The Grand Erie Yacht Club

Along the canal and across the way, just east of Henpeck Park, you can see, standing alone and forgotten, an old steel barge. Time and weather have taken their toll and it’s easy to miss. Still scrolled on the front side that can be made out through the chipping paint and encroaching vines are the words “Grand Erie Yacht Club.” Many have wondered …What was this place? How did it get there and what is the story behind it?

The Grand Erie Yacht Club
The Grand Erie Yacht Club photo by Laurie Eisele

Recently I met with Ross Gates, one of the original founders of the club, to gain some more insights on its history. In 1982, several members of Capt. Jeff’s Marina decided that they would create a place that would accommodate many people and be suitable for parties and camaraderie. A grown-up clubhouse! They secured a crew barge from Charlie’s Marina that cost them the meager amount of one dollar. if they could move it.

There were many hoops to jump through to secure a place on state land, just on the outskirts of the marina. Property easements, septic, well and electricity were a few of the hurdles they faced. But with perseverance, donations from Marina members, and a lot of elbow grease they were able to make it happen.

The club became very official with officers elected annually which included a Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, Fleet Captain, Secretary, and Treasurer. Membership was open to marina members and their friends with an initiation fee of $25 and an annual membership fee of $50. Because it was not an established business they held no liquor license. To get around that the “essentials” were purchased and dispensed via “suggested donations.”

Monthly meetings were held, and a newsletter was routinely distributed, heralding upcoming activities, recaps of boating trips and fun chatter about the members. Activities included steak roasts, spaghetti dinners, Monte Carlo nights, chicken barbecues, and nightly gatherings where members could share laughs and a few drinks. There were well over 150 members at its peak.

Then, in 1992, just 10 years after the club was started – it ended. A falling out with the owner of the marina caused its demise. The state came in and with it followed the bureaucracy that New York State is known for. With too many stipulations and red tape to navigate through, the Grand Erie Yacht club closed its doors for good.

In 1997, just after our parents (who were club members) passed away, my sister and I visited the marina to reminisce. To our amazement the barge was unlocked, and we ventured in. The bar stools and tables were overturned, litter scattered throughout. The vermin and vandals had taken their toll. And yet as we wandered around, we could still feel the memories. We could almost hear the music and the laughter and the smiling faces of our parents and their friends as we had frequented the club many times during its run.

While brief, the nostalgic era of the Grand Erie Yacht Club is a legacy of determination and perseverance that I’m sure it’s founders will never forget.

It still sits there today, alone and forlorn with its windows broken and rust spreading along its outer walls. The overgrowth has been cut away and the future of it is unknown. An eyesore to some – it is still a treasured memory to my family and all those who frequented it.

Aerial view of a river and roads

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Aerial map showing the location of Grand Erie Yacht Club
A rusty metal building with many windows

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Recent close-up photo
by Laurie Eisele
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Recent photo
by Laurie Eisele
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Photo from several years ago
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1986 Club Newsletter
Provided by Russ Gates
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Club Patch
Provided by Laurie Eisele

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The Grand View Beach Club

At the turn of the last century, our Town’s lakeshore was the vacation destination for many in the Rochester area. Summer cottages, hotels, resorts, and private clubs dotted the area along the eight-mile route of the Manitou Trolley. During Prohibition, this remote area also provided a haven for those who ignored the Volstead Act. All those places are now gone, although many are preserved in memories and stories about the area.

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Grand View Beach Club provided of Barb Bray
Grand View Beach Neighboord sign, taken by Pat Worboys

One of the grand old establishments in the area called Grand View Beach was the Grand View Beach Hotel, known as “Rosenbach’s by the locals. It was built in 1882 and destroyed by fire in 1947. (Learn about that hotel in Bicentennial Snapshot #45) Only a few properties west of the hotel, at 2286 Old Edgemere Drive, was the private Grand View Beach Club.

The Grand View Beach Club was organized in 1902. With a membership of over 100 cottagers, they built a pavilion/clubhouse for $3,500 (which would cost $126,295.47 in today’s value).

Not much is known about the club’s early years. A 1915 Democrat & Chronicle article stated that the building was used for entertainment, card parties, minstrel shows, dances, meetings, and other purposes, and that the club also advocated for civic improvements.

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Claim Bake Committee – from left to right Joseph C. Murrer, Joseph Mahler, Edmund M. Lambiase, Robert F. Gifford, Dr. Joseph W. Martin Jr., Harold D. Cross, and William L. Dibacco – The date of this Clambake Committee photo is unknown.

By the 1940s, on Wednesday nights, silent, black & white “kid’s movies” were shown for 10 cents, and Saturday night dances were held for the teen youth crowd. A 1947 Greece Press article stated that “the dances were described as definitely ‘swell’ by the dungaree crowd.” (See our Historic Newspapers section for links to the Greece Press newspapers that have been digitized and hosted on NYS Historic Newspapers)

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Democrat & Chronicle June 25, 1950
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Democrat & Chronicle July 15, 1950

For adult entertainment, there were five slot machines (rumor has it that they were purchased from the mob) and a 10-15-foot bar. Behind the bar was a closet, and behind the closet was storage for the slot machines and other “paraphernalia” when not in use.

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Democrat & Chronicle Nov 14, 1949
provided by Pat Martin

In the mid-1940s, a well-known annual Turkey Raffle was held, which sometimes included winning a pig. Annual field days, carnivals, and clambakes were held to raise funds for the club.

Turkey Raffle Committee November 1946. Back row (Left to right) Dr. Joe Martin Sr, Joe Mahler, unknown, Jim Bell, unknown, Bill McCormick. Front row (left to right) Fred McCormick, *Leonard B. Finewood, Dr. Ed Hardenbrook, unknown, Don Blanchard, unknown. (front center) Boy with a pig, unknown.
Turkey Raffle Committee November 1946. Back row (Left to right) Dr. Joe Martin Sr, Joe Mahler, unknown, Jim Bell, unknown, Bill McCormick. Front row (left to right) Fred McCormick, *Leonard B. Finewood, Dr. Ed Hardenbrook, unknown, Don Blanchard, unknown. (front center) Boy with a pig, unknown.
*Leonard B. Finewood raised the turkeys and the pigs on his farm on Long Pond Rd. and donated them to the club. Photo provided by Pat Martin.

By the early 1950s, the club offered their clubhouse for Protestant church services as well as space to the Grand View Fire Department (see Bicentennial Snapshot No. 50: Barnard and Lakeshore Fire Districts) during the winter months. In 1951 and ’52, the place was used for public meetings asking for government help with the problems of the rising water level of Lake Ontario.

As the saying goes: “All good things must come to an end.” For the Grand View Beach Club, it was the mid-1950s when membership and attendance began to decline. In 1961, the property was listed as delinquent in its taxes. In December 1963, the Town considered using the old place for a senior citizens group, but in the spring of 1964, the club sold the building to the Mennonites who carefully dismantled it for the wood. Finally, in August 1964, the now-empty lot, was sold at public auction. The parcel stood empty until 1977 when a private home was built on it.

Nothing remains of the Grand View Beach Club except the memories of some old timers and the sign on the building that was saved by a neighbor during the building’s deconstruction. To this day that sign hangs in the living room of a Greece resident.

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A contemporary aerial photo showing the location of the former Grand View Beach Club. provided by Barb Bray
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Original Grand View Beach Club sign

Check out the following Related Snapshots that fit this story and they are Bicentennial Snapshots: # 44 RUMRUNNERS AND BOOTLEGGERS, # 45 SPEAKEASIES, and # 50 BARNARD AND LAKESHORE FIRE DISTRICTS

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Greece Little League – 70 Years Old!

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It’s a warm day in April 1954. You throw on your Keds, grab your glove and bat, then jump on your bike and listen to the ticking of baseball cards clipped to your spokes as you ride away. Fast forward 70 years to April 2024. You put on your Nike Trouts, grab your baseball bag and your cellphone, then jump in the family SUV and head out for the day. So much has changed in the world over 70 years, but one thing that is still the same, the love for baseball.

Greece Little League, Inc. (GLL) remains a constant in developing young and eager baseball and softball players. In 1954, it started as Barnard Little League and soon after changed the name to Greece Little League. For 30 years kids from Charlotte and Greece played on fields at Barnard Park, Carter Park, English Road Park now known as Basil Marella Park, and the Dorsey field at The Legion Post #486. In the 1980s, the population of GLL players grew with the expansion of eligible Hilton players. The League started using the Greece schools’ baseball fields as well.

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Barnard Little League team photo C1955
(provided by Greece Town Historian)
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Greece Little League team photo 1989
(provided by Krysten Kaanana)
Greece Little League field on Latta Road.
Greece Little League field on Latta Road. (photo by Bill Sauers)

Every Saturday those fields were full of cheers and homeruns. Moms and Dads volunteered their time to make sure the players had the best experience. They gave out uniforms, kept score, coached, and even drove from park to park with a grill to make hotdogs for the hungry crowd. As the 1990s approached the GLL families and Board knew they needed to find a place to call home for Little League. Through tireless fundraising and gracious community donors, Greece Little League broke ground on their permanent home at 3641 Latta Road.

The new home for GLL brought new, exciting changes. In 1992, two new divisions were added, Softball and the Challengers Baseball for Special Needs Players. Softball was a strong addition to the GLL program and has won several D4 championships. The Challengers program has grown into a Junior and Senior division that hosts over 75 players every season. You can also catch our Challengers playing every summer at Innovative Field, hosted by the Rochester Red Wings. In 2012 the Greece Tornadoes Travel teams were formed and are still going strong. And in 2012, GLL opened the concession stand in the center of the 42-acre complex. Long gone are the days of hot dogs on a grill out of the shed. Now you can enjoy an elaborate menu while watching a game from any of the 13 fields.

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Game day at Latta Road
(photo by Krysten Kaanana)

With all these changes, there are some things that are still the same. As a not-for-profit league 501(c)(3), GLL has always depended on volunteers and sponsors. Gene and Diane Noga have dedicated over 44 years to GLL. You can still find them at the fields cooking great food and watching games. They have watched players become parents, coaching like their dads before them. They have seen thousands of players grow to play school ball for Greece and Hilton. Do you want to be part of the GLL and baseball history? Grab your glove and come play!

For More information about Greece Little League head over to their website and either sponsor the league, coach teams, umpire for the league or even if your kids or grandkids want to play sign them up and let them enjoy the game of baseball, challenger, or softball for ages 4 to16.

Website: https://www.greecelittleleague.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/greecelittleleague/

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Ralph Francis: Black Activist and Abolitionist

In November, 2023, Marie Poinan did a program at the Charlotte Library on the history of the Charlotte ferries and their operators. She caught my attention when she mentioned that one of the first ferry operators was Ralph Francis, a black man about whom little has been documented. I was intrigued – a person of color operating a boat at the port of Charlotte during the turbulent decade between the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and the Civil War? Could he have been involved in the Underground Railroad? Since I was preparing a program on the UGRR(Underground Railroad), I started researching Ralph Francis.

For every well-known conductor and stationmaster such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, there were dozens more men and women who remain unknown or about whom there is little information. Out of necessity, secrecy was the very essence of the UGRR. Those who helped enslaved people on the run faced serious consequences if they were caught; they could be fined thousands of dollars and/or imprisoned for many years. Therefore, very few kept written records or any kind of documentation, making it difficult for historians to verify with any certainty the people involved in the network.

Between 1850 and the beginning of the Civil War, almost 150 enslaved people passed through the Rochester area each year on their way to Canada. Two of the “Railroad” lines led to Greece, either at Kelsey’s Landing near the lower falls or the port at the mouth of the Genesee River in Charlotte; at that time both were located in the Town of Greece. Ralph Francis had a hotel at Kelsey’s Landing and then a tavern at Charlotte during that time. Coincidence? Perhaps. However, Francis had a history of activism.

Kelsey’s Landing historical marker in Maplewood Park
https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=58198
Reynolds Arcade in 1840

Born in New Jersey circa 1811, Francis was living in Rochester by 1840 and according to the 1850 census he lived on Greig Street (or Greig Ally) in the Third Ward, where the majority of free people of color resided. He was a barber and with Benjamin Cleggett operated Francis & Cleggett Barber Shop, one of several shops owned by abolitionists, both black and white, in the Reynolds Arcade. Frederick Douglass’ North Star office was across the street to the south and the Eagle Hotel, where people could get the stagecoach to Charlotte, across the street on the west.

In 1843 Francis helped Douglass organize a four-day conference on black suffrage in New York State and in 1846 he was a main speaker at a second conference. There were two letters to the editor published in the Daily Democrat in which he advocated for the right to vote for all black men. At that time free black men who owned $250 worth of property could vote in New York State; Ralph Francis easily qualified with holdings worth $2,000. In the early 1850s he worked to get Rochester’s city schools desegregated.

To my mind it makes sense that he was engaged in getting enslaved people to Canada. Canadian vessels had a major commercial presence at both Kelsey’s Landing and the Port of Charlotte. When his former business partner Cleggett died in 1917, his obituary in the Democrat & Chronicle stated that he was likely involved in the UGRR.

Port of Charlotte 1856
Notice in the Daily Democrat, June 14, 1854
Notice in the Daily Democrat, June 14, 1854

Francis disappeared from the Rochester landscape circa 1855. He was gone from Charlotte less than a year after opening his saloon there. Both of his parents and his nine-year-old nephew, all who resided with him, died in 1854. A bathhouse that he erected at the beach in July of 1854 was burned down by an arsonist in August. Marie Poinan used her genealogy expertise and found him living in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Was that arson a warning? Was someone about to turn him into the authorities for violating the Fugitive Slave Act, causing him to flee to Canada? We may never know, but I’ll keep looking, hoping to find out more about him.

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A Vineyard in Greece

Most people in Greece associate the surname Fetzner with the making and repairing of means of transportation. First with a carriage and blacksmith shop and then as the “fuel” changed from hay for horse-powered carriages to gas, the family moved on to selling and/or repairing cars.

A horse drawn carriage outside a building

Drawing by William Aeberli
J.P. Fetzners’ brothers John and Frank owned and operated the J & F Fetzner Carriage Makers, Blacksmithing and Painting on Ridge Road in Greece. Frank’s blacksmith Shop was in the small building, and John’s carriage-making building was the larger.
Drawing by William Aeberli
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Joseph Peter “J.P”. Fetzner, 1901
Courtesy Lever/Henricus Family

Patriarch Frank Fetzner arrived in the United States in the mid to late 1840s from Untergrombach, Bruschal, Baden, Germany (18km or 11 miles east of the Rhine River). He married Catherine Mura, together they had eight children and resided on a farm in Greece with a blacksmith shop as one of their outbuildings. The driveway to their farm later became Fetzner Road. Sons John and Frank were the well-known carriage makers and blacksmiths whose enterprise was on the Ridge Road. Another son, Joseph Peter (1856-1909), better known in business as J.P., became a maker of wine, liquors, cider and vinegar.

Perhaps making moonshine in the still on his father’s farm, gave J.P. the idea to establish his way in the liquor business. In 1878, J.P. planted grapes for a fledgling vineyard on Long Pond Road, just north of Mill Road. He married Mary Hutte the following year. The Long Pond vineyard thrived and grew, buildings and operations expanded over time, including a storehouse, winery, mill, brandy distillery plant, and a house. There was an additional cider mill on Ridge Road. By 1881, he had founded the Rochester Liquor & Distilling Company in the city of Rochester. As growth continued, in 1899, the name changed to the Lake Ontario Wine Company and the venture went public. The company produced wine, champagne (American Eagle brand), and brandies. It was a very successful family operation with its offices and distillery then based in Rochester. The cider mill, vineyards, winery, wine cellars and woodland (to make the vineyard stakes) were in Greece.

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J.P. Fetzner Vineyard and Cider Mill location on Long Pond Road, just north of Mill Road on this (1905 Greece Map)
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J.P. Fetzner and worker at Vineyard on Long Pond Road. History of the Brewery and Liquor Business of Rochester, N.Y., Kearse

At the business peak around the year 1900, it was very much a family affair. J.P. was president and treasurer; brother-in-law William Hutte was vice-president; brother Wendell Fetzner helped for a few years with carting; son-in-law brewer, William Kipp (married daughter Minnie), was secretary; and son Arthur Fetzner was a foreman. The company appeared to be highly successful, paying excellent dividends to their stockholders and allowing the family to live prosperously. Unfortunately, J.P. got pulmonary tuberculosis, and then died suddenly in 1909. With his passing, things quickly fell apart. J.P. had sold most of his personal land to the company as well as used personal funds to establish it. During probate, it was discovered that the stock shares were worthless. The family members involved in the business, as well as J.P.’s second wife, Josephine Neidert, and his children from both marriages, had to take other paths in life.

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J.P. Fetzner wine jugs. The jugs were made by Jacob Fisher’s pottery business in Lyons, Wayne County, New York. To ensure a return for refill, vendors put their business name on the jugs.

Courtesy Bill Sauers and Jane Oakes, respectively

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This is just a portion of the Fetzner Family, you can read more about the Fetzner family in the Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Volume 1, by Marie Poinan and JoAnn Ward Synder.

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Judson S. Kenyon

An ashtray artifact surfaced during a recent inventory at the Greece Museum. Lee Strauss and Bill Sauers were kind enough to bring it to my attention and help research what and who it was all about.

Many years ago, every time my late mother and I would drive past a certain farmhouse on English Road, she would announce, “That’s Juddy Kenyon’s house!” Kenyon being an ancestral name, I would press her for details on the relationship, but she was uncharacteristically vague, “Some sort of cousin.” As it turns out, he was my 4th cousin 4 times removed, but prominent enough for her to have claimed him.

As it also turns out, the house to which Mom was referring all those times is a good two miles west of the Judson Kenyon farm property, but the houses are very similar in appearance and if Mom ever actually set foot in “Juddy’s,” it had probably happened 85 years before.

Judson S. Kenyon was born in 1872 in Barry County, Michigan, to William James Kenyon and Elizabeth L. Rowe of Greece. Originally from Rhode Island, William’s parents, and presumably William, farmed in Michigan, but there were extensive Kenyon family ties to Greece, New York. By 1875 William, Elizabeth, and 3-year-old Judson were living in Greece.

Judson, a graduate of Rochester Business Institute, married Mrs. Kate (Rickman) Justice in the Long Pond Road home of her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Rickman, in April of 1920 (Kate was the widow of Willard H. Justice and had two children by that marriage.) After their wedding trip out west, they lived at what is now 2428 English Road, where they farmed. Both houses still stand.

Judson S Kenyon (Ancestry)
Judson S Kenyon (Ancestry)
Judson S. Kenyon
(Greece Baptist Church)
Judson S. Kenyon (Greece Baptist Church)

During his 90-year lifespan, Judson was very active in Greece political, religious, and local government roles. At one time or another, he served as: deacon, clerk, teacher, trustee, treasurer, and historian at Greece Baptist Church; tax collector, justice of the peace, and member of the Town Board of Greece, NY; life member of Greece Grange…and a member of the Greece Republican Party for most of his life.

The base of the ashtray reads:
1948 Honoring Judson S. Kenyon
Over 50 Years a Republican
Greece Republican Organization

This ashtray was presented to Judson S Kenyon in 1948, in commemoration of his long-standing involvement in the Greece Republican Party.
This ashtray was presented to Judson S Kenyon in 1948, in commemoration of his long-standing involvement in the Greece Republican Party.

The ashtray was presented to him in 1948, in commemoration of his long-standing involvement in that organization. Way to go, Cousin Juddy!

Thanks to a 75-year-old ashtray and to my mother, whose geography may have been off, but whose
interest in family and Greece history were spot-on, I was prompted to tell the story of a prominent
Greece resident.

Judson S. Kenyon died in 1963 and is buried in Falls Cemetery, among many of his relatives.

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Eighty Years Later- Camp Sawyer’s Well

In the February Corinthian, I wrote a short story, “The Stories That Find You – Camp Sawyer’s The Well”, about a well and its pump that Boy Scout Troop 14 (from a 2018 article called A Civic Club’s Legacy,) from Barnard School used at Camp Sawyer in the late 1930s and early 1940s. In the story, I wondered if the remains of the well and pump were still there. The Boy Scouts abandoned using the site in the 1950s and the Town dedicated the area as Sawyer Park in 1970.

Boy Scout Troop 14 at Camp Sawyer cabin in 1943.
Boy Scout Troop 14 at Camp Sawyer Cabin in 1943.

After reading my story, Gil (Gilbert) Holts offered to help find the campsite and possibly the remains of the well. He is the man who gave us the photo of the Boy Scouts and who is in the photo of the group standing at their cabin in 1943.

Gil Holts (Left) Bill Sauers(Right) standing over the Troop 14's well at (Camp) Sawyer now Sawyer Park
Gil Holts (Left) Bill Sauers(Right) standing over the Troop 14’s well at (Camp) Sawyer now Sawyer Park August 2023

In early August, Gil and I met at Sawyer Park. Nearly 80 years have passed since he was a Boy Scout and invasive plants, mother nature, and human development have severely changed the natural landscape of this 16-acre park. Needless to say, finding the old campsite proved more difficult than anyone thought. To my surprise after more than an hour, we did find the site and the long-abandoned tile-lined well.

It was such a pleasure to listen to Gil reminisce about the scout camp he spent so much time at many years ago. He talked about swimming in the creek, playing ball where the parking lot is now, and planting the very small pine seedlings that are now nearly 100 feet tall. I was especially excited to find evidence of the campsite and verify the stories I had read about Camp Sawyer.

Clay tile lined well and pump base.
Clay tile lined well and pump base.

The well is now covered again and camouflaged, and we will let it stay buried for now knowing that a piece of history from Boy Scout Troop 14 and their Camp Sawyer still survives in the Town of Greece.

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They Gave Their Talent for the Benefit of the Community

Deep in the back of a rather large yard at Paddy Hill, hidden among the weeds and overgrown brush, is what appears to be the foundation of an old structure. Adolescents finding this structure could easily imagine themselves as an explorer discovering the ruins of an ancient civilization. A less imaginative adult might see the remains of a long-forgotten barn.

foundation to a structure that was home to the Paddy Hill Players
“THE HIDDEN FOUNDATION”

Neither a lost civilization, nor an old barn, the crumbling structure is what remains of a forgotten story in the history of the Town of Greece, a story of a community-supported theatrical group whose trophy case once contained countless awards for their outstanding contributions in the entertainment field.

The Cat and the Canary
The “Cat and the Canary” was one of their first. The Paddy Hill Players produced over 50 plays between 1931 and 1949.

It was during the early part of the last century that a group of neighbors from the Paddy Hill area got together for the purpose of entertaining themselves by putting on plays. When the new School 5 was completed in 1931, there was a need for new equipment. The president of the school’s PTA asked a young and talented Walter Whelehan to put on a play to raise money for the project, which he did, directing a successful play with those amateur actors from the neighborhood.

The play was so successful that the group was invited to a statewide contest, sponsored by Cornell University. They went on to win the contest and for the next two decades, they were the premier amateur theatrical group in this area.

Mr. Whelehan became the president and the theatrical director of the group. He was also an accomplished actor, starring in many of the plays he directed. Proceeds from their melodramas, mysteries, and comedies helped dozens of community organizations.

With no theater of their own, their plays were produced at area schools, and a few times in the late 1930s they were featured at the Auditorium Theater in downtown Rochester, receiving accolades from both the Democrat & Chronicle and the Times-Union. By 1940, they had more than 76 productions to their credit.

The group’s headquarters was a cabin or what they called a “shanty” on the Whelehan family farm. After the war, this successful and philanthropic group had a dream of building and owning their own theater. In 1946 they incorporated and in 1947 with the help of a community fund drive, purchased seven acres of the Whelehan farm.

The “Shanty”
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The “Shanty”
The unfinished theater
The unfinished theater

Construction of the theater began in 1948, but near its completion, the project and the group lost its momentum. We may never know why, but the theater was never finished. The group eventually disbanded and went their separate ways. In 1955, The Democrat & Chronicle reported that the group was inactive and still waiting for their theater to be completed. In 1957, the land was sold back to the Whelehan estate, ending forever their dream. Soon new suburban neighborhood streets would all but bury the old farms and orchards of the area and the remains of that unfinished theater.

That foundation, hidden among the weeds and overgrown brush, is what remains of their unfinished dream, but it is also a hidden monument to a group of people who gave their talents for the benefit of the community. They were the Paddy Hill Players.

NOTE: This is a condensed and edited version of a story that appeared in the Greece Post, on July 13, 2006

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Longtime Agricultural Farmland Transitions

Back in early Greece history much of the farmland around Long Pond Road north of Maiden Lane was owned by the Britton Family. Opposite this land down at 1048 Long Pond Road stood a stone structure, the first location of the Greece school where the Greece Methodist Church organized in 1841, and now is around the corner at 1924 Maiden Lane. The old stone structure’s frame successor is Greece School #9 and remains today as the home of the Douglas Worboys Family.

In 1895 the Brittons sold the farm fields on the west side of Long Pond Road to John and Eva Easton. In 1901 the farm was purchased by Frank and Julia Herman, a farmer who also became a Greece Town Justice.

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In 1953 the Herman Farm, with its two gable roof barns connected by a large chicken coop, was sold by Mr. Herman’s daughter, Isabel Johnson, to Clarence and Adrienne Preston of 1036 Long Pond Road. Here fresh produce was grown and sold at the Rochester Public Market until Clarence retired in 1968. Then sons Eugene and Kenneth continued growing produce for sale at a roadside stand. Most memorable were the tall sunflowers that grew close to the road and admired every summer by motorists driving by.

Sunflowers at 1036 Long Pond Road at Sunset – (Doug Worboys)

In 1965 Rochester Telephone Company constructed a brick operations center at 1041 Long Pond Road said to be exactly in the geographical center of Greece. This land was the private dwelling of Earl and Anna Davis, a Kodak employee.

Getting up in years, I am approaching 82, the Prestons agreed to sell the couple acres of farmland remaining on the west side at 1043 and 1051 Long Pond Road to The Arc of Monroe for the purpose of building two single-family homes. Nestled to the west of the property lies Preston Circle, named after my family, when that portion of the farm was sold more than 50 years ago.

On March 31, 2023, an official Groundbreaking Ceremony was held beneath a large tent, beginning with delightful entertainment by residents of the Arc. Speakers included Arc of Monroe officials including Tracy Petrichick, President and CEO, Tracy Crosby, Executive Director, Arc of Monroe Foundation, and Town of Greece 2nd Ward Councilman, Bill Murphy. Among invited friends, neighbors, and bystanders, I deeply appreciated the opportunity to speak briefly on the family history and the bittersweet feelings of seeing the rich agricultural farmland transition into residential use.

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Remembered were tales of my family working the land and caring for the crops, going way back to a period in the late 1940s when, as youngsters, we would be treated to huge slices of cold watermelon on a hot August day by the grand old, retired gentleman, Frank Herman who still lived in the farmhouse on the property at the time. I recall that years earlier when we kids were too young to pull weeds, we’d play beneath the farm wagon with our homemade wooden tractors out of the hot summer sun.

Wonderful refreshments were provided as media personnel finished up their interviews and everyone disbursed into the light rain that was falling. So, another chapter is completed in the history book of the Preston Family Farm on Long Pond Road. Below are some additional pictures from the event taken by Doug Worboys.

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Happy Birthday Monroe County

On February 23, 2021, we celebrated the Bicentennial of the founding of Monroe County. Named for President James Monroe, the county was carved out of land taken from both Ontario and Genesee Counties; it became a new county on February 23, 1821, by decree of the New York State Legislature.

After the Revolutionary War, a treaty of 1783 established the Great Lakes as the northwestern border of the United States. This treaty was referred to as “The Thirteen Council Fires” by Native Americans who were attempting to peacefully co-exist with the new Americans. Unscrupulous speculators often attempted to swindle the natives by tricking them into surrendering their land. Meanwhile, George Washington had sent General Sullivan into western New York to forcibly remove the Seneca by burning their crops and destroying their villages.

Land speculators Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham purchased over six million acres in western NY from Massachusetts in 1788. The land extended all the way from Lake Ontario at the north to the Pennsylvania state line on the south. Phelps also negotiated a treaty with the Seneca, who had originally refused to sell any land west of the Genesee River. Phelps “convinced” the native Americas to part with an area 12 miles wide by 28 miles long for the construction of a mill on the west side of the Genesee. This area became known as the “mill seat tract” and was the site of the first mill built by Ebenezer “Indian” Allan in 1789 (the mill site was just west of today’s Court Street Bridge).

When Phelps and Gorham were unable to pay their debts, their unsold lots were sold to Robert Morris of Philadelphia in 1790. Morris was a financier who quickly turned over the sale of a million acres of Genesee land the very next year to Sir William Johnstone Pulteney. Due to a NY State law that said that a foreigner could not pass title to any New York property, Charles Williamson became Pulteney’s land agent and he held the legal title to the Genesee lands. He opened a land office in Bath, Steuben County.

The settlements on the east side of the Genesee became the Town of Northfield created in 1796. This land was originally a part of Ontario County with the county seat at Canandaigua. It later was known as “Boyle.” The towns split off from Northfield were: Penfield (1810), Perinton (1812), Pittsford and Brighton (1814), Henrietta (1818), Irondequoit (1839) and Webster (1840). Mendon was taken from Bloomfield in 1812 and Rush was taken from Avon in 1818.

March 18, 1806 record
book of Northampton
mentions money payable
to Asa and Frederick Rowe.

Settlements on the west side of the Genesee River were part of the Town of Northampton created in 1797. Originally a part of Genesee County, the county seat was at Batavia. Towns split off from Northhampton were: Parma and Riga (1808), Gates (1808*), Sweden (1813), Ogden (1817), Clarkson (1819), and Greece and Chili (1822). (The reason for the asterisk after Gates 1808 is due the fact that the petition was presented to Albany in 1808, but it took four years to pass in the legislature and an additional year to take effect!) Wheatland was originally called “Inverness” when created in 1821 and Hamlin was originally called “Union” when formed in 1852 before being renamed in 1861. The county seat of Northampton was at Batavia.

In March of 1801, Abel Rowe built a cabin in Batavia and Joseph Ellicott moved his Holland Land Company office into Rowe’s cabin. Abel Rowe soon became a pioneer settler of Gates (later the Town of Greece) and marries the daughter of William Hincher of Charlotte in 1804. Their son Asa would become the famous nurseryman of Ridge Road in Greece.

In 1805, Pulteney land agent, James Wadsworth (1768-1844), offered land for sale in a letter written at Geneseo in 1805. (see at right- New Lands for Sale)

At first, there were very few permanent settlers in our area. Pioneers included Orringh Stone, Daniel Penfield, Glover Perrin, and William Hincher who built log cabin in 1792 on the bluff where the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse now stands. The “Genesee Fever” pretty much wiped out the settlers at King’s Landing where Gideon King and Zaddock Granger had bought 6000 acres in 1796. The earliest settlers of the Town of Greece are buried at the Hanford Landing and the Charlotte Village Cemeteries.

The 1971 Monroe County Sesquicentennial booklet, Preface to Tomorrow, referred to our area as: “a God-forsaken place, inhabited by muskrats, visited only by straggling trappers, and through which neither man nor beast could gallop without fear of starvation, or fever or ague.” Nevertheless, in 1803, Charles Carroll, William Fitzhugh, and Nathaniel Rochester contracted to buy the “Genesee Fall mill tract” property (100 acres) from Sir William Pulteney, through his attorney Robert Troup.

But it was the area’s waterways that were key to the early growth of Monroe County. The arrival of the Erie Canal was a huge boon to the local economy by providing a cheap and efficient way to get bountiful crops to market. The waterfalls of the Genesee River provided power to its flour mills, mills that shipped over 200,000 barrels of flour in 1826, the very next year after the Erie Canal opened. Schooners and steamers at the busy port at Charlotte brought in lumber from Canada and exported finished wood from its sawmills and flour from its gristmills.

Early settlers planted fruit orchards and grain fields of wheat and barley. Wheat was ground into flour and the excess was turned into whiskey. An early census of western New York noted that there were more distilleries than gristmills.

The population of Rochesterville was less than 5000 people when it became an incorporated village in 1817. That number grew to over 12,000 residents when it received its charter as a city in 1834 and annexed another 4000 acres of land obtained from the surrounding towns of Gates, Greece, Brighton, and Irondequoit.

Both Genesee and Ontario Counties fought the establishment of Monroe County and it took four more trip to Albany to persuade state legislators. But the locals grew tired to long and arduous journey to either Batavia or Canandaigua to record land transactions. Monroe County was approved by the NYS Legislature on February 23, 1821.

Today, the County of Monroe has a total of 19 towns. The current Monroe County Office Building is on the same spot that the first courthouse building of 1829 occupied. After two hundred years, most of the farmland is now gone, but Monroe County can trace its roots back to the farming pioneers who came to the area after the Revolutionary War.

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The Stories That Find You – Camp Sawyer’s The Well

Every historian knows that while researching a specific subject, it is not unusual to stumble on a completely unrelated subject that sparks your interest. One day, not that long ago, while looking for an obscure fact for a story I was helping someone with, I stumbled on a 1937 Greece Press article about Camp Sawyer.

I had written about Camp Sawyer some years ago (Sept. 2018 Corinthian) called A Civic Club’s Legacy, how in the early 1930s it became a camp for Boy Scout Troop 14 from Barnard School. In 1958 the Town of Greece acquired the camp with the provision that it would become a public park. And in 1970 it was opened as Sawyer Park.

What sparked my interest in that 1937 article, was a story about a well being dug by the scouts and their leaders, that hopefully would someday provide a dependable supply of water for their camp. The article stated that the project was running into problems because of a layer of red sandstone and that Empire Clay Products would be donating glazed tile to be used to line the well once completed.

After reading the article, I remembered a photo of Camp Sawyer given to the Greece Historical Society by Gilbert Holtz several years ago. The photo, dated 1943, shows the scouts standing in front of a cabin they had built. What I had never noticed before is a pump in front of the boys. A reasonable assumption can now be made that the boys did in fact finish their well.

I never did find that original piece of information I was looking for and now I am left with several questions that may never be answered about Sawyer Park: Are the remains of that tile lined well still there and where exactly would they be? The land stood unused for several years before the Town officially opened it as a park and there have been numerous changes and upgrades since. Maybe someday, some archaeologist or amateur explorer will find the remains of that long-forgotten well and wonder about its original use. In the meantime, I need to get back to that original research task.

Well, it turns out there is an update to this story and it is thanks to Gil Holts who was a member of Boy Scout Troup 14 and camped at Camp Sawyer.

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Autobiography of Dr. George Sanders

(Written in 1977) (digitized June 12, 2009) (Converted to Web Edition in 2023)

Dr. George Sanders from the Office of the Town Historian

Editor’s note: Dr. George E. Sanders, beloved Ridge Road physician, practiced with Dr. Walter Hillman in the Rowe-Hillman-Sanders home at 2672 West Ridge Road. The stately home became Rivers Furniture Store and then Empire Electric Supply Company. The building has been demolished and has been replaced with three stores in the front Quick Nails, Eyemart Express, and AT&T, on the side next to Round Pond Creek that runs under the parking lot is the Monroe County Department of Health WIC Program office and in the rear of the building is the ABC Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Offices as well.

I was born in a small coal mining town in Illinois in 1872 in the days before welfare and government messing into the lives of the people. My father was a traveling man. He sold coal. We had a small house, a cow, a pig, and chickens. I went barefoot after May; the first of May until late in September. That means that I went barefoot to school and wore a black satin shirt and a pair of overhauls. If we were poor we did not know it, as my father earned $125.00 per month for his family of six.

When my sister got ready for college, we moved to Champaign, Illinois where the state university was located. I went to the university for three years, then medical school in Chicago for 7 years. My tuition at medical school was $155.00 per year, room $3.00 per week, breakfast and lunch 15 cents each, and dinner at night 25 cents. After medical school, I became an intern at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago; received no wages, just room and board. I thought nothing of not being paid because it was the experience I wanted.

When World War I was going on, I asked for service in the Medical Corps and was sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia, and was assigned to a medical unit caring for the 5th Replacement Unit, remaining in the same position until 1919. While at Camp Gordon, A Dr. Walter Hillman from Greece, NY was my roommate. He asked me to come to Greece to practice with him. I arrived in October 1919, stayed at the Hillman home on Ridge Road West, and practiced with Dr. Hillman. By the way, his father, Dr. Livinius Hillman practiced in Greece beginning about 1850. He purchased our house in 1852. The house was built about 1808 by Lewis Rowe. (Note: the Rowe family originally settled in Kings Landing, where Kodak Park is today, in 1797. Because the Genesee Fever was rampant in that area, they relocated to Ridge Road in 1806, opening the Rowe Tavern in 1810 where St. John’s church is located.)

Dr. Hillman (presumably Walter) did not hold office house. He made house calls all day long, and, of course, I did the same. We had several horses and our hired man who took care of them. He also drove for the Doctors. Everything was lovely until Christmas Day. The snow began and lasted until April. I was assigned a cutter and a horse. The roads were plowed by a board wired on the side of a bobsled. I wanted to impress the farmers who were plowing along the road and drove too close to the pile of snow on the side of the road and dumped over. Another cold blustering day the snow was blowing from the west across Long Pond Road and I again was dumped over.

In 1921, Dr. Hillman had an auto accident and died. I had been practicing by myself in a room in the Frank Paine house. Then, after Dr. Hillman’s death, I moved back and established an office, with office hours in the afternoon and evening; thereby, I worked from 8 am to 9 or 10 pm. Those hours would kill the average physician today. House calls were $3.00, office calls $2.00.

People thought nothing of calling the doctor at night, which means that I had to climb out of my warm bed, get dressed and drive to someone’s home. Most of the calls could have waited until morning. One night someone called to come and I being very tired said, “Take one aspirin tablet and a cup of tea and I will call in the morning.” I never heard from them again.

Being near the Ponds down near the lake, I always had a pair of pliers to cut fish hooks that became lodged in people. Wish I had a picture of two little boys sitting in my waiting room with a little puppy between them with a fish hook in his lip. I can still see the faces of those boys.
Dr. Hillman and two or three of the nearby physicians operated on the kitchen table. One day I gave an anesthetic for Dr. Lenhart in Spencerport while he did a gall bladder on a table near the window in a house on Ridge Road. Everything came out alright except no one paid me. We took out tonsils on kitchen tables. Thank goodness, w never had a post operative hemorrhage.

Maternity cases – we did most of them in the home. I had taken a short course in the lying in clinic in the ghetto of Chicago and learned how to prepare the bed, and also fix a cone with paper and a cover with ether. The hard part was after working hard all day to get a call to go on a maternity case that would take all night, get home in the morning, take a bath and shave, get breakfast and work another day.
Pneumonia was one of the most dangerous diseases in our early years. We did not have oxygen tents for the homes. I remember a case of Dr. Hillman’s who had lobar pneumonia in December. We put him in a room with the windows open so he could get fresh air. He was covered with blankets, but it was cold for the Nurse and Doctor. Luckily, he lived. Remember that was before the wonder drugs.

I remember Dr. Fleming in Charlotte who had a large number of patients about Paddy Hill Church. One day he arrived at the gate of a house where they had a very vicious dog, and the dog was making a big fuss. The Irish lady of the house said, “Come right in, Doctor. If he bites you, I’ll get after him.”

In a rural practice there are always a big number of broken bones. We did have x-ray so their reduction (setting) was not hard. Cutting off the cast was always a job.

Greece in 1919 had about 7,000 inhabitants. Many were Eastman Kodak workers and market gardeners. The town was divided into different parts: South Greece, Hoosick or West Greece, Paddy Hill, North Greece, and Greece Central. Probably because of transportation, these were rather distant centers.

Dr. Hillman had a Buick touring car. He did not want any closed-up car like a sedan, and not long before my time he had given up horses. The winter began in earnest on Christmas Day of that year. We had to rent horses from a neighbor and use sleighs. I thought I was quite well acquainted with driving horses but had never ridden in a cutter. Consequently, I had several dump overs when I got too close to the side of the road. The roads were not too well cleaned.

One night a man came to Dr. Hillman’s house when he was entertaining a group of classmates from the University of Rochester. The fellow had a toothache. Whisky was used as an anesthetic and then we pulled the wrong tooth, so the fellow had to come the next morning and the aching tooth out.

One night after dinner at our house a group of men were sitting on the porch and Al Skinner told about his father who had the contract to cut ice on the ponds and fill the ice houses of the hotels. One morning it was very stormy and cold and Al asked his father if he was going to make his men work out on such a day. His father answered, “Yes, they are men, ain’t they?”

Miss Mary Moll lived on Mill Road and did some reporting for the Rochester newspapers. house. It was a common sight to see her walking on the road from Ridge Road to her home day or night. We would think that was quite a walk these days. In fact, a Mr. Kishlar on English Road, a generation before my time, walked from English Road and Long Pond to Lake Avenue to work. Jack Farrel, lived and worked at our house when a boy, used to walk to Lake Avenue to meet the boys. Jack was a grand man. He came to our home to work for my wife’s grandfather when he was 15 and stayed with us until he died at 87. He was loved by all the kids; never told any of their secrets. He brought up my wife and later our five children. They would tell Jack everything and me nothing. Jack and Frank Siebert would spend their Sundays walking all over the farm.

One night a patient on Manitou Road for some reason thought she would come to my office to have her baby. She walked about six miles and did not make my office but had a baby on a neighbor’s porch. I delivered a baby for a woman who had 12 or 13 children. I dressed in my tuxedo a fitting garb to be at the birth of her last child. Maternity cases would always take long times. One day I delivered three babies in different houses. Also, I remember one night we went to a dance at the University Club after a busy day; I was tired. I got a call for a maternity case and I did not get to bed until 11 o’clock the next night.

North Greece was more of a community than it is today because of better transportation. I remember going down there one day. I drove my horse and cutter down there and tied my horse in front of Doc Clark’s harness shop and make nine calls about the corners. I stopped in Chet Kancous’s meat market to get meat for dinner.

Billy Schmidt’s garage was a very busy place and they certainly were accommodating. One stormy day I got stuck in the snow on Elmgrove Road near the canal bridge. I called Billy and he came from North Greece with four men. They shoveled me out. Billy drove his car ahead to break a path. They had dinner at our house. It was 11 o’clock before they were able to get home because the snow blocked the road.

I have always worked. At age 12, I ran messages for the Pana (Illinois) Telephone Co. If a long-distance call came for someone, and he belonged to the majority who did not have a phone, for 10 cents additional charge I went to tell them to go and call Long Distance.

One summer I worked in a factory – at age 14, which is not allowed now. I ran a grinding machine, and also put rubber tires on baby buggies. After moving to Champaign, I worked in a construction crew. I received $2.00 for a 10-hour day. I hit the boss up for a raise and he gave me $2.50 a day. In Chicago, while in medical school, I put out express packages at for Adams Express Co. 1; also, I sold shoes at Hassel Shoe Co.2 I worked downstairs where we sold $3.50 shoes; upstairs were the expensive $4.00 and $4.50 shoes.

After being in Greece for a year, I was elected Health Officer for the Town of Greece and served over 25 years. In the early days, we did not have the wonder drugs we have today, so medicine was much different. The year before I arrived in Greece, the last case of smallpox occurred. With everyone being vaccinated today, the disease has disappeared. Diphtheria was a dreaded disease and I got in on the first diphtheria anti-toxin treatments.

We organized a health committee in the town about 1926. We had health meetings, had a big Town parade one year, started smallpox and diphtheria vaccinations in schools. Hired a Town Nurse; Mrs. Florence Barnes Justice was our first nurse.

As Health Officer in Greece and Gates, it was my duty to examine all the school children each fall. I received 50 cents per child. That was quite a chore. To examine the pupils in just one of our high schools would take quite a while. Later in my time, we gave polio vaccine in the schools, so now there are practically no polio cases in the county.

Dr. Sanders operating his 1920s car
Dr. Sanders and nurses in 1929

As the Town grew larger, more nurses were added. I feel they did a good job. After the county took over the medical department, everything has changed, I hope for the better.

Dr. Sanders making house calls, 1920

After enjoying retirement in Penfield, the doctor past away on September 5, 1988.


1 Adams Express Co. a 19th-century freight and cargo transport business that was part of the Pony Express system. It became an investment company in 1929 during the Great Depression.

2 Otto Hassel Pasted down Hassel Shoe Company to his son Henry Charles Hassel and Henry owned Hassel Shoes Co from the late 1860s till some point before his death in 1955. Waiting on more Information able the Hassel’s and Hassel Shoe Co from Chicago History Museum to expand a little bit more on this company.

Paddy Hill School

Every year or so, with shifts in population, there seems to be changes where our children go to school, but change has been going on since children have been attending school. One hundred years ago, most Greece children attended one-room schools in one of more than a dozen individual school districts. As times changed, new schools were built, old ones closed, and school districts merged. High school students even attended City high schools. It wasn’t until 1961 that Greece graduated its first high school class. All the while there has been one constant, a public elementary school has been at that intersection at Latta Road and Mt. Read Boulevard for 183 years.

Common School District #5
Common School District #5

In 1839 Bernard and Mary O’Neil, the owners of a large tract of land, at the Northwest corner of what would become Mt. Read Blvd. and Latta Road, sold one-eighth of an acre of their land to Common School District Number Five for $50.00.

A small school was soon built and used for nearly 90 years, until 1930 when a modern brick school building was built across the street. That brick building was demolished in 2021. It is said that the one-room school building was then moved down the road and became a private home of the first chief of police Milton Carter, but the school district remained the owner of the small one-eighth acre.

The remainder of the O’Neal property was purchased by Patrick and Margaret Rigney in 1850 and eventually owned by their only daughter Mary. In 1944 the land was transferred to the Diocese of Rochester, then to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Corporation who had plans for a new cemetery. This action resulted in a three-year legal battle between the Town of Greece, and the Diocese. After several court battles, a final State Supreme court decision ruled in favor of the Town, leaving Holy Sepulchre no choice but to sell the land. You can read summary about the cases of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Board of Appeals and Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece at casetext.com

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Board of Appeals, 271 App. Div. 33, 60 N.Y.S.2d 750 (N.Y. App. Div. 1946)

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece, 191 Misc. 241, 79 N.Y.S.2d 683 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1947)

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece, 273 App. Div. 942 (N.Y. App. Div. 1948)

In 1948, Harmon Poray purchased most of the O’Neal-Rigney land from Holy Sepulchre, and shortly after Joan and Robert Feeney purchased the original farmhouse. By the early 1950s, Greece was becoming the fastest-growing town in New York and the need for a new school was evident. In 1954 Poray sold a large portion of the land to the Union Free School District #5 and in 1955 sold the remainder of the land to Latta Real Estate Corp. Within two years Picturesque Drive was being laid out in what would soon be a sprawling sub-division and a new school, now called Paddy Hill School would open in Sept 1956 on the very corner that its predecessor, School #5, was built in 1836. In 1956, the Greece Central School District was organized with the merging of districts 2, 5, 15, and 17.

Over the years the present Paddy Hill School has expanded to meet the needs of a growing neighborhood. But we can safely say that Paddy Hill School is the oldest school in Greece and possibly Monroe County.

In 2014, as a gift to the school, the Greece Historical Society secured a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation for a historical marker commemorating the history of the school. That marker sits on that original 1839 land purchase.

Learn more about the William C. Pomeroy Foundation does by going to https://www.wgpfoundation.org/

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