Bicentennial Snapshot # 16 – ‘ADA’ Ridge Hamlet

Map with each hamlet listed click to view a larger image

In the early years of the town, there were little hamlets or unincorporated villages that people called different sections of Greece, for example, you have ADA Ridge which is the intersection of Mitchell Road Long Pond Road, and Ridge Road, Jekin’s Corner/North Greece is located at Latta Road and North Greece Road, South Greece is at Elmgrove Road at the Erie Canal, Dewey Stone Hamlet is right at where Dewey ave meets Stone Road, Paddy Hill/Read’s Corner is at Mount Read and Latta.

This week we explore the Hamlet of Ada which is at the intersection of Mitchell Road, Long Pond Road, and Ridge Road, this is where the center of town offices was except for the Department of Public Works until 1997 when the complex moved to the Greece Center area just north of Latta on Long Pond. We first told you about how the ridge was a glacial ridge, then the stagecoach route in episode 11, and the toll plank road from Long Pond Road to Elmgrove Road in episode 12, we introduce you to William Anderson General store and that was the post office for Ada in episode 14. You might have learned about the early Rowe family with the settlement at King’s Landing in the 4th snapshot. and we look at Asa Rowes’ Nursery business in snapshot 13.

Anderson’s General Store

In Snapshot 14 we told you that there were many general stores that people would shop at to get items for everyday living and one of these stores was William Anderson general store. William H Anderson was born in October 1849 in a small community called Ada Michigan, and he came to Greece, New York later in life with his wife Lois E. (Hyatt) Anderson. It was in Greece that he became a postmaster and opened his general store on the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Mitchell Road.

William H Anderson General Store
William H Anderson General Store

Did you know that a portion of Ridge Road was a toll-based planked road?

1872 map by F. W. Beers
1872 map by F. W. Beers

Note on the map on the left the Y-shaped conjunction of Long Pond Road, then known as Greece Centre Road, on the left, and the road that borders the property of farmer Erastus Walker on the right. In the 1860s there was a section that was planked it was from Long Pond Road to Elmgrove Road (Henpeck Road). It was a 2.5-mile stretch that was plank which means the road was made of wooden planks it was thought to have been 9 1⁄2 miles (15.3 km) and chartered on October 23, 1848, and there was a court case involving Kenyon vs the Seeley over the tolls that were collected on this plank road. Locals didn’t think it was necessary to pay to use the road. Erastus Walker used to cut across his fields to bypass the toll gate. After being used by so many, so often it became a right of way. Just south of the Walker property was land owned by the Mitchells. Eventually, the Mitchells would own the Walker Land and the name of the road changed to Mitchell Road.

Greece Baptist Church

Greece Baptist Church was one of the first churches in the town. The first building for Greece Baptist Church was built in the 1830s at the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Picture in the video was its home until 1962 when the new home for Greece Baptist church was built at the end of Walker St a street that runs east-west and parallels just north of the ridge it runs just behind Buckman’s Plaza and now it connects the newly formed Greece Baptist Church Parkway. The Cole and Kenyon families are founding members of the Greece Baptist Church, Cousins Deb Myers and Maureen Murphy are descendants of the families who attended this church and help found Greece Baptist Church. The reason for the Church to move 700 feet was the community was growing by leaps and bounds after world war 2 and Ridge road expanded from one lane in each direction to a four-lane with two lanes going eastbound and two lanes going westbound. It recently turned 190 years and in ten years it will be celebrating its own bicentennial.

The Rowe Tavern

The original Rowe tavern that Asa’s father started in the early 1800s no exact date of the day it opened but we believe it was somewhere around circa 1804 but with no exact records or proof other than on a map showing that shows where it was located. The Rowe Tavern burned down in 1845 while being operated by R.P. Edgarton at that time while Asa was running his Horticultural and Nursery farm. It was later rebuilt.

St. Johns Church, the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

1875 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
1875 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
St Johns 1964 Church
2014 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church Now photo by Bill Sauers

St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church was founded as a satellite parish of Our Mother of Sorrows Church. The original 20 congregants met in the Rowe tavern building from 1865 until 1876 when they were able to construct a church on the site. The tavern building became the priests’ rectory. Later on, the Church would expand to add a school and then a completely new structure set back further from the road to its new Church which is featured in two separate recordings about the Architect James H. Johnson (May 2012) and the Architecture of James H. Johnson (May 2019) but later on the church would sell the old rectory and school. The St Johns school lot became a Royal Car Wash.

We also had a Tuesday program with one of the families that were part of the original St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church her name is Carolyn Kerhaert a descendant of the VOLKMAR family who came to Greece about 1865 and help found St. John’s Church.

Up Close with Two Greece Pioneer Families – the Volkmar and Cole/Kenyon families May 10, 2022

The Falls Hotel

A little way down no more than 30 feet was the Falls Hotel. It opened under the ownership of William Fall, later it was operated by T. B. Hiett this would explain why the street Hiett Rd runs parallel to the Ridge and ends when you enter into the parking lot of St. Johns Church, the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

Second Falls Tavern from GHS
Second Falls Tavern from GHS

The Falls hotel also had a fire this was not till 1883 when the hotel was under the management of Willam Gentle who was the proprietor at the time of the fire. The Falls Hotel would later be reborn but it took some skills and lots of logs to basically move the Old Rowe Tavern from where the old Rectory for St. Johns Church stands today and move it across the road to where the entrance to Red Robin at the Mall at Greece Ridge is at today. The deal made to move the Tavern involved the congregants, the Pastor of the church, and the proprietor of the building moving it across the way to build the church.

The Fetzner Family

Fetzner Blacksmith and Carriage shop

The Fetzner family ran a Blacksmith and Carriage shop also they were one of the first families that ran a fire company in the hamlet of Ada at the intersection of Ridge, Long Pond, and Mitchell Roads. In 1876, two brothers, Frank and John Fetzner, opened the Fetzner Brothers Blacksmith and Carriage shops on West Ridge Road across the street from the St. John the Evangelist Church and next door to the Falls Hotel. Peter Knipper who was married to the Fetzner’s cousin, Mary Mura, bought the Falls Hotel in 1889.

In this 1960s picture on the Left is Fetzner Garage | Richards on the Ridge to the right
In this 1960s picture on the Left is Fetzner Garage | Richards on the Ridge to the right

They were one of the groups of merchants who went in on a soda acid chemical to fight fires in the area of Ada in the museum we have a soda acid chemical hand-pulled truck.

Buckman’s

Stay tuned for a snapshot of Buckman’s Dairy and Bakery but in the meantime, we have a program on Buckman’s Dairy History recorded in July 2017, and here is an article from our newsletter titled Buckmans Dairy. Homer J. Buckman – Sold Milk, Cream, and Lollipops!!! – From the historian’s Files.

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The Dutch Mill – A Community Gathering Place

The Dutch Mill – April 17, 2022

Every community or neighborhood has a gathering place. Over time many come and go, they may change hands or change their name, but eventually something happens and the old place becomes nothing but a memory to the local old timers. Then there are places like the Dutch Mill at Dewey and Stone Roads that seem like they were always there and always will be, but maybe not!

Back in 1928 Leon Cox, who helped organize the Barnard Fire Department, and his wife, Bertha, opened a hotdog stand. Leon constructed a windmill to use as an ornament on the stand. Bertha thought Old Mill would be a good name for their business while Leon suggested Dutch Mill. Drawing straws resulted in Leon’s choice and the Dutch Mill opened with the windmill on top of the small building.

Leon Cox
Leon Cox

In 1932, with the end of Prohibition, the Coxes added a bar to sell beer and liquor. Then came a $10,000 addition. Eventually the place was sold to Donald Hall, Thomas Brierly Sr. and Thomas Brierly Jr. The trio made extensive improvements. Next, the curved front of the building was added which was designed to provide a glass windowed private banquet hall on the second floor, although that part of the second floor appears to have never been used. The main floor was altered to include a distinctive bar from the famous, now demolished, Odenbach Peacock Room from Main and Clinton in downtown Rochester. In 1947, they changed the name to the NEW Dutch Mill. Saturday afternoon movies were added and in 1948 it was advertised as the nation’s first Cinema Restaurant. Bands played for dancing in the evenings.

In 1984, Chester and Sharon Ventura bought the restaurant and remodeled it; the name went back to just the Dutch Mill. In 2016, Ann Marie and Bob Simmons took over the operation. The Simmons immediately became involved in the community by offering fundraising opportunities and participating in community events. They brought in new bands, started an open mic night, and with their big-screen television, drew packed crowds during major sporting events.

Over the years the Dutch Mill was our town’s gathering or meeting place. Nearly every organization held their meetings and banquets there. Clam bakes, dance lessons, and euchre clubs regularly met there and countless wedding receptions took place on the second floor. All the while, the old windmill, although now a bit tattered, stood atop the building.

This past spring, we were saddened to learn that the Dutch Mill was sold to the plaza owners next door. On Saturday, April 16, 2022, the Simmons served their last customers, then closed and locked the doors. Currently, there has been no announcement about the future of the old place. It is not a designated landmark, so the new owners can do whatever zoning laws allow. We can only surmise its future.

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Briarcliff Club Memories

Ration coupons, victory gardens, salvage drives, saving cooking fat, “buy bonds today.” All familiar words to a home front generation during World War II. Unlike our wars since, World War II affected every single person in this country, and no matter what your occupation or financial status, everyone had to deal with rationing. Rationed items included basic commodities like sugar and butter, but nothing affected the lives of people in the suburbs more than gas rationing.

People would complain a little when there was no sugar, but they knew it was for a good cause. But lack of gasoline meant a complete change in lifestyle. Suburban towns like Greece had no parks, and no major stores, even a Sunday drive in the country was out of the question. In fact, for a while, any pleasure driving was banned.

Soon one neighborhood in the Town of Greece decided that if the gasoline shortage wouldn’t permit driving around the country for fun, it was high time the neighbors got acquainted and figured out what to do about it.

In January 1943, this group held their first meeting; about 27 couples comprised the group which tentatively called itself the “Briarcliff Club” as most members lived on Briarcliff Road. A monthly meeting was agreed on and plans dis­ cussed for various kinds of outings and entertainment.

A two-hour sleigh ride was the group’s first social activity; the Greece Press reported that “the merrymakers startled the countryside ringing with Sweet Adeline and progressed through a long repertoire of other classical and modern melodies.” They ended their day with a fish fry at the Barnard Exempts.

Throughout the next year, they planted a “Victory Garden at the Barnard Except Home, participated in bowling parties, had neighborhood picnics, held a street dance and a clam bake, and sometimes traveled in a group to a county park. A Christmas party was held at the Valleywood Club on nearby Boxart Street and, at Christmas, Santa himself visited all the children on the street and shared Christmas cheer with each of the adults. Stories were told for years after that Santa was quite a bit jollier toward the end of his journey down the street than at the beginning.

An August 1943 softball game against the Strathmore Drive Athletic Club resulted in a loss. No one will ever know for sure, but several of the Red Wing team members lived on Strath­more Drive, which may have helped that team win.

It wasn’t until March of 1944 that they had to hold a party in honor of the first member of the group to leave for the armed forces.

It didn’t take long for the group to discover they couldn’t find any better company if they drove for miles and used tanks full of Uncle Sam’s precious gasoline. In August 1945, a sausage roast and street dance were held, but the War was over by then and the reason for the Briarcliff Club, gas rationing, had ended. Soon some of the neighbors moved away, others began to relish the freedom a family could enjoy with their automobiles. The Briarcliff Club just faded away, but not the memories and the stories told to their children of how they made the best of their situation during the War. What stories are you telling your children today?

Bill Sauers grew up on Briarcliff Rd long after the Briarcliff Club ceased to exist but remembered the stories about the club told by his parents and neighbors.

Originally published in the Greece Post Nov 8, 2007

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The Rochester Park Band at Manitou Beach in 1906

1900s Manitou Beach Postcard

Want to have some fun? Let’s go on a company picnic to Manitou Beach in the summer of 1906. We’ll join the nearly 1,000 employees of James Cunningham & Sons, a huge company with several factories, which, in 1906, was still making horse-drawn carriages, but by 1908, would transition to that new kind of horseless carriage called an automobile.

“We’ll meet at 7:30 am in front of the main factory on Canal Street. And then the celebration begins! We’ll march together, grouped into our different factories, each one with its large silk and gold banner, from Canal Street to the New York Central train station.

And what is a parade without a band? And why not two? The Rochester Park Band with its handsome director, Theodore Dossenbach, and all its musicians in their glorious cream-colored suits, will lead us today, with Fred Zeitler and his 54th Regiment Band. And as we march along, people rush to the streets from their houses, or watch us pass from the windows of their workplaces, perhaps wishing they worked for James Cunningham & Sons.”

Rochester Park Band

“We have a special train waiting for us at the station which brings us to Manitou Beach, and right away we join in the many sports and contests. Want to see how we had fun in 1906? Well, there was the baseball game between the married men and the single men. There was the married women’s race, the little girls’ race, the old men’s race, and who can forget the fat men’s race? And so many prizes – for the oldest man present, the youngest man, and the man having the reddest nose!”

Orphan’s Day Picnic

The Rochester Park Band played often at Manitou Beach in the first few decades of the 20th century. On July 14th, 1920, the annual Orphans Day, sponsored by the Automobile Club, was held at Manitou Beach. It began with the car parade, starting at East Avenue and Brunswick Street, with Theodore Dossenbach and the Rochester Park Band and autos filled with excited orphans.

At Manitou Beach, the orphans rode the loop-the-loop and scenic railway and felt so much joy, which we hope lingered in their memories in their days to come. They were given lunches with two sandwiches, a banana, cake, and candy, and there was orangeade and ice cream sandwiches free throughout the day. There were games and dances and contests, and at the end of the day was the grand march with 1200 children. William Bausch, such a goodly man, chaired this event; we are so thankful to him.

The amusement park at Manitou Beach existed roughly from the 1890s to the 1920s and boasted some of Lake Ontario’s grand hotels, including the Manitou Hotel and the Odenbach Hotel. Reachable by the Manitou Beach Trolley until 1924, with its trestle over Braddock Bay, the park and beach lingered long in the memories and stories of those who were fortunate to experience its special good times.

Sources:

D&C, ‘Big Picnic at Manitou Beach”, 8/18/1906

D&C, “Wonderful Time for Orphans on Outing of 1920,” 7/15/1920

Albert R. Stone photos used with permission

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A Community That Saved a School

During the 1920s and ’30s Greece experienced an increase in population, especially in the Dewey-Stone area. Among that increase were very many Catholic families; so in 1926 St. Charles Borromeo School on Dewey Avenue opened with a planned enrollment of 250 students. By 1938, with some modifications, the school had eight rooms and an enrollment of 450 students.

Barnard Fire Department

On Holy Thursday 1938, the school children were sent home early to start their Easter break. Later that after­ noon, a fire alarm was turned in at 5:33 p.m. Barnard Fire Dept. was the first on the scene, soon joined by North Greece Fire Company along with Braddock’s Heights and the City of Rochester Hose Company 24. By midnight, the flames were out. All that remained of the 12-year-old school were the walls and portions of the roof. The adja­ cent church, however, was saved.

The damage was estimated to be $22,000 and although insurance would cover most of the loss of the building, where would the money come from to pay for the books, supplies, and furniture the children would need? Soon donations began to arrive.

Among the first to pledge a donation to aid the school was Simon Stein, who offered $1,000. Soon a fund-raising or­ganizational dinner was held. The chief speaker was Rabbi Philip Bernstein of Temple B’rith Kodesh who spoke about “dissolving denominational distinctions.” William Sweigle was selected campaign chairman of the group that called them­ selves “The Greece Good Will Civic Committee” and “Give the Kiddies BackTheir School” became their slogan. A campaign headquarters was set up in the Barnard School and over 250 volunteer workers started the task of raising the needed money for the school. Within 10 days $9,138 (more the $165,000 in today’s money) was raised with the expectation of more in weeks to come. According to the Greece Press, “the campaign was the first of its kind ever conducted in the Town of Greece and caused widespread com­ment throughout Western New York.”

The school was rebuilt and opened in time for the next school year with a formal dedication on Sunday, September 11th, 1938 with Bishop James Kearney officiating and Sheriff Albert Skinner cutting the ribbon.

In the years to come, the school would grow to over 1,000 students, and St. Charles Borromeo Parish for a time would become the largest in the Rochester Diocese and eventually the oldest continuously run school building in the Town of Greece. The school closed in 2008.

We should all be proud of those citizens who helped save that school. As one newspaper reported, “they were Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Republicans, and Democrats.” They were true citizens of their community. Their story may have been forgotten over the years, yet the legacy of their generosity still stands today in our community.

Now, we are left to wonder what will happen to that empty school building in the years to come.

For a complete history of the St. Charles Borromeo Parish visit https://www.stcharlesgreece.org/history

NOTE This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared in the Greece Post on Feb 21, 2008.

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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.

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Proposed Community Center and Park

In June of 1929, our town of only 13,000 was growing rapidly and there were no provisions for playgrounds or rec­reation. Then W. Chandler Knapp, chairman of the Greece Planning Board, with the backing of leading residents, proposed purchasing 85 acres of land, known as Glendemere Farms, on Dewey Avenue. The land, to be used as a community center and park, was ideally suited for such a purpose, with a large barn that could be used as a community center and gym, and a building that would serve as a library, and enough land that could provide excellent facili­ ties for bridle paths and a playground. The owner had, over the past 19 years, actually developed his farm as a future park and, at age 69, was ready to sell. He had already donated some of his property to the local fire department the year before. The town council was not ready to commit to such a large endeavor at that time but would take the question up with the Monroe County Parks Commission, relative to their buying the property.”

Plat book of Monroe County, New York. Plate 33 (1924) shows you the location of George H Clark’s Property and where the proposed park would have been

In the civic planning process timing can be crucial and the summer of 1929 was definitely the wrong time. The County was in the process of acquiring land for Churchville, Mendon Ponds, and Ellison Parks, and by the time any­ one gave the Greece project any consideration is was the beginning of the Great Depression. The thought of pur­ chasing more land was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

The particular parcel of land that the Greece Planning Board was interested in was owned by George H. Clark, one of the most well-known and wealthiest individuals in Monroe County at the time. At the age of 24, he and his father purchased stock in the Eastman Dry Plate & Film Company, thereby becoming one of the original investors in what would become the Eastman Kodak Company.

Aerial view of St. Joseph’s Villa from GHS
Aerial view of St. Joseph’s Villa from GHS

Eight years after the Greece project died, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, negotiated the purchase of the farm from Mr. Clark for $25,000, forever ending any possibility of a town park and community center at that site. Although now in private hands, and developed for other purposes, the land would be used by neighborhood youth for quite some time. Ball diamonds had been laid out by its new owner, and they were open most of the time for pick-up games, the large field was excellent for Fall football, and an adjacent gully made for some of the best, although very dangerous, winter sledding in the area. For many years, long before environmental and safety rules, it was also the site of an annual community Christmas tree burning.

Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers

Most people in Greece have long forgotten the name George H. Clark, but his legacy lives on. In 1928 the Barnard Fire Department built their firehouse on the land he donated. That original firehouse still stands today, albeit with a few additions. In June of 1942 several children and nuns took a bus from the City and moved into their new home, named St. Joseph’s Villa. (now the Villa of Hope) That barn, the one George built years ago, still stands today, although the building that could have been the library is long gone due to the reconstruction and re-alignment of Dewey Avenue.

Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian
Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian

It took 77 years from that proposed community center and park at George Clark’s Glendemere Farms to the opening, in 2006, of our Greece Community and Senior Center on the Greece Town Campus. So what would we have called that community center and park in 1929? I’m sure no one will ever know, but in 1949 when Supervisor Gordon Howe announced the name of a new street connecting Dewey Avenue and Almay Road, a street that was on the land once owned by George Clark, the land that may have been our town community center and park, did he realize the irony in the street’s name, CLARK PARK?

This building might have become our Town’s community center.

This a condensed version of a story originally published in the Greece Post in 2006

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Twelfth Night – A Forgotten Ritual

A Typical 12th Night Bonfire

Twelfth night is the last evening of the 1 2 days of Christ­ mas and according to an old European custom it calls for one final burst of feasting and revelry to commemorate the close of the Christmas season.

Many years ago, in the Town of Greece and other com­munities, the twelfth night was celebrated with the ritual of a community Christmas tree bonfire. It was a yearly event anticipated by all.

In the Dewey-Stone neighborhood in the 1930s, Barnard School land was used. That event was eventually moved to St Joseph Villa’s lot next to the Barnard Fire House.

Grandview Heights, the Legion Post on Dorsey Rd., and Holy Cross Church in Charlotte also had their twelfth-night bonfires, as well as communities all around the Rochester area. For several days before the special night, the neighbors would bring their trees to the designated empty lot. This was an era before artificial trees, so thou­ sands of trees would make a huge pile. On January 6th, at the appointed hour, thousands of neighbors would gather. Here in Greece, Supervisor Gordon Howe, or some other official, might have said a few words, while a scout troop led the group singing. The fire was lit, and flames would ascend high into the sky. For the youngsters, this was a really big deal, as it seemed like the entire town was there to see the huge fire. It was a lot of fun and a memory kept for a lifetime.

Due to a number of obvious reasons, the ritual was halted sometime in the early 1960s. Instead of burning our trees, we now send our “real” trees to recycling centers where they are turned into mulch for our gardens or oth­ er uses. Absolutely a much more environmentally correct thing to do, but not nearly as much fun!

Three of the many articles about the 12th Night bonfires from years past:

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ford Model T truck

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

Buckman’s

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

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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:

Bicentennial Snapshot # 23 – The Larkin Hotel
Bicentennial Snapshot # 24 The Hotel of Many Names
Bicentennial Snapshot # 25 Hotel De May
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Post Mark North Greece, N.Y. – From The Historians Desk

After turning the corner at Latta Road to go south on North Greece Road, one might quickly pass a plain red brick building at the rear of a small parking lot. Across the right front of the building are the letters, United States Post Office. If you aren’t from the area you might not know you are in the hamlet of North Greece. This area was one of the earlier settlements in Greece. It has had a Post Office since 1850 (from the government records, a few say earlier).

Over the last 163-year period the mail operation has occupied at least six known locations, never more than a block away from each other. The first location was a small space in the store of Alfred Phelps at the Southwest corner of Latta and North Greece Roads.

Phelps general store latta and north Greece roads sketch William Aeberli 1970
Phelps general store latta and north Greece roads sketch William Aeberli 1970

For a short period of time in the early 1870s the location moved across North Greece Road to a store operated by William T. Filer. By 1880 it was back again, operating out of the Phelps store by Alfred’s son Henry. For the next sixty-five years, it was to share space with the ever-expanding general merchandise. Changing times in the early 1900s saw the gradual demise of the pickle and cracker barrels. Molasses was no longer dispensed into a jug. Kerosene found fewer uses as Greece gradually saw the extension of electrical service to North Greece and beyond.

Nineteen forty-five saw the end of World War II and the Post Office found it necessary to relocate again as building material were in short supply then. A small building was found on a nearby farm and moved on a flatbed truck to the rear of the original North Greece Fire Station on the Northeast corner of Latta Road at North Greece Road. Remember by older local residents was Mrs. Melinda Germeroth (Right), the postmistress from the opening of the small office in August 1945 to her retirement in December 1967.

A major remodel and addition to the fire station made room for the post office to lease a much larger space from the fire department in 1964.

As a second-class contract post office, it could offer all the amenities of a first-class post office. Mail delivery was not offered in this post office, except to the rented post office boxes on the premises. It also was not necessary for the U.S. Post Office Service to own the building.

Another twelve years and the fire station was bursting at the seams. However, no remodeling was done this time. The entire old building was demolished and a new fire station was erected. There was no small, used building for the post office this time. It was decided to move the post office into a temporary, cramped 12′ By 50′ trailer until a new permanent building was built. The trailer was put on rented property down North Greece Road, barely a block south of the fire station. The postal service put out a call for bids on a building that would have 1,056 sq. ft. of space. George and Florence Ger­meroth Jr. were the successful bidders and the Post Office would lease the building from the Ger­meroths. Florence had taken the place of her mother-in-law (Melinda) on her retirement in 1967.

The present facility is a one-person operation, except during busy seasonal and special times. Numerous postal clerks served there and at the other earlier locations. A more recent clerk with many years of service was Doris Cutter, who is fondly remembered. Doris retired in early 2004 with many years of faithful service. Another is Ann Piazza who worked with Mrs. Cutter for many years.

Though only a mile and a half west of the main Greece Post Office, it is a much slower-paced opera tion. It closes for an hour at lunchtime; the outer lobby has a bank of private mailboxes with a special Zip Code of 14515 for those only.

If you are still writing by “snail-mail” or sending cards, a North Greece cancellation mark is available by dropping your correspondence in a special slot. North Greece is the only location that has a Greece cancellation. A visit there recently found I was in a friendly, unrushed flow of patrons in what seemed to be a flashback to another time. With the postal service running up red ink more every year, will North

Greece eventually cease to have its own post office…?

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Historian’s Office. If you have any information on our photos, call Alan at 663-1706.

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“Let’s Go For An Sunday Excursion” – and never leave the county

That is just what families and couples might do in the summer of 1912. Sunday was the ideal time for an outing as the aver­ age work week was 5 and one-half days. The Rochester area was lucky to have Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay close at hand where they might travel for the cool breezes. Remember, it was before the days of inexpensive room fans or air condi­tioning. Between 1900 and 1924, Mr. J.D. Scott (a very resourceful entrepreneur) came up with a scheme he called “The Pink Ticket Trip”. He offered tickets from a small tent he would put up at the downtown four corners (Main and State). For a special 50-cent ticket (that’s $11.15 today) you boarded the Lake Avenue Trolley to Charlotte and Ontario Beach Park to see the sites there and perhaps have a ride on the circle swing or the “The Breezer” (Roller Coaster). You might have a photo taken at the outdoor tintype photographer with your “sweetie”, as it was an inexpensive and nice souvenir.

Lake & Bay Belt All Resort Ticket
Japanese Garden Ontario Beach Pk.

Then it’s off to board the J.D. Scott for a short lake trip to the dock at Sea Breeze. At the end of the dock is a small restau­rant called “The Hawaiian Gardens”. A dance floor with automatic music provided by a Wurlitzer Orchestra Piano enter­tained the early afternoon crowd, Later on, a five-piece live orchestra was on hand to keep the dancers feet tapping to lively two steps, waltzes, and the Turkey-Trot! Then over the railroad tracks of the “Hojack Line” to Sea Breeze Park with a small coaster and a carousel built and run by the Long family of Philadelphia. The cotton candy is quite good as well as the fresh roasted peanuts.

Sea Breeze Park
Sea Breeze Pier, Lake Ontario
Pt. Pleasant Gasoline Launch

Down a path which leads to Irondequoit Bay, there’s a Naphtha or Gasoline Launch, waiting to take passengers down to the end of the Bay. Stops could be made at any of the numerous hotels along the west bank, such as Pt. Pleasant, Birds and Worms, the Newport House, etc. The final stop on the Bay was Glen Haven Park with its large hotel, beautiful grounds, and an amusement park on the south end. If lunch had not been had earlier, but brought along (which was often the case), this was the place to spend some time. A large stage with vaudeville acts always attracted large crowds.


Glen Haven & Irondequoit Bay

Boarding a Sodus Bay & Rochester Trolley for a trip back to the station on East Main Street, the car went through a num­ ber of lrondequoit’s wooded glens and over several streams. Gathering umbrellas, coats, ties, large ladies hats, and lunch baskets for the last time, you rode the West Main trolley back to Main and State Street and to transfer points at Clinton or St Paul Street. The trip could be made in reverse and the length of time at each stopover was only governed by the ticket holder. The only caution being, the final boats on the bay and lake stopped running around dusk.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take a trip back in time to enjoy the one-day excursion??? Remember, all electronic devices must be left at J.D. Scotts tent fore boarding the trolley……..

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

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