Why was it called the Elmheart

Story By Alan Mueller

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

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

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

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

1977 Interview with George Wiedman

Bicentennial Snapshot # 12 – The Ridge Part 2

This week we continue the look at the central commercial district in the town most of you know as

The Ridge.

The Ridge today Satellite view via google maps

In the bicentennial snapshot # 11 the Ridge Part 1 – we started out with the life of the ridge forming from the glacial thru just the starting of Eastman Kodak company at Ridge Road and Lake Ave northwest corner. This week we look at the growth and population boom on the Ridge Road.

Topics that are featured in this video

  • Plank Road
  • J. Y. McClintock and the McClintock Cubes
  • Breif overview Annexation of parts of Ridge for the City of Rochester
  • The Greece Memorial Town Hall and ADA Ridge
  • Dewey Ave at West Ridge Road
  • Plazas on The Ridge
  • The evolution of the Ridge from a Path to a Six-Lane with Median

Plank Roads

Did you know that a portion of Ridge Road was a planked road? 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 is 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.

This is an example of a plank road
Keene Farm

For the most part, however, the Ridge was a dirt road until the beginning of the 20th century. In the foreground of this photo is the dirt roadway. A bicyclist goes along a cinder path; this was laid out circa 1884. One had to buy a license for the bicycle to use the path—that’s how it was maintained. One resident writing about the early nineteen hundreds said that bicycles were “almost as thick on that path as the cars are on the Ridge today.” Notice, Lay farm and the greenhouses in which flowers were cultivated as well as other fruits and produce were prep for the spring planting season.

J. Y. McClintock and the McClintock Cubes

In 1900, Ridge Road became a state road, and money was appropriated for its improvement. In 1909, an experimental paving technique was used; 2-inch square cubes, which were called McClintock cubes after the Monroe County Road Supervisor who promoted their use, had to be laid by hand across the 16-foot width of the road. More than 700,000 cubes were laid. The cubes were able to withstand the heavy traffic along the Ridge for only two years and then began to fail.

  • McClintock cubes
  • J. Y. McClinstock

Annexation of parts of Ridge for the City of Rochester

The city started to expand in 1850 slowly with the annexation of Driving Park, and yes there was a horse racing track, on Driving park. Then again in 1874. The Village and the port of Charlotte were annexed next in 1916. Then just after World War One in 1919, the City took the rest of lake ave as well as portions of Dewey and, and Ridge Road and Mt. Read Blvd. Because of the Annexation of the village of Charlotte the town needed a new town hall and town center that is when the Town Memorial Hall, was built as a tribute to all the lives lost as a result of World War 1, it was completed in 1921 and then expanded in over the next 80 years. More on this topic in a future snapshot.

The Greece Memorial Town Hall and ADA Ridge

On the right is a slideshow that shows the changes of the town hall over the last 80 years until the mid-1990s when the town outgrew the town hall complex at Ridge Road, and with Ridge Road Fire District being right across the street and the pending expansion of the Ridge in 2002. Here is a small expert from an article Alan Muller Greece Historical Society’s Historian wrote in the society’s newsletter talking about the reason for the change of the town hall location and why it was needed. The population at the time of the construction of the Town Hall at Ridge, Long Pond, and Mitchell Roads was only 3,350. More on this topic in a future snapshot.

The Tale of Three Bricks Or – “It only took 25 years”

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.

Alan Muller – The Tale of Three Bricks Or – “It only took 25 years”

Across from the Town Hall was Whitman’s Service station which later became Wittman Motors and included a tow service. Wittman’s was located at 2496 Ridge Road, across from the old Town Hall.

Wittman’s Carriage shop became Wittman’s Motors at 2496 West Ridge Road

Dewey Ave at West Ridge Road

Corner of Ridge Road and Dewey Avenue looking west down Ridge, 1940s.
Corner of Ridge Road and Dewey Avenue
looking west down Ridge, 1940s.
Office of The Town Historian

With the invention of the Automobiles, it would allow thousands of Greece Residents to commute to Kodak or many other places throughout the town in the picture to the left you can see how busy the intersection of Dewey Ave and West Ridge Road was in the 1940s. More On the Dewey Ave corridor in a future episode of the Bicentennial snapshot.

Plazas on The Ridge

In the years after World War 2, the town started to explode with population growth, and with that, it brought a number of new plazas and centers to buy your households, groceries, home improvements supplies, and many other goods. Here is a list of the Plazas from the Mount Read to Elmgrove Road goes as the follows:

  • Staples/Home Depot or Lowes Theater plaza at Mount Read and Ridge (not included below),
  • Stoneridge is named for the plaza at the corner of Ridge Road and Stone Road,
    • Total Square Feet: 180,000
  • Ridgecrest – Located at Ridge Road and Fetzner Road,
  • Buchman’s – Buchman’s Bakery / Dairy
  • The Mall at Greece Ridge is the merger of Greece Towne Mall and Long Ridge Mall
    • Total Square Feet: 1,675,000
  • Ridgemont Plaza is the longest strip mall in Greece and has a post office in the plaza
    • Total Square Feet: 320,844
  • Lowes Plaza now or AMES plaza before 1997 whichever one you know it as
    • Over 295,000 Square feet but not Larger then Ridgemont
  • Finally, Elmridge Center which is Elm of Elmgrove Road and Ridge of West Ridge Road

If we are missing a name of a plaza that should belong on this list that it has to be on West Ridge Road and located between Mount Read Blvd to Elmgrove Road please let us know on our Facebook page if we are missing it and we will at it to this post.

in 1968 The Town’s first indoor mall opened with only 16 stores filled and by Christmas, all 46 shops were filled. More on the 2 malls and the merger will be a future snapshot.

One of the deadliest fires in the town of Greece occurred across from Stoneridge Plaza The Holiday Inn, we will cover it in a special of it is own due to the amount of information from the fire. And with that this was not the only building that had a fire on the Ridge in the Ada Ridge snapshot we tell you about an another fie and this is at the Rowe Tavern and that St. John’s helped moved a building to so the Rowe Tavern could reopen.

The evolution of the Ridge from a Path to a Six-Lane with Median

On the New York DOT they a pdf with the Annual average Daily Traffic what do you think is the annual average daily for the range from Maplewood to elmgrove. This was from a 2003 report from the New York State Department of Transportation Traffic Volume Report for MONROE COUNTY.

RouteLengthStart DescriptionEnd DescriptionYearAADT
1040.98Manitou Rd (RT 261) W GREECEN Greece Rd0329742
1040.09N Greece Rd(NY-386) Elmgrove Rd0020930
1041.87(NY-386) Elmgrove RdLONG POND RD SB0133317
1040.92LONG POND RD SBFETZNER RD0321607
1040.09FETZNER RDACC RT 3909847261
1040.62ACC RT 390STONE RD9944342
1040.26STONE RDMT READ BLVD ROCH W LN0049547
1041.14MT READ BLVD ROCH W LN(NY RT-18) DEWEY AVE9838514
1040.64(NY RT-18) DEWEY AVERT 940M LAKE AVE0139107
1040.06RT 940M LAKE AVERIDGEWAY AVE0035421
1040.23RIDGEWAY AVEACC MAPLEWOOD DR0054558
Total Vehicle travel414346
2003 NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Traffic Volume Report for MONROE COUNTY

This was the reason the Ridge evolved from a path to a two-lane road to a four-lane to now a six-lane with raised medians from coming off the Keeler St Expressway to Palm St and then the median picks back up at Dewey Ave and continues from there until Elmgrove Road/North Greece Road.

Lay Farm

The Corner of West Ridge road and West Outer Drive where Bob Johnson Chevrolet stands today started out as the Lay Farm it the became the Pine Tree Inn, and then Ver Hulst Farm and Ver Hulst Brothers Farm Market from 1936-1993. From 1998 and currently, Bob Johnson Chevrolet, one of the largest automobile dealerships in the country occupies the site.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 11 – The Ridge Part 1

This week we turn our attention to the central commercial district in the town most of you know as

The Ridge.

The Ridge today Satellite view via google maps

We at the Greece Historical society bet that most if not, every person in the town of Greece has at least one point in their daily life been to some part of the Ridge, could be to the Mall at Greece Ridge formally Long Ridge Mall and Greece Towne Mall, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Wegmans, or the number of other shops and stores along the Ridge.

According to the Diary of Eli Granger whose dairy we share a bit from in the King’s Landing snapshot, he wrote this entry in his diary about the ridge and why he thought it would be a handsome ridge for a road

[1 June 1797] came home on a handsom Ridge suitable for a Roade — got home on Monday 29th May after Spending 14 days 3 of us — 42 days in whole — my Expence for pilott — 8 dollars for Expence at Niagary for pilote &c — 2 dolars — other Expence — $3.90

Diary of Eli Granger https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/4044

Those who may not remember earth science class or other science classes and parts of some history classes when they talked about the Ice Age and how most of the region was covered in ice and glacial valley, also called glacial trough as seen in this map. Almost 13,000 years ago a large glacial lake, Lake Iroquois, as it is called by geologists, lapped the far eastern portion of what became the Niagara escarpment.  When the waters of Lake Iroquois receded, it left a ridge of land 400 feet above sea level.  You can see on this map, the dimensions of the prehistoric lake in relation to Lake Ontario today.

Map of Lake Iroquois

Notice the line in Red that is the portion of Ridge Road from the Genesee River to Lewiston. , the /// lines going from lower left to upper right that is the outline of Lake Iroquois, the cross lines ### in the pen are the ice sheet as the ice continued to recede north as the time when on from the ice age.

Those that got to go to the town hall before its move to its new location down Long Pond Road where it is now got to see a sign on the ridge letting people know that Ridge road was molded by glaciers, well-traveled Haudenosaunee trail, then was traversed by ox-carts, stagecoaches, and covered wagons, and became one of two main town centers until the city annexed the village of Charlotte in 1916.

How much do you think it cost now to start a road like the Ridge, back then in 1813 New York State appropriated $5,000 for construction work that cost would be only $90,346.56 this was mainly to cut down trees and build basic bridges over streams this does not include the veteran’s bridge over the Genesee River, Mount Read bridge, and the bridge at Ridge and I-390/NY-390. Those bridges would be built during Part 2 of the Ridge which will be next week.

We cover more on the Rowe Tavern in our look into the neighborhoods of Greece, which will be called ADA (Ridge) note that this is the only neighborhood that uses the ridge in its title.

Falls Hotel / Rowe Tavern
Stone Tavern

Travelers often stopped for the night at one of the two-story taverns along the Ridge, such as the Stone Tavern, or the Rowe Tavern.

Stage Coach Loaded with passengers
 in the 1860s from the Office of the Town Historian

Even though Railroads and by the time these taverns were open for business most of the transportation to these establishments was by stagecoach, and as many as twelve people might be stuffed inside the coach, but that was perhaps better than having to ride outside and be subjected to all kinds of weather that mother nature could unleash during this time period.

There were a number of small general stores that a lot of the early pioneers shopped at for daily goods and items they needed for daily living. Like Anderson General Store located at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Mitchell Road and Gilbert C. Wagg’s emporium at Ridge Road and Pullman Ave, these two General stores as well as a well known general store in the North Greece Area at Latta and North Greece Road will be featured in the bicentennial snapshot number 14 all about these general stores. Also, you can check out this article from October 2017, Corinthian called “A Tale of Two General Stores From Apples to Zithers” by Alan Muller

As for the Nursury businesses, this was where Asa Rowe, the Lay Farm, the Ver Hulst Farm, and smaller farms operated from but most notably was Asa, and the Lay Farm. In 1826, Asa Rowe established the first nursery business in Monroe County when he opened the MONROE GARDEN AND NURSERY on the north side of Ridge Road near where today, Mitchell, Long Pond, and Ridge Roads intersect. He offered a large selection of “fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbous roots, and green-house plants.” The opening of the Erie Canal made transportation fast and cheap and his nursery business thrived.

The Lay Farm, which later became the Ver Hulst Farm, now sits Bob Johnson’s Chevrolet.

Anderson General Store is located at the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Mitchell Road. circa 1912
 Gilbert C. Wagg’s emporium
Gilbert C. Wagg’s emporium was located at Ridge and Pullman Ave where the Tim Horton’s is now located. and a portion of the smaller shops attached to Wagg’s still stands on Pullman ave as apartments.

How many recognize these two buildings here?

Craig Apartments
David Todd Mansion from History of Monroe County, W. H. McIntosh, 1877
Ridgemont Country Club
Upton Manor from GHS

These are two structures that can be seen on the ridge the first one on the left is the David Todd Mansion which became a small apartment complex and the one on the right is The Upton Manor which is now the site of Ridgemont Country Club. For more information check out this article from our newsletter about the Craig house called The Victorian Survivor on the Ridge by Alan Muller written for the September 2020 issue of the Corinthian.

We wonder how many of you know that George Eastman and Eastman Kodak Company started the first plant for filmmaking not in the City of Rochester but in Greece, New York. In the 1890s, George Eastman decided that 16 and a half acres of farmland in Greece, “out in the country” where there was fresh air, plenty of clean water, and railroad terminals, was ideal for his new film-making plant. He constructed it on the corner at Ridge and Lake across the street from Wagg’s Corner. The Town of Greece would never be the same. But that’s a tale for another episode.

Kodak Park, 1894, Office of the Town Historian
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Streets and Roads by Bill Sauers

 Book by May Hill & William Gray Arbuthnot January 1, 1950

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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