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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
The Special Police Unit of the Greece Police Department was also known as Auxiliary Police. In 1951 the Federal government passed legislation that civil defense would be a vested joint effort between the federal government and states, to protect against communist government attack of the United States with atomic bombs or other radiological weapons. New York State created the Defense Emergency Act of 1951 which required each county to create a civil defense plan to control traffic, crowd control, assist and manage fallout shelters and have many other entities like medical and construction units available to manage, control, and rebuild in event of an enemy attack.
The County of Monroe instructed each town to create a defense plan which included Auxiliary Police. They had to train and equip the auxiliary police to control traffic and perform other police/civil defense functions as may be required during and after an attack.
The Greece Auxiliary police was formed in 1951 and they were trained to assist with Civil Defense needs such as traffic control, crowd control, shelter security, and more as needed. As the years went on the Auxiliary Police Department stayed active in Greece assisting with traffic during parades, carnivals, and other large gatherings where additional police manpower was needed. Auxiliary Police personnel assisted with traffic control at polling stations and several churches in the town during the 1960s and early 1970s. Through the years the Auxiliary Police Unit picked up additional responsibilities such as issuing parking tickets and patrolling town parks and schools, while still providing traffic control for special events within the town.
In 1997 the County of Monroe disbanded the Auxiliary police for Monroe County. This meant the Town of Greece would have to adopt a new law to create a Special Police Unit which would be under the control of the Town Board and the Greece Police Department. Since then, we have continued to support the Town for all special events and emergency situations caused by serve weather and man-made events.
The members of the Special Police unit are all certified New York State Peace Officers. All members have attended an Academy which involves 160-plus hours of training. They have the authority to enforce laws and have powers of arrest. Their goal is to continue to assist the Police Department with public safety.
They have additional responsibilities such as ATVs and snowmobiles, patrol as needed for nuisance complainants in the town, and they continue to provide an extra set of eyes and ears for the force, along with providing a police presence within the Town as they patrol the town’s parks and schools.
The office of the Special Police is located at 647 Long Pond Road. The Unit is a volunteer organization which has 35 active members. We are always looking for qualified candidates. This Unit is a great opportunity for young people interested in law enforcement or established individuals in our community who want to volunteer in this capacity. Anyone interested should visit our website www.greecespecialpolice.com or call 585-581-6325.
In the late 1940s, as bowling was becoming more popular, the residents of Greece had several choices of where to bowl, including Boem’s on Edgemere Drive and the Charlotte bowling hall on Stutson Street. Along the Ridge, there was the Lyon’s Den, Damm Brothers, and Ridge Bowling, but with no AC and the dependence on pin boys, they were not what anyone to day would call truly modern. The first truly “modern” bowling hall in the Town of Greece was first proposed by the Fasano family. Their plan would not only bring a modern bowling hall to the town, but at the same time introduce a new game that might revolutionize the bowling industry.
In 1946, Michael Fasano and his sons, Ernest and Donato, purchased the Lee property at the intersection of Dewey Avenue, Maiden Lane, and Stone Road and within a year proposed building a “Huge” Shopping Plaza which would include a 24-alley bowling hall. The facility would not be the standard bowling game, however, but a new revolutionary game called Rotobowling.
First patented by Orville Whittle of Florida and being franchised around the country, it was unlike regulation bowling. The game used a 94-foot carpeted alley with lights along the edge, rubber cushion banks on each side, and hazard pins suspended over the courts. The balls were propelled down the alley with a device that looked similar to an upright vacuum cleaner. The game was dependent upon a player’s ability to bank shots rather than on physical ability. Scoring combined the total number of pins downed and the number of times the ball was banked.
It seems the Fasinos had some trouble explaining the game to the Town leaders who had the mistaken impression that it was a gambling game with an elaborate pay-off device.
Gambling of any kind, including bingo, was illegal in New York State at the time. There was also the fear that the bar in the facility would be too close to Barnard School. By the time things were worked out with the Town, the Fasinos began to realize there was no future in the game. They probably discovered that people were not amused with a noiseless game that took no physical effort.
The Fasinos then looked for other opportunities and in 1954 opened their plaza with a new modern Loblaw’s grocery, Cramer’s Drug Store, and several other stores, including a restaurant with a bar. We can wonder if the Fasano’s realized that as they opened their plaza, bowling was in fact, being revolutionized. Down the road a mile and a half, Sam Mink at his Ridge Bowling Hall was introducing the Rochester area public to the AMF “pin spotter”, the first automatic pin setting machine, the single most revolutionary item in bowling history.
Modern bowling halls would eventually come to Greece, but not without a struggle. In 1956 Schantz Construction proposed a bowling hall opposite the new Northgate plaza and in 1957 a hall was proposed at McCall and Stone Roads on the Frear Estate. They were both opposed by neighbors and the Town. But soon Dewey Gardens and nearby Terrace Gardens were opened, followed by Maiden Lanes in 1960.
History has all but forgotten the Rotobowling game, and the Fasino’s proposed plan. Luckily for the Fasinos, they realized the public didn’t want to play their game and gave up their Rotobowling franchise before construction began. They did build a plaza, and although the tenants changed throughout the years, the plaza itself lasted nearly a half-century.
This is a condensed version of a story that first appeared in the November 9, 2006, Greece Post
Did you know that one of the nation’s last 24/7/365 public jazz radio stations resides in Greece, New York?
Jazz 90.1 FM (WGMC-FM) has been an important part of the town’s history since 1971, providing jazz and big band music, community events, concerts, public service programming, and instructional opportunities for students.
In 1971, The Greece Central School District sought out community involvement in the establishment of a community FM radio station. On August 31, 1971, the Greece Central School District Board of Education approved the concept of launching a community radio station, and the process to apply for an FCC license began.
On November 1, 1973, 90.1 WGMC went on the air for the first time. Broadcast hours for the first ten weeks of operation were 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Monday, December 17, 1973, WGMC expanded its hours to run from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the early years, the station was run mainly by students, under the direction of faculty advisors at Greece Athena High School. Community members were also able to host programs on the station during school breaks, evenings, and weekends. At just 10 watts of broadcast power, WGMC was heard only within the immediate Greece area. The station broadcasted Greece Town Board meetings, Board of Education meetings, and more.
Over the years, WGMC-FM now called Jazz90.1 has seen significant growth moving to 2,050 watts, then eventually to 15,000 watts of power after an extensive multi-year fundraising effort in the early 2000s. The station does not receive any funding from the Greece Central School District, however, the license for WGMC-FM remains under the school district and is housed at Greece Olympia.
Jazz90.1 is one of the last full-time community jazz radio stations left in the United States; it relies solely on donations from listeners and area businesses. The station will celebrate 47 years on the air in November and continues providing its listeners unique local programming such as the Live Studio Concert Series, Greece Olympia Jazz Radio Hour, and more. Jazz90.1 prides itself on also providing great learning opportunities for Greece students who wish to pursue careers in media and broadcasting. Staff of Jazz90.1 work hand in hand with district teachers and leaders, giving Greece students a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity, both behind the scenes and on the air.
At Jazz90.1, they believe that jazz is a living music. Half of their broadcast hours are focused on current artists who are committed to moving the music forward. Jazz90.1 plays more new music than any radio station in the U.S. but also offers a heaping portion of the classics, like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, and many more.
Jazz 90.1, is also an important outlet for music and voices that don’t make it onto commercial radio. Their longest-running show is The Polka Bandstand Show heard every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The station also features the Lithuanian-language Dainos Aidas and the German Radio Program. As well as the longest locally-running Tech Show Soundbytes as well.
Roadside historic markers are our windows to the past. They educate us, they make us curious to investigate, or they provide a nice excuse to take a break and stretch our legs while we read what happened here.
These markers tell about historic events and locations and provide the public with knowledge about our history. In New York State they were first created to commemorate the American Revolution.
Although no longer funded by the State, historic markers are still being installed throughout New York State by individuals, town and county governments, historical organizations, and individuals. Historic markers have become a major way to inform the public and tourists about local history.
There are thousands of “official” New York State markers around the State. They were recommended by Town Historians. Because the Town of Greece did not have a historian until the mid-1940s, there are no State markers in Greece. The County of Monroe did initiate a program for a short time in the 1960s resulting in four County markers in Greece. Nearly a quarter century went by before the Canal Society installed another new one at Henpeck Park.
Nearly two decades passed until 2011 when the Town installed the Northgate marker funded by Walmart. In 2014 the Greece Historical Society learned about the William Pomeroy Foundation which would fund the purchase of a marker if the information were well documented. This resulted in the first Pomeroy- funded sign in Greece noting the history of Paddy Hill School which was the Society’s gift to the School.
Since that time, the Town has received two Pomeroy grants for markers: for the Odenbach Shipbuilding plant in 2015 and for the Revolutionary War Veteran at Peck Rd Cemetery in 2019. GHS received a Pomeroy grant for the Jean Brooks Greenleaf marker in 2018 at the Lakeshore Country Club.
As time goes by there are few physical reminders of history in our community, so take a break and stretch your legs while we read what happened here.
One of four Pomeroy Foundation-funded markers in Greece
Walmart funded this one in 2011
One of Four Monroe County markers in the Town of Greece
Unlike many other states, New York State does not currently manage a historical marker program. Instead, local authorities are responsible for the approval, installation, and maintenance of historical markers. Anyone interested in placing or repairing a marker should thus check with appropriate county, city, town, or village historians or officials. Source https://www.nysm.nysed.gov/research-collections/state-history/resources/historicalmarkers
To learn more about the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and how the foundation is helping people celebrate their community’s history by visiting https://www.wgpfoundation.org/
More than a month ago we received a call from a fellow inquiring if our museum collection would be interested in having a few bricks gathered from one of the many piles around the demolished Greece Town Hall on West Ridge Road. The Town offices had already moved into the new town Hall in December 1999. Demolition began in April 2001 on the West Ridge Road site. The answer was a tentative, YES, but we would have to see them to decide. A few days later a box arrived on our front porch with the three bricks. Just like people, a brick can come in many forms, small, big, thin, or husky and rough! Our three, which we did accept, were of the latter two types, HUSKY & ROUGH! Those ‘Three Musketeers Bricks” could have been used for the rougher interior. More of a dense and harder finished brick was used for the exterior.
“It only took 25 years?” That was the length of time it took the town of Greece to finally come to realize they desperately needed a town hall. The first such request came about in 1895 and several more times in the early 1900s. No action was ever taken then. First came the annexing of the Village of Charlotte by the City of Rochester in 1916.
The United States entered World War I in 1917 and by 1919 the “dough boys’ were returning from the war and a surge of marriages followed. A building boom soon began. The Town government needed more space than a rented room in Charlotte or the town clerk’s office in his home. A special proposition was put to the citizens of Greece to vote (May 9, 1919) on building a Town Hall. It was approved by a vote of 169 to 72. The 1920 U.S. Census put the total population of Greece at 3,350.
Through the next almost eighty years many additions and changes were added to increase the needed space. Again, as before, talks were started that a new Town Hall was needed. The added arrival of the computer age compounded the problem. The electrical system, as well as the telephone wiring system, was aged and obsolete. The thick brick walls did not lend themselves easily to that kind of an upgrade.
Our vintage Town Hall bricks are rather insignificant compared to the cupola that once crowned the top of the building. It was saved and restored by members of the Greece Historical Society. It now is part of a welcome sign on the grounds of the Society at 595 Long Pond Road. The two Doric columns that stood at the main entrance to the former Town Hall are now in the lobby of the Community Center at the North end of the present Greece Town Hall. All these varied artifacts help to tell the story of the Town of Greece’s first public building.
originally printed in the Greece Historical Society’s Corinthian newsletter, June 2020
The fall of 1953 was a rapidly changing time for the residents of the town of Greece. The Lake Ontario State Parkway (LOSP) was under construction and contractors had all they could do to build new homes for Greece’s growing population, as 100 people a month moved into the town. According to Ray Cole, the town’s building inspector at the time, 55 new home permits were issued in September alone. Then there was the Northgate Plaza grand opening, a three-day event that drew crowds of up to 75,000. A new shopping complex today would cause little excitement, but back then it was to be the very first suburban shopping center in Monroe County.
Meanwhile, in October, a small group of town citizens would affect the future of Greece. A grassroots group, the Shoremont Association, headed by Mario Berardi of Edgemere Drive, was protesting the proposed construction of a factory at Dewey Avenue and Ling Road. It seemed that a 47-year-old local company with 800 employees was rapidly outgrowing their plant on Hollenbeck Street and other sites scattered around the City of Rochester.
The company had acquired an option on the land and was seeking a zoning change to build their proposed “campus type” research and production facility. The group of residents was afraid that a factory “would destroy the natural beauty of the lakeshore site, increase traffic, cause a smoke and industrial dirt nuisance and depreciate nearby proper ty values and those of Greece as a whole.”
A Democrat & Chronicle editorial praised the residents for their opposition to changing the towns zoning laws “that might allow the installation of a big factory in their neighborhood.” The editorial stated that “the company was one with a conscience and a sense of civic responsibility. Its officers were public-spirited, and it could be taken for granted they would not willingly ruin a great public asset”. (Indeed, the president of the company had been mayor of the City only 20 years before). ‘The citizens were wise to move rapidly in trying to repulse an effort to change the zoning laws.” Because of the residents’ protest, the company pulled out of the deal and began the search for another site.
Were the right decisions made that first week in October of 1953? Certainly, it would have changed the character of the neighborhood and we now know the site that the company had chosen would have been woefully inadequate.
Would they have soon abandoned the site when they ran out of room, leaving another empty building, such as the old Odenbach shipbuilding factory that was unoccupied for many years, or would they have continued to expand throughout the town of Greece? We will never know.
The Town of Greece certainly did prosper over the years without that factory, but so did the community that eagerly welcomed it. In 1954, Joseph C. Wilson, the president of the Haloid Co. announced his company’s plans for a new complex in the town of Webster. Several years later in 1961, the company changed its name to Xerox.
This is an edited version of a story by me that originally appeared in the Greece Post Oct 16, 2003.
Located at 1118 Long Pond Road about 80 years ago was the Willow Creek Ranch. Far in the rear of the 10 acres was a farm house. Owner, Irving James Thompson known as ‘Tommy” Thompson, was a big strong fellow weighing nearly 400 pounds at one time, who could pick up a heavy iron anvil by its point with one hand. He was a cowboy who created Willow Creek Ranch where he had several horses and a large pasture. In the late 1940s, he went to Nebraska and brought back several horses to his ranch where he broke them and sold many of them. Others he trained for rodeo events. There was never a horse he couldn’t ride. Rodeos, combined with a western theme parade, became a very popular event at the Long Pond Road location.
A Greece Press newspaper dated August 4, 1944, shows an advertisement headed, “Come One! Come All! Come to the home town rodeo at Willow Creek Ranch, Long Pond Road near Maiden Lane, Sunday, August 6, 1944, at 1PM, with a parade at 2 PM led by Monroe County Sheriff horses. Thrills for young and old.” It goes on to say: “Bucking broncos, calf roping, knot tying, bull dragging, bronc busting, and a western horse show. Local amateur cowboy entries invited. Cash prizes and trophies.” It shows Tommy Thompson and his trick horse, Duke Thunderbolt, an Arabian gelding. Said the poster: ‘Tommy Thompson, Ray Slaght, Lucky Boy Williams, managers. 10% goes to Red Cross.”
Duke Thunderbolt performed amazing tricks such as pulling the family wash off the clothesline, blowing the horn on the family car with his nose, counting, rocking a chair, and executing a horse prayer. Other tricks included: taking off Thompson’s hat, rolling over and playing dead, and holding an American flag in his teeth. Thompson would demonstrate his rope skills and knot tying.
Much of this information I learned from sons Gary and Bob Thompson. Bob is my brother-in-law and lives in Greece. Today the Willow Creek Ranch site is the Ronald J. Arndt Funeral Home. Nothing remains but memories from the days of the Thompson family being there and the excitement of the rodeos. Mr. Arndt was in awe learning of the history of his place.
At the rear of the property was Round Pond Creek. Our family farm was not far away at 1036 Long Pond Road where the same creek flowed through our property. As a lad, I remember the “ranch” being up the road and Tommy Thompson who always wore a large western cowboy hat and leather boots. My dad, “Cap” Preston, was a friend of Tommy’s and would take my brothers Eddie and Ken and me along to visit at Willow Creek Ranch. It was named that because of the many large willow trees along the creek.
Tommy Thompson was also a heavy equipment operator at Kodak and retired in 1969. He was born in Napanee, Ontario, Canada, arriving here at age 18 on a ferry boat from Cobourg, Canada to Charlotte. He passed away in 1982 at his Hamlin, NY home at age 72.
The Greenleaf Flying Club owned a small private airfield in Greece. It closed sometime in the 1970s and is now a tract of homes. The first person to guess exactly where it was will win a Greece coffee mug. The Contest to guess where this sign has ended, thanks to all those that guest different answers.
The answer to last month’s question about the location of the Greenleaf Flying Club was correctly answered by Gene Preston. The Club was located on Kuhn Road northwest of St. Mark’s Church. This aerial photo was taken in 1970 and clearly shows their field and several airplanes.
Not much is known about this private club including why it was called Greenleaf, although we do know that a 17-year-old tried to steal a plane in 1964, there was a tragic accident in 1969 that killed two pilots and in 1974 or 1975, a student pilot from the field got in a little trouble with the Greece Police when he did some low flying over his high school, Greece Arcadia. Sometime in the early 1980s, the owner of the land got an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he sold the land, most of the members moved to Ledgedale Airpark near Brockport, and Sweet Acres Drive was built.
If you have any more information or stories about the club or its grass landing field, let us know, Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Bill at 225-3760.
After reading Bill Bartling’s story about Dewey Stone in the 1940s in our May Corinthian, GHS member, Richard Laurette sent us his story about the 1950s.
My parents moved to the suburbs in February 1944. I came along in November. (You can do the math.) Coincidental ly to Mr. Bartling’s previous piece, we moved to 42 Dalston Rd. We lived four houses from the two pillars at Dewey, Gulf & Sunoco Gas Stations. Moving north there was a building between the Gulf station and Beaumont Rd. Like ancient Gaul, it was divided into three parts. Esler’s was on the South, Lincoln Bank in the middle, and a toy store on the north next to Beaumont. The toy store had Yo-Yo contests at the beginning of each summer. It was quite some thing when my sister won one summer and beat all the boys. The toy store moved out and Loblaw’s moved in. Eventually, Loblaw’s moved into the field just east of Barnard school. Esler’s moved to the north end and Cadet Cleaners took its place on the south end.
Dew-Stone plaza was built north of Beaumont. It was cool because you could enter Star Market from either Dewey Ave. or Stone Rd. On the south end next to Beaumont was a bakery and then later Fay’s Drug Store. The Dutch Mill was always a presence. One thing I could never figure out was when I delivered the Times-Union newspaper, how could so many guys work at Kodak days and yet be on a bar stool at 3:00 p.m.
I happened to know that Mr. Jackson learned the bakery business at Schliff Bake Shop downtown, went in the Navy, and then came home and opened his business at the corner on Beaumont & Stone. He moved his place across the street for better parking. Have you tried parking in front of Jackson’s lately?
Directly across the street from Dalston was a Laundromat, and then going north was Veltri’s Shoe store and then a children’s clothing store on the corner of Shady Way. I still see Carl Veltri at the YMCA.
Across Shady Way, the central point of the neighborhood (except for those on the bar stools at the Dutch Mill) was, for some, Johnny’s Sweet Shop Restaurant (a place to also buy your Easter candy). Next to Johnny’s was the Towne Men Shop. I personally worked there for Harry Melon for 10-12 years. Going north in the same building: a Barber Shop, Dance Studio, and Mortillaro’s Paint Store as well as Mortillaro’s Jewelry Store.
Continuing north, they tore down an apartment building on the corner of Shady Way. Lincoln Bank built a new building and moved from across the Street. Jumping up to Stone Road there was the Corner Service (my favorite place to get junk food), Barnard Meat Market, another bakery, Bill’s Barbershop, and Kujawa’s Television Repair. West across Dewey was a Rotary Gas Station. Between it and Barnard were the new Loblaw and Cramer’s Rexall Drug Store.
Beyond the two schools (Barnard & St Charles) & the two churches (St. Charles & Bethany Pres) was the firehouse. Where would any kid have been without the 12:00 & 5:00 whistle or the field next to Clark Park to play sports?
Finally, Nick & Erwin’s Dry Cleaners certainly added to the neighborhood.
Back in the 1950s many of us remember the “Dick & Jane” books or another series called “Streets and Roads. They were simple stories about living in the neighborhood and getting along with others. We never gave much thought about what a street or road was or why it was called what it was.
Civil engineers might define a street as something that connects people for interaction, while a road connects towns and cities for travel. Although in the real world these distinctions aren’t always made.
In the Town of Greece, there are over 1,050 streets and roads with all kinds of names. But are they streets or roads? Or does anyone really care?
For the trivia aficionados, in the Town of Greece, there are only 25 Streets and 173 Roads but there are approximately 369 Drives, 160 Lanes, 94 Courts, 94 Circles, 40 Avenues, 25 Ways, 7 Boulevards, 21 Trails, and fewer of Commons, Coves, Estates, Landings, Boulevards, etc.*
There are over 80 streets named after the original farm families who lived there. We have some named for the seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn, but no Winter. There are animal streets: Fox, Deer, Hawk, Owl, Eagle. Several have female names: Judy Ann, Jackie, Laura, Roseanne, but very few have male names and there are 14 named after saints. There are “state streets”: Kentucky, California, and Florida, but no “State Street” (although one wing of the mall calls its self Main Street but that doesn’t count), and even some named after the pilgrims; (Mi/es] Standish and (John] Alden. Wood seems to be the most popular with 97 containing the word wood in them, but surprisingly, for a town once known for its orchards, only eight with Apple. Then there are 40 Creeks and 14 Brooks, but no Stream. We even have one named after a card game, Canasta. Of course, some developers couldn’t resist sneaking in their own names: Willis, Britton, and Alfonso (DeNardo).
You can explore the Interactive Map Here it has at least 80 of the most important named roads in Greece, NY on the map to provide you with some of the information on the naming of that road, street, drive, or other types of roads.
*The numbers are approximate and may vary somewhat from what is stated in this story.
**Our museum has a free-standing kiosk with an interactive map explaining the origins of at least 80 names.