Manitou Beach Hotel – “From the Historian’s Files”

By far the largest and the most elegant of all the late 19th and early 20th century hotels along Lake Ontario in Greece was the Odenbach Manitou Beach Hotel. It was located at the far western end of the Manitou Beach Trolley. Built in 1888 by the Matthew and Servis Co. of State Street in Rochester, a wholesale and retail liquor and tobacco dealer, it was named for the resort of Manitou Springs, Colorado.

By the mid-1890s it had been taken over by Frederick Odenbach, who already had a modest restaurant on State Street. The Hotel had 25 guest rooms, a well-appointed lobby, a men’s bar, and a ladies’ salon, plus a restaurant.

Frederick S. Odenbach 1853-1919, Courtesy of Marie Poinan

The building was lit by acetylene gas lamps from the gas plant on the property. The frontage on the lake was almost 800 feet with an expanse of sandy beach. The Manitou Trolley began frequent daily, seasonal service in 1891.

Along with the trolley, the steamer Rosalie (owned by the Odenbach family) ran from about 1912 through 1916. It docked at a pier that was about 800 feet in length, built of cement piers and steel decking. A round-trip ticket from Charlotte was 25 cents.

Fred Odenbach and Matthew John Fred and Charley

After Fred Odenbach’s death in 1919, the hotel passed to his four sons, Fred J., John H., Matthew P., and Charles P. Odenbach. Matthew took over running the hotel from then on, making many improvements through the years. A major renovation was the enlargement and enclosure of the front porch. The spacious room could easily seat 500 patrons and included a raised bandstand and a dance floor.

Cover of The Manitou Beach Hotel Menu
Main Dining Room at Manitou Beach Hotel

From then on, the hotel became famous for its marvelous food, wonderful dance music, and panoramic view of Lake Ontario. Nationally known orchestras of the day such as Vincent Lopez and Tommy Tucker played engagements there, as well as favorite local bands such as Sax Smith and Damon’s Orchestra.

By 1925 the trolley had bowed out to the ever-increasing automobile traffic and the improvement of Manitou Rd. to a two-lane paved road. World War Il had begun in 1939 and the United States went to war at the end of 1941. Curtailment of unnecessary travel by car and gasoline rationing brought an end to the 55-year run of the grandest hotel between Charlotte and Olcott Beach to the west.

In the Map to the left, you can see the location where Elmheart and Manitou Beach Hotels are located on this SubPlan No2. Manitou Beach from the 1932 City of Rochester Plate Map Number 41.

Matthew Odenbach

It closed in 1943, never to reopen. A headline in the Rochester Times Union on May 19, 1955 states: “Famed Lakeside Dining Spot, Hotel Manitou, Coming Down.” Matt Odenbach (manager since 1919) was quoted as saying the work had started several weeks before and would be completed by July 4.

The furnishings had been sold and the lumber recycled. The property was still owned by Matt and his three brothers. The land was split into building lots shortly after. Nothing remains as a reminder of the wonderful times that untold thousands of people enjoyed there…..only the expansive view of the lake remains and a faint musical refrain from long ago, whispered by a few remaining poplar trees along Manitou Road.

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Homer J. Buckman – Sold Milk, Cream, and Lollipops!!!

It might be a surprise to learn that a man that founded one of the first dairies in Greece also sold “suckers” in his very modest store, attached to his dairy barn. Last month in the Corinthian was a “Guess What?” photo. Readers were asked to identify, what looked like an overturned, double sifter. No one ventured a guess but it was once used to hold Lollipops on Buckman’s diary store counter. It might well have been fashioned by Mr. Buckman or made for him (one of a kind).

1934 Map of the Hamlet of Ada Ridge Top Right is Homer J Buckman Property

A short biography of the Buckman family seems in order, since the recent Buckman’s Diary and Donut Shop may not be known to the younger generation.

The Buckmans came from England in the mid-19th century. The Buckman name appears in the 1875 local census with Job and his wife, Harriet Benedict, and their three children, George, Jennie, and J. Frank living in Greece. Job is listed as a farmer with the eldest George being a farm laborer. George is married to his wife Lucy about 1881 and Homer Jay Buckman is born two years later. Moving ahead to the twentieth century, we find the Buckmans on a Road north of the Ridge which will bear their name. Papa George farms a rather modest plot of 9 acres, plus maintains a modest greenhouse. When a 50-acre plot becomes available on the north side of Ridge Road, just west of Long Pond Rd., he purchases it from a Sarah Walker.

1911 is an important year as he sells almost all of the fifty acres to his son George. A house and sturdy barn are already on the property, so George moves in with his wife, Lucy, and year-old daughter, Emeroy. He soon adds twelve cows….George is in the dairy business! He does fairly well but finds he has competition selling milk. By 1914 the competition is gone as George buys that small business and starts to pasteurize milk and deliver it to customers in a one-horse wagon. Business increases and his own cows can’t produce enough milk for the demand. He soon is receiving raw milk dropped off at the North Greece “Hojak” railroad station. He needs a better delivery system than “ole Bessie and wagon”.

Ford Model T truck

A Ford Model T truck does the trick for a few years until a more rugged REO truck takes its place. Homer adds a small cash & carry business store next to the barn. Milk, cream, and in season, ice cream are the main products with a small assortment of gum and candy (hence the suckers). By the late 1920s, his driver is delivering 300 quarts of milk per day, 7 days a week. Because of ill health, Homer sells his business in 1931 to Robert Peters. Buckman still owns the buildings and continues to live in the house just to the west of the business.

Buckman’s

In later years Homer moves to Walker Street (once part of the Buckman pasture) and dies in 1972, at the age of eighty-eight. Ralph DeStephano Sr. had purchased the dairy and property in 1950. The DeStephano’s Buckman Bonney Brook Dairy story has been told a number of times in the past. It could be retold in the near future….. Buckman’s Dairy History (July 2017) and now will be featured as a Bicentennial Snapshot this will be Snapshot # 53.

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What’s in a Street Name? From the Desk of the Historian

What are the origins of many of the Greece Street names?

From Arlidge Drive and Armstrong Road to Weiland Road and Wendhurst Drive, you will also find the oddball names of, Canasta Road and Hojack Park! Who named these Greece streets and why do they have these varied names? Why was McGuire Road originally called Sage or Ottaway Road? Podunk Road became Mill Rd., which actually had a Cider Mill on a Creek near Long Pond Rd. English Road was not named after The United Kingdom, but for the Nathan English family who were farmers in the area, and Eddy Road, north of the Ridge, became Mt. Read Boulevard.

The end of World War II saw a huge influx of street development and housing. Multiple adjoining streets were named after wildflowers, types of fruit, variations of common names, etc. A housing tract running north of Ridge Rd., East of Long Pond Rd. acquired a group of early New England names of towns and illustrious citizens. Some of the names are Alden, Cabot, Duxbury, Nantucket, Standish, etc.

The Corner of West Ridge Road and Hoover Drive
The corner of West Ridge Road and Hoover Drive looking north, the 1980s. There is now a footbridge over this intersection allowing for access to the Route 390 bike trail.

When the Greece High Schools were built, starting with Olympia in the late 1950s, they would all carry Greek names. It was natural that Greek names would be used for new streets near the schools, i.e.: Olympia Drive, Arcadia Parkway, Athena Drive, etc.

The introduction of full Zip Codes caused a rethinking of how streets would be named. The Postal Dept. and Town Hall certainly were in frenzy during those years. According to data from our DPW, the town presently has 261 miles of roads it maintains. Monroe County maintains 72 1/2 miles and New York State has 19 miles. There are 1000 roads in Greece, plus 57 which are private.

1909 – New Cement Cube Paving on Ridge Road Office of the Town Historian
1950 – View of Woodcroft Drive During Residential Development “Boom” Office of the Town Historian

The compiled list shown below is what I have been able to gather with over seventy Greece Street names that are linked to early settlers, farm families, and tract developers, plus a few miscellaneous names not directly connected to the Greece area.

See last month’s June 2014 Corinthian on page 5, for the first article on “Google Mapping” the street names. In the future, you will be able to go to Google Map Engine Pro and find some of these streets with a short sentence about the origin of their names and more. That will be an interesting but ongoing project. The Latest on the Project can be accessed in a future post the Naming of Streets and Roads has an interactive map in the post and this is a project that Joseph Vitello and Alan Mueller are working on.

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Why was it called the Elmheart – “From The Historian’s Files”

Back in the early 1890s, Frederick Odenbach, a Rochester liquor dealer, bought land on Manitou Beach and started to build a hotel. The newly built Manitou Trolley from Charlotte had finally been extended over a trestle across Braddock Bay to just beyond the Odenbach property. The Skinner family that owned property just to the east of the partially built hotel claimed it was on their property. A court trial in 1890 ruled in favor of the Odenbachs; however, that did not end the dispute. Odenbach ran his new hotel for several years, but the Skinners did not accept the court’s decision, so they filed an appeal in May 1894, the plaintiff being Faulding W. Skinner (father of Albert, Sheriff of Monroe County 1930s to 1950s). Faulding’s father had purchased the land from Nathaniel Rochester in the very early 1800s. After a long trial with many witnesses, the deciding evidence would be the surveyor’s marks put in a tree when the land had first been surveyed in 1802. After much controversy and subsequent new surveys, the tree was found and cut down, and indeed the faint markings on the trunk* indicated the original surveyor’s marks. The authenticity of the marks was proved by the growth rings. This proved the plaintiff’s appeal should prevail. The Skinners had a new hotel and in honor of the fact that a tree proved the point of their ownership, the hotel was called “The Elmheart Hotel” from then on.

Frederick S. Odenbach 1853-1919
Frederick S. Odenbach 1853-1919

In the Map to the left, you can see the location where Elmheart and Manitou Beach Hotels are located on this SubPlan No2. Manitou Beach from the 1932 City of Rochester Plate Map Number 41.

The Skinners ran the hotel until about 1903 when they sold it to a Mr. Johnson who resold it to Michael O’Laughlin and George Weidman (they were related) of Rochester and the Weidmans ran the hotel. After the early nineteen-thirties rooms were no longer available. Only the bar was open after 1933 and light refreshments and ice cream were served. George Wiedman (the way he spelled his name) ran the bar only, usually on weekends and other times when “regulars” and friends might stop by. George died in 1986 and the aged hotel was sold to several investors in 1988. They had hoped to restore the hotel and run it as a lounge, restaurant, and inn. The town granted them a permit in December of 1988 for one year. By the end of 1989, no action had been taken and it remained a shuttered ghost from another day. A few years went by with several break-ins and minor damage reported by Greece Police. The end was at hand in the early morning hours of September first, 1992 when a spectacular fire burned the hotel to the ground. Saved from the fire was a nearby dance hall (built in the 1930s by Wiedman) which was also torched by arson in May 1995. What happened to Fred Odenbach after his loss to the Skinners? The larger Hotel Manitou (just west of the Elmheart Hotel and built by the Mathews and Servis Company) was purchased by Odenbach. He and his sons operated it until it closed in 1943 and never reopened after World War II. The Odenbachs had an auction of the contents in 1955 and tore the hotel down. Manitou Beach (Hick’s Point) is now residential, it’s past glory days faded almost beyond recall.

*Two sections of the Elm tree (actually an Oak) were given to the Greece Town Historian. They have been on display from time to time here at the Greece Historical Society Museum.

Below the images is the 1977 Interview with George Wiedman conducted by George Caswell and Ed Spelman.

1977 Interview with George Wiedman
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