Bicentennial Snapshot No. 43: Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872 Part 2

Today we will conclude our tour of the old district schools in Greece.

Common School District in this snapshot:

Common School District # 7

The original No. 7 schoolhouse was torn down in 1899 and replaced with this one-room wood-frame building located on the north side of Frisbee Hill Road just east of North Greece Road. The belfry-topped schoolhouse closed its doors to students in 1944. Two years later, the property and building reverted to the Frisbee family who had made an initial agreement with the school district for it to be used solely as a schoolhouse.

District 7 Loses old-school by Court rule. Florence Haskins 150 Frisbee Hill Rd. sued Myron B. Kelly, as trustee of the school district for possession of the schoolhouse and the quarter-acre of land her great-grandfather had turned over for school purposes.

Justice Cribb upheld the decision that The $1 lease terminated in 1944 and the school building goes with the land.

The school was abolished in 1944 when they agreed to send pupils to Union Free School District #4 Parma, Hilton School districts.

This information came from the Democrat Chronicle on May 11, 1948.

The schoolhouse was built at a cost of $700 on a quarter-acre plot of land leased by Edward Frisbee, a North Greece pioneer, in September 1833, as long as it was used as a school. Mrs. Cancella was a teacher at the one-room schoolhouse. Lou Frisbee was the bus driver. The school had about 15 students and went from K – 10 or 11 grade.

Dorothy Frisbee used to serve soup, sandwiches, and cookies to the kids if they didn’t bring any lunch says Ruth a former student. The most difficult time was in the winter on the bus because she said the winters were tough and it was difficult for the bus to get through the snow. The roads weren’t plowed like today and the drifts were quite high. She didn’t remember how they heated the school but she said it got quite cold inside on occasions in the winter.

Common School District # 7
Common School District # 7
Common School District # 7
This is how it looks today. Common School District # 7. photo by Gina Dibella

Common School District # 8

Common School District # 8
Common School District # 8
Common School District # 8 on the 1872 map

Other than its location on the south side of Mill Road, also known as Podunk Road, just west of North Greece Road, little is known about this school. No doubt it was similar to the other schools. Each of the common school districts had a one-room school building with a single teacher who taught all grades. There is only one building left in this area and that is the Covert-Brodie-Pollok House at 978 North Greece Road the other house was another cobblestone house at 543 Mill Road but that one had to be demolished due to it being structurally unsafe, you can learn more about these two houses in the Cobblestone house snapshots.

Common School District # 9

District 9 had two different schools on the east side of Long Pond Road bordering Round Pond Creek between Mill Road and Maiden Lane. The earlier schoolhouse was made of fieldstone (hence the name “Stone Schoolhouse”)

Common School District # 9
Common School District # 9
District No. 9 Stone Schoolhouse

One out of the 17 district schools and the 2 joint districts in the 1800s were built using cobblestone the rest of the school districts were built with wood. The cobblestone school was in school district 9 on the 1872 map of the town of Greece and it was located at 980 Long Pond Rd.

In 1917 it was replaced by a two-room schoolhouse. The cobblestone school was sold for $ 5.00. Arthur Koerner and Willis construction firm was awarded the contract to build the new two-room wooden school at 1048 Long Pond Road. Also, The Greece United Methodist Church formed inside School Number 9 on July 25, 1841, when Reverend William Williams met with a group of people to start the church, and then another group meeting at the Greece Center schoolhouse at district school number 17 on Latta Road and the church grew to 21 members. Students were educated in that building for 30 years until it closed its doors around 1944.

Common School District No. 9 Fieldstone School in front of the two room school house
Common School District No. 9 Fieldstone School in front of the two-room schoolhouse
District No. 9 Wood Schoolhouse– A tall flagpole stood in front of the schoolhouse.

The current two-room schoolhouse was later sold at a district auction at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 11, 1949, and was purchased by Harold Tebo. Harold then hired Arthur Korner to draw up plans to convert the schoolhouse into a private home and one of the features of the old school hidden above the now lowered ceiling is a tin ceiling that was used to reflect the heat and keep it in the building.

One Day in 2003 during the summer an elderly lady had shown up at Gene Preston’s stand and said she had attended the two-room school what I don’t remember from that day was whether she was a student or a teacher at the school, she did say that the teachers entered from the rear of the building as seen in this picture here they did have 2 classrooms and at this school, they broke the class in half were grades 1 to 4 were in one class and students grades 5 thru 8 were in the other side this way they could teach more students and possible a couple of the students were that of W.N Britton who had a house on Long Pond Road 8 houses south of Common School District # 9.

Common School District No. 9 Teachers Entrance
Common School District No. 9 Teachers Entrance
In the photo with the students you will notice the well pump to the left of the doors.
In the photo with the students, you will notice the water well pump to the left of the doors.

In the photo with the students, you will notice the water well pump to the left of the doors.

You can read what the society has in terms of minutes from Common School District Number 9 it contains not that many entries but it starts on August 10, 1910, and ends on May 5, 1942. It contains some interesting facts about how much it costs to install electricity, and water in the school and how much tuition costs.

The school had a sidewalk running to the street from the front doors. This was twice as wide as sidewalks today. When the sidewalk was removed after the house was sold the old sidewalk was put along the banks of the creek.

Barb Worboys (Left) Harold Tebo (Right) Photo was in the Mid to Late 1970s

Ever since my mom, Barb Worboys’s Grandfather Harold Tebo bought the house from the District in 1949 did not modify the exterior except for removing the front entrance and adding a large slab concrete pad in front of the front door and a second chimney at the end of the south end classroom.

Left is the large blue barn Preston, Foreground Common School District # 9

The only modifications were done on the interior of the structure only where Arthur Korner and Harold Tebo agreed on changes regarding where the stairs are to be moved to, how to use the coal chimney that was in the center of the house with a second chimney at the end of the south classroom, a garage door, and basement access below and in the rear on the north side above ground was where the teachers had once entered the school from to open the school up for the students to enter for school, and above the lowered ceiling in some parts is still a tin ceiling which helps in a few small areas to help with heating the house.

Doug Worboys

Common School District #10 / Abelard Reynolds School No. 42

In 1856, Greece School District No. 10 was divided and the old schoolhouse at Stone Road and Dewey Avenue became District No. 15.  A one-room brick schoolhouse for District No. 10 was built on Lake Avenue opposite Stonewood Avenue.  This building served the district for about 40 years.

Around 1896, a two-room frame schoolhouse was built.  After about 20 years of service, that building was sold at auction, taken down, and reconstructed as a private dwelling on Lake Avenue south of Boxart Street.

In 1916, a modern brick building replaced this frame building.  This new building had four classrooms, a gymnasium, and rooms in the basement for manual training and domestic science. This was similar to Greece School District Number 5 which had 4 classrooms, a gymnasium, an assembly hall combination, a teachers’ room, a store room, and inside lavatories all on a nine-acre plot. But Common School District Number 12 was a two-room Brick Building that only had 2 classrooms and had inside lavatories.

On January 1, 1919, Greece School District No. 10 came under the control of the City of Rochester, when a portion of the district was annexed to the city. In the fall of 1924, the gymnasium was remodeled for use as a kindergarten.  (There had previously been no kindergarten.)  The other basement rooms had also been set up as classrooms.  Within seven years of being built, School 42 was outgrowing this building.   In the summer of 1925, a six-room portable addition was built.  In January 1926, the eighth grade was transferred to Charlotte High School. By September of 1926, the seventh grades were moved elsewhere and School 42 became a regulation elementary school.

Contracts for the construction of the current building were awarded in July 1927.   A portion of the present building was ready for occupancy in the spring of 1928 and the rest was completed by September of that year.   This new building contained 20 classrooms, a kindergarten, an auditorium-gymnasium, a teachers’ lunch room, a kitchen, school nurse’s quarters, and the usual offices.

On October 9, 1952 plans were approved for a three-story addition to School 42 to be built on the back of the U-shaped building.  This addition would include seven new classrooms and a combination lunchroom-community center.

On May 29th, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill into federal law that specifically allowed Abelard Reynolds School No. 42 to acquire a set of chapel bells from London, England – duty-free.  The bells arrived shortly afterward aboard the Queen Mary.

There have been additional improvements made to the building through the years.  School 42, standing two miles south of Lake Ontario, now proudly serves a diverse population of approximately five-hundred students from the City of Rochester.

Three schools have occupied this site on the east side of Lake Avenue directly opposite Stonewood Avenue. The first was a one-room brick structure.

Who was Abelard Reynolds:

  • Was born on October 2, 1785, at a place called Quaker Hill, near Red Hook, NY.
  • In 1812, purchased lots (23 and 24) on the north side of what became East Main Street and built the first frame house west of the Genesee River.
  • Moved his family to Rochester in 1813.
  • Was the first saddle-maker, the first magistrate, and the first innkeeper on the “one-hundred-acre tract.”
  • Became the first Postmaster of the incorporated city of Rochester in 1812, appointed by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester.
  • Moved his house in 1828 to build the Reynolds Arcade on Main Street: a multi-storied brick building 56 feet deep with 86 rooms and 14 cellars. 
  • Was one of the founders of Rochester’s first public library.
  • Was a member of the Masonic order and a Prelate of the Knights Templar.
  • Was a member of the first Board of Education.
  • Died on December 19, 1878, in Rochester, NY.
Common School District # 10
Common School District # 10
Common School District No. 10
1916 Common School District No. 10
1927 – Abelard Reynolds School No. 42. From Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division
Abelard Reynolds

Common School District # 11

Common School District # 11
Common School District # 11
District No. 11 Frederick Lay School photo from GHS

This school was located on the north side of Ridge Road just west of Mt. Read Boulevard [formerly known as Eddy Road]. In addition to the original one-room building created this two-room brick and shingle structure. All Greece schoolhouses were equipped with an outdoor lavatory, also known as an outhouse or privy. Some schools were fortunate enough to have luxuries such as an organ or a furnace. This school was one of the first to have a furnace, although it still had outdoor privies.

District No. 11 Frederick Lay School
Class photo of District #11, located on Ridge Road (where Home Depot is currently located), 1906. William Britton is far left, back row.

Each of the common school districts had a single teacher who taught all grades. High schools did not develop until the very end of the 19th century.

Common School District # 12 – Greece Ogden School

Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
Common School District # 12
District No. 12 South Greece School or Henpeck School today, photo courtesy of Gina DiBella

The Granite brick in the center at the top of the schoolhouse in south Greece reads:

School District #12
Greece Ogden school.
Erected 1864.

Students living in the South Greece area known as Henpeck attended school in this brick one-room schoolhouse on the east side of Elmgrove Road just south of the Barge Canal. This one-room schoolhouse closed in 1930 when a new schoolhouse was built further south on Elmgrove Rd due to the one-room schoolhouse reaching capacity for students to attend school the new District #12 school was built on Elmgrove Rd at Elmore Dr, The Elmgrove School District joined Spencerport Central District when it was formed in 1949.

The old two-classroom school at 463 Elmgrove Rd. was sold at auction on March 1, 1959, and bought by Harold Tebo. Harold’s intent was to make this a bowling alley. He had bought alleys and other fixtures from a bowling alley in Rochester that had closed. He stored the items at the old school #9. Later he sold stock to people to make the lanes a public company. The idea didn’t work out. The building was later sold again and is a small private apartment in 2007.

In 1959, the red brick building was auctioned off and today is a private residence.

Each schoolhouse was equipped with a pot-bellied stove for warmth during the cold winter months. Every day the teacher assigned one boy to gather enough wood for the day from the woodpile behind the schoolhouse. Another student was responsible for getting fresh water from the well of a neighboring home. The water bucket and ladle were placed in the front of the classroom for all the students to use.

Students from District No. 12 South Greece School, date unknown from the Office of the Town historian

Common School District # 13 – West Greece Hoosick

Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13
inside of Common School District # 13
inside of Common School District # 13

This school was located on a hill at the southwest corner of Ridge and Manitou Roads. To the south of this two-room frame schoolhouse, was the Hoosick Cemetery. Manitou Road has since been straightened. The schoolhouse was moved to Dean Road in the town of Parma and used as a private residence.

Common School District # 13
Common School District # 13 is now a private residence photo taken in 2001 by Doug Worboys

Common School District # 14

The plot of ground on which this school building stands today was donated to the district, to be used for the purpose of a school building, by Terry Burns (Great-Great-grandfather of Art Newcomb) on June 8, 1852. This was a quarter-acre plot. Some of the early teachers of this school were, Lotta Janes, Jennie Martin, Mary McShea, Mary Burns, Miss Grinnen, Bridget Beaty, Ellen McCarthy, Miss Johnson, Lillian burke, and Mary Ann Mellon. June 1945 the teacher Florence (kirk) archer Bygrave, rang the school bell to summon pupils to the last lessons ever to be said there. That afternoon the schoolyard flag came down for the last time, thus ending nearly one hundred years of dispensing education to the children of this community. The following year the school joined with No. 5 school at Latta Rd. and Mt. Read Blvd., and after being vacant until the spring of 1947, it was sold at public auction, and was converted into a private dwelling.

School Days at Dist.14 School

From the Memoirs of Art Newcomb

Some of my schoolmates at the one-room school were Fred and Jimmy Beaty, .At that time the schoolroom contained several rows of large double desks. Two pupils sat together in the double seat. I usually sat with my brother Floyd and sometimes with Austin Beaty. At one time Floyd, Austin and myself, all shared the same seat… Some of the games we played were “Fox and Geese” in the snow, “Duck on a Rock”, “Tickly Bender” on the thin ice in the creek, tag, beanball and baseball.. Everett Kirk was the school cut-up, and one time brought eight sticks of dynamite to the school in a market basket. He had found the dynamite at the site of some blasting project in the neighborhood. He hid two of the sticks under the bridge nearby, and brought the rest into the school and concealed them in his desk. Later he terrorized the teacher and most of the pupils by juggling a few of the dynamite sticks from hand to hand , frequently dropping one on the floor in the process. Fortunately , however, none exploded and he was finally induced to remover the dynamite from the premise. The school contained an organ which was pumped by foot. Several times a week, Emma Kirk played the organ and we all sang. One afternoon an incident of great disturbance occurred, the occasion of which, was prompted by the boy pupils in pursuit of a mouse which had taken refuge inside the organ. In the ensuing scuffle the organ was overturned and in the frenzied effort to capture the mouse the organ was completely demolished … On very cold winter days all the pupils would move in closer to the part of the room nearest the stove to keep warm. All eight grades were taught by the one teacher, and each class moved to the front seats, at the front row of desks, when it was time for their lessons to be recited. Hats and coats were hung on hooks and nails on the walls about the room. Each morning, two of the boy pupils were sent down the road to fetch a pail of drinking water from one of the neighbor’s wells. The pail was set on a bench in the schoolroom, and a tin cup was provided from which to drink.

Memoirs of Art Newcomb
Common School District # 14
Common School District # 14
District No. 14 Beatty Road School
Common School District No. 14 Beatty Road School now, photo courtesy of Gina DiBella

Today the former Beatty School is a private residence.

Common School District # 15 – Barnard School

The second school was erected on the north side of Stone Rd on 1/2 acre donated by Mr. Bartholf, inside it had a big wood stove, wood box, water pail, and dipper. This was used until 1916 and sold. The buyer was Edward Parsons who moved it and converted it into a garage at the rear of 622 Stone Rd. In 1916 a third structure, a two-room schoolhouse, was located at the apex between Maiden Lane and Stone, facing Stone Road, this was completed and considered a model rural school building for its time. By 1924, however, it was overflowing and another building became necessary. A school (shed rented) at the rear of Dewey Avenue Union Church on the southeast corner of Dewey Avenue and Haviland Park (now Bethany Presbyterian) temporarily accommodated grades seven and eight. The school had folding chairs, rough lumber tables, and inadequate heating. Grades 1 thru 6 were taught by Mrs. Mildred Bates, Miss Mary Collins, and Mrs. Martha Abigail taught 7th and 8th grade.

On September 5, 1924, the cornerstone for the new school was laid. John A. Garrison, a former pupil of the second school in 1860 laid the cornerstone. The formal opening of the new brick school was held in May 1925. The school had two classrooms, a library, and a science room. The 1925 PTA held a membership drive. The first project was to secure playground equipment. Proceeds provided two slides for the playground.

Barnard School
Barnard School
Common School District # 15
Common School District # 15
Common School District # 15 – Barnard School
PositionName
PresidentMrs. Walter Brewer
Vice-PresidentMrs. Howard Badgerow
SecretaryMrs. Hiram Mume
TreasurerMrs. Fred Bartels
First Staff at Barnard School

Kindergarten and first grade still met in the old wooden school house for many years. It was relocated to the northwest corner of the 1924 structure. The north section of the present building was finished in 1928. On April 30, 1930, the district was reorganized as Union Free School District 15. In August 1938 voters in the Barnard District were split on building on a 10-acre plot at Dewey Ave. and Britton Rd. The PWA would furnish $135,000 and the remaining $165,000 would be raised by a bond issue. Arguments by objectors felt first a need for a new school had not been demonstrated. Objectors wanted guarantees that would show a second high school in the northern section of the district could be filled. The plan was for a 10-room structure capable of handling 170 pupils below 7th grade plus making the possible establishment of a 9th grade at the present school, thereby avoiding the need to send the 9th-grade students into Rochester City Schools. Northern residents sought approval while residents in the southern portion of the district disapproved of the issue since it was not needed and would increase taxes. Gross registration in 1938 was 612 total, and attendance was 527, including 411 in the main building and 116 in the second structure. The efficient operation was 448 for the main structure and 128 for the other. Britton Rd Junior High school became the second school of Union Free District #15. On October 29, 1947, a resolution was passed to build at the corner of Dewey Ave. and Britton Rd. The cost was $475,000. The school held grades K-6, and each grade had two classrooms for a total of fourteen. In 1949, Harold Kimber became Principal. On August 25, 1953, the voters approved an addition. The school remained K – 6 until 1965. A two-story addition was added to the building on the north end. This consisted of two Industrial arts and Home economics rooms, art, gymnasium, and eight classrooms. After the addition, they took in 7th and 8th grades. This school remained K-8 until 1960 when English Village Elementary School opened. Eventually in 1981 Britton Rd. school closed while enrollment was in a decline. The school was torn down after Wegmans Food Market bought the Property and the new Wegmans Store opened in December 1983.

Today it houses a private Jewish School, Derech Hatorah (derek ha tor a) of Rochester.

Derech Hatorah (derek ha tor a) of Rochester photo by Bill Sauers

Common School District # 16

Common School District # 16
Common School District # 16

District #16 in 1872 was located at Greenleaf Rd. near Ling Rd. as shown on the map of 1872. There is a discrepancy between this district and District #2 in 1822. Then there is a conflict following the 1872 map and the 1887 and 1902 maps show a school located across from the Upton-Paine house where the entrance to Elmridge Plaza calling this district 16 but because when they submit the Trustee’s reports the was nothing on the report indicating the address of the school or its location for record-keeping on that paperwork only the committee members knew which one went to which actual school location or it was kept in another register that was lost and never digitized by the State of New York Education Department or State University of New York kept it on file has yet to digitize these records for research and for the historian and local historical societies to store them for preserve for as long as the schools were in use for but we will never know.

District No. 16, David Todd School

There are some questions about where District 16 was located. On 1852, 1887, and 1902 maps of Greece, there was a school indicated on the north side of Ridge Road across from and east of the Upton-Paine House (now Ridgemont Country Club)’ It was thought to be District School No. 16 by some. However, the 1872 map shows a school on what was first the Blanchard property and later property owned by Patrick Fleming. The 1872 map clearly says that this was District 16. It is because of record keeping that we do not have a clear answer to the location of which location is the correct Common School District 16 location. From what we can tell based on later maps the town was growing in population and that forced the town to rearrange the Common School Districts 3, 8, 9, 12, and 13, which may have led to the restructuring of the common school districts to create this school, and the students that went to the Patrick Fleming farm may have been forced to either to go to school # 5 at paddy hill or District 4 in Charlotte but we will never know.

The bell that called students to class at the one-room schoolhouse known as the David Todd school is now on display at the Greece Historical Society and Museum. Although all ages of children were in the same classroom, students were taught separately according to their grade levels. Those being instructed at a particular time would move to the front desks, while the remainder of the students worked on their lessons at desks at the back of the room.

1910 School Room exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo from Bill Sauers

Common School District # 17 – Greece Center Latta/Long Pond

Common School District # 17

In 1824 the minutes of the Greece Common School board meeting list the forming of district 17. On April 25, 1828, District 17 was divided with Parma, Parma retained the old school building and property judged at $12 (USD in 1823 dollars) (340.24 in today’s cost) of that $6 (USD in 1823 dollars) (170.12 in today’s cost) was to be paid to the Town of Greece for its inhabitants. The commissioners then adopted new school lines for District #17. Sometime around 1919 district #17 changed to District #2.

Late 1933 – The school had eight rows with one to five students in each row of first to eighth grade. The school had a pot belly stove that the older boys had the job to keep burning. The water was retrieved from an outside well with a hand pump. Lighting was by electricity this year because power ran north to the highway garage. At some point, said the Late Pat Preston spouse of Gene Preston, the school had just the 1st to 4th grade and then the students would go to School 38 on Latta Rd (2007 is now a condominium complex), and then high school they would attend was Charlotte High School on Lake Ave. Mrs. Heard was a teacher during that time and classes started around 9 a.m. The bathroom was double separated. A large cardboard circle colored green and red hung on the doors. Red meant the room was in use and green meant the room was available. Lunch was at your desk or outside, weather permitting. As far as punishments well those couldn’t be recalled whether any were handed out. The teacher was without question in control. There was a period for recess and the favorite game was hide & seek.

Greece Grog Shop in former No, 17 school, from Bill Sauers

When no longer a school, for a number of years, it was a liquor store.

District No. 17 Greece Centre School, photo courtesy of Gina DiBella

According to our Societies president the project by John Geisler was abandoned a short time later but John Geisler had good intentions to save the property from demolition and fix it up and make it useful. But it currently sits vacant with no tenants.

Former District No. 17 Greece Centre School, 2022, photo Bill Sauers

It is currently vacant.

Joint District of Parma and Greece

In addition to its other District schools, there were two joint districts shared with Parma.

Greece Parma Joint District # 13

Greece Parma Joint District # 13
Greece Parma Joint District # 13

This school was located on Manitou Rd at the corner of Payne Beach and Manitou Beach Roads. It is shown on the 1872 Map and believed to be used up until 1944. At this point, students then went to the Hilton Schools.

No pictures or other info is available on this school.

Greece Parma Joint School District No. 14

Joint School District No. 14 from the Office of the Town Historian
Greece Parma Joint School District # 14
Greece Parma Joint School District # 14

The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane’s Corners School, was located at the southwest corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.

Class photo of District #14 students and teachers, 1903. The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane's Corners School, was located at the south west corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.
Class photo of District #14 students and teachers, 1903. The #14 District School of Parma and Greece, also known as the Lane’s Corners School, was located at the southwest corner of Wilder and Manitou Roads.

New Greece Central School District and Consolidations Forming in 1928

Greece Central School District # 1 – Willis N Britton / Hoover Drive / Odyssey / Now Discovery Charter School / Young Women’s College Prep Charter School of Rochester

Greece Common School Districts Nos. 3, 11, and 16 were consolidated to form Greece Central School District No. 1 in 1928 located at 133 Hoover Drive. It was the first centralized school district in Monroe County and the 13th Central School District in New York State. Nearly three decades later, voters approved the annexation of Greece Central School District No. 1 with Consolidated School District No. 5 and Union Free District No. 15, both consolidations of former Greece common school districts, in May 1955. On July 9th, 1928, voters approved the acceptance of the donation of five acres of land in the Koda-Vista tract, from Willis N. Britton. The school district did look at a few other properties before approving the Willis N. Britton site, the property at Ridge Road and Latona Road where Mrs. Clark had property near Falls Cemetry and near the Colby-Shearman House. There is a clause on the land that the Willis N. Britton family that land was to be used as a school and if at any time the land was not going to be used as a school it would revert back to descendants of the Willis N. Britton family who owned the land before. The first formal organization of the first school board in 1929 was John Easton, Norman Weeks, Adelbert Lanctot, Arthur Kerkel, and Arthur Koerner. Norley Pearson was District Clerk. John Tallinger acted as Treasurer and Mr. Lanctot, President. Willis N. Britton officially opened in 1929 at a cost of $200,000 but they decide to tack on the building the third floor at that time so instead of building 2 stories at $200,000 they raised an additional $25,000 for a total of $225,000, and the original gross square foot of Willis N. Britton School was 40,326 square feet and 18 classrooms. In 1948 Willis N. Britton School gained its first expansion to the building and expanded the gross square footage by 29,134 square feet to now a total of 69,460 square feet and 14 additional classrooms making the school able to have 32 classrooms in the school. In 1952 another addition was added to the school expanding the school to another 10 classrooms and 18,273 square feet to the building making it now 24 classrooms and 87,733 square feet. In 1957 is when the gym was added to the building and 3,670 square feet were added to the building bringing it to 91,403 square feet. Then in 1961/1962 the wing that housed the home ec and the technology shop was added that adding an additional 26,845 to the school for a total of 118,248 square feet to the school and in 2004 an additional expansion occurred to create a music wing that added additional square feet to the building, according to the Monroe county real property portal it reports that the square footage for the property at 105,271 square feet when Greece Central School District finally closed it’s doors for good at the end of 2011 – 2012 school year at 133 Hoover drive and moved Odyssey Academy to Maiden Lanes at the Old Cardinal Mooney / Greece Apollo Middle School Campus at the start of the 2012-2013 school year due to the drop in student enrollment, one of the other reasons for moving Odyssey to the Maiden Lanes location was the lack of space for the outdoor sports programs and the gym was getting old where it was deemed a little bit small by Section V standards if the school district had expanded towards Corona Rd it might have been able to stay as a District school but we will never know what the school could have been if it was able to stay and grow. One of my classmates Erin Gallenger painted a mural of a Snow Leopard at the North Entrance to the main Parking lot and redesigned the school’s logo as her Graduation Gift to the school before the Class of 2002 exited the campus as graduates and the following year is when the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme started.

Willis N Britton / Greece Central #1
Willis N Britton / Greece Central #1

Willis N. Britton was one of the Town’s Largest Peach Growers in the Town and was appointed to the role of town supervisor in 1903.

You can learn more about Hoover Drive’s Odyssey

Odyssey’s Motto
1950s School Room exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo from Bill Sauers

What is unique about the pull-down map at the Greece Historical Society and Museum?

On our Facebook post for this snapshot take a guess what is unique about it there is something missing on it compared to modern pull-down maps of the United States look at pull-down maps or just maps of the United States. There is a clue in the description of the picture.

The District’s name was officially changed to Greece Central School District in April 1973.

Current Greece Central Logo

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we start our look at Prohibition.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 37: Unsolved Arson Case – The Holiday Inn Fire of 1978

Today we look back at the horrific fire at the Holiday Inn in Greece in which ten people lost their lives while staying at the Holiday Inn. Every year goes by when the generation of people who were are the scene of the horrific fire and the temperature was a balmy chilly 20°F (-6.7°C) temperature and winds out of the north around 10mph. Remember when we told you about the town of Greece didn’t join the 9-1-1 call center and operations until around 1986, before that time you would have to call the station directly or if the business had an alarm system properly wired up to the fire company’s alarm system to alert the firefighters that there was a fire at certain places of business, this also played a roll in the case of this tragic hotel fire that took the lives of ten people.

Even though the Ridge Road Fire District and North Greece Fire Department are celebrating their centennials this year there is one fire that has effect everyone at both. Every fire district in the town has battled large and small fires, auto accidents, attend training, practiced at the fire training grounds, routine fire inspections, community programs, and outreach, but never prepared them for what would become Ridge Road’s most unique fire they had to deal with in the companies first 100 years of service.

Chase-Pitkin fire, August 30, 1980, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Ridge Road Fire Department has battled many fires,

large…

…and small.

Greece Baptist Church courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Holiday Inn Fire, 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

But never anything like the Holiday Inn Fire on November 26, 1978.

On Sunday, November 26, 1978, there were about 200 people staying at the Holiday Inn in Greece. According to the report Fire command, Volume 46. National Fire Protection Association, 1979 in that publishing it states there were 91 guest rooms at the hotel, but the exact number of guest rooms on November 28, 1978, is unknown due to the owner of the hotel began changing some of the guest rooms were converted into conference rooms. Among the guests were visitors from an Ontario, Canada bus tour here to take advantage of Thanksgiving weekend shopping specials, members of two wedding parties, a John Marshall alumna in town for her reunion, and attendees at the hotel’s Saturday night singles party.

Holiday Inn postcard courtesy of Bill Sauers
Holiday Inn sign courtesy of Bill Sauers

Around 2:30 am that frosty Sunday morning, a fire started among the paper products and towels stored in a closet area tucked under a first-floor stairway and that metal door for the closet area was not fire-rated or UL-labeled. The blaze spread quickly up the stairs where the fire doors had been propped open, raced down corridors, ignited the ceilings, and invaded the roof. And with strong winds from out of the north-north-west, and the temperature was hovering around 24.2°F (-4.333 °C) but with a wind chill, it would make it feel like 16.1°F (-8.333°C).

Two off-duty firefighters, one from the Greece Road fire department, the other an Albion FD fire chief, each driving on Ridge Road on the way home from a different workplace, spotted the orange glow of the flames approximately eight minutes after the fire started. The Greece firefighter radioed in the fire from his car and they both entered the building to start evacuating guests. Other people were calling from nearby payphones to report the fire. 911 wasn’t instituted until 1986 in Rochester (even later in Greece) and of course cell phones hadn’t been invented yet.

Greece 1970 Interactive Historic Data Map Monroe County https://maps.monroecounty.gov/Html5Viewer2/index.html?viewer=Historic#
Fighting the inferno, 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Greece Ridge put in the call for mutual aid to help with the scene unfolding at the Holiday Inn on Ridge Road next to Corona Road. The companies that came to assist Greece Ridge were Barnard, North Greece, and the City of Rochester, who fought the blaze for two hours with more than 125 firefighters. Ten ambulances were needed at the scene. Gene Preston who was a member of Kodak Fire at the time, remembers that Kodak Fire did offer to lend assistance by connecting Greece Ridge trucks to Kodak’s water source on the ground of the Latona Road Complex, but Greece Ridge turned down Kodak Fire Department’s offer to hook up to their water source.

Rescue crews piloted 170 guests, most of them still in their night clothes and many barefoot, outside into the 16-degree cold.

As you can see on this map where (Greece Ridge) Ridge Ridge had command of the scene and the Greece Ridge chief became the incident commander, he issued the call to request mutual aid as Barnard, North Greece, and City of Rochester companies arrived at the scene, Greece Ridge fire chief began assigning the assisting companies where to deploy their firefighting equipment at the scene. The blue lines on this map are hoses that ran to the water from the fire hydrants to the trucks and from truck to truck. The green lines on this map of the scene represent the hoses that were in the firefighter’s hands. A large contingent of the firefighting efforts was coming from pumper 253 on the west side of where the origin of the fire started. The red arrows represent the direction of where the fire was traveling outward from the origin to the shaded reddish, orangish zone was where the fire able to be stopped from consuming the rest of the structure.

What is a Squrt™️ fire truck? The Squrt™️ fire truck is a brand of fire truck Trademarked by SNORKEL FIRE EQUIPMENT COMPANY CORPORATION on November 4, 1969, as you can see in the Trademark filing on the USPTO website https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4810:yri038.2.3 and licensed to different manufacturers that built these kinds of fire trucks like the one in service in North Greece was built by Young Fire Equipment Corporation in Buffalo, New York.

map of units on scene
Map of Units on Scene at Holiday Inn Fire courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

Here is a list of the abbreviations of each of the different trucks at the scene means after each of the different fire fighting apparatuses is the number of that engine.

  • E – Engine
    • E-10
    • E-11
  • L – Ladder
    • L-221
    • L-251
  • M – Medic
    • M-220
  • R – Rescue Engine
    • R-222
  • P – Pumper
    • P-251
    • P-252
    • P-253
    • P-254
    • P-255
    • P-273
    • P-274
    • P-453
  • T – Truck
    • T-3
    • T-8
  • Squrt™️
    • Squrt 1
After the fire, in 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

By 4:30 the fire was out, but the building was a total loss. A few guests leaped from second and third-story windows to save themselves. Thirty-five people were injured. Tragically, ten people perished in the fire from smoke inhalation.

We Remember the guest that perished that early morning on November 26th, 1978

List of Canadian citizens who died in the Holiday Inn Fire

They were: Rubina “Ruth” Cushinan, age 81, and her daughter Ruby Cushinan, age 61, from York, Ontario, Canada; four people from Etobicoke, Ontario, Maguerrette Duncan, age 57, 67-year-old Edward Farley and his 62-year-old wife, Lorene, and Pamela Sagriff, age 30, and from Bramalea, Ontario, Huguette Sundude, age 30.

Names of the remaining three people who died

Joyce Plumb age 42 from Arlington Virginia who had attended her 25th high school reunion from John Marshall High School the day before; Stephen Gregory Ford, age 29, from Ypsilanti, Michigan who was in Rochester for his best friend’s wedding, and from Pompano Beach, Florida, Nancy Garrett, age 26.

white rose
Photo by Aidan Nguyen on Pexels.com

Results of the Fire Investigation

The hotel had a host of structural faults that contributed to the easy spread of the conflagration: The “primary factors that led to the fatalities in this incident were the combination of the highly combustible interior finish, [and] unprotected openings that existed in the stairway,” there was only one vertical firewall between the two wings and the firewalls in the buildings did not extend to the roof, allowing the fire to rip through the top floor of each wing.

Aerial view of the hotel courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Sprinkler head from fessa.com.au

The hotel was equipped with a fire alarm system that included manual-pull stations and combination rate-of-rise, fixed-temperature thermal detectors as initiating devices yet it failed to do what it was intended to do to prevent the loss of life. It lacked a sprinkler system and Emergency Lighting. The alarm system wasn’t connected to the Greece-Ridge Fire Department or any other security agency.

The alarm system consisted only of one bell in the middle of each of the two wings’ five floors. The alarm didn’t have a distinctive sound nor was it loud enough. Guests didn’t recognize it as a fire alarm; they thought it was a phone in the room or an alarm clock. Furthermore, when hotel employees realized the alarms were ringing, they rushed to get people out, but no one remembered to call the fire department.

Burned-out corridor, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD
Greece Police Headquarters Precinct 1, 1983 Office of the  Town Historian
Greece Police Headquarters Precinct 1, 1983 Office of the Town Historian

As news of the fire spread, the police department was flooded with calls. One volunteer Doug Worboys, recalls that after the fire he arrived home at 10:30 am, grabbed a little sleep, and returned to work the noon to 11 pm shift at the police dispatch office desk with fellow dispatchers Ron Timmons and Jim Leary. “We had callers from throughout the US and Canada; the farthest away, I think, was Puerto Rico. We referred most of the Holiday Inn inquiry calls to the front desk officer who was assigned to take all those types of calls. The next day they had a special line set up for further calls. You hear things like that happening in other places, but you never expect one like that in your own town. That day was a very busy day with all those calls along with calls for normal situations that occur day to day. That day was a very somber day for us dispatchers and all people involved in this fire.”

Although at first it was said that the fire was accidental, Police Chief Gerald Phelan, when speaking to reporters at the time, said that “his gut told him the fire was nonetheless suspicious due to its speed and intensity.”

Police Chief Gerald Phelan with Greece Town Supervisor Don Riley from the Office of the Town Historian

John Stickever joins the case

John Stickever, photo from his obituary New York Daily News, February 22, 2017
Butanone. (2022, November 8). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butanone

16×9 – Lost in the Flames: Legacy of historic Holiday Inn fire

Part 1 – A deadly blaze engulfs a Holiday Inn in upstate New York more than 30 years ago, claiming the lives of 7 Canadians. Investigators called it an arson but never caught the criminal responsible. Part 2 – Thirty years after the fire, a deadly arson remains unsolved.

16×9 Program on Global News From Canada

John Stickever joined the FDNY in 1959 and was assigned to Engine Co. 231 in Brooklyn. He became a fire marshal six years later. Durning Stickevers first 37 years as a fire marshall where he investigated numerous fire scenes where some were arson, and some were just accidents. In 1978, John Stickever, a New York City Fire Firefighter was just promoted to the rank of Supervising Fire Marshall in July 1978 and was an Investigator who specialized in arson and “essentially wrote the book on fire investigation training,” which is linked below. Mid-week following the fire on November 26, 1978, is when then Greece Police Chief Gerald Phelan contacted Commission Augustus Anthony Beekman of the New York City Fire Department to see if the City could send someone to help the Greece Police and Greece Ridge Fire Department to examine the Holiday Inn fire scene. It was Commissioner Augustus Anthony Beekman who called Stickever at home and the commissioner said he was the one who was selected to head to upstate New York to help with a case in Greece, NY.

When Stickever arrived he started to have firefighters clear the floor and in front of doors and other areas in the hotel, he began to notice things that the Greece Police and Greece Ridge did not see at the time of the fire which stood out to him. Stickever concluded that an accelerant of some kind had been used in starting the fire and declared it arson and the ten deaths were now ten murders. Stickever with his knowledge found burn patterns, and damage to the kickplate on the fire doors, and when the results came back from the labs, they found traces of Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK) otherwise known as Butanone was used as an accelerant which made the fire grow quickly in the stairwell, and with the winds at 2 A.M. were at about 10 miles an hour out of the North which help spread the fire quickly through the hotel, with that information both Stickever and then Assistant Monroe County District Attorney Crane, during in 1978 knew it had to be someone with the knowledge of MEK. In 1978 Stickever and then ADA Crane believe that someone would have to have knowledge of MEK and firefighting skills to know that MEK according to ilo.org a website that has information on all different types of hazmat chemicals notes under PHYSICAL & CHEMICAL INFORMATION that the Physical State and Appearance is a colorless liquid with a characteristic odor from ILO and WHO 2021. The other types of accelerants would have been easily found but because MEK was used as the accelerant it made it more difficult for the firefighters to fight the fire. If the chief of Greece Ridge had requested the airport chemical fire truck from the airport which was a carbon dioxide, dry agents, or alcohol-resistant foam-based fire suppression agent in its tank would have halved the time for the first responders that day, but no one knew what accelerant was used to start it.

According to an interview Stickerver did with Crime Beat TV’s 16×9 – Lost in the Flames: Legacy of historic Holiday Inn fire and aired April 30, 2012, on Global News a division of Shaw Media Inc., in Canada, he remembers the interview one Greece Ridge firefighter said on the news and the body language of that firefighter on video, it set off some signs that were a sign that Stickever could tell that he was the critical suspect because during that interview that firefighter said he was driving towards the My Apartment Bar when he called the fire in. Stickevers pushed for the state to give marshals “police officer” status so they can enforce just like the police officers but with the ability to issue tickets, fines, fees, and official notices on properties that violate fire codes, fire safety, or other aspects of a building that would make the fire marshals not want to give okay to open the building or had to close the place down until it was brought up to code to ensure that it was safe for the public to enter said structure with that state approved this the bill that created and gave the power to create a program on fire investigation and arson in every municipality in New York State you can read the bill along with the supporters and documentation by reading the New York State bill jackets – L-1979-CH-0225 by clicking the link here to see the full text of that bill https://nysl.ptfs.com/aw-server/rest/product/purl/NYSL/i/f6d59c1f-e1a7-405a-9359-6f4fe1deacd8

Here is a link to the article that was written by John Stickever in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Law Enforcement Bulletin in 1986 that describes the way he does arson investigations https://books.google.com/books?id=d_dcT71FVsUC&lpg=PA1&ots=auNtB2w7hF&dq=john%20stickever%20new%20york%20city%20fire%20department&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=john%20stickever%20new%20york%20city%20fire%20department&f=false

Phalen’s Arson Taskforce

Phelan formed a special arson task force, operating a command center out of the Pop-Lar Motel down the road from the fire site. The team of 23 local and state investigators conducted more than 400 interviews in the days after the fire. They settled on five “persons of interest,” but didn’t have enough evidence to bring charges against anyone. The two main suspects were the Greece Ridge firefighter who had radioed in the fire and a man who “had lived in two apartments that had caught fire, then, using insurance coverage, moved temporarily to the Holiday Inn. However, he had a confrontation with a staff member shortly before the fire, and was booted out of the hotel.” Monroe County Assistant District Attorney Crane along with his boss Monroe County District Attorney Lawrence T. Kurlander was given a list of 5 persons of interest and 2 main suspects that the Police gave to them as the possible suspects but without enough evidence from the fire scene and testimonial from guest, hotel employees, and people who lived around the area, it made the District Attorney office hard to pin a person to be held accountable for a change in one count of first-degree arson and ten counts of murder from the fire as well.

Here is what the New York State’s statute says Arson in the first degree from New York Laws › Penal Law › Part 3 › Title I › Article 150 > Section 20:

N.Y. Penal Law § 150.20 Arson in the first degree.
  1. A person is guilty of arson in the first degree when he
intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an
explosion or a fire and when (a) such explosion or fire is caused by an
incendiary device propelled, thrown or placed inside or near such
building or motor vehicle; or when such explosion or fire is caused by
an explosive; or when such explosion or fire either (i) causes serious
physical injury to another person other than a participant, or (ii) the
explosion or fire was caused with the expectation or receipt of
financial advantage or pecuniary profit by the actor; and when (b)
another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in such
building or motor vehicle at the time; and (c) the defendant knows that
fact or the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such
person therein a reasonable possibility.
  2. As used in this section, "incendiary device" means a breakable
container designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion upon
impact, containing flammable liquid and having a wick or a similar
device capable of being ignited.
  Arson in the first degree is a class A-I felony.
Postcard of Pop-Lar Motel, 2976 Ridge Road West, circa 1960 from mcnygenealogy.com
Assemblyman Roger Robach (right) with Governor Hugh Carey (center), 1979, from New York State digital archive

Assemblyman Roger Robach, who represented Greece, co-sponsored a bill in 1980 requiring hotels and motels with more than 30 rooms to have smoke detectors in every room and in hallways. It passed unanimously in the Assembly and after it was passed by the Senate was signed into law by Governor Hugh Carey.

Although an open case, it had laid dormant until 2010 when the Greece Police department, first under Chief Todd Baxter and then under his successor Patrick Phelan, gave new life to the investigation. Everything was reexamined and witnesses were interviewed again. They concluded that the firefighter was the arsonist. The Greece PD submitted its report to the Monroe County District Attorney in 2015. At the same as Cheif Baxter began his investigation, the Canadian Government want more answers from the hotel fire as well because this was an international issue and yet to date, the Canadain Government and the families of the seven Canadians that lost their lives have not gotten any answers and are left in limbo they wish this case could be solved.

Press release from the Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan
After the fire, in 1978, courtesy of Matthew Pillsbury RRFD

The District Attorney’s office, however, was not convinced that there was enough evidence to prosecute anyone. In the years since the 1978 fire, the science of arson has evolved and she didn’t feel that it was still conclusive without a doubt that it was even arson.

So, the families and friends of ten souls lost in that fire may never see anyone brought to account. The Holiday Inn Fire of 1978 was not only the deadliest fire in the history of the Town of Greece but in all of Monroe County.

Front page of the Democrat and Chronicle, November 27, 1978, clipped from newspapers.com

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we pay tribute to “the greatest generation.”

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