The Victorian “Survivor” on the Ridge

More than 170 years is a long time for a structure to survive on West Ridge Road. Di­rectly across from the south end of North Avenue at 3349 West Ridge is one of those survivors, a house built of brick in the Victorian-Italianate style, a very popular style of that period, especially for upscale homes.

The Todd-Casey-Craig House Circa 2010
David Todd
David Todd

Built by David Todd, it once was part of a substantial farm. The Todd name disappeared long ago in town history. No street carries the name, let alone a public building. In the late 19th century a large volume titled ‘The History of Monroe County, N.Y. illustrated” was published. Within its pages are several par­agraphs on the Todd family and specifically David Todd, plus a double-page lithograph of the vast acreage, the farm­stead, and out-buildings as they appeared in an 1877 artist’s rendering.

David Todd was born in Peekskill, Westchester County in April 1820. With his Scotland-born parents, he moved west with them six years later to Genesee County. He married Elisa Speer in 1843, daughter of Abram Speer, an early settler in Greece, and engaged in farming for himself on a seventy-acre tract, not far from the family homestead. By the 1850s the elegant brick house was the home of David and Elisa, plus two daughters, Mary Frances, who never married, and Sarah Elizabeth, who married Thomas Pryor of Greece. He kept buying and selling adja­ cent real estate until he finally owned 340 acres of fine farmland. Mr. Todd became interested in town government. He was the town supervisor of Greece in 1874 and 1875.

Postcard of Ye Olde Farme, advertising luncheons, bridge parties, weddings, and tourist accommodations.

Eliza Todd died in 1884, leaving David a wealthy widower living with his unmarried daughter. At the age of 60, he decided to leave farming and sold the house and extensive property for $40,000 ( over $ 1,000,000 in today’s money). He and his daughter, Mary, moved to Rochester. He spent the rest of his retirement at his Fulton Avenue home, dying at age 79, on March 21, 1899. Little is known of the Ridge Road property until a Mr. James D. Casey is shown owning 206 acres in the very early 1900s.

William H. Craig enters the picture as the last of the owners of 3349 Ridge Road West to operate the farmland. William H. Craig was the son of Charles and Mary Craig, born in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada. Craig and Mary hailed from Ireland. William was an entrepreneur like his father. He ran a livery stable and managed his father’s hotels in Charlotte. He helped to develop Ontario Beach Park into an amusement park. Loving horses, he had many winning racehorses. While running a successful livery business for 16 years, he was elected an alderman for the Fourth Ward for four years. Albany called and he was assistant sergeant-at-arms of the New York State Capitol from 1897 to 1900. Sheriff of Monroe County ( 1906-1908) was his next job. Then in 1908 he be­ came the superintendent of the Monroe County Penitentiary on South Avenue, Rochester. He purchased the Ridge Road farm about 1912 and sent his only son, Charles E. Craig, to Cornell Agricultural School to learn about farming. Now in charge of the farm, Charles made many improvements. There were a variety of crops, including fruit-bearing trees. He also had a herd of high­ grade milk cows.

Modern farm implements and crop techniques were put into practice by William’s son. William died about 1928 and by the 1930 census, the property no longer belonged to the Craig family.

Times were changing by the early 1930s. Greece’s population had expanded in the 1920s and many farmers were discovering it was no longer profitable to farm a small acreage, but selling land to a developer had its advantages, putting some money away, they sought factory jobs. The depression halted much of that. The Todd-Casey-Craig property of 206 acres began to shrink in size, until in 1959 it was only about 144.23 feet wide by 170.73 feet deep.

The 1940 suburban directory lists a Herbert and Bess Manly running “Ye Olde Farme” tearoom with tour­ ist overnight accommodations available. Remembered by several local folks, the restaurant lasted until the early 1950s.

In the last almost seventy years it has been “remuddled” into a number of apartments by several different owners. Ridge Road went from barely a two-lane, dirt wagon trail to four wide lanes. The house that Da­vid built overlooks The Ridge, and weathers storms, pollutions, and humans!


Greece “Roadhouse”

A Roadhouse (United States, Australia) or stopping house (Canada) according to a recent dictionary is Roadhouse: a tavern or inn along a country road, as in the 1920s.

John Frank Maier was born and grew up along with his siblings on Hague St. in Dutch (Deutsch) town. Both his parents were immigrants from Germany. His father, Wenzel, was employed by a local brewery but also was involved in a local Rochester restaurant. During the summer season, young John F. worked for the Beatty family at the Island Cottage Hotel.

He became familiar with the western area not too far from the Island Cottage Hotel. John was just 19 years old in 1919 and eager to own some property in the area of Dewey Avenue and Latta Road. Farmlands spread out in all directions. John purchased a large plot of land at the northeast corner of Dewey and Latta Roads. Within a few months, a low white building appeared at the corner with MAIERS name above the row of front windows. John was in the hot dog and sandwich business. This business prospered just as the automobile was becoming more available.

Thanks to Henry Ford and the Dodge Brothers the price of cars gradually came down and were more reliable. The wage earner and his family could now journey to the Lake or take an afternoon trip all the way to Hilton on improved gravel or stone main roads. On the return trip, the hungry family spotted Maier’s ‘hotdogs, sandwiches, cold drinks’ sign. “Can we stop there, Pop?”, went up the cry. Stop they did and enjoyed Maier’s “eats”!

Fast forward a few years to 1923. John is recently married to Olive Hager and they are looking for a home close to the hot dog stand. It’s at that point they decide, why not build a roadhouse and live on the second floor? The main floor would be a full-service restaurant. Much to the surprise of the local farmers a full two-and-a-half-story building appeared in front of the hot dog stand, which, after a bit, became a two-car garage.

Neon signs were just becoming vogue, so up went a nice sign on the top of the building advertising Maier’s Restaurant. The second floor had several bedrooms that could be rented out to boarders. Through the years, family members in need of temporary housing were always welcomed.

Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, and the Volstead Act became law in January 1920 so there was no bar built in the restaurant. But there was a small bar in the basement where liquid refreshments could be had by select patrons, friendly politicians, and the local constabulary who might wish to wet their whistle!

A great story related to me by one of John F.’s grandchildren was about three “occasional Rum Runners”. The occasional runners were all women! John’s wife Olive, her sister, Midge, married to John’s brother, George, and a friend from Island Cottage Hotel would take an inboard motorboat, on a calm day, from Island Cottage to across the Canadian line into Canada. They loaded the boat with good Canadian liquor and scoot back to Island Cottage. The border patrol never stopped them. The three women were just out for a pleasure cruise! Women don’t smuggle booze????

The depression was full-blown by 1933, the year Prohibition was repealed. John quickly closed the basement liquid refreshment bar. Remodeling of the first floor was in order. The kitchen was enlarged and moved to a new addition on the buildings rear. The former kitchen became the new Bar with entrances from the outside and from the Dining room. A small combo group, pianist, or accordionist performed in the dining room, and those who wished danced in a modest area near the music.

Other small changes occurred as time went along. After WWII, the Bar was again given a facelift with new bar chairs, and a Juke Box was added. The main kitchen staff for many years were Jim Davis and Eddie Surridge. The wait staff changed through the years with members of the family, young and old, pitching in to help.

In fact, the Maier Restaurant was the hub of most family special occasions and every holiday. That gradually diminished after Olive’s passing in 1958 and then John’s in 1965. The family gathered for the last full-service dinner in August 1968.

The bar limped along alone for a couple more years. A petroleum company made an offer to buy the land for a gas station. It was accepted, but all the buildings would be demolished. By chance, a Mr. Wagner heard about that and mentioned his interest in buying the main building. It was agreed he would buy the building, sans the one-story kitchen, for one dollar, then move the building to another location at his expense. There was just one problem. The new location was north of the Lake Ontario State Parkway and the underpass was too low for the building to pass through. The moving company solved the problem by going up the down ramp, over and down the up ramp to its new location on Kirkwood Rd. John’s “Roadhouse” was saved and has been a single house ever since. John F. and Olive Maier would have been quite happy…

A grateful THANKS to John Maier III for sharing with the Greece Historical Society the photocopies of his grandfather’s restaurant and other family photos, as well as his help in sharing many family memories of the restaurant operation. Without John, this article could not have been written.


Christmas Greetings Cards 1875-1900

Greeting cards for the Christmas season were very slow to gather popularity in the United States prior to the Civil War ( 1861-1865). The first commercial Christmas card was introduced for the season of 1843 in London, England. It wasn’t a success for several reasons. In the early 1870s, a German immigrant by the name of Louis Prang opened a color print shop in a suburb of Boston, MA. Prang could turn out prints using twenty-some varied color plates to produce a stunning product not seen before in the United States. By the mid- I 880s other print shops started using the same process and the appeal of the holiday greeting card grew each year. In the earlier years, the subjects followed the English style of subjects: flowers, elegant ladies, children, animals, and birds of every description, all posed with a bower of varied blossoms. The Christmas greeting was often in a small, simple line near the top or bottom. The fringed, embossed, and beribboned era was the fashion, with larger print styles from 1886 into the 1890s. Santa had appeared and was mentioned before the Civil War, but seldom appeared until the last years of the 19th century. The Christmas tree would also make its appearance then, but the Poinsettia was unknown until about 1901.

The cards of that early period were relatively expensive, depending on the size and extra “added fluff”. It might seem odd that most holiday cards were not mailed but hand-carried to the recipient’s door with a calling card attached. Only the out-of-town card with an added note would be mailed to Uncle Bert and Aunt Minnie who had moved to Michigan or Cousin Bertha now living in Auburn, near her daughter, Theodora. The 20th century and the coming of the colored postcard and penny postage brought the steady growth of the entire greeting card industry into al­ most the present day. Cards with envelopes again became the norm just before 1920. We now have greeting cards of all types offered online via computer. But why rely on just online Greeting card companies’ offers when you can create your own greetings and send them via the computer using a combination of email, and/or social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin, Pinterest, Tumblr or the next big social media service that comes along that allows you to Christmas or other types of messages that you want to share with your online “friends” around the world. From hand delivering your Christmas greeting cards to relatives, friends, and neighbors in the 19th century to electronic delivery in seconds (well, sometimes a bit longer) in the 21st…….to the “friends” you might never meet!

Here are some cool Pinterest ideas for digital Christmas cards and posts and other Holidays as well from PosterMyWall Pinterest PinBoard.


A Tale of Two General Stores: “From Apples to Zithers”

Our History… by Alan Mueller

Small general stores (as they were often called) were in the Charlotte area from the earliest days.

In the 1850s general merchandise businesses were established along Ridge Road West. Henry C. Phelps built his store on North Greece Road in about 1870. The area was then known as Jenkins Corner at Latta Rd. By 1900 it had the name, North Greece, as it’s known today. Henry carried a varied lot of merchandise. Just about anything that would fit in the store and would sell found a place on the floor or a shelf. He catered to the farmer and his family. It helped that the local U.S. Post Office was also in the building. The opening of the Manitou (seasonal) Trolley in the 1890s expanded the number of cottages along the lake and bays.

Several times a week Phelps would send out his horse and wagon filled with fresh vegetables, fruit, and sundries. Going door to door, the “huckster” (an old term for a peddler) would often empty his wagon by the end of his route. After Mr. Phelps retired the store contin­ued under several owners and name changes well into the 20th century. The post office moved to its own quarters and other business enterprises took over the site until we arrive in the 21st century. Except for the loss of the front porch and several horse-hitching posts, the building remains much as it was built over 145 years ago. An insurance office is now the proud caretaker.

Wagg’s Grocery and Provisions store could hardly be called a general store in the same sense as Henry Phelps busi­ness. Gilbert (Burt) J. Wagg started in business in the early 1900s with several small grocery stores in Rochester. Since he was a natural salesman and “go-getter” (a favorite saying of the day), he decided to open yet another store on the northwestern edge of the city. Streets along Lake Avenue were developed because of the expansion of the Eastman Kodak Company, Kodak Park Works. An ideal place for Burt’s new store was on the east side of Lake Avenue near Kodak. The business grew, with departments added almost yearly. A bakery, a meat department, groceries, and pro­ duce were sold there from the start. Furniture, china, yard goods, clothing, shoes, phonographs, and records all became integrated into Wagg’s, especially after the business was moved nearby to a building with ample floor space about 1912. The business eventually took a building on Lake Avenue as well as a number down Pullman Avenue.

Some of the many buildings we have lost in the Town of Greece since the year 2000 …

One photo (1920) shows the business with a bus at the corner of Lake and Pullman. Most people referred to it as Wagg’s Corner. The mini-department store then employed 28 clerks and drivers to cover the departments and five delivery wagons. Burt is at the telephone in one of the photos and his sister Grace is at the adding machine to his right. Grace was as astute about the business as her brother. Burt passed on in 1944. Grace took over and ran it until it became clear newer and more modern stores had opened on West Ridge Road. The business closed in 1964 and the building was torn down in 1988. Pullman Ave. is now re-routed and no longer exists on Lake Ave. All trace of Wagg’s Corner has vanished except for the row of shops behind where Wagg’s General store became apartments addresses of 17-29 Pullman Ave…


“Calling Home” in The Great War, World War One

Incumbent President, Woodrow Wilson, barely won a second term over the Republican candidate, a former Governor of New York State, and an associate Supreme Court Judge, Charles Evan Hughes. Wilson’s propaganda re-election promise had been, “He kept us out of war”. President Wilson was born and raised in Virginia and was aware of the devastation and poverty in the southern states following the Civil War. Events shortly after his second term drastically caused a turnaround in his thinking. Germany increased its war aggression in February 1917 when it announced that German U-boat Submarines would attack every ship in the waters around Europe, regardless of purpose, nationality, or destination. The war by that time had been waging in Europe since 1914. Within days Wilson ended diplomatic relations with Germany. The German emperor was informed in strong terms that Germany’s action was not acceptable and risked confrontation. Following several other incidents, after the threat was ignored, the United States began clamoring for war. At the urging of President Wilson, Congress declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917.

Registration and the drafting of young men followed. One hundred years ago, what was a fast way to communicate with a friend or relative who was in the military? With all our electronic devices and more added every few blinks of an eye, it’s hard for us to realize communication in 1917: no overseas telephones, radio was just developing, but not for the masses. Overseas cable had long been in use, but was used for official business. The Penny-Postcard was the answer for a short message to or from a loved one or friend. Popularized in the early 1900s, they were popular all over the world. The card makers were quick to realize patriotic and sentimental cards would be in demand. We’ve gathered just a few to illustrate some of the thousands printed dur­ing a brief period of less than two years, 1917-1919.

The French printed card illustrates a “Doughboy’ on the left and a French soldier on the right, while a French Red Cross Nurse is in the center, under the French and U.S. flags. The short message on the back, in pencil is very short: “To All at Home and friend Ann – Have been wounded am in a hospital now and will write later”… July 19 – Harry G., Cog – 38 inf. Passed by A.E.F.

Another is a photo of seven American soldiers with a French Machine Gun. A special card with machine-embroidered emblems of the Allies and a message to a soldier’s mother. A very faint message, again in pencil, laments the fact that he missed his mom’s birthday, but hopes he will be home next year to celebrate it with her. The basic message 100 years ago or today still echoes the same: Hope all is well, we miss you, tell all hello, we can’t wait to see you …our love. Even with today’s instant communication, sometimes the darker side of devastating, horrific conflicts are not revealed by the person who experienced them until a much later time. The passing of one hundred years has not changed that….


Truck Farming on Stone Road – The Thomas Farm

Seventeen-year-old WIi­liam J. Thomas immi­grated to Greece from Cheddar, Somerset County, England, in 1882. The following year, he purchased 11 acres of farmland on Stone Road, not far west of the intersection of Eddy Road (now Mt. Read. Boulevard).

At that time, the average size of a Greece farm was less than 100 acres, only rarely exceeding 200 or more acres.

By the late 19th century, Greece farmers were principally raising root vegetables, such as car­rots, beets, turnips, parsnips, etc. Some farms with larger acreage had apple and peach orchards as well

The Thomas farm had a large greenhouse, kept warm by hot water piping, the heat coming from a coal-fired boiler. Here, early spring crops such as radishes were raised.

A large root cellar (an insulated building, partly underground) stored the root vegetables through the winter. Gradually, these vegetables were, taken to market all through the non-growing season.

Several times a week, the horse-drawn wagon (shown in the circa 1912 photo with William at the reins) would be loaded with produce and taken to the public market or sev­eral wholesalers in Rochester. The wagon left at 4 am for the market, and the wagon and driver often did not return until early afternoon.

By the late 1930s, tractors were replacing horses for farm work, and by the 1950s, horse-drawn equip­ment and wagons were completely gone.

Through the years, more farmland was added to Thomas’ original 11 acres, and his three sons con­tinued to operate the farm after their father’s death in 1938.

By the 1960s, however, it was apparent that a moder­ately large-sized farm could no longer be profit­able in Greece. After more than 65 years, farming finally ended on the Thomas property in 1960.

By 1963, the land had been sold to developers.

Similar to the majority of former farms in Greece, only the sturdy 2½-story farmhouse remains, shielded from the road by tall shrubs. These farm­ houses remain as ghosts of an important era in local history.

Photos of the Thomas farm from Mr. Frank Thomas, the grandson of Willam Thomas.


“From tractors to tracts!” – From The Historian’s Desk

It is not quite a century since rural Greece slowly and sometimes not so slowly started to turn from an almost com­pletely agricultural community to street after street of home developments. After World War II the pace quickened so fast that the DPW couldn’t keep up with all the new street names. All the early settlers and farmstead names had been used; flowers, trees, clever contractions of several names, stones, rocks, etc. came into play……Lucky, we don’t have a Main St., Broadway, or 42nd St. One of the last larger plots of land on Latta Rd at Kirk Rd has just recently gone from an abandoned apple orchard to the beginning of small attached housing for the aging “baby-boomer” population. How fast the recent past is swept away for the latest assault by man However, we still do have farms in Greece, and the pictures below depict a history of some of these familiar farm names: DeConinck, Mitchell, Preston, and Yarker farms.


Music in the air for over 130 Summers at Ontario Beach Park

This 2016 summer season of Wegman’s Concerts by the Shore has concertgoers hearing such varied groups as The Dady Brothers Grand Band, The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, The Greece Jazz Band, and the Skycoasters, with more to come.

Looking back through newspaper files, postcards, and photos of the last century and earlier, it is quite evident that music has always had an important part of each summer season at Ontario Beach. It all began in the late

The 1870s with the opening of the Spencer House. Soon after followed the upscale Bartholomay Cottage Hotel and Pavil­ion. The amusement park dominated in the early 1900s. The closing of the amusement park in 1919 and many gradual transformations later, has made the park into a city-county park, as it is today. Popular music mixed with light classics dominated the early years. Solo artists usually were featured along with the orchestra. The programs of yore, like those of today, mirrored the tastes of the average public of the day. Ethnic orchestras from many nationalities were popular, as well as soloists or trios of string instruments. Several lady orchestras with soloists drew crowds.

There was a multitude of bands, orchestras, and other performers through the years. Patrick Gilmore and his band stand out and were nationally known in the late 19th century. His band was one of the first that Edison attempted to record for his recently developed cylinder phonograph.

The Lapham, Link, and 54th Regiment Bands were local and popular in the early 1900s. The Rochester Park Band was well established by the time it first performed at Ontario Beach in the early 1920s. The Dossenbachs, Theodore and Herman, were prominent in the Rochester music scene. Theodore conducted the Park band until his death in 1924. Herman then took over for a tenure of 21 years. John Cummings, who had played in the band, took over for an even longer run of forty-two years. Edna White (shown in the 1925 park band photo) was nationally known and did a number of recordings for the Columbia and Edison companies.


The Dance years at the Elmheart – Manitou Dance Pavilion – From The Historians Desk

The Elmheart Hotel was built about the same time as the Manitou Beach Trolley line was constructed, circa 1890. George Weidman Sr. and his brother-in-law, Michael O’Loughlin ran a saloon on State Street in the city and decided to invest in property on Lake Ontario. They purchased the Elmheart Hotel in 1903, running it from May to October (the usual Trolley season). The families lived on Lyell Ave. “Mike” O’Loughlin was one of Mary Weidman’s younger brothers. The 1915 census does not list George Weidman senior, but does list George F., age 22, as a partner in the hotel business, along with his Uncle Mike. Prohibition was in full swing by the early 1920s, but the hotel prospered in spite of the ban on alcoholic beverages. Mike O’Loughlin never married and always lived with his sister and family. The combined families maintained the home at 529 Lyell Ave. through at least the early 1940s.

The onset of the Depression in 1929-30 brought changes to the lake-side hotel business. Automobile travel and better roads spelled the demise of the Manitou Beach trolley in 1925. Mary Weidman, who was George’s mother, passed away in the late 1920s leaving George and his uncle as proprietors of the hotel. The dancing craze, which became an almost worldwide craze, had begun about 1910. It would retain its popular appeal well into the 1940s. George, who had taken over the day-to-day operation of the hotel from his uncle, (Mike was then in his early sixties), felt it was time to build a new dance hall. An earlier hall had been on the property. A new and larger dance pavilion was built in 1932. The rather old-fashioned I 890’s hotel facade was shorn of its quaint gingerbread trim; a second-floor porch and tower came down and the porches were fully screened in. The grounds were improved; an addition of a water slide into the lake, changing rooms for bathers, and an enlarged refreshment stand added to the attractions. The Reis Brother’s Carousel was moved near the beach and continued to be an attraction, as it had been since the early 1900s.

The huge attraction was the dance pavilion. Dances were held weekly on Friday and Saturday and at other special times. The hall also catered to special parties and dances. Admission was fifty cents each in 1932 and dropped even lower as the depression continued into the 1930s. The nearby Odenbach Hotel, with its large, lakefront restaurant also provided dancing. The competition apparently didn’t hurt either of them greatly. George seemed to have a good ear and was sawy about attracting name bands to his “off the beaten track” location. Among the numerous name bands of the ’30s and early ’40s that played at the Manitou Dance Pavilion were: Les Brown, Benny Goodman, Henry Bussie, Ina Rae Hutton, Jack Teagarden and Chick Webb (Ella Fitzgerald was the vocalist). One of the biggest draws was the Jimmy Lunceford Band, a very innovative Black Orchestra. According to Mr.

Weidman’s own recollection years later, “Jimmy Lunceford’s group played at Manitou six times!”

Curtailment of driving and the draft during World War II saw the gradual end of dance halls and the Big Band Era. After the war, a much-diminished schedule of dances was resumed but eventually, George closed the dance hall, except for an occasional party or dance. It was used for winter boat storage by 1970.

George lived on in the hotel with his sister, Edna for a long time after their Uncle Mike had passed on. He kept the bar room open on weekends and then only to people he knew or liked. George passed on in 1986. His sister inherited the closed hotel. Eventually, it was sold, and not long after a fire destroyed it. The same ending happened to the Dance hall a couple of years after that.

Not one of the hotels along Greece’s north Lake Ontario shore survived. There isn’t much to see where the dance hall and hotel once stood. A sagging chain link fence, some cement pilings in the lake that helped anchor the wooden pier into the lake, and scrub bushes make for a melancholy scene. The waves along the shore might echo Lunceford’s band ‘]ivin’ through” some of their tunes: Runnin’ a Temperature, Slumming on Park Avenue or Frisco Fog! ….but the memory of those are now offshore!

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Historian’s Office.

All of the photos are from a large group recently donated to the GHS from the widow of Randy Price, who was a close friend of George Weidman in later years


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.


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.


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. 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. Also, Homer J Buckman will also be featured in the Pioneer Families of Greece, New York Volume II when the book is published later this year.


“The Main Street of Greece” – From The Historian’s Desk

Ridge Road in photos: 1909 -1960

Every few years, if not sooner, a news article about the Ridge being expanded or improved pops up in news­ print or other media. From what was once the eastern edge at Lake Avenue to the western edge of Greece at Manitou Road, Ridge Road has always been in a state of fluctuation.

The early 1800s saw what had been a narrow Native American trail turns into a muddy dirt or occasional wood plank stretch of road by the mid-1860s. The fifty-year span from the early 1900s saw the fastest transfor­mation of the Ridge in the 20th century.

Eastman Kodak, introducing folding and box cameras near the turn of the century, made outdoor photography simpler and cheaper to take satisfactory photos. Hence, we began to have photos similar to the circa 1909 view of Richard and Katherine Emrich standing in muddy Ridge Road (east of Dewey Ave.) with their home be­ hind them. The other photos from the early 20th century speak for themselves. How many of the shops and stores do you recall? If you are younger than a certain age…..all would be foreign to your eyes…

Ridge Rd, Emrich Kids 1909, one of the earliest photos of Ridge Rd, W of Kodak Pk.
Cube-block installation Ridge Rd. 1909
New Grader for Greece 1928

Alteration, transition, variety, and diversity would apply to “The Lewiston Road”, one of several variations given to Ridge Road as it traversed our town. For further information and history about the Ridge, check out our ever-popular publication, Eight Miles Along the Shore, available in several formats at our museum shop.

“Things changed, people changed, and the world went rolling along right outside our windows.”

– Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle
Ridge at Dewey 1940
Naum Bros. Ridge Rd. 1955
N.W. Corner Ridge Rd. at Stone Rd. 1956
Ridge Rd looking west at Pepperidge Dr 1956
Long Pond at Ridge Rd. Greece Baptist Church in the background while Greece DPW and Monroe County Water Authority upgrade the sewer lines in 1961

More of this can be seen in the Bicentennial Snapshots episodes 11 and 12

Bicentennial Snapshot # 11 – The Ridge Part 1 This covers the beginnings of the Ridge till the early 1900s.

Bicentennial Snapshot # 12 – The Ridge Part 2 covers the 1900s till the early 2000s and some parts of the current times of the ridge.

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office.


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.


Tales of Winter in Greece – From the Historian’s Desk

“A White Hurricane” – tracking a record storm…

“Cruelest Month” – storm drops 9 inches of snow…

“City Reels Under 25 Inches of Snow” – one of the century’s worst blizzards…

Are these the headlines that could apply to our winter thus far? How about the winters of 1993, 1979, or 1966? Those three winters were all unusual for snowfall. Looking back over a century or more, the records show unusual snowfalls for the 1890s, and then a period of five years from 1904 -1909 with snowfall of fewer than seventy inches.

The 1920s into the early 1930s saw a dearth of snow, but sub-zero temperatures for several years.

The average snowfall from 1922 to 1956 was never above 100 inches. Low snow depths were reported through the 1980s….and so on into the present. Are we into a Global Warming period today? We’ll find out in a bit…..we think.

Enjoy the various winters in Greece from ninety to one hundred years ago. Few automobiles braved the winters before the 1920s. The horses and sleighs still held sway for a while. Public transportation was by electric trolley on the Lake Avenue line to Charlotte or the Dewey Avenue line that ended at Ridge Road. Bus service was started on Ridge Rd in the early 1900s but proved unreliable and lasted but a few years.

Note the two young ladies ready with their “Junior Racer” sled, and note the small building directly behind them. It’s not a telephone booth….NO ….but it was necessary before the days of indoor plumbing. Drinking water was from the pump, if it wasn’t frozen. The kitchen stove and the “Round Oak” stove are out (unlit). The coal is wet because there is a leak in the basement cistern (caused by the low temperatures). The slab of bacon is hard as a board and the cream has popped out of the milk bottle in the kitchen window “cold box”. Morning in “The Good Old Days”-were they???

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office.


“A stone is a stone is a Cobblestone!”

Webster’s New World Dictionary (College Edition) has the following: Cob-blestone (kabI ston’) A rounded stone of a kind formerly much used for paving. 

First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS
First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS
School district 9 school also Greece Methodist Church mid1800s GHS
School district 9 school also served as Greece Methodist Church in the mid 1800s GHS

Well, that is fine, but mention Cobblestone to the average Western New York resident (especially those living in the northern counties) and your answer could well be; “Oh, those buildings from the 19th century faced with round stones all in rows”. The Town of Greece is fortunate to have four surviving Cobblestone buildings. All are private homes, but there once were several schools and at least one church that are now long gone from Greece. In western New York, they are concentrated along route 104 from Wayne County westward to Niagara County. Workers who mainly learned their trade working on the first Erie Canal, which opened in 1825, built most of these beautiful stone buildings. The sandy soil near the Ridge Road and northward to Lake Ontario yielded stones (formed by the Glaciers) of rounded or oblong shapes in the recently cleared farm fields. A special mix of slow-drying cement was used to set the stones. Patterns of stones and the way the stones were set varied for the 25-year period this type of construction was in vogue. Although Western New York has the largest concentration of Cobblestones, they can be found in Ohio, Michigan, and as far west as Wisconsin, plus the Provence of Ontario, Canada. 

Distribution of cobblestone structures in NYS
Distribution of cobblestone structures in NYS

Cobblestone buildings were costly to build so only the more prosperous could afford to have them built. The rising cost of labor and the further distance it was necessary to travel to acquire the proper stones eventually caused this unique type of construction to be obsolete. Variations of the Greek revival style were common during this period. The costly, but sturdy Cobblestone style and cheaper wood frame construction prevailed during the 1830s to 1850s. 

978 North Greece Road
978 North Greece Road
543 Mill Road
543 Mill Road
Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian
Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian

The four Greece buildings shown are all on the Historical Survey of 101 selected sites in the Town of Greece, completed by the Landmark Society in 1995. One, the Covert-Pollok house is also listed on the National Landmark site. 

4350 Ridge Rd W.-Westfall-Mercier house
4350 Ridge Rd W.-Westfall-Mercier house

Sadly, the Westfall-Mercier house at 4350 West Ridge Rd. may not be standing much longer. It has been offered to anyone willing to move it off the property as development is planned for that site. Thus far there have been no takers. It will more than likely end as a casualty of progress. That is what tragically happened to a Cobblestone at Parma Corners on Ridge Road West at Route 18. For more information about these four buildings or the other 97 sites, go online to the Historic site survey, by the Town of Greece.*

*a note on the town’s historical site does contain errors and mistakes in the content on their site.

For more interesting details about Cobblestone buildings and their construction go to The Cobblestone Society website at The Cobblestone Society complex in Childs, N.Y. is closed for the season, but if you travel west on Ridge Road you can easily view that complex and 40 plus Cobblestone homes along the way to Niagara County. Going eastward out of Monroe County on old Route 104, you can easily pass just as many, if not more than the West Ridge route. Don’t forget that a Cobblestone building is just as often found on a side road as on the main roads. Enjoy our unique concentration of Cobblestone structures here in Western New York State.


North Greece Hotel, Domino Inn, or Cosmo Inn? – From the Historian’s Desk

OK! What’s in a name? When the new hotel (replacing the earlier Larkin Hotel) was built at Latta and North Greece Roads it was simply called The North Greece Hotel. That was in 1909; but not long after it opened, it be­ came the Moerlbach Hotel named for a new local brewery that supplied its beer to the hotel bar. Just prior to World War One the name again reverted to North Greece. The start of the 1920s saw the 13-year run of Prohibition, a change of ownership, and the new name, The Domino Inn. Newspapers of the period often mention the federal agents raiding the hotel and seizing illegal beer and liquor or the running of a still. Because of the numer­ ous saloons along Latta Road, certain local clergy of the time called Latta Road, “The Road to Hell”. This did not stop the popular spot from hosting political functions and local fire company events with good food featured in the enlarged dining room at the rear. Dancing to live music was featured at least four nights a week.

Old Larkin Hotel
N Greece Hotel 1915

For a very short period in the early 1930s, the name was again changed, this time to Cosmo Inn. Nineteen thirty-eight saw new owners now calling it the Corner House Hotel. Their annual Valentine, St. Patrick, Mother’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving events continued until the beginning of World War Two. Partially because of rationing and scarcity of goods, the Hotel closed for a few years after 1941.

The end of the war saw the final and most memorable years ahead for the hotel. Raymond and Irene DeMay bought the closed building in late 1945. A thorough refurbishing, updated restrooms and kitchen greeted the eager clientele at its reopening. More popular than ever, the celebration of holidays, banquets, and parties continued. The usual Fish Fry on Friday night was followed by a Teen-Hop from 8 to midnight.

DeMay Hotel 2013

The husband and wife partnership continued until Ray’s passing on June 23, 1974. “Ma or Mother DeMay”, as Irene became known, continued the business. She celebrated the 40th anniversary of the DeMay Hotel on April 4, 1985, with a special Genesee Beer Night. With each passing year, it became harder to continue as it once was, but it did go on until Irene’s death, at age 83 on March 10, 2000.

Now, thirteen years after the Demay Hotel was shuttered, a malaise of melancholy and decay has overtaken all the happy times and memories the tired walls shelter. Unless a buyer is found soon, “father time” will claim one more historic building in Greece.

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office.

More on the Hotel of Many Names is featured in the following Bicentennial Snapshots: