temperatures were below 32 degrees.”

Weather Daily Charts from the National Weather Service

Sunday, March 3, 1991, Weather Map as of 7 am
Monday, March 4, 1991 weather map as of 7 am

Greece along with the rest of Monroe County was in the “sweet spot.” Again, quoting Kevin Williams: the storm “produced a 50-mile-wide band of freezing rain aligned along the Genesee River Valley. While Syracuse to the east experienced rain, Buffalo to the west had mainly sleet and snow. But Rochester endured 17 hours of continuous freezing rain resulting in an ice accretion of more than one inch.”

It started at about 10:30 pm on Sunday, March 3, and by the early morning hours of March 4, people were awoken by what sounded like rifle shots. It was tree limbs cracking and falling to the ground. Electrical wires and telephone lines came down with the trees. Paul Holahan, Greece’s Commissioner of Public Works at the time, was alerted to the problem at 2 am and by 4 am knew it was a major event. He called John Yagielski, the school superintendent to let him know that the schools needed to be closed. They would be closed for a week.

If you like to see the Unedited version of Paul Pakusch’s 10-minute video that was posted in 2010. It Starts at Paul’s, home and yard, then his drive to work, later in the day, and the next two days around his neighborhood. Florida Ave, Dewey Ave, Seneca Parkway, Lake Ave, East Ave, Tiernan Street, River Heights, Perinton Street, California Drive, Haviland Park. Paul Pakusch worked for WHEC Channel 10 at the time during the 1991 Ice Storm.

Also if you like you can check out March 11, 1991, NewsTeam 10 special from the Ice Storm the folks that run Rochester TV Archives on YouTube have archived that broadcast and you can check it out here.

Aerial view of police headquarters on Island Cottage Road, 1983 from the Office of the Town Historian

Crews were especially needed to clear the main streets and others were needed to pump water when, because of the lack of power, the sewage pump stations failed; the police headquarters was flooded nearly every day” for a week with raw sewage. The police station itself was also without electricity and was working through an emergency generator. Fire crews didn’t bother going home, but worked around the clock.

Storm Shelter Locations

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were without power, some for as long as two weeks. Sometimes one side of the street had power and the other did not; neighbors shared generators and long extension cords snaked over lawns and driveways. Two days after the storm the temperature plummeted; shelters were set up at Hoover Drive Junior School and the Greece Assembly of God Church. In North Greece, Irene DeMay opened the doors to Hotel DeMay as a shelter as well. You can learn more about the Hotel DeMay in Snapshot 25.

Customers Without Power – WHEC’s Ice Storm Coverage March 1991 you can watch the WHEC NEWS TEAM 10 coverage of the Ice Storm on YouTube on the Rochester TV Archive channel https://youtu.be/T8ebkxRG3Fc
Aerial view of Hoover Drive Junior High, the 1940s, from the Office of the Town Historian
Greece Assembly of God
Ice storm damage, 1991, photo by Bill Sauers
Ice storm damage, 1991, photo by Bill Sauers

Trash didn’t get picked up and mail wasn’t delivered for two days.

More than three thousand trees in the town of Greece were damaged. DPW crews were busy into June clearing away brush and tree debris and hauling it to the Flynn Road transfer center; 400,000 cubic yards of it or enough wood to build 7,000 homes.

Still from Paul Pakusch 39 minute video from the 1991 Ice Storm
Ice storm, 1991, from the Office of the Town Historian

In the aftermath of the Ice Storm of ’91, the town, already operating on an austerity budget and waiting for FEMA money, had to borrow money to meet expenses by the end of the year; RG&E started a rigorous tree-trimming protocol, and residents were left with indelible memories of terrible destruction as well as breathing-taking beauty and stories to tell for generations to come about cold nights, helpful neighbors, and surviving the “Storm of the Century.”


“April is the cruelest month,”

— The Waste Land by T. S. Elliot, Poet

The poet T. S. Elliot said that “April is the cruelest month,” but weatherwise for Greece, it’s the month of March. Out of the top ten worst snowstorms in Rochester’s history, four were in March. The 1984 Leap Day storm lasted more than five days, bringing more than 30 inches. There were two blizzards at the beginning of March 1999, dropping 42 inches of snow. We got off relatively lightly during the “Storm of the Century” on March 12, 1993, with 23 inches of snow, thunder, and lightning.

Snowiest and Least Snowest Marches from 1896 to 2021 using data from Weather.gov and NOAA

Wind Storm of 2017

On March 3, 2017, we had winds gusting to 60 miles an hour, bringing down trees and power lines. But that was just an appetizer for what Mother Nature had in store for us less than a week later. Blame it on the sun. It was a gorgeous day on March 8, 2017. Now the forecast did call for high winds. But most people thought it would be a repeat of the 3rd. However, all that sunshine destabilized the atmosphere; the sun heated the air and as the warm air rose it created a vacuum and air rushed in to fill the vacuum, that is wind.

Formation of wind as a result of localized temperature differences. http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7n.html
Blue dots are Wind Speed, Greece Triangles is the Wind Gust, Gray is the Peak Wind

Winds gusted to 40, 50, and 60 mph much of the day, broke 70 mph around 1 p.m., and then hit an astonishing 81 mph at 1:35 p.m. Trees came crashing down onto streets and on top of homes and on Long Pond Road utility poles fall in a row like a set of dominoes. 40,000 homes and businesses lost power in Monroe County, a large portion of them in Greece.

Repair work was delayed as the high winds persisted into the next day, making it too dangerous for crews. Utility workers from all over came to assist RG & E. Local hotels were full of residents so a crew from Canada was billeted at the Greece Community Center. Some homes were without power for two weeks.

Repairs on Long Pond were delayed due to the lack of enough utility poles to replace all the broken ones. We’ve had more wind and ice storms since these two big ones, which is why whenever ice or wind is in the forecast, we hope it won’t be as bad as the Ice Storm of 1991, or the Wind Storm of 2017.

Thanks for joining us today. Join us again next week as we pay tribute to the soldiers of World War I.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 33: Extreme Weather Part 1

Today we will be talking about some historic weather events.

1816 and the effects of Mount Tambora eruption in Greece New York

In 1815, the largest eruption of a volcano in recorded history occurred; Mount Tambora, in Indonesia erupted spewing so much ash into the atmosphere that global temperatures dropped dramatically in the summer of 1816 causing unusual cold and food shortages. 1816 became known as the year without a summer or “eighteen hundred and froze to death.”

Painting of Mount Tambora erupting
Mount Tambora can be seen via space using satellite imagery, by NASA

The volcanic dust carried around the globe on the jet stream covered the earth like a great cosmic umbrella, dimming the Sun’s effectiveness during the whole cold year. The eastern United States, Europe, and China were hugely affected. It caused widespread crop failures, famine, and 90,000 deaths, many from starvation.

The 1815-1816 winter in the northeastern United States was milder and dryer than usual. However, just when it should have been getting warmer, at the beginning of spring, the weather turned colder and frosts were widespread. Farmers held off planting through April and May. By the first week of June, milder weather had returned and farmers rushed to get their crops sown. On June 6th a storm brought freezing temperatures and snow. Crops planted only a week earlier were lost to frost. Throughout the summer the temperatures swung back and forth; no sooner had farmers planted a crop than a frost would wipe out most of the plantings.

Illustration from Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York by Orasmus Turner 1849
Dead corn photo by G. Houston from Wikimedia Commons

Cold weather and frost returned again in July. With temperatures in the 40s during the day, people began to worry about famine. On August 6th, another round of winter weather arrived. What vegetation had survived the previous episodes were now destroyed. Once again, another warm period followed but it was too little, too late. A killing frost came in late September, two weeks earlier than usual. Then the winter started again. Many families left New England and migrated west, including to the Genesee Valley.

Our area was still pretty much a wilderness in 1816 and accounts of that summer’s impact are sketchy. MacIntosh in his history of Monroe County says that “the cold season produced a partial famine.” Wheat couldn’t be cut until September and the corn crop was a failure. Henry O’Reilly in his Sketches said about wheat: “The “cold summer” of 1816 was not injurious to our crop.”

First Settlement in Rochester 1812, engraving by Alexander Anderson, 1838
Sunset at Braddock Bay Marina by Douglas Worboys

Q: What was our mitigating factor?

1
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What affects weather for Greece, New York

Can you figure out what can effect the weather in Greece, NY

Look Careful at each answer

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What was our mitigating factor? or What affects our Weather in Greece, NY?

Your score is

The average score is 100%

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Q: What was our mitigating factor?

A: Lake Ontario of course. Then as now, the Lake impacts our weather.

The modifying effects of the lake on temperatures were particularly conducive to fruit farming and Greece had numerous orchards where farmers grew apples, peaches, and cherries.

Orchard on Payne Farm, Elmgrove Road, 1910, from the Office of the Town Historian
Ice covering the Great Lakes on March 4, 2014 (second highest coverage since record-keeping began in 1970) from NASA

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area, but the second deepest and so is the least likely of the five to freeze over completely. The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) has been keeping statistics since the 1970s and has calculated the likelihood of the lakes freezing to the point where 90 percent of their surface is covered in ice. Lake Erie is the most likely to freeze with a chance of 69%; Huron comes next at a 22-per-cent probability, followed by Superior at 17 percent and Michigan at 11 percent. Astoundingly, the CIS estimates that Lake Ontario has a mere 1% chance of having 90% ice coverage.

The Great Lakes as seen from space by NASA, April 2000

1934 Cold Snap Hits the Orchards Businesses

Headline from Hilton Record, February 15, 1934

This brings us to the winter of 1934. Temperatures in February of that year were icy. On February 9 the thermometer dipped to minus 22 or lower; the high temp that day was minus 3. That is still the official record low for the Rochester area.

They did not keep records of ice coverage back then, but anecdotal evidence from both sides of the lake, says that Lake Ontario froze over completely that month.

Blue is the Highs in 1934 the Green Line is the Lows

Called the Big Freeze by local farmers, it destroyed most of the fruit trees. Apple trees split in half. Never again would there be so many orchards in the town of Greece.

1934, of course, was the height of the Great Depression. Men on work relief earned 25 cents an hour chopping the dead fruit trees into firewood. They also got to keep some of the wood for themselves.

Damaged fruit trees in Greece, 1934, from GHS
Firewood cut from former orchards, 1934, from GHS
Lake Ontario after March 13-14, 1993 snowstorm

Surprisingly the winter of 1933-34 was not particularly snowy. We have certainly had some memorable snowstorms in this town by the lake. This photo was taken after the March 13-14,1993 blizzard which dumped more than 24 inches of snow on Greece. It was part of the larger so-called “Storm of the Century” which pummeled states all along the east coast from the Carolinas to New England with not only huge amounts of snow but hurricane-force winds. Let’s take a closer look at the Blizzard of ’66, which occurred in the days before modern snow removal equipment such as snowblowers.

Blizzard of 1966

The green line is the Snowfall in inches. The blue line is the Precip that is not Snow

The Blizzard of 1966 was a historic storm for Greece and all of western New York. Nearly 27 inches of snow fell on the last two days of January.

This was on top of about 18 inches of snow from the week before.

Dewey Stone area Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Snow on the roof meets snow on the ground, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” to go! Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” = Snow and nowhere put together as a pun meaning with the amount of snow non of the Town’s citizens could get anywhere in the town due to the amount of snow that was dropped on the city.

Winds whipped wickedly making for poor traveling conditions. Not only the schools but businesses and government offices were shut down for a week.

Town officials set up and operated storm headquarters at the Greece Memorial Hall at 2595 Ridge Rd. W. Ham Radio operators, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), Civil Defense Radio operators, as well as town officials, which included Supervisor George Badgerow, Milton Carter the Chief of Police, Civil Defense Administrator Walter Whelehan, as well as a representative from each of the four fire companies in the town.

Fun Fact the Monroe County 9-1-1 center did not begin operating until February of 1986 and Greece did not hook up to the system till years later, and on a side note in snapshot 37 the Holiday Inn Fire could have been prevented with an automated system that dialed 9-1-1 and sent the alert to first responders that topic is for another day, now back to the Blizzard of 1666.

Without the invention of Morse Code and Ham Radio, there would have been more widespread communication problems to get information in and out of the town of Greece to other parts of the region. For those that are interested in learning about what it takes to earn a ham radio license and become a member of your local ARES group check out the ARRL.org and ARRL.org/public-service, also check out the local club in Rochester, The Rochester Hams https://rochesterham.org/

Greece Town Hall on Ridge Road, 1998, from the Office of the Town Historian
Civil Defense Seal
Current Logo Of ARES
Cars buried in snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

The Greater Greece Post reported that “Snowmobiles were stationed at the Town Hall and Highway Department Garage to transport physicians on emergency calls. Two ambulances also were stationed at the Town Hall. A supply of milk and bread was kept available for delivery.” Some milk trucks and bakeries started selling their products to customers right from their delivery vans stopped at partially cleared street corners.

Toboggans were kept in readiness so that sick or injured persons could be removed over the deep snow. Standby snow-clearing crews were stationed near all firehouses to accompany fire trucks answering alarms.

Snow clogged parking lot at Nick and Erwin Dry Cleaners, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Dewey Avenue near Barnard Fire Station, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

“Three drug stores were alerted so that medicine could be obtained and taken where needed. Fifty prescriptions for insulin alone were delivered by town personnel and volunteers.”

Some residents used an alternative mode of transportation.

Horses on Dewey Avenue, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
Mountains of snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This person does not realize he is walking on top of a car
Photo by Bill Sauers

Fun Fact: The plow that is sitting in front of the DPW is from the Truck that plowed Long Pond Road during the blizzard of ’66.

On its 40th anniversary, local meteorologist Scott Hesko still ranked the Blizzard of ‘66 in the top three worst storms of all time.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we turn our attention to ice and wind events. Especially the 1991 Ice Storm and the Wind Storm of 2017.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 32 – Ghost Legends Of Greece NY

Today we will share some ghost stories that have been passed down over the years.

man in black crew neck t shirt holding jack o lantern
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

Halloween is fast approaching and it’s the time of year traditionally set aside for tales of ghosts and haunted houses and other unaccountable phenomena. We don’t have to go far from home to find any number of stories about spirits from the world beyond. Today we’ll share with you a few of the stories that have been handed down over the years and even some hauntings of more recent vintage.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church has been designated by local ghost hunter and the author of Haunted Rochester, Mason Winfield, as the area’s “most significant” haunt. Mason Winfield’s Haunted Rochester is available on amazon.com or where ever books are sold

Haunted Rochester A Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
Haunted Rochester A Supernatural History of the Lower Genesee by Mason Winfield
Our Mother of Sorrows Church photo Bill Sauers

Greece Legends: Enchanting Tales of Indains, a Pirate, a Peddler, Men, Women, Childern, Great Balls of Fire, The Death of the Light, Leperchauns and Ghost … these folk stories relate to the bodies of water along the lakeshore, and some come from Paddy Hill, evidencing the Irish Settlers’ love for bewitching tales. It has been said that exorcism was needed for a house on Island Cottage Road. Believe it or not here are the tales as they have been told.

Eight Miles Along the Shore, Chapter 16 Believe It or Not – Greece Legends Page 106

Four Handpicked Ghost stories from the Town of Greece

The Tale of Footsteps over Head

Told by a Custodian that worked at Mother of Sorrows

Interior of 1870 church from dorchurches.com
Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery from Bill Sauers

One tale concerns the church custodian. Every night at 11:00 he took care of the furnace fire so that the church would be warm in the morning. One night as he was going about his chores in the church basement, he heard footsteps overhead, as if someone was walking up the aisle to the altar. He thought it was probably the priest and dismissed it from his mind. But the same thing happened again night after night and the custodian could think of no reason why the priest should be in the sanctuary every night. Finally, it got to be too much for the poor man to endure. He had to find out if it were indeed the priest walking above his head every night.

But he didn’t want to go upstairs to the church alone, so instead, he hurried down the path past the cemetery to the rectory. There he found the priest sitting in his study; he said that he had been there all evening reading. Now this custodian was not a superstitious man. He did not believe in ghosts and gave no credence to the stories he had been hearing about strange happenings around the church and cemetery. He was certain there must be some logical explanation for the footsteps in the church. Nevertheless, from that night on, the custodian fixed the fires at ten o’clock and he was never again bothered by the footsteps of the invisible walker.

The Phantom Man

Walter Whelehan

from Eight Miles Along the Shore book

The Whelehan family seemed to be particularly receptive to psychic phenomena; Walter Whelehan often told stories of phantoms they encountered. Their home was on Latta Road next door to Mother of Sorrows Church and his bedroom overlook the cemetery. He told of a phantom man who visited the Whelehan family on several occasions. He would stand at the corner of their driveway. One night Walter came home to find his parents in his darkened bedroom peering out the window.

As Walter approached the window, his mother asked him if he had seen anything unusual as he came in the drive. “No, I didn’t” Walter said as he knelt beside his father. When he looked out the window, he saw a man standing at the corner of the driveway where he had just turned in. The man wore a long, loose-fitting, dark-colored coat and a hat pulled down to shield his face. The three of them watched for a while, and then he just “drifted” away in the direction of the graveyard. This occurred again and again, until one night Walter could no longer stand it. He was determined to find out what would happen if he approached the figure. His parents begged him to leave it alone, saying that it might “draw him away.” Their pleading fell on deaf ears, however. Armed with a gun, young Walter started out. He said to his parents, “I promise not to leave the yard and if I do, call Chief Carter from across the street because I will be going against my will.” Cautiously, he walked down the driveway, never taking his eyes off the figure. At first, he could see the man quite plainly, but as he got about halfway to the road, the figure just “drifted” away as it had before. They never saw the phantom man again.

Walter Whelehan home courtesy of Alan Mueller
Black and White of Patty Hill Cemetary with a glow on the Tombstones by Douglas Worboys
Phantom Man

You’ll find more of Walter Whelehan’s ghost stories and others in chapter 16 named “Believe Or Not – Greece Legends of Yore” in Eight Miles Along the Shore available in the museum gift shop.

The Ghost of the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse

Many people believe that the ghost of the Charlotte Lighthouse is Cuyler Cook. Although he was no longer the assistant keeper at the time of the accident that took his life, nevertheless he died while serving the light. By this time the light had been moved to the end of the Charlotte pier. During a terrible storm on the night of August 18, 1853, the current assistant light keeper and Cook’s cousin, Sam Phillips, was unable to reach the light alone. Cuyler Cook took it upon himself to row Phillips out to the light and hold the boat while the light was lit; sadly, while Phillips was attending to the pier light, Cook’s boat capsized in the rough waters, drowning him. Believers in the Charlotte Genesee lighthouse ghost—blamed for disembodied noises, footsteps, and sundry other mysterious happenings—attribute the disturbances to Cook.

Rocks of the Koda-Vista neighborhood

Koda Vista
Koda Vista
Front Page of The Greece Post from December 6, 1973, on nyshistoricnewspapers.org

But Who-done-It? Shower Ends, Phone’s Quiet…

On December 9, 1979, the Democrat & Chronicle ran an odd six-year-old story that first appeared in The Greece post. volume 7 – No. 29, December 06, 1973. On the front page of The Greece Post for December 6, 1973, the Headline reads “But Who-done-It? Shower Ends, Phone’s Quiet”. FYI there is a conflict of address between the two articles written by the two papers The Greece Post puts the address on Carmas Drive off of Weiland Road between Long Pond and Latona Road, and the Democrat and Chronicle story put the address on Corona Road in the Koda-Vista Neighborhood. The Greece Post reported the incident in question occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Marrella. But there is more to the story. There will be a link to the Greece Post from December 6, 1973, for you to read and piece your own ideas of what could have happened in those four days. Can read the article in its entirety below at NY State Historic Newspapers website.

https://nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn88074413/1973-12-06/ed-1/seq-1/

For several nights starting on Thanksgiving night in November 1973 and lasting for four days, a home in the Koda-Vista neighborhood was showered with rocks of varying sizes. None was bigger than a baseball. Of course, the authorities checked into every imaginable possibility for a logical explanation. Human vandals were the first suspected even with the slim chance that they could have remained hidden. But these rocks came from many directions. There would have had to have been secret caches of them all over the neighborhood, as well as a conspiracy of covert and well-timed hurlers. During one onslaught, the police came in full force, sealed off the tossing range, and combed it thoroughly. Not only was the search for throwers fruitless, but the assault kept up the entire time, even targeting police cars. Fortunately for all, the wonder was over in five nights.

According to the article, in the Greece Post, there were some other strange things that happened while the house was getting pelted by the rocks. Officers from the Greece Police brought four cars two offices in each of the four cars as well as two additional officers were stationed in the house with the Marrellas taking turns watching the house. Rocks kept coming even at 4 a.m. But that’s not all, the article also mentions that Marrellas’ telephone began ringing two nights before that and rang for hours at a time, with no one there when she answered. At the time she said she “wrapped it in a towel” and when she went back, the line was still open.

The telephoning bothered them for several nights and the rock pelting continued for four nights Damage included a broken window and gouged doors. Cars parked in the street were hit and so was a neighbor’s garage door.

With nerves still frayed, Mrs. Marrella said this week, “We still don’t have any idea where the rocks came from. This is a quiet Neighborhood. Everybody minds their own business. We don’t think we have any enemies. I say hello to my neighbors, and we like everybody.”

The Marrellas’ came to Greece from the city two years ago and had the house built “just the way we wanted it” They like Greece and want to stay.

roasted turkey on white ceramic plate
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
Hurled Rocks
Hurled Rocks
gray rocks and mountains under the cloudy blue sky
Photo by Esequiel on Pexels.com

So, what caused this rocky rain?

Unlike typical ghostly or even UFO sightings, plenty of evidence was left behind. Where did so many flingable rocks come from? The oddest effect of this whole event was not the damage that was caused, but the damage that was not caused. Think of a random firing of stones; if you lobbed a couple hundred into an average neighborhood how many people do you think you might hit in a week? How many cars? This shower broke a few windows and gashed the sides of the house, but as far as it is known, no one was injured.

Closing Thoughts

Paranormal experts see the Greece case as a classic example of a poltergeist outbreak illustrating one of the distinguishing features of documented poltergeist outbreaks—people should have been hurt, could hardly have avoided being hurt—and they were not.

Thank you for joining us today. Next Two Tuesdays we will explore some extreme weather events over the years that affected the town of Greece starting with the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 all the way up to the Ice Storm of 1991 and then most recently the wind storm of 2017.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 31 – Notable homes in Greece, NY

Today we will take a virtual tour of some of the other notable homes in Greece, New York.

Larkin-Beattie-Howe House – 595 Long Pond Rd

This beautiful vernacular 19th-century farmhouse is home to the Greece Historical Society. Many of us have moved from one home to another, but this is a house that has moved twice. Circa 1924, when it was located at the southwest corner of Latta and Long Pond Roads, the Beatties didn’t like the noise from the neighboring tavern. So, they transferred the house onto oak timbers and rolled it back from the road to a new foundation. The house is significant because of its association with pioneer families in Greece, but more so for its connection to Gordon A. Howe. He lived in the house with his family from 1941 to 1965. This political legend was the supervisor of the town for 30 years before becoming the Monroe County Manager for eleven years. The Monroe County Office Building is named for him.

595 Long Pond Road Larkin-Beattie-Howe home photo by Bill Sauers
595 Long Pond Road Larkin-Beattie-Howe home photo by Bill Sauers

In 1966, Wegmans Food Markets purchased the property. They were going to demolish the house; however, in 1988, under the initiative of Town Supervisor Don Riley, Wegmans sold the house to the Society for $1.00 and generously funded moving it to what is now the Greece Town Campus. The cupola on the front lawn once sat atop the Ridge Road town hall. The Historical Society was founded in 1969 and when it was less than a year old, the society organized a historic house tour. There were four homes on the tour, but the beauty of a virtual tour is we can escort you to a few more homes all from the comfort of your own home.

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road

As stated in Snapshot 30, in October 1998, three years after being added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Covert-Brodie-Pollock House was the first designated landmark in the Town of Greece. There are three other homes that are also designated town landmarks. Also, you can check out our Landmark Page as well on the Covert-Brodie-Pollock House.

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road, from Bill Sauers

The Joseph Fleming House, 981 Latta Road

981 Latta Road, Joseph Fleming House from GHS

The house of Joseph Fleming, a town pioneer, is located at 981 Latta Road; it became a designated town landmark in October 2012. Fleming, who was a master stone mason before he turned to farming, built the house circa 1854. This beautiful Italianate-style home was the centerpiece of Fleming’s 300-acre farm. The main block is two stories high with a hipped roofed and is flanked on both sides by a one-and-a-half-story wing. Atop the roof is a widow’s walk with “a fanciful balustrade and pointed finals above each corner pedestal.” Did the residents climb to the roof to see Lake Ontario just 2 miles to the north? Joseph Fleming’s descendants resided here until 2008.

The Rigney-Feeney House, 1885 Latta Road

The Rigney-Feenney house at 1885 Latta Road stands on the western slope of Paddy Hill and is another designated town landmark, achieving that distinction in 2000. It was the home of the pioneer Rigney Family. Built around 1850, it is “a late example of the Federal style of residential architecture,” characterized by the beautiful front entrance, symmetrical windows, and louvered shutters. The house was built to last and endure fierce weather with “nine-inch square beams of oak set into a foundation two feet thick.” Patrick Rigney was a farmer and fruit grower with 250 acres surrounding the house. His children occupied the house until the early 1940s. In the 1950s, parts of the old farm to the west and south were developed into the Picturesque Acres and North Point housing tracts and the Greece School District purchased about 35 acres of the property for Paddy Hill Elementary School. The fourth owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Feeney undertook to restore the interior of the house to its original floor plan updating amenities for themselves and their seven children. It was Mr. Feeney’s home for more than 60 years from 1952 until he died in 2014.

web History Page Buildings1885_Latta_Road-Rigney-Feeney-House
1885 Latta Road The Rigney-Feeney House from GHS

William A. Payne House, 505 Elmgrove Road

505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House photo by Bill Sauers

The William A. Payne House became a designated town landmark in October 2012 shortly after being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in June.

The home was built circa 1905 for William A. Payne who as Monroe County Sealer of Weights and Measures impacted local and state commercial practices. He was one of the founders of the statewide association that established fair and uniform methods of weighing and measuring products benefitting both merchants and consumers. He also developed education programs for fellow sealers.

505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House from GHS
505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House photo by Bill Sauers

This house, typical of several along Elmgrove Road, has aspects of both Queen Anne and Colonial Revival architecture, a trend at the turn of the last century. Queen Anne-inspired features include the asymmetrical floor plan, the complicated roof design, fish-scale shingles, and bay windows. Colonial Revival aspects are the cornice returns at the gable ends and the square posts of the front porch. The former carriage barn is now a garage.

Colby-Shearman House, 1777 Ridge Road West to 550 Latona Road

Just like the Larkin-Beattie-Howe house this house also moved from one location to another but this one move was shorter than the Larkin-Beattie-Howe House.

Zaccheus Colby, a prominent Greece farmer, built this 10-room, pink Dutch brick, Italianate-style farmhouse in 1855. In 1872 he sold it to his brother-in-law, Abner Shearman. The Shearman family continued to reside in the house until 1970. Construction of 390 threatened the house, so Miss Suzanne Shearman spent 75,000 dollars to move the house from its original location at 1777 Ridge Road West to 550 Latona Road.

550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 1968 from GHS

That was quite an undertaking. The house had to be cut in half, moved on a flatbed truck, and set on a new foundation. Upon Suzanne’s death in 1970, the house was sold to the Bierworth family.

In 1979 the Wegman Companies, Inc. headed by Philip Wegman purchased the house for their headquarters. They realized the importance of this beautiful historic structure and have made every effort to preserve and maintain the building’s architectural integrity.

550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Yates-Thayer House Now called Holiday Fleming Point, 710 Latta Road

710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 1998, photo Greece Historical Society

When the Western New York Landmark Society surveyed buildings in the town of Greece in 1994, it lamented that this home was in such derelict condition; indeed, it had been condemned by the town. When a developer planned a senior living facility on the property, he was going to demolish the barn and convert the house into apartments.

Fortunately, the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission, along with the New York State Historic Preservation Office (New York SHPO), stepped up and helped to save it. The developer of Fleming Point Senior Living Center, at the time when the building was being rehabbed the exterior of the house and the barn using recommendations from the New York SHPO (pronounced “ship-o”). 

Gina DiBella, former chairperson, and the late Gloria Latragna, a former member of the Greece Historic Preservation Commission pose in front of the Yates-Thayer House to celebrate Historic Preservation Month.
710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Greece Historical Society

This house was built for the coal and railroad industrialist Arthur Yates circa 1902 probably as a summer home. The site is the former Patrick Fleming farm; he was the younger brother of Joseph Fleming. The property became known as Elmtree Farm. The house is “an outstanding example of Neo-classical style” identified by the front façade dominated by a full-height portico with details such as carved wood ornamentation, both Doric and Corinthian columns and pilasters, and windows with six panes on the top and a single pane on the bottom. Although Neo-classical was a dominant style at the turn of the last century for public and institutional buildings it was not common for private residences.

A bonus is the gambrel-roofed barn with its large round-arch loft opening and twin louvered, cross-gabled cupolas.

710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Greece Historical Society
710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Bill Sauers

In 1914, the home was purchased by Samuel Thayer and remained in the Thayer family for 80 years. Over the years the house and barn were converted into several apartments. In 1994, it was purchased by Joseph Coco, who later sold the property to the developer of Fleming Point Apartments in the early 2000s. In 2007, the house and barn were purchased by Greece businessman David Wegman of the Wegman Group. Dave and his family rehabbed the interior into offices for their business and rented out space to other businesses.

FYI … The Thayers sold the property to Joseph Coco, who stripped the interior of all its details. (Joe Coco also purchased the Hotel DeMay and his wife Kim was one of the owners of the DeMay when it was demolished.)

FYI … The Wegman Group and WCI are NOT the same businesses. Gina DiBella believes WCI is owned by Dave’s brother Phil.

Carpenter-Toal-Latragna-Stauffer House, 3490 Latta Road

3490 Latta Road photo by Bill Sauers

We’ve already told you about the Carpenter and Toal families that lived in this home. The house started as a simple one-and-a-half story home when it was constructed circa 1840; it was expanded into its present-day late Greek Revival style about 1860. It has a porticoed temple front. Notice the elongated facade and narrow pillars and there is some unusual carved woodwork, such as the small diamonds at the top of the Doric columns. The Landmark Society survey said that the craftsmanship was outstanding. Lou and Gloria Latragna purchased the home from the Toal family and strived for many years to maintain the building’s integrity and share its history. After their deaths, it was sold to Fieldstone Capital in August of 2015 and then Fieldstone Capital sold it to Mark Stauffer on 09/08/2020 at the cost of $115,000.

According to Monroe county, property tax records the property had two new updates done to the property one was a machine shed in 1980, and in 1990 a ramp was added to the porch for access into the first-floor area of the house.

This photo is of the home’s living room, one of the few interior shots we have, to see some other interior pictures see the Democrat and Chronicle article for some other pictures.

3490 Latta Road Living Room, date unknown, from GHS

Here is an article written by Ernst Lamothe Jr. on the Democrat and Chronicle website on April 17, 2014, called Latta Road Home hosted lots of fun you read more by clicking the link below

Latta Road home hosted lots of fun

Randy Latragna remembers growing up amid a lot of commotion in his house. But the loud noises and excitement came virtue of the countless wonderful parties thrown for all occasions. “My mom loved to have fun, and she loved to throw large parties.

Thomas W Boyde, Jr. Designed House, 442 Edgemere Drive

Thomas W Boyde, Jr. Designed House, 442 Edgemere Drive – Photo by Bill Sauers
Thomas Boyde 1930 NY Architects Office cropped to headshot
Thomas Boyde 1930 NY Architects Office cropped to headshot

Not all notable homes in Greece are more than a hundred years old. The Greece Historical Society is sponsoring a historic resource study of the work of Thomas W. Boyde, Jr., Rochester’s first African American architect. This mid-twentieth-century house is on Edgemere Drive. Mr. Boyde designed at least three other homes in the town. You can learn more about Thomas W. Boyde, Jr and the research project we are sponsoring by clicking on the Boyde Project at the top of the page.

These are just a few of the beautiful, interesting, historic homes and buildings in our neighborhoods. Drive around the streets of Greece and see what you can find. Please comment on Facebook if you know of other Iconic Homes in the Town.

Thank you for joining us today; next week in our Halloween special we will tell you about some of the town’s ghostly inhabitants.

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