Bicentennial Snapshot No. 45: Speakeasies

Today we continue our Prohibition in Greece story with a look at the speakeasies that dotted the town.

Clinton N. Howard

Clinton N. Howard was a powerful, passionate, and persuasive advocate against alcohol. He was called the “Little Giant” (he was only five feet tall) and the “Apostle of Prohibition.” Widely known as a brilliant orator, it was said that between 1901 and 1920 when the 18th amendment was passed, he had addressed more people than any other living individual. He visited almost every town and city in the nation. He gave more than 3500 sermons just in the Rochester area alone.

Broadside promoting Clinton N. Howard from digital.lib.uiowa.edu
Headline from Democrat & Chronicle July 31, 1928

Howard damned Latta Road as “the Highway to Hell” because of the number of speakeasies along its length. Once Prohibition went into effect, Howard was a constant watchman to see that it was enforced. He disguised himself (sometimes as a woman) and went into places to obtain evidence the law was being violated in more than 300 cases. During the first week of April 1921 alone, a disguised Howard (he looked like a derelict), along with two US Secret Service agents. visited 138 bars and was served whiskey at 137. He did so to prove his claim that the Rochester area was openly flouting the law and that local police were doing little or nothing to enforce it.

But the beach resorts and hotels that catered to the tourists and summer vacationers were going to continue to give their clientele what it wanted, law or no law.

Limburger Cheese Club at the Grand View Beach Hotel from the Office of the Town Historian

Grand View Beach Hotel

Grand View Beach from GHS

Anthony Kleinhans built the Grand View Beach Hotel circa 1882 at 2200 Edgemere Drive (today Old Edgemere Drive). Joseph Rossenbach, Sr. took over and then was succeeded by his son, Joseph Rossenbach, Jr. who was a proprietor during Prohibition. Newspapers referred to the Grand View Beach Hotel as an “exclusive lakeshore nightclub.” Thousands of dollars had been spent to transform the wooden building, which faced the lake, into an attractive resort. It was “one of the most exclusive of the lakeside night clubs…having long been popular with merrymakers who seek recreation at the midnight hour.” Right from the earliest days of Prohibition, the Hotel was a favorite target of dry agents.

But the year 1930 was extraordinary; in August three raids were made on the Hotel in quick succession. The raids marked the first time within the memory of any of the Rochester agents that a place had been visited two nights in succession. When the agents staged their surprise raid on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6, four barrels of beer, immersed in the cool waters of Lake Ontario which flowed through a cellaret under the bar room were found.

Headline Times-Union August 7, 1930
Headline Times-Union August 8, 1930

The warrant used in the raid on the night of August 7 was executed in Buffalo on a complaint of two special agents, who reported they had made several “buys” of liquor at the Hotel on Wednesday night, scarcely two hours after the first raid. Agents swarmed into the crowded barroom just as the evening’s gaiety was getting underway. Catching a glimpse of the raiders approaching the door, Harry Lames, the bartender, began smashing every bottle within reach. The tinkling glass spurred the agents to greater speed. One started to leap over the bar shouting threats. Lames desisted in his efforts to destroy the evidence.

Although the agents did not enter the crowded dining room of the Grand View Beach Hotel on August 7, “news of the raid spread quickly and in a moment the place was in an uproar. Glasses were emptied surreptitiously under the tables or tossed into handy flowerpots. Agents reported several cuspidors in the barroom were filled to overflowing with liquid smelling strangely like alcohol as worried customers stood awkwardly nearby with empty glasses in hand.” On August 9, in the third raid in four days, State Troopers seized liquor samples in a midnight raid on the luckless hotel once again. Ultimately, the Grand View Beach Hotel Bar was ordered padlocked for six months in October 1930.

Headline Times-Union October 8, 1930

Sea Glades Hotel/Bar/Restaurant

Sea Glades Hotel, 1920, from the Office of the Town Historian

The Sea Glades hotel/bar/restaurant located at 788 Edgemere Drive was known by various names over the years, Outlet Cottage, Lake View, The Breakers, Surf Club, and Edgewater, but during the height of the Prohibition era, it was called Sea Glades. The proprietor, Ward Vaughn, was considered the most genial of hosts and a “highly personable character.” At the Sea Glades, Vaughn had a “class trade” who liked to spend freely and stay late. It became Vaughn’s custom to invite his customers to the darkened porch of the Sea Glades to watch the cases of whiskey and bags of ale as they were “imported” from Canada from a boat idling just beyond the sandbar. He figured it proved his claim that his product was “right off the boat.” The rumrunners, however, didn’t like so many witnesses, so they shifted to a nearby cove and loaded the liquor into an automobile, and then delivered it to Sea Glades. Vaughn, reluctant to give up his nighttime drama, just substituted his own employees offloading empty wooden cases from a boat borrowed from a friend, his customers none the wiser about the charade.

Mike Conroy Boxing Career

An immigrant from Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium whose real name was Clement J. Versluys, Conroy made his professional boxing debut on May 31, 1920; and during his ten-year career, with 57 bouts he won 34, 22 of them were KOs, Lost 19, 8 of them were KOs., and 4 Draws. The remaining matches for Mike Conroy’s carrier were before he turned pro which put his record at 31 Wins, 22 of them were KOs, and 2 were either losses or draws before he went pro which puts his overall wins at 65 wins of his 79 bouts, 42 of them by knockouts (KOs). He also won several heavyweight titles here in New York State and on December 13, 1924, Mike Conroy won his match in Havana, Cuba against Antolin Fierro the match was planned to be a 10-round match but by the 5th round, Mike had successfully Knocked out Antolin Fierro and took home the Cuban Heavyweight title to Greece, New York. He was a sparring partner of Gene Tunney during the five years leading up to Tunney’s defeating “Battling Jack Dempsey” (Henry Peaks) for the heavyweight crown. Conroy also fought exhibitions with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey and Tunney were the two leading boxers of the Prohibition era.

Mike Conroy Stats from BoxRec.com and according to BoxRec.com the stats they have for Mike Conroy’s professional debut. any Fights listed in his record before that date of this fight, in record published in THE RING, were amateur affairs.

divisionheavy
statusinactive
bouts57
rounds359
KOs38.6%
career1920-1929
debut1920-05-31
ID#038308
birth nameClement J. Versluys
sex male
nationality USA
residenceRochester, New York, USA
birth place Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
BoutsWins
5734
LostDraws
194
Mike Conroy’s Professional Boxing Stats
Mike Conroy matchbook cover
1925 Flyer

Pine Tree Inn

Pine Tree Inn from GHS

Mike Conroy’s Pine Tree Inn, located at 1225 Ridge Road West at the terminal of Mount Read Blvd, was formerly the home of the Lay family, one of the early settler families in Greece. The name comes from the pine trees which used to surround the apple orchards. It was converted to a tavern-hotel around the turn of the 20th century and was purchased by Conroy in December 1928. The congenial Conroy, known as the Bull of Ridge Road, didn’t let the Volstead Act get in the way of his turning the Pine Tree Inn into a local hotspot. His establishment was raided by dry agents in August 1929 and in May 1930 and padlocked in December 1932. Conroy’s inn straddled “the line between the town of Greece and the city of Rochester,” and his lawyers used that quirk to beat convictions. If the warrant said the property was in Greece, the lawyer produced a paper, such as a gas bill, saying it was in the city and vice versa. In due course, agents learned to make out warrants both ways.

Domino Inn / Cosmo Club

As we told you in Snapshot 24, the hotel at Latta and North Greece roads had many names during its 108-year history. It was the Domino Inn and Cosmo Inn during Prohibition. In August 1922, private detectives caught proprietors Harry Wilson and Lewis Dustin serving highballs, cider, and whiskey. Wilson and Dustin were ordered to appear in court to show cause why they should not be removed from maintaining their property. On April 16, 1926, the Domino Inn was raided by a squad of federal agents; they confiscated a pint of gin and proprietor Lewis Dustin again had to answer for it in court. Under new ownership with a new name, the Cosmo Club, the inn was again a target for dry agents in 1932 when proprietor Ray Keck (who previously owned a restaurant at the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road) was arrested for possession of two half barrels of beer and a small quantity of liquor.

North Greece Hotel/Domino Inn from GHS

T.W. Beatty & Son. Island Cottage Hotel

Island Cottage Hotel from GHS

Beatty’s Island Cottage Hotel, at 953 Edgemere Drive near Island Cottage, was a lakeshore landmark built by Thomas Beatty in 1891 shortly after the opening of the Charlotte Manitou rail line. It soon became the spot to go for summer outings and picnics. Raymond Beatty took over the operation of the hotel in 1917. It was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1932. Ray Beatty and Walter Riddell, the bartender, were arrested after a raid on July 23, 1932, when seven half-barrels of beer, 330 gallons of cider, and assorted liquors were impounded. Riddell was arrested and fined again in May 1933 just months before the law’s repeal.

Reardon’s Inn / Braddock Bay Grill

Braddock’s Bay Hotel from GHS

Reardon’s Inn, later the Braddock’s Bay Hotel, was located at 372 Manitou Road. William and Jane Reardon owned and operated Reardon’s Inn. Jane Reardon was arrested on August 13, 1931, for possessing two half barrels of beer, two gallons of cider, two ounces of whisky, and two ounces of gin. She pleaded guilty in September and was fined $100.00. Today it is the Braddock Bay Grill.

Braddock Bay Grill, 2019, photo by Bill Sauers

Grove House

Grove House, the 1910s from the Office of the Town Historian

Grove House, located at 187 Long Pond Road was established at least as early as 1880. It was considered a roadhouse compared to more upscale speakeasies.

The arrests made during raids were for comparatively little alcohol; there was “some beer, wine and cider” on August 28, 1929; 16 one-gallon jugs of cider on November 29, 1929; and a mere two gallons of cider and one barrel of beer in August 1931.

Grove House, undated, courtesy of Bill Sauers
Public Nuisance Sign from GHS

The bar was padlocked for several months in 1932.

Grove House’s alcohol was supplied by the Staud Brothers. According to Dwight Bliss, George Staud told him that they kidnapped a federal agent, who infiltrated the Staud organization and held him in the basement of Grove House where they threatened him with a “one-way ride to Lake Ontario.” The agent managed to escape, but possibly still in fear of the Stauds, requested a transfer to Detroit where he thought he’d be safer.

Grove House bar, undated, courtesy Bill Sauers
Grove House, 2008, photo by Bill Sauers

After Prohibition, George and Eddie Staud operated the restaurant at Grove House.

After the Staud brothers, Fred Rotunno owned it for a bit before it became Barnard’s Grove you can read more on the Grove house from Fred Rotunno and Edmond Uschold interview that was done by George Caswell and Edwin Spelman on August 10, 1977.

Today, it’s Barnard’s Grove Restaurant.

Barnard’s Grove, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Explore the Prohibition and Speakeasies Exhibit – Ongoing

Prohibition exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo by Bill Sauers

To learn more about the Prohibition Era in Greece visit the Greece Historical Society and Museum at 595 Long Pond Road, where Rumrunners, Speakeasies, and Bathtub Gin is an ongoing exhibit. The Museum’s hours are Sundays, 1:30-4 pm, March through December.

Below is a custom map created by members of the society that shows all the locations of the speakeasies.

On the Map Below the Reardon’s Inn is actually supposed to be marked on the John Mose 4 acres lot and not on F.H. Straub land

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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 Bill Sauers

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, Greece Historical Society’s Archives

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

District No. 17 Greece Centre School, photo courtesy of Bill Sauers

John Geisler set up his realty company here and then a CPA joined Geisler using the school for their offices the D&C Staff Writer Meaghan M McDermott wrote an article on February 7 2007 about John using the old school as his office. Titled One-Room Schoolhouse to be Rescued

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 # 40 – Growing up on Paddy Hill Farm

Today we’ll share with you what it was like growing up on a farm on Latta Road.

The Whelehan farm at 1438 Latta Road is the last of the Irish family farms in the Paddy Hill community. In 1990, a volunteer with the Greece Historical Society interviewed Francis Howard Whelehan, who lived his entire 94 years there. He described his life growing up on the farm.

Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers
Nicholas Read

Howard’s great-grandparents, Thomas Whelehan and Mary Ryan Whelehan, came to the Town of Greece from King’s County in 1836. Mary was Squire Nicholas Read’s grandniece. They had seven children, three sons, and four daughters. One of their sons, William, inherited the Read farm.

Thomas and Mary’s son, Patrick, born in Ireland in 1832, was Howard’s grandfather and his grandmother was Margaret Goodwin, from another Greece pioneer family; she was born in 1834 to Patrick Goodwin and Rosanna Beaty. Howard’s father, born in 1877 was John Patrick Whelehan. In this photo, which hangs in the living room of the Society’s museum, Patrick is the bearded gentleman in the front row; John Patrick stands directly behind him. Margaret Goodwin Whelehan is seated second from the left.

Patrick Whelehan Family, circa 1880s, from the Office of the Town Historian
1902 Map from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

As you can see from this map, members of the Whelehan family had farms along Latta Road and down Mount Read near Our Mother of Sorrows Church.

After Father John Patrick Quinn became pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Church,

Father John Patrick Quinn from Mother of Sorrows Church, 1829-1979
Our Mother of Sorrows Church postcard, circa 1910, from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

his sister, Matilda (Tillie) Quinn, moved to Greece, became the organist and choir director of her brother’s church, met John Patrick Whelehan who was in the choir, and married him in 1899.

They moved into the home at 1438 Latta Road which was built for the newly married couple by Patrick Whelehan. Their first child J. Donald was born in 1903 and their second son, F. Howard in 1905. The farm was large and by 1908 they were expanding the number of barns to store hay and grains,

Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers
Whelehan tombstone in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, photo by Joe Vitello

but shockingly, John Patrick died in early 1909. Tillie, a widow at the age of 38, was left with a six- and a four-year-old. As she said when she got home from the funeral, she had two things in life, two little boys and five dollars.

After their father died, Arthur Yates from Elmtree farm…

You can read more on the Yates-Thayer house in A Gentleman’s Country Estate and also check out snapshot # 31 – Iconic Homles in Greece

Yates-Thayer home, 710 Latta Road, photo by Gina DiBella
Latta Road, 1910s, from the Office of the Town Historian

sent the two little boys a pony.

Although Tillie grew up on a farm in Macedon, she was a school teacher before her marriage and knew little about managing a farm. In addition to the crops, the farm had chickens, pigs, horses, and cattle. Neighbors and family helped initially but she knew she’d have to get some permanent help. When she inquired around, she was told there were two or three men she might hire, but they all had “the same little trouble” Howard recounted in the interview “they liked to drink a little too much.” She did hire one of them, she needed the help.

Dairy cow photo by Keith Weller USDA, www.ars.usda.gov
Chicken by William Baptiste Baird from the Library of Congress

Farming under the best of circumstances was hard. Most of Tillie’s needs could be met from the farm itself, but when she needed to buy additional goods, she didn’t have ready cash. She would gather 10 to 12 dozen eggs and take them to the grocery store in Charlotte. The grocer always took her word for how many there were. He’d tally up the amount she was due, for example, $3.25. Tillie had her list and she’d walk around picking up coffee, tea, sugar, flour, etc. When the grocer told her, Mrs. Whelehan, you’re getting close to the $3.25, that was it; she had no more money.

Tillie would keep old papers and iron bits like plow points for the rag and scrap men who would come from the city to collect them. She stored them near the chicken shed.

Ragpicker by Thomas Waterman Wood circa 1865

One time a scrap man stopped at the farm, he weighed the paper and iron she had, and paid for them. But the next day, Tillie discovered that every one of her hens was gone. Most likely the scrap man had stolen them. Tillie depended on those hens for her grocery money. Soon all her neighbors each gave her two hens, and her hen house was soon replenished.

In the early decades of Howard’s life, there was no electricity or running water in the house. The house was heated by a cook stove in the kitchen and a pot-bellied coal stove in the parlor. Taking a bath was quite an undertaking which is one reason why they didn’t have one very often. If they were going to see the doctor or the dentist or before going to church on Sunday, Howard said, “naturally we would have to take a bath.” They would pump about two pails of water to heat on the stove. That could take up to 40 minutes. Then they had to haul the heated water down to the basement where there was a tub (chamber pots and washbowls) they could bathe in. The Smithsonian has a good collection of 19th and early 20th-century Portable Bathtubs that can be viewed at https://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/object-groups/portable-bathtubs-tub-bathing-from-the-early-19th-and-20th-centuries.

Tin Bucket used as a portable bathtub from familyheritageliving.com
Anthracite chestnut coal from northeastnursery.com

In late summer or early fall, they would hitch a team to a box wagon and drive down to Greece Lumber on Latta Road (near the bridge over the parkway today, where the now-closed Latta Lea Golf was and a townhouse complex, built next to the parkway) which sold coal and lumber, they filled the wagon with two tons of chestnut coal. They’d store it in the cellar and use it all winter in the pot-bellied stove in the parlor.

In addition to growing potatoes, cabbages, and “every kind of berry” for themselves, Tillie also had a contract with a hotel on the Irondequoit side of the river. This was in the days before the Stutson Street Bridge. Howard and Donald would load up a wagon with potatoes and they and horse and wagon would cross the river on a flatboat called the Windsor that ran on a chain.

Stutson Street Bridge Marker
Stutson Street Bridge Marker
Windsor Ferry at Charlotte from Rochester Public Library and Genealogy Division

Howard also recalled that there were two major parties during the winter. One was always at Leo Whelehan’s home next to Our Mother of Sorrows Church.

Also, Leo Whelehan had reported some of the unusual phantom stories written in Eight Miles Along the Shore. The story of the Phantom Man was featured in our Halloween special for the Bicentennial Snapshots in snapshot 32.

Leo Whelehan home courtesy of Alan Mueller
Bell-Larkin-Janes-Beaty house at 543 Long Pond Road from google maps

The other was the Janes family home on Long Pond (which was the former Peter Larkin home). Now home to the Lang Dental Group.

In summer they looked forward to going to the Farmer’s picnic every year at Manitou Beach.

Swimming at Manitou Beach, 1917, from the Office of the Town Historian
Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)

Another of his relatives, State Senator Frederick Slater, organized it every year. In this picture, Senator Slater is on the far right. On the way home he’d start making plans for the next year’s picnic, because said Howard “none of us had any pleasure between them.”

Howard also talked about the Big Freeze of 1934. They raised apples on their farm, some to be sold to Duffy-Mott. He recalled lying awake at night hearing the apple trees breaking; he said it sounded like a man was out there with a big board hitting the barn as hard as he could. The next morning when they went out, they could put an arm through any tree, because they had all split open. More on this in snapshot 33 extreme Weather Part 1.

Damaged fruit trees in Greece, NY 1934
Snow on the ground at the Whelehan home and Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers

Matilda never remarried. Even so, she successfully ran that farm for years and was able to send her oldest son, Donald, to the University of Rochester and Harvard Law School. Howard took over the farm.

The transcript of the interview with Howard Whelehan is attached below for anyone interested in finding out more about growing up on Latta Road.

FRANCIS HOWARD WHELEHAN Q&A

Thank you for joining us today; next week we go shopping at Northgate Plaza.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 39 – Paddy Hill, Read’s Corners, Latta at Mount Read

Today our topic is Paddy Hill.

Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley
Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley

In 1878 Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley wrote in his journal “A miniature Ireland grew up here, free from the annoyances and the oppression of the Old Country. Industry secured prosperity. It has been a saying that if there is a good farm for sale, there is an Irishman with the money to pay for it.” The miniature Ireland he was referring to, of course, is what is still called today, Paddy Hill.

Emerald green from irishcentral.com

Between 1805 and 1830 the first stream of Irish immigrants came to Greece, some by way of Canada. They came from places such as County Fermanagh, King’s County, County Wicklow, and County Wexford. These immigrants were a relatively prosperous group of families who “left Ireland decades before the potato famines of the 1840s forced millions of Irish from their impoverished homeland.” Many of the men were skilled tradesmen such as stone masons, mechanics, and coopers.

Aerial of Latta Road at Mount Read, 1960s, from GHS

What they sought was land, something they were prohibited from owning in their native country. Unlike later generations of immigrants, these Irish farmers were able to purchase tracts of fertile acreage and establish themselves quickly as prosperous landowners.

By the second quarter of the century, orchards and grain crops crowned Paddy Hill and the farms prospered. Like The Rigney and the Whelehan Farm in the Picture to the right.

We will learn more about what Francis Howard Whelehan remembers about his family farm in next week’s snapshot.

Paddy Hill approached Mt Read Blvd., the 1920s, from GHS. On the left is the Rigney Farm, and on the right is a Whelehan Farm

Felix McGuire

Felix McGuire Memorial marker in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

One of the first Irishman to settle in the area was Felix McGuire. Born in County Fermanagh (Fer-man-a) circa 1770, he arrived in Greece between 1805 and 1807. He was a leading Catholic layman in his day in Monroe County and a “substantial figure in the history of the Town of Greece.” By 1810 he was elected as a path master for the town of Northampton. The Catholic tradition in Rochester and in Greece is that Felix was the man who brought the first priest to the Rochester district to celebrate Mass in 1818. He also was a founder of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Rochester in 1823.

Nicolas Read

Nicholas Read was a contemporary of Felix McGuire. A prosperous, well-educated Irish immigrant, he took up residence in Greece circa 1823. “Already a man of substance, he purchased a considerable amount of acreage on the crest and slopes of the highest point in the town of Greece between Ridge Road and the Lake, now called after him, Mount Read.” Maps labeled the intersection with Latta Road “Read’s Corners” before it was ever called Paddy Hill. A civic and religious leader, Read “served as justice of the peace for over twenty years, and for three years was one of the associate judges of the county. Many called him “Judge” Read because of his judicial positions. He was more widely known as “Squire” Read.”

Nicholas Read from Greece Historical Society’s Collection
Historical marker at Mt. Read and Latta, photo by Dick Halsey

The heart of the Irish community at Read’s Corner was their church and Felix McGuire and Nicholas Read were instrumental in its founding. Nicholas Read donated the land for the church and cemetery. Principally through their efforts, a frame building was begun in 1829. It was named St. Ambrose Church but was more commonly called “The Church in the Woods,” a name given to it by the local Native Americans. That was what the church was called before receiving the name Our Mother of Sorrows, It was the first Catholic church built in any rural area in New York State.

Diocesan historian Robert McNamara wrote: “The Irish were so numerous in the north part of Greece that for many years a long stretch of Latta Road on either side of Mount Read was flanked by an unbroken line of Irish Catholic farms. It is no surprise that the Mount came to be called “Paddy Hill.” But the Grecian Irish deeply resented this nickname, for “Paddy” was an ethnic slur.” But it is the name that lingers to this day. Judge Read was particularly active in fighting anti-Irish/anti-Catholicism sentiments.

The image on the right is a pen and ink original art by noted cartoonist Frederick Opper (1857-1937), noted for comic strips “Happy Hooligan, Alphonse And Gaston, Her Name Was Maud” and others. Opper also drew political cartoons for William Randolph Hearst’s “New York Journal.” This single-panel cartoon dates to c. 1885, during the height of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment in America, and features a man with a bucket and paintbrush standing outside of a wooden shack decorated with shamrocks and Irish harp, with freshly painted “Down Wid Toyrunts! No More Irish Paupers Wanted In The U.S.” text. Irish woman looks out of the window as goat w/painted shamrock look on. Nightshirt w/harp image hangs off the post over the door like a flag. Opper has signed at the lower right. The lower left corner has a .5×1″ corner tip-off (not affecting art) w/2″ corner crease. Artboard has evenly aged some corner foxing and scattered dust soiling.

Printed in the New York Journal c. 1885
Frederick Burr Opper, 1857-1937

Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin from Mother of Sorrows Herald No. 2, Easter 1930, from GHS

Peter Larkin was born circa 1809 in Ireland and emigrated to this country around the age of 30. He, along with his good friend Joseph Fleming, succeeded Felix McGuire and Squire Read as leaders of the Irish Community of Read’s Corners. Before coming to Greece, both men worked on a number of canal projects around New York State and in Canada. In addition to his farm, Peter was a prosperous property owner around what was known as Greece Center—the Latta/ Long Pond intersection and where the Greece Town Hall campus is today. Peter was elected supervisor of the town three times: 1861–1862, 1872, and 1876.

Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, is now home to Lang Dental Group.

Lang Dental Group Posing in front of Peter Larkin’s Homestead
Peter Larkin Home on Long Pond, now Lang Dental Group, photo by Bill Sauers

Joseph Fleming

Joseph Fleming Home, photo by Bill Sauers

We told you about Joseph Fleming and his home in Snapshot 31 – Notable Holmes in Greece NY.

Our Mother of Sorrows and Father Jean Louis Maurice

Larkin and Fleming recommended that a French priest, Father Jean Louis Maurice, or Father John Maurice as he anglicized his name, be made pastor of St. Ambrose and he was appointed in 1856. When it came time to construct a new church to replace the 30-year-old wooden frame church in 1859, Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming were the general contractors and Peter personally built the lentils and windows of the church. They donated their labor. Father Maurice was the pastor for 39 years until his death on Christmas Day, 1895 at the age of 83.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church, photo by Bill Sauers
Peter Larkin designed the lentils and frames for the stained glass windows sit in as seen in this 1991 D&C Photo of Paddy Hill Library
"Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming"
When you click on this image to view it full size you can see at the bottom in black text on this stained glass window it say “Gift of Peter Larkin and Joseph Fleming” on the glass

This church continued to be at the heart of the Irish community.

Father Jean Louis Maurice
Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)

A highlight in the history of this community and its church was the centennial celebration in June 1930. Five thousand parishioners and former parishioners attended the ceremony. Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor were among the dignitaries helping to mark the anniversary.

In 1968 it was replaced by a new church just south of the cemetery. The congregation outgrew the little church at the corner of the Latta and Mount Read Blvd building a new church could give them more room for more members to attend services and around 1950 they added a Private Catholic school on the grounds years later to help with the number of congregational members growing because the town’s population was booming. But in the 2000s Mother of Sorrows school started to see a decline in admissions of students to the school which forced the church to sell the school building and in 2017 Rochester Academy Charter School bought the building and serves as their high school.

Our Mother of Sorrows Church from dorchurches.org

Paddy Hill Library/Rochester Academy Charter School

Black and White 1990s Picture of the Inside of Paddy Hill Library
Greece Public Library before the expansion of the children’s library area on the Greece Town Campus

The old church was leased to the town of Greece for the Paddy Hill Branch Library, “with the understanding that any inside adjustments necessary could be made, but that the old red-brick Romanesque exterior would remain the same.” The library closed circa 1999 with the opening of the new library on the Town Hall campus in 2000. There is a second library branch that opened up in the Dewey-Stone area but since COVID it has not reopened the small storefront location.

Between 2000 and 2017 it was used by the Greece Central School District as well for a short period for certain programs and offices due to building constraints of the district at the time. Today the building is owned by the Rochester Academy Charter School.

After Greece Central School District was done using it for some of the programs the district had running.

Look at this 1902 map and you can see that Read’s Corners is still surrounded by Irish family farms.

Close up of Paddy Hill on the 1902 Map
Whelehan home on Allyndaire Farm 1438 Latta Road, photo by Bill Sauers

Today, the Whelehan’s Allyndaire Farm is the last of them on Latta Road. More about them in our next Snapshot.

Paddy Hill School / Common School District # 5

Equally important to the community was its school, which was and is located across the street from Our Mother of Sorrows Church. The year after the Town of Greece was established in 1822, a new local public school, Common School District No. 5 Town of Greece was set up on the west side of the half-intersection of Latta Road and the present Mount Read Blvd. There has been a public elementary school at this intersection since 1839, either here or kitty-corner from the church, making it the second oldest continuous location in the county. The Greece Historical Society received a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation to install this historical marker.

Historical marker photo by Bill Sauers
Paddy Hill School courtesy of Randy Phillips

With the school and their church established in 1829, the community “began to envision that intersection as the nucleus of a future village.” But the commercial hubs developed in Charlotte, and around the Dewey/Latta, and the Latta/Long Pond intersections. Even today the surrounding environs are predominately residential.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery

Very few of the early settlers around Paddy Hill chose to leave for other places; there were many marriages among the tightly-knit families. One only has to walk the quiet paths of Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery and read the names on the grave markers: McGuire, Read, Larkin, Fleming, Rigney, Bemish, Burns, Whelehan, McShea, Slater, Goodwin, Gallery, and Hogan. A who’s who of the early pioneers of the town. Many of the descendants of these families still reside in Greece.

Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery photo by Joe Vitello

Thank you for joining us today, next week our Snapshot is about growing up on Paddy Hill.

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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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Bicentennial Snapshot No.36: Centennial Celebration of North Greece and Ridge Road Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Bicentennial 200

Today we are spotlighting the two Greece fire districts that are celebrating their centennial years and they are the North Greece Fire Department and the Greece Ridge/Ridge Road Fire District

Bucket Brigade from Monroe Historical Society

As a rural agricultural community in the 1800s, there was no formal fire brigade or fire department in Greece. Fires were common “in an era when most buildings were made of wood, when candles and fuel lamps provided lighting, and when wood stoves were used for cooking.” Bucket brigades fought fires. Water was taken from whatever source was nearby—streams, lakes, ponds, or cisterns—and a line of men formed to pass the buckets from one man to the next until it reached the fire. It was an ineffective way to fight a fire.

In 1890, John Fetzner of Fetzner Carriage shop and Peter Knipper, owner of the Falls Hotel, (we told you about them in Snapshot 16), imported a chemical fire wagon from France. They stored the fire wagon in a shed on the hotel property next door to Fetzner’s carriage shop making it readily available to serve them and their neighbors. The apparatus was on a wheeled carriage base and had to be pulled by volunteers on foot. A chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and a premixture of sodium bicarbonate in one tank propelled water in the other tank through a hose; it could create a stream of water up to 30 feet high. This is the oldest piece of fire equipment in Greece, and one of the oldest in Monroe County. It is on display in our museum. You can read the full interview on how Society acquired the fire wagon from Bud Steeb by Kay Pollok.

Journey of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon Story an Interview with Bud Steeb
Fetzner-Knipper fire wagon photo by Bill Sauers
Clip 3: Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June, 2020, prepared for: Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research
Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June 2020, prepared for Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District, and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research

The Town of Greece does not have a centralized fire department; there’s no GFD on the back of our firefighters’ turnout coats. Rather the town is served by four separate fire districts: North Greece, Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge), Barnard, and Lakeshore. North Greece and Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge) have three stations, Lakeshore had three stations but decommissioned the station near in Braddock Bay Heights area, and Barnard has only one, which makes nine total in the town. Some calls may receive mutual aid from other fire districts they are Hilton, Spencerport/Odgen Fire, Gates Fire, and the City of Rochester, depending on the type of assistance that is needed.

North Greece Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch

Founded June 1922

In June 1922 the Carriage and Blacksmith shop once owned by Lewis Combs became North Greece Fire District's first firehouse and the town’s first fire station and their…

North Greece Fire Station, 1926
North Greece fire department testing Pierce Arrow truck, circa 1928, from the Office of the Town Historian

…Pierce-Arrow truck was the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. This is their centennial anniversary.

In 1958, North Greece added a second Station on Latta Rd at Mt. Read Boulevard. Up until the mid-1980s, the fire district had an all-volunteer force.

Dedication ad from the Greece Press, July 24, 1958
Station 1, the 1960s, the Office of the Town Historian

The North Greece Fire District Headquarters were moved from Station 1 at North Greece and Latta to Station 2 at Latta and Mount Read in 1970.

In 1983, a third station was opened on English Road.

North Greece Fire District Station 3
North Greece Fire District Station 1 North Greece and Latta Roads, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Encompassing more than 27 miles, today, the North Greece Fire District serves the largest geographic area in the town and a population of about 41,000. As of January 2020, the district had 45 career firefighters and 33 volunteers.

Between 2016 and 2018 they responded to an average of 3,539 calls per year; 62 percent were EMS-related. [1]

Fire at Harris Dairy Farm, English Road, 1938, from the Office of the Town Historian
North Greece Fire District Headquarters, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

In 2019, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rated the North Greece Fire District at a 2 which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years

August 3, 1922

The Greece Ridge Fire Department, now Ridge Road Fire District, was established on August 3, 1922. It was first located at 2550 Ridge Road West, the northwest corner of Long Pond Road and Ridge Road. The building was shared with three businesses on the upper floor: H. A. Herrick Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor, J.V. Gallagher Realtor Real Estate Insurance, and A.R. Koerner Contractor Builder. At the back of the site was Buchman’s Dairy then a Walgreens and now an Orvilles Appliance store.

First Greece-Ridge Fire Station at 2550 Ridge Road West, circa 1924, courtesy of Bill Sauers
RRFD fighting a fire at Fetzner’s Garage, 1969, from ridgefire.org

By the way, Peter Knipper and John Fetzner also helped found this department.

Like North Greece, the Ridge Road Fire District is celebrating its centennial.

Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01

In 1922, A. R. Koerner besides being a building contractor became the first Fire Chief of the Greece Ridge Fire Department (Ridge Road Fire District). He served as Chief from 1922 to 1939, encompassing three different town administrations: Frank J. Mitchell from 1922-1927, William F. Schmitt from 1928 - 1933, and finally Gordon A. Howe from 1934-1939. Gordon A Howe was the Town Supervisor from 1934 to 1960. A.R. Koerner's chief helmet was received into our collection in 2015 and has been on display since with the chemical fire wagon that is pictured at the beginning of this snapshot.

Like North Greece, Greece Ridge started with a Pierce-Arrow fire truck which was built in Buffalo, NY.

1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
Amelia & Frank Siebert, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook

In 1930 Frank Siebert, a co-founder, and volunteer with the department became the district’s first paid firefighter. The firehouse was remodeled and included an apartment for Siebert and his wife and children.

Amelia & Frank Siebert (Kathy's Great-Grandparents) with Jack - Kathy Gray's Father, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook
Firefighters are pictured here in front of the 1922 Pierce Arrow pumper, celebrating their 3rd Annual Field Day. The Greece Ridge Fire Department was incorporated on August 3, 1922. The first firehouse opened in 1924 on the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Office of the Town Historian.

He was on duty 24 hours a day, with about 8 hours off per week. He was assistant chief and later chief commanding volunteer operations during fires.  He and his wife continued to reside at that apartment above the station at least until 1953 and most likely until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 79. Frank and A.R. Koerner are in this picture to the left but without notes, on this picture, we are not sure who is all in this picture.

As the population of Greece soared, so did the demands on the department. A new firehouse was opened in 1962 at 1299 Long Pond Road. It is the district’s Headquarters. Today the district serves a population of 27,000 in an area of just under 14 square miles.

Ridge Road Fire Station, 1299 Long Pond Road, 1967, courtesy Bill Sauers
Stoneridge Station, 2020, photo by Bill Sauers

The Stoneridge Station (Station #2) was opened in 1971 and was renovated in 2001, while

Headquarters of Ridge Road Fire District
third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007 - Matthew Pillsbury, RRFD Historian

The third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007.

Quint 250 parked outside at Ridge Road Station #3 on Ridgeway Ave

A hallmark tradition of the Ridge Road Fire Department, begun in 1935, is that their fire trucks are white rather than the traditional red or even yellow.

Frank Siebert and the Volkmars, Democrat and Chronicle, October 8, 1962, photo by Gordon Massecar

It is often a family affair for Greece residents who answer the call to fight fires as it was for this Greece Ridge family. At the dedication of the new firehouse in 1962, three-year-old Stephen Volkmar receives a salute from his father Chief at the time John Volkmar, his grandfather, former chief Alfred Volkmar, and his great-grandfather, none other than Frank Siebert. Although the Ridge Road fire district started as a volunteer company, today it does not have any active volunteer firefighters and has not had any for the last 20 years.

You can read more about the Volkmars as well as the Fetzner and Knipper families in the Society’s Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece available in the gift shop.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece by Marie Poinan, and Joann Ward Synder

In 1947, Ridge Road responded to 52 alarms; in 1959 it answered 126 alarms. Between 2016 and 2018, the district had an average per year of 7,390 calls for service, 68% of which were EMS calls. [1]

RRFD is the only one of the four districts in Greece and one of three in New York state to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, CFAI. The District first achieved accreditation in 2005, and again in 2010, 2015, and 2020. In 2017 it also received a rating of 2, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

With all the training and resources that these firefighters do on a daily basis from doing routine inspections of fire systems in every business, drills, learning new techniques to battle fires, rescuing you from a motor vehicle accident, providing assistance to medical facilities for lift assist and other services they provide, could not prepare them to save ten guests at the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road, from the town's deadliest fire at the Holiday Inn in 1978 even though the hotel had some of the fire prevention systems in place and yet it failed and Ridge Road Fire District had the equipment to fight the fire and resources to rescue the guest from the hotel and fire companies within a 6-mile radius of the hotel came to assist Ridge Road Fire District to get the fire under control, we will dig a little deeper next week into the Holiday Inn Fire.

We at the Greece Historical Society & Museum would like to congratulate the Ridge Road and North Greece Fire Departments on Celebrating their Centennial anniversary.

Thank you for joining us today.

Citations

[1] source from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece June, 2020, https://www.cgr.org/greece-fire/docs/GreeceFireStudyBaselineOptions.pdf

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 33: Extreme Weather Part 1

Today we will be talking about some historic weather events.

1816 and the effects of Mount Tambora eruption in Greece New York

In 1815, the largest eruption of a volcano in recorded history occurred; Mount Tambora, in Indonesia erupted spewing so much ash into the atmosphere that global temperatures dropped dramatically in the summer of 1816 causing unusual cold and food shortages. 1816 became known as the year without a summer or “eighteen hundred and froze to death.”

Painting of Mount Tambora erupting
Mount Tambora can be seen via space using satellite imagery, by NASA

The volcanic dust carried around the globe on the jet stream covered the earth like a great cosmic umbrella, dimming the Sun’s effectiveness during the whole cold year. The eastern United States, Europe, and China were hugely affected. It caused widespread crop failures, famine, and 90,000 deaths, many from starvation.

The 1815-1816 winter in the northeastern United States was milder and dryer than usual. However, just when it should have been getting warmer, at the beginning of spring, the weather turned colder and frosts were widespread. Farmers held off planting through April and May. By the first week of June, milder weather had returned and farmers rushed to get their crops sown. On June 6th a storm brought freezing temperatures and snow. Crops planted only a week earlier were lost to frost. Throughout the summer the temperatures swung back and forth; no sooner had farmers planted a crop than a frost would wipe out most of the plantings.

Illustration from Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York by Orasmus Turner 1849
Dead corn photo by G. Houston from Wikimedia Commons

Cold weather and frost returned again in July. With temperatures in the 40s during the day, people began to worry about famine. On August 6th, another round of winter weather arrived. What vegetation had survived the previous episodes were now destroyed. Once again, another warm period followed but it was too little, too late. A killing frost came in late September, two weeks earlier than usual. Then the winter started again. Many families left New England and migrated west, including to the Genesee Valley.

Our area was still pretty much a wilderness in 1816 and accounts of that summer’s impact are sketchy. MacIntosh in his history of Monroe County says that “the cold season produced a partial famine.” Wheat couldn’t be cut until September and the corn crop was a failure. Henry O’Reilly in his Sketches said about wheat: “The “cold summer” of 1816 was not injurious to our crop.”

First Settlement in Rochester 1812, engraving by Alexander Anderson, 1838
Sunset at Braddock Bay Marina by Douglas Worboys

Q: What was our mitigating factor?

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Q: What was our mitigating factor?

A: Lake Ontario of course. Then as now, the Lake impacts our weather.

The modifying effects of the lake on temperatures were particularly conducive to fruit farming and Greece had numerous orchards where farmers grew apples, peaches, and cherries.

Orchard on Payne Farm, Elmgrove Road, 1910, from the Office of the Town Historian
Ice covering the Great Lakes on March 4, 2014 (second highest coverage since record-keeping began in 1970) from NASA

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area, but the second deepest and so is the least likely of the five to freeze over completely. The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) has been keeping statistics since the 1970s and has calculated the likelihood of the lakes freezing to the point where 90 percent of their surface is covered in ice. Lake Erie is the most likely to freeze with a chance of 69%; Huron comes next at a 22-per-cent probability, followed by Superior at 17 percent and Michigan at 11 percent. Astoundingly, the CIS estimates that Lake Ontario has a mere 1% chance of having 90% ice coverage.

The Great Lakes as seen from space by NASA, April 2000

1934 Cold Snap Hits the Orchards Businesses

Headline from Hilton Record, February 15, 1934

This brings us to the winter of 1934. Temperatures in February of that year were icy. On February 9 the thermometer dipped to minus 22 or lower; the high temp that day was minus 3. That is still the official record low for the Rochester area.

They did not keep records of ice coverage back then, but anecdotal evidence from both sides of the lake, says that Lake Ontario froze over completely that month.

Blue is the Highs in 1934 the Green Line is the Lows

Called the Big Freeze by local farmers, it destroyed most of the fruit trees. Apple trees split in half. Never again would there be so many orchards in the town of Greece.

1934, of course, was the height of the Great Depression. Men on work relief earned 25 cents an hour chopping the dead fruit trees into firewood. They also got to keep some of the wood for themselves.

Damaged fruit trees in Greece, 1934, from GHS
Firewood cut from former orchards, 1934, from GHS
Lake Ontario after March 13-14, 1993 snowstorm

Surprisingly the winter of 1933-34 was not particularly snowy. We have certainly had some memorable snowstorms in this town by the lake. This photo was taken after the March 13-14,1993 blizzard which dumped more than 24 inches of snow on Greece. It was part of the larger so-called “Storm of the Century” which pummeled states all along the east coast from the Carolinas to New England with not only huge amounts of snow but hurricane-force winds. Let’s take a closer look at the Blizzard of ’66, which occurred in the days before modern snow removal equipment such as snowblowers.

Blizzard of 1966

The green line is the Snowfall in inches. The blue line is the Precip that is not Snow

The Blizzard of 1966 was a historic storm for Greece and all of western New York. Nearly 27 inches of snow fell on the last two days of January.

This was on top of about 18 inches of snow from the week before.

Dewey Stone area Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Snow on the roof meets snow on the ground, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” to go! Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” = Snow and nowhere put together as a pun meaning with the amount of snow non of the Town’s citizens could get anywhere in the town due to the amount of snow that was dropped on the city.

Winds whipped wickedly making for poor traveling conditions. Not only the schools but businesses and government offices were shut down for a week.

Town officials set up and operated storm headquarters at the Greece Memorial Hall at 2595 Ridge Rd. W. Ham Radio operators, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), Civil Defense Radio operators, as well as town officials, which included Supervisor George Badgerow, Milton Carter the Chief of Police, Civil Defense Administrator Walter Whelehan, as well as a representative from each of the four fire companies in the town.

Fun Fact the Monroe County 9-1-1 center did not begin operating until February of 1986 and Greece did not hook up to the system till years later, and on a side note in snapshot 37 the Holiday Inn Fire could have been prevented with an automated system that dialed 9-1-1 and sent the alert to first responders that topic is for another day, now back to the Blizzard of 1666.

Without the invention of Morse Code and Ham Radio, there would have been more widespread communication problems to get information in and out of the town of Greece to other parts of the region. For those that are interested in learning about what it takes to earn a ham radio license and become a member of your local ARES group check out the ARRL.org and ARRL.org/public-service, also check out the local club in Rochester, The Rochester Hams https://rochesterham.org/

Greece Town Hall on Ridge Road, 1998, from the Office of the Town Historian
Civil Defense Seal
Current Logo Of ARES
Cars buried in snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

The Greater Greece Post reported that “Snowmobiles were stationed at the Town Hall and Highway Department Garage to transport physicians on emergency calls. Two ambulances also were stationed at the Town Hall. A supply of milk and bread was kept available for delivery.” Some milk trucks and bakeries started selling their products to customers right from their delivery vans stopped at partially cleared street corners.

Toboggans were kept in readiness so that sick or injured persons could be removed over the deep snow. Standby snow-clearing crews were stationed near all firehouses to accompany fire trucks answering alarms.

Snow clogged parking lot at Nick and Erwin Dry Cleaners, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Dewey Avenue near Barnard Fire Station, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

“Three drug stores were alerted so that medicine could be obtained and taken where needed. Fifty prescriptions for insulin alone were delivered by town personnel and volunteers.”

Some residents used an alternative mode of transportation.

Horses on Dewey Avenue, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
Mountains of snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This person does not realize he is walking on top of a car
Photo by Bill Sauers

Fun Fact: The plow that is sitting in front of the DPW is from the Truck that plowed Long Pond Road during the blizzard of ’66.

On its 40th anniversary, local meteorologist Scott Hesko still ranked the Blizzard of ‘66 in the top three worst storms of all time.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we turn our attention to ice and wind events. Especially the 1991 Ice Storm and the Wind Storm of 2017.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 31 – Notable homes in Greece, NY

Today we will take a virtual tour of some of the other notable homes in Greece, New York.

Larkin-Beattie-Howe House – 595 Long Pond Rd

This beautiful vernacular 19th-century farmhouse is home to the Greece Historical Society. Many of us have moved from one home to another, but this is a house that has moved twice. Circa 1924, when it was located at the southwest corner of Latta and Long Pond Roads, the Beatties didn’t like the noise from the neighboring tavern. So, they transferred the house onto oak timbers and rolled it back from the road to a new foundation. The house is significant because of its association with pioneer families in Greece, but more so for its connection to Gordon A. Howe. He lived in the house with his family from 1941 to 1965. This political legend was the supervisor of the town for 30 years before becoming the Monroe County Manager for eleven years. The Monroe County Office Building is named for him.

595 Long Pond Road Larkin-Beattie-Howe home photo by Bill Sauers
595 Long Pond Road Larkin-Beattie-Howe home photo by Bill Sauers

In 1966, Wegmans Food Markets purchased the property. They were going to demolish the house; however, in 1988, under the initiative of Town Supervisor Don Riley, Wegmans sold the house to the Society for $1.00 and generously funded moving it to what is now the Greece Town Campus. The cupola on the front lawn once sat atop the Ridge Road town hall. The Historical Society was founded in 1969 and when it was less than a year old, the society organized a historic house tour. There were four homes on the tour, but the beauty of a virtual tour is we can escort you to a few more homes all from the comfort of your own home.

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road

As stated in Snapshot 30, in October 1998, three years after being added to the National Register of Historic Places, the Covert-Brodie-Pollock House was the first designated landmark in the Town of Greece. There are three other homes that are also designated town landmarks. Also, you can check out our Landmark Page as well on the Covert-Brodie-Pollock House.

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road, from Bill Sauers

The Joseph Fleming House, 981 Latta Road

981 Latta Road, Joseph Fleming House from GHS

The house of Joseph Fleming, a town pioneer, is located at 981 Latta Road; it became a designated town landmark in October 2012. Fleming, who was a master stone mason before he turned to farming, built the house circa 1854. This beautiful Italianate-style home was the centerpiece of Fleming’s 300-acre farm. The main block is two stories high with a hipped roofed and is flanked on both sides by a one-and-a-half-story wing. Atop the roof is a widow’s walk with “a fanciful balustrade and pointed finals above each corner pedestal.” Did the residents climb to the roof to see Lake Ontario just 2 miles to the north? Joseph Fleming’s descendants resided here until 2008.

The Rigney-Feeney House, 1885 Latta Road

The Rigney-Feenney house at 1885 Latta Road stands on the western slope of Paddy Hill and is another designated town landmark, achieving that distinction in 2000. It was the home of the pioneer Rigney Family. Built around 1850, it is “a late example of the Federal style of residential architecture,” characterized by the beautiful front entrance, symmetrical windows, and louvered shutters. The house was built to last and endure fierce weather with “nine-inch square beams of oak set into a foundation two feet thick.” Patrick Rigney was a farmer and fruit grower with 250 acres surrounding the house. His children occupied the house until the early 1940s. In the 1950s, parts of the old farm to the west and south were developed into the Picturesque Acres and North Point housing tracts and the Greece School District purchased about 35 acres of the property for Paddy Hill Elementary School. The fourth owners of the house, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Feeney undertook to restore the interior of the house to its original floor plan updating amenities for themselves and their seven children. It was Mr. Feeney’s home for more than 60 years from 1952 until he died in 2014.

web History Page Buildings1885_Latta_Road-Rigney-Feeney-House
1885 Latta Road The Rigney-Feeney House from GHS

William A. Payne House, 505 Elmgrove Road

505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House photo by Bill Sauers

The William A. Payne House became a designated town landmark in October 2012 shortly after being listed in the National Register of Historic Places in June.

The home was built circa 1905 for William A. Payne who as Monroe County Sealer of Weights and Measures impacted local and state commercial practices. He was one of the founders of the statewide association that established fair and uniform methods of weighing and measuring products benefitting both merchants and consumers. He also developed education programs for fellow sealers.

505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House from GHS
505 Elmgrove Road William Payne House photo by Bill Sauers

This house, typical of several along Elmgrove Road, has aspects of both Queen Anne and Colonial Revival architecture, a trend at the turn of the last century. Queen Anne-inspired features include the asymmetrical floor plan, the complicated roof design, fish-scale shingles, and bay windows. Colonial Revival aspects are the cornice returns at the gable ends and the square posts of the front porch. The former carriage barn is now a garage.

Colby-Shearman House, 1777 Ridge Road West to 550 Latona Road

Just like the Larkin-Beattie-Howe house this house also moved from one location to another but this one move was shorter than the Larkin-Beattie-Howe House.

Zaccheus Colby, a prominent Greece farmer, built this 10-room, pink Dutch brick, Italianate-style farmhouse in 1855. In 1872 he sold it to his brother-in-law, Abner Shearman. The Shearman family continued to reside in the house until 1970. Construction of 390 threatened the house, so Miss Suzanne Shearman spent 75,000 dollars to move the house from its original location at 1777 Ridge Road West to 550 Latona Road.

550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 1968 from GHS

That was quite an undertaking. The house had to be cut in half, moved on a flatbed truck, and set on a new foundation. Upon Suzanne’s death in 1970, the house was sold to the Bierworth family.

In 1979 the Wegman Companies, Inc. headed by Philip Wegman purchased the house for their headquarters. They realized the importance of this beautiful historic structure and have made every effort to preserve and maintain the building’s architectural integrity.

550 Latona Road, Colby-Shearman House, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Yates-Thayer House Now called Holiday Fleming Point, 710 Latta Road

710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 1998, photo Greece Historical Society

When the Western New York Landmark Society surveyed buildings in the town of Greece in 1994, it lamented that this home was in such derelict condition; indeed, it had been condemned by the town. When a developer planned a senior living facility on the property, he was going to demolish the barn and convert the house into apartments.

Fortunately, the Town’s Historic Preservation Commission, along with the New York State Historic Preservation Office (New York SHPO), stepped up and helped to save it. The developer of Fleming Point Senior Living Center, at the time when the building was being rehabbed the exterior of the house and the barn using recommendations from the New York SHPO (pronounced “ship-o”). 

Gina DiBella, former chairperson, and the late Gloria Latragna, a former member of the Greece Historic Preservation Commission pose in front of the Yates-Thayer House to celebrate Historic Preservation Month.
710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Greece Historical Society

This house was built for the coal and railroad industrialist Arthur Yates circa 1902 probably as a summer home. The site is the former Patrick Fleming farm; he was the younger brother of Joseph Fleming. The property became known as Elmtree Farm. The house is “an outstanding example of Neo-classical style” identified by the front façade dominated by a full-height portico with details such as carved wood ornamentation, both Doric and Corinthian columns and pilasters, and windows with six panes on the top and a single pane on the bottom. Although Neo-classical was a dominant style at the turn of the last century for public and institutional buildings it was not common for private residences.

A bonus is the gambrel-roofed barn with its large round-arch loft opening and twin louvered, cross-gabled cupolas.

710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Greece Historical Society
710 Latta Road Yates-Thayer House, 2006, photo Bill Sauers

In 1914, the home was purchased by Samuel Thayer and remained in the Thayer family for 80 years. Over the years the house and barn were converted into several apartments. In 1994, it was purchased by Joseph Coco, who later sold the property to the developer of Fleming Point Apartments in the early 2000s. In 2007, the house and barn were purchased by Greece businessman David Wegman of the Wegman Group. Dave and his family rehabbed the interior into offices for their business and rented out space to other businesses.

FYI … The Thayers sold the property to Joseph Coco, who stripped the interior of all its details. (Joe Coco also purchased the Hotel DeMay and his wife Kim was one of the owners of the DeMay when it was demolished.)

FYI … The Wegman Group and WCI are NOT the same businesses. Gina DiBella believes WCI is owned by Dave’s brother Phil.

Carpenter-Toal-Latragna-Stauffer House, 3490 Latta Road

3490 Latta Road photo by Bill Sauers

We’ve already told you about the Carpenter and Toal families that lived in this home. The house started as a simple one-and-a-half story home when it was constructed circa 1840; it was expanded into its present-day late Greek Revival style about 1860. It has a porticoed temple front. Notice the elongated facade and narrow pillars and there is some unusual carved woodwork, such as the small diamonds at the top of the Doric columns. The Landmark Society survey said that the craftsmanship was outstanding. Lou and Gloria Latragna purchased the home from the Toal family and strived for many years to maintain the building’s integrity and share its history. After their deaths, it was sold to Fieldstone Capital in August of 2015 and then Fieldstone Capital sold it to Mark Stauffer on 09/08/2020 at the cost of $115,000.

According to Monroe county, property tax records the property had two new updates done to the property one was a machine shed in 1980, and in 1990 a ramp was added to the porch for access into the first-floor area of the house.

This photo is of the home’s living room, one of the few interior shots we have, to see some other interior pictures see the Democrat and Chronicle article for some other pictures.

3490 Latta Road Living Room, date unknown, from GHS

Here is an article written by Ernst Lamothe Jr. on the Democrat and Chronicle website on April 17, 2014, called Latta Road Home hosted lots of fun you read more by clicking the link below

Latta Road home hosted lots of fun

Randy Latragna remembers growing up amid a lot of commotion in his house. But the loud noises and excitement came virtue of the countless wonderful parties thrown for all occasions. “My mom loved to have fun, and she loved to throw large parties.

Thomas W Boyde, Jr. Designed House, 442 Edgemere Drive

Thomas W Boyde, Jr. Designed House, 442 Edgemere Drive – Photo by Bill Sauers
Thomas Boyde 1930 NY Architects Office cropped to headshot
Thomas Boyde 1930 NY Architects Office cropped to headshot

Not all notable homes in Greece are more than a hundred years old. The Greece Historical Society is sponsoring a historic resource study of the work of Thomas W. Boyde, Jr., Rochester’s first African American architect. This mid-twentieth-century house is on Edgemere Drive. Mr. Boyde designed at least three other homes in the town. You can learn more about Thomas W. Boyde, Jr and the research project we are sponsoring by clicking on the Boyde Project at the top of the page.

These are just a few of the beautiful, interesting, historic homes and buildings in our neighborhoods. Drive around the streets of Greece and see what you can find. Please comment on Facebook if you know of other Iconic Homes in the Town.

Thank you for joining us today; next week in our Halloween special we will tell you about some of the town’s ghostly inhabitants.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 30: Cobblestone houses, Part 2

Today we continue our look at cobblestone structures in Greece.

Three Cobblestone Houses Featured are

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House, 978 North Greece Road Photo By Bill Sauers

The Covert-Brodie-Pollok House is located on a 14.95-acre site on the east side of North Greece Road in the southwest quadrant of the town. The designation area incorporates the main house (1832), an attached garage at the rear of the house (the early 1940s), a contributing well, a non-contributing shed, and a non-contributing storage barn. A 14-acre expanse of lawn surrounds the house on the north, east, and south. The property is historically significant for its long association with the Covert and Brodie families. The Coverts were early 19th-century settlers/farmers in the North Greece area and the builders of this house. The Brodie family and its descendants, also farmers, have owned the property since 1914. The Covert-Brodie-Pollok House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of an early-19th-century, Greek Revival cobblestone farmhouse retaining a high degree of integrity of design, materials, and craftsmanship. Cobblestone architecture is unique to the Central and Western New York areas of the country. It developed in the late 1820s when settlers who were clearing land and preparing fields for planting collected cobblestones as building materials. It is one of four existing cobblestone buildings in the town of Greece.

The Covert-Brodie-Pollock House at 978 North Greece Road is a sterling example of cobblestone architecture. It was constructed in 1832 for William H. Covert and except for the years 1840-1850 when it was owned by Amos Trowell was occupied by members of the Covert family until 1892.

Gillette’s map of Monroe County, 1858, from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division

The 1858 county map indicates that the home belonged to J. B. Covert, that is Joshua Covert, and

F. W. Beers, Map of Monroe County, 1872, from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division

The 1872 map shows William R. Covert as the owner.

The home’s ownership passed through several other owners between 1892 and 1914, including Elmer Burlington, George Harris who maintained a 125-acre stock farm surrounding it, George Emerson who lost the house betting on a horse race, and Louis Zagata.

Pencil Drawing of 958 North Greece Road from Cobblestone Architecture by Carl Schmidt, 1944
Illustration of Cobblestone pattern of 978 North Greece Road from Cobblestone Architecture by Carl Schmidt, 1944, p. 82

The cobblestones for 978 North Greece Road were meticulously chosen: only a few are round, and the majority are oblong in style ranging from 1.5 inches to 3 and 4.5 inches long. They are primarily brown, yellow, or gray with very few rose-colored stones. The builder emphasized the horizontal in the rows and the quoins which are the masonry blocks at the corner of the walls. The cobblestones cover just the façade of the walls which are 18 inches thick.

The front façade features a wide frieze band (1) with four windows with decorative iron grilles (2), cornice returns (3), windows with limestone lintels and sills (4), and a front entrance with a gable-roof porch and Doric columns (5).

Covert-Brodie-Pollock House from Office of the Town Historian
Example of a Keeping Room: interior view, first floor, west wall of kitchen showing fireplace and doorway into keeping room Naylor House, Swift & Silver Lake Roads (Middletown Township), Langhorne, Bucks County, PA, from Library of Congress

The house at one time included a living room, dining room, bedrooms, a borning room (where mothers gave birth), a kitchen, and off the kitchen a keeping room. A keeping room was usually the warmest room in the house being next to the kitchen and its heat source whether a fireplace or a stove. While the cook prepared the meal, others would sit in the keeping room, close enough to talk to the people preparing a meal, but at the same time, out of the cook’s way. The Keeping room also served as a borning room where there wasn’t a separate room for that purpose and was also frequently used as the last resting place for the dying. Recently, having a keeping room became a trend in new homes being built.

In 1914, Walter and Katheryn Brodowszynski (whose name is horribly misspelled on this map) purchased the property. They changed their last name to Brodie in the 1920s.

Environs of Rochester Maps by G. M. Emerson, 1931 from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Covert-Brodie-Pollock house, photo by Bill Sauers
Covert-Brodie-Pollock house from GHS

After Walter’s death in 1946, Katheryn sold the house to their eldest daughter Helen (who went by the name of Kay), and her first husband, Robert Zielinski. Kay acquired sole ownership of the house in 1959.

Headline from Greece Post, November 27, 1969

Kay Brodie lived in this house all her life, and with her second husband William Pollock, was its loving caretaker. Many of the changes to the interior, including installing plumbing and mechanical upgrades and combining rooms, Kay did herself. It was always her desire to get the home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

That dream was realized in 1995; in October 1998 it became the first in the Town of Greece to be designated a landmark. According to the Landmark Society of Western New York, “The Covert-Brodie-Pollok House is architecturally significant as an outstanding example of an early-19th-century, Greek Revival cobblestone farmhouse retaining a high degree of integrity of design, materials, and craftsmanship.”

Westfall-Mercier House at 4350 West Ridge Road

In contrast to the well-maintained beauty of the Covert-Brodie-Pollock home is this house located on West Ridge Road, not far from the West Greece intersection of Ridge and Manitou Roads.

Known as the Westfall-Mercier House, when it was evaluated by the Landmark Society in 1994, it was described as “a lovely, charming cottage on a beautiful site.” It is a fine representation of a Federal-style farmhouse and may have been constructed as early as the 1830s, but no later than 1852.

The earliest owner for whom there is the documentation for a J. Westfall; he’s named on an 1852 map. From the late 1940s to approximately 2000 the owner was Raymond W. Mercier.

Westfall-Mercier House, 4350 West Ridge Road, 2007, photo by Bill Sauers
Westfall-Mercier House, 4350 West Ridge Road, 1980s, photo from the Office of the Town Historian

Margot and Ralph Gram

Headshot of Margot Gram from Hilton Record, November 11, 1943

Margot and Ralph Gram owned the house for a brief interlude, the years 1946 and 1947 approximately. She was an interesting woman. As a vaudeville performer, she toured all over Europe collecting antiques. She transitioned to being a cabaret singer before becoming the first female radio announcer in New York City. Her husband, Ralph, was the voice of the Hearst-Metrotone newsreels that once were part of every movie showing. They came to this area, taking radio jobs with WHEC. She was the first person to sing George Gershwin’s Swanee; when she was working at a music store, the legendary composer came in and handed her the sheet music and asked her to sing it for him.

Ad for Margot Gram’s antique business from Greece Press, July 17, 1947

That old cobblestone house was the perfect venue for setting up an antique business. Although she didn’t live in Greece very long, Margot became a staple appraiser of antiques for many of the Greece churches when they hosted antique shows, including Our Mother of Sorrows, Aldersgate Methodist, and Bethany Presbyterian. This, of course, was considerably before the time of eBay.

Pen and ink drawing of toy Manchester terrier by Paul Brown, 1950
Pen and ink drawing of toy Manchester terrier by Paul Brown, 1950

Margot also raised toy Manchester terriers.

Raymond Mercier

Mrs. Scott’s English Tabby “Coppa.”, First Prize at the Crystal Palace Show, 1886.
CATS AND THEIR FRIENDSHIPS. by W.H. LARRABEE,
The Popular science monthly
VOL. XXXVII. MAY TO OCTOBER, 1890. pg 90

Years later the last owner of the home, Raymond Mercier, operated Cat Nap on the premises, boarding up to 30 felines at a time. Mercier died in 2001.

Since then, the house has stood vacant. The 600-square-foot house sits in the middle of prime commercial property. The developer has tried his best to care for the house, but it has been subject to graffiti vandalism. He even offered it to anyone who would be willing to move it off the property, but there were no takers. So, for the time being, the fate of this little house is undecided. If you have the money and the skills to move this cobblestone house it could be yours.

Westfall-Mercier House, 4350 West Ridge Road, 2016, photo by Bill Sauers

Hartman-Foos Cobblestone House

Hartman-Foos cobblestone house photo courtesy of Bill Sauers

The cobblestone house on Mill Road was home to the Hartman and Foos families for decades. It too was built between 1830 and 1852. From at least 1852 until the early 1900s, members of the Hartman family resided here. The Foos family occupied it from at least 1930 until 2016.

But on that August 11th day of 2016 at 15:23, it would be its last day as a cobblestone house.

On August 11, 2016, this historic home caught fire. According to an account written by Gene Preston of the North Greece Fire Department,

“Firefighters worked in 94-degree temperature August 11 to save the pre-civil war house. Said a neighbor: “In no time the road and lawns were covered with fire hoses as 7 engines, a rescue truck and an aerial ladder strategically positioned themselves on Mill Road.” The fire did significant damage to the structure. Firefighters had to deal with the fire and the extreme heat and humidity of the day. I took another walk through it before we firefighters left the scene nearly three hours after we were dispatched. Hopefully it can be restored, but it has some serious issues.”

Eugene Preston, North Greece Fire Department

Unfortunately, it could not be saved. The Foos rebuilt a house on that spot but it was not a cobblestone house. The new structure is a wood build house

Hartman-Foos cobblestone house photo courtesy, 2016, photo by Bill Sauers
Hartman-Foos cobblestone house photo courtesy, 2016, photo by Bill Sauers
Building StyleExt. Wall TypeHeat TypeBasementLiving Area# StoriesYear Built
RanchAlum/vinylHot airR4-Full1,252 Sqft1.02017

So, now there are only three cobblestone homes left in the Town of Greece. There are other stone-based houses and brick buildings but as for cobblestones there are 3 remaining structures left and hopefully, the lessons learned from the Hartman-Foos fire could be used to preserve the remaining three buildings.

Thank you for joining us this week. Next week we will take you on a virtual tour of some of the other notable homes in the town.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 29 – Cobblestone Houses Part 1

This week and next we explore some of the cobblestones houses in the town of Greece. Did you know that when the mile-thick glaciers of the Ice Age melted and receded north thousands of years ago, they left unique marks on the terrain and interesting mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, valleys, and some rich and fertile land for growing crops, as well as boulders, cobbles, pebbles, field stones, gravel and sand deposits in different areas that make up different regions in the world? The glaciers left 5 big freshwater lakes behind, how many of the big lakes can you name?

Satellite image of Lake Ontario -November 2009 NASA Earth Observatory
Satellite image of Lake Ontario -November 2009 NASA Earth Observatory

We will go from the west to east starting with Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan, flowing into Lake Huron with Georgian Bay, a small lake between Huron and Eire called Lake St. Clair, then Lake Erie, at the Buffalo end of Lake Erie is the Niagara River which brings the water over the falls at Niagara Falls and in then into Lake Ontario after the water travels out to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River. But for this snapshot, we will be focusing on New York State. In New York State and more especially within minutes you could be at Lake Ontario from anywhere in the town or a 40-to-50-minute drive from Greece you could be in the finger lakes looking at the beauty that the glaciers left on this region. Remember when we explained in snapshot 11 The Ridge Part 1 about Lake Iroquois? 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.

Lake Iroquois
Lake Iroquois

Notice the red line that is the Ridge Road portion 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.

And in Bicentennial Snapshot # 19 – Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, what’s in a name, part 2 we looked at some of the elevations in the town from its highest point to the lowest point the town and how the town has two natural ridges.

But that wasn’t all; hundreds of thousands of cobblestones, fieldstones, and gravel pits were deposited in the glaciers’ melting wake. Cobblestones have a round shape. Over the years water made boulders become cobbles, cobbles become pebbles, and pebbles become sand. According to the Cobblestone Museum, “Geologists classify cobblestones as being 2.5 inches to 10.1 inches in size. In lay terms, cobblestone is a stone that can be held in one hand.” This differentiates them from fieldstones, which were also used to construct houses.

During the Program “Set In Stone”: The History Of Cobblestone Masonry, on September 13, 2022, Douglas Farley mentioned that there was a least one cobblestone structure as far away as Colorado. This is mentioned at 12 minutes and 21seconds in the video. https://youtu.be/eJAgwjKHCcw?t=1286

closeup of cobblestone house photo Bill Sauers
closeup of cobblestone house photo Bill Sauers

Some of these cobblestones, fieldstones and gravel pits were found while excavating for the Erie Canal, some were found while farmers were prepping the fields to grow crops. The town has a few remaining cobblestone structures left. There are a couple of fieldstones and one other stone-style house in the town. One of the fieldstone houses in the town is on the grounds of Unity Hospital at 1563 Long Pond Road. Some of the cobblestone houses may have had the back walls built with fieldstones because beauty in the front and the so ugly back fieldstone was not seen from the front. Why wasn’t brick used for these buildings? Well, one writer said “In the early days of the western New York frontier, bricks were costly to transport. To make them locally was also costly since clay had to be procured and molded, kilns had to be built, etc.” The farmers and masons used the material they had readily available and that “material did not require painting or maintenance; and most important, was fireproof and weatherproof.”

1563 Long Pond Rd

School District # 9

  • School district 9 school also Greece Methodist Church mid1800s GHS
  • District School 9 Facing Southeast

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 were 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. The current two-room schoolhouse was later sold at a district auction in August of 1949 and was purchased by Harold Tebo. Harold then hired Arthur Koerner 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.

First Christian Church

The First Christian Church was a church that was built out of cobblestone, and it was located at 3194 Latta Road, it was close to the Larkin-Beatie-Howe House where that house used to sit where Wegman’s now sits. The Frist Christian Church used the church until 1866, then Greece Methodist Church used it from 1867 to 1874. Then Greece United Methodist Church built a new church with brick on Maiden Lane and has been there ever since. The former church at 3194 Latta Road was torn down around the 1950s.

First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS
First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS

Davis-Bagley-Hazen House

The first cobblestone house we will look at will be the Davis-Bagley-Hazen House at 149 North Greece Road it was built in 1845 in the Frisbee Hill area, and it was built by Edwin Davis. Lucius Bagley purchased the home from Edwin Davis in 1856 and the 100 acres surrounding the house. The house is a 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathrooms and 1 Half Bath the house has one fireplace. The property now sits on 2.61 acres out of the 100 acres that used to be farmland owned by Lucius Bagley, and the house’s living space is 3,376 square feet. It also has a cobblestone-built smokehouse in the rear of the house.

Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian
Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian

One of Lucius’ children, Henry Joel, inherited the house and farm; he lived there all his life until he died in 1942, at the age of 90. A Bagley cousin remembered that “it was a standing tradition among the Bagley descendants to celebrate Christmas Day with grandfather Henry Joel at the old cobblestone farmhouse.” Bagley descendants also remembered watching their “grandfather salting and preparing bacon and hams to hang in the cobblestone smokehouse that remains by the driveway today.”

Henry Joel Bagley
Henry Joel Bagley
149 North Greece Road smokehouse
149 North Greece Road smokehouse

The next longstanding owners of the house were Stanley and Mary Hazen. After purchasing the home in 1958, the Hazens made substantial upgrades and improvements to the old cobblestone farmhouse; nevertheless it “retains its rural, exterior dress, yet tasteful planning has transformed the dwelling into a modern up-to-date home. There is a definite feeling of preservation from within with no sacrificing the conveniences of utility, interior decorations, and livability….” In 1989, the Finegans became owners of this historic house.

The Landmark Society considers this house “architecturally significant,” not only as “an outstanding intact example of cobblestone construction in New York State,” but also as a significant “example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival, rural domestic architecture in the Town of Greece.”

District School # 7

District School 7 Map
District School 7 Map
District School at 150 Frisbee Hill Road
District School at 150 Frisbee Hill Road
150 Frisbee Hill Road Today
150 Frisbee Hill Road Today

Children attending District School #7 on located at 168 Frisbee Hill would come down the hill with pails to fetch drinking water from the pump by the front porch of the Bagley house. Their teachers were often boarded there during the school season. The schoolhouse was built for $700 on a quarter-acre plot of land leased by Edward Frisbee, a North Greece pioneer, in September 1833, and stipulated that the land was to be used for 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. In 1899 the original schoolhouse on Frisbee Hill just past North Greece was torn down. District 7 lost its old school by Court rule. Florence Haskins at 150 Frisbee Hill Rd. sued Myron B. Kelly, serving as a 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. 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.

Next week

Next Tuesday will look at a few other cobblestone houses but for one it was not able to be saved and that is a tale for next week. Bicentennial Snapshot # 30 – Cobblestone Houses Part 2

For More on Cobblestones buildings from this Snapshot

The Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, NY
The Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, NY

Some of the information for this week and next week’s snapshot comes to us from the Douglas Farley and the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, New York you can check out their museum at https:/www.cobblestonemuseum.org/ as well as the program he did at our Tuesday program called “Set In Stone”: The History Of Cobblestone Masonry

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 27: “The Cooper” Tom Toal

This week in our bicentennial snapshot for September 20th, 2022 we explore Thomas F Toal a cooperage owner, a barber, and a worker from Kodak who grew up on the Parma Greece border.

Topics Covered in this snapshot

Thomas F Toal Bio

Thomas F. Toal was born on August 26, 1866, and grew up in Parma, Monroe County, New York. He was a cooper before going to work at George Eastman’s Kodak where he worked for 12 years and then retired back to the North Greece/Parma area to be back in the country. He died in 1948 and was laid to rest in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery at the corner of Latta Road and Mount Read Blvd.

Carrie L. Frisbee

Carrie L. Frisbee was born in 1864 in North Greece, Monroe County, New York she is a niece of Edward Frisbee the owner of the land that was leased to District School # 7 on the family land, the school was located on the north side of Frisbee Road, and east of North Greece Road. (Attach a Map of the location here). Carrie L. (Frisbee) Toal died on 1 January 1957 and she was laid to rest next to her husband Thomas F. Toal in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery at the corner of Latta Road and Mount Read Blvd.

Left Carrie L. Frisbee | Right Thomas F Toal
Left Carrie L. Frisbee | Right Thomas F Toal
This is a map of District 7 from the 1872 Map of Greece, New York you can see all the land that is owned by the Frisbee family

What is a Cooperage? What is it nowadays?

According to Wikipedia: A cooper is a person trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs, and other similar containers from timber staves that were usually heated or steamed to make them pliable. Journeymen coopers also traditionally made wooden implements, such as rakes and wooden-bladed shovels. In addition to wood, other materials, such as iron, were used in the manufacturing process. The profession is the origin of the surname Cooper.  A Cooperage was responsible for making the barrels that were used to store foods, wines, whiskeys, and other drinks or other items that needed to be preserved compared to canning or vacuum sealing or bottling of fruits, vegetables, and drinks in glass jars.  A cooperage would make different size barrels depending on what was going in the barrel. Some of these barrels had gunpowder in the barrel, or maybe pickles, flour, crackers, dried beans, wheat, apples, corn, carrots, or other fruits and vegetables. Some were just used to hold umbrellas, tools, and other items to keep them organized.

Some of the barrels that Tom Toal made ended up in New York City to a buyer who either was for a big farm or a business in New York City that shipped products over to Europe and other places that wanted fresh goods from America in the late 19th century to the early 20th century.  Depending on what the barrel was going to be used for the cooper would choose the right type of wood the most common wood was oak it depends on where in the world it was made. Modern wooden barrels for wine-making are made of French common oak (Quercus robur), white oak (Quercus petraea), American white oak (Quercus alba), and more exotic Mizunara Oak. All typically have standard sizes. Recently Oregon Oak (Quercus Garryana) has been used. The links next to each type of oak will take you to the Wikipedia page on each of the different oaks.

Cooper Tools

Here is a picture of the tools that a Cooperage would use to make the barrels.

cooper's tools from Pinterest
cooper’s tools from Pinterest

Below is a picture of the different size barrels that a cooperage would make the smallest for dry goods would be a Rundlet which was 1/14 tun, the next size up would be a Barrel at 1/8 tun, and the next size up after a barrel is a Tierce at 1/6 tun, the next size after a Tierce is a Hogshead at 1/4 tun, followed by a Puncheon, Tertian at 1/3 tun, then a Pipe, Butt at 1/2 tun, finally the biggest barrel would be a Tun. But for liquids, there would be a gallon-size barrel that held one gallon of liquid.

Types of barrels revolutionarywarjournal.com
Types of barrels revolutionarywarjournal.com

Below are two charts from Wikipedia that explains the English Wine and Brews barrel storage and amounts:

Wine Cask Chart

gallonrundletbarreltiercehogsheadpuncheon, tertianpipe, butttun
1tun
12pipes, butts
11 1/23puncheon, tertian
11 1/324hogshead
11 1/2236tierce
11 1/222 2/348barrel
11 3/42 1/33 1/24 2/3714rundlet
11831 1/2426384126252gallons (wine)
3.78564.14119.24158.99238.48317.97476.96953.92litres
11526 1/43552 1/270105210gallons (imperial)
4.54668.19119.3159.1238.7318.2477.3954.7litres
English wine cask units

Brewery casks

English brewery cask units[4]
gallon firkin kilderkin barrel hogshead   Year designated
        1 hogsheads  
1 1+12 barrels
1 2 3 kilderkins
1 2 4 6 firkins
1 8 16 32 48 ale gallons (1454)
= 4.621 L = 36.97 L = 73.94 L = 147.9 L = 221.8 L
1 9 18 36 54 beer gallons
= 4.621 L = 41.59 L = 83.18 L = 166.4 L = 249.5 L
1 8+12 17 34 51 ale gallons 1688
= 4.621 L = 39.28 L = 78.56 L = 157.1 L = 235.7 L
1 9 18 36 54 ale gallons 1803
= 4.621 L = 41.59 L = 83.18 L = 166.4 L = 249.5 L
1 9 18 36 54 Imperial gallons 1824
= 4.546 L = 40.91 L = 81.83 L = 163.7 L = 245.5 L

H. C. Phelps Connection with Tom Toal

When Tom Toal was 21 years old, he went to work for H. C. Phelps making barrels; some were used in H.C. Phelps’s General store or sold from Phelps’s Store. This is where Tom learned the trade of making barrels to be used for different types of goods. Within a few years of working for H. C. Phelps, Tom started his own cooper business making barrels and selling them. While Tom ran his own cooperage he had customers from local farms, general stores, breweries, wineries, and other businesses that needed barrels to store items in. In 1972 Frank Toal was interviewed and explained his dad’s cooperage and shared some of the stories with us, below are a few quotes from Frank Toal.

Phelps general store Latta and North Greece Roads sketch William Aeberli 1970 GHS
Phelps general store Latta and North Greece Roads sketch William Aeberli 1970 GHS

” … my Dad began making barrels in early, August. He bought his staves in the rough and once a year an agent from New York City came up to take the order for staves, ‘hoops and headings.”

“They were shipped out to North Greece in box cars on the old Hojack Line. We’d go down to the station with racks up on the hay wagons and load the supplies.”

“Dad’s business was spread clear down to the lake and over to the Parma town line.  He even had a warehouse down at Braddock Bay…In those days the whole section was apple orchards and Dad would ride his bicycle all around the countryside and take orders from the farmers or collect his money—he never learned to drive a car!”

The most interesting thing that Frank said during the interview was that his dad never learned to drive a car.

Larkin Hotel William Aeberli Greece Post 1971 October 14
Larkin Hotel William Aeberli, Greece Post 1971 October 14

Tom Toal and His other Trade

One of Tom’s other trades was being a barber; Tom was one of those men who believed in hard work and hardly allowed himself to have an idle moment, so he took up being the village barber. He worked two nights a week in a second-floor room at the Larkin Hotel charging the proverbial two bits (25 cents) for a shave and a haircut.

Tom’s Connection with Doctor Abdiel Bliss Carpenter

After 18 years as a cooper, Tom bought the old Conway land and became a farmer. His farm was next door to Dr. Abdiel Bliss Carpenter. Years before, when he was a lad in his teens, he would do odd jobs for the old doctor.  The Doctor’s beautiful house and estate made a lasting impression on Toal. But you won’t believe this but after twelve years of city living, he decided to move back to the country but not to any house but the estate of Doctor Abdiel Bliss Carpenter and lived there the rest of his life.

Carpenter House sketch by Wm. Aeberli Greece Post 1972 February 17
Carpenter House sketch by Wm. Aeberli Greece Post 1972 February 17
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Bicentennial Snapshot # 23 – The Larkin Hotel

This week and in the next two snapshots we look at the Tavern / Hotel / Inn / Speakeasy that occupied the southeast corner of Latta Road and North Greece Road. The first hotel we will look at will be named after its last owner Joseph Larkin, not its first owner or subsequent owners. Back in the early years of the country and in some really rural communities the hotel, tavern and post offices, and general stores were all in one building or sometimes in separate buildings depending on the size of the community it was located in. But for North Greece, it appears that on the map in 1858 the Post Office was located in the store that belonged to Mary Phelp, and across the street before H.C. Phelps had a store it was A. W. Dickerson General Store.

North Greece map 1858
North Greece map 1858

The Background of the Hotel and its similarities to the H. C. Phelps building

The Larkin hotel was build sometime before the civil war, based on research and architectural details that William Aeberli and Shirley Cox Husted found based on similarities between the design of the H.C. Phelps General Store and the Larkin hotel.

Larkin Hotel William Aeberli Greece Post 1971 October 14
Larkin Hotel William Aeberli, Greece Post 1971 October 14
Phelps general store latta and north Greece roads sketch William Aeberli 1970
Phelps general store Latta and north Greece roads sketch William Aeberli 1970

The owners of the location

North Greece map 1858
North Greece map 1858
Map of North Greece 1872
Map of North Greece 1872

From what we can tell there could have been as many as 4 or more owners of the hotel the list of people we have based on available data and records is Mary Phelps, then we have a record of Archaeus Johnson (A. Johnson) buying it from Henry and Melvina Hazen on April 1, 1869, after that its a mystery, and without any other information and the information that children of Joseph B Larkin had with them when they passed away, so we will never know its full past or what made it a thriving spot for stagecoaches to stop and rest for the evening.

Peter Larkin

Peter Larkin

Born: 1810 in Ireland no date or month available other than based on the year of death and the text on the grave which reads DIED 14 Mar 1884 of 75 years.

Rose Larkin

Born: 1816 in Ireland

Died: April 25, 1881, at 65 years of age

Peter Larkin was a successful farmer, entrepreneur, and three-term supervisor of the Town of Greece, as well as a member of Mother of Sorrows. In the 1870 census, it lists him as owning nearly $ 500,000.00 in real estate. We have a record of him owning a hotel near Latta Road and Long Pond Road, but he was not the proprietor of the hotel. Also in the 1870 census, we learn that his nephew Joseph was living with him and his wife Rose Larkin.

Peter Larkin 1870 census
Peter and Rose Larkin, and Nephew Joseph in the 1870 census
Larkin, Joseph 1880 census
Peter and Rose Larkin, and Nephew Joseph in the 1880 census the year after this entry Rose would pass away.

Joseph B. Larkin

Joseph B. Larkin

Born: September 1855 in New York

Death: 15 April 1907

Married: Elizabeth Anna Slater

In the 1870s we learn that Joseph moved in with his uncle in North Greece and started out attending what would have been District School Number 6 and then went on to Charlotte or John Marshall for high school or entered the workforce sometime between the 1870 and 1880 census

Children

  • Rose Mary Larkin
    • 1882–1955
  • Anna G. Larkin
    • 1884–1954
  • Elizabeth M. (Larkin) McKenna
    • 1886–1961
    • This was the only daughter that got married but had no heirs
    • Married Frank J. McKenna
  • Frances J. Larkin
    • 1889–1971
Joseph Larkin, and family entry in the 1900 Census

Based on the Monroe County Sheriff’s deputies and the newspaper report below:

Larkin’s Hotel Burglarized

The hotel of Joseph Larkin at North Greece was entered by burglars last Tuesday Night and Mr. Larkin’s watch was stolen. Money was also taken from the clothing of both Mr. and Mrs. Larkin. No trace of the thieves has been discovered.

In 1891 we learn that Joseph was the proprietor of the hotel and he and Elizabeth were either out or asleep when the Larkin Hotel was burglarized by thieves, and from the records show an undisclosed amount of cash was taken from the clothing of Joseph and Elizabeth Larkin, as well as Joseph’s watch which could have been from his Uncle or another family member or one that he saved up and bought we will never know.

We do know that both He and His Uncle were both Democrats and the hotel was used as a site for Democrat Political Caucuses.

The Larkin Hotel was demolished around 1912, that was probably because the four daughters did not want to take it over or could not take over the hotel.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 19- Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, What’s in a Name? Part 2

This week we explore some of the myths of some of the nicknames of the communities in the town. This week we look at street names, elevations, and finally the Hojack Line. Some have myths about the name, while some are named after a person or where one of the settlers came from and decided to call the Town of Greece their home.

Street Names of Greece

There are more than 1,050 streets and roads in the town. It should be no surprise that more than 80 of the street names in Greece are related to the farm families who lived along them. In 1935, town supervisor Gordon Howe proposed that some streets be renamed to honor early pioneers. The first change voted on by the town board was to rename what had been Sage or Ottaway Road to McGuire Road in honor of Felix McGuire who settled in Greece circa 1805. Here is a little bit from the Article written in the society’s newsletter by Bill Sauers you can read more by the link below the quote:

Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov
Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov

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; (Miles) 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).

*The numbers are approximate and may vary somewhat from what is stated in this story.

June 1, 2018 – Streets and Roads by Bill Sauers | Greece Historical Society and Museum

Scott Road, Eddy Road, Mt. Read Blvd.

Scott Road

Scott Road was the section that ran from Stone road to Emerson St.

On Mount Read, a famous female pilot, and no it was not Amelia Mary Earhart, but Blanche Stuart Scott, she was a Pilot, Automobile Adventurer, Actress, a museum curator. Blanche Stuart Scott, America’s first female pilot, was born in 1885 on her grandparents’ farm in Greece located on the north side of Lexington Ave, the south side was in Gates. Reading from her unpublished autobiography during a recorded interview, she said.

“My name is Blanche Stuart Scott and I come from a pioneer family, a Rochester pioneer family, who came to Rochester in eighteen hundred and ten.  And settled out on what was then the old Scott Road and is now Mt Read Blvd.”

Blanche Stuart Scott

The land that was the Scott Brothers lot is now where Delphi Automotive a division of General Motors is located today and is now located in the city of Rochester.

1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.
1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.

Eddy Road

Eddy Road ran from Stone road to Latta. The road was named after Thomas Eddy who lived at 3205 Mount Read Blvd.

Thomas Eddy Homestead

Mount Read

At the corners of Latta and Mount Read on the Southeast corn where Our Mother of Sorrows Church was the land once owned by Nicholas Read a pioneer family of the town of Greece and the Paddy Hill area which we will cover more in a later snapshot either on Our Mother of Sorrows Church and or Paddy Hill. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1920s that the entire stretch from Buffalo road to Latta Road would become Mount Read Boulevard.

Elevations in the town

Below is the list of different elevations in the town listed from the lowest point to the highest point the town. If you want to explore the elevation where you live you can check out the site topographic-map.com which is a great digital representation of the data from the United States Geological Surveys topographical data with color-coded elevation lines blow is low elevation and very red is higher elevations.

  • The lowest Elevation in the town is 243 feet and that is along the ponds at the lake which covers all the beach hamlets along the lakefront.
  • Mt Read at Latta Road Elevation is 345 above sea level.
  • North Greece Elevation at the intersection of Latta Road and North Greece Road is 338 feet above sea level
  • The spot where the Native American fort and Hanford Tavern were at Maplewood drive at Bridgeview drive is only 386 feet above sea level.
  • Barnard / Dewey Stone Area is 400 feet above sea level
  • King’s Landing Elevation is 415 feet above sea level
  • Ridge Road at Apollo Drive Elevation is 441 ft above sea level.
  • West Greece Elevation is 455 feet at the Hoosick Cemetary.
  • Ridgeway ave right at the entrance to Ridge Road Fire District Station #3 is 525 feet above sea level.
  • South Greece Elevation at School 12 at Old Ridgeway and Elmgrove Road is 525 feet above sea level.
  • The highest point in the town is where the BJ’s Wholesale Club is located on Bellwood Drive which is 558 feet above sea level.

Hojack Line / Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad /
Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line
and New York Central Railroad

If you are in your 30s or older at least once in your lifetime saw the swing bridge rotate for the trains to cross over the Genesee River at Port of Rochester. The Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad began operating in 1871. Ownership and the name of the railroad changed hands over the years including the Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line and New York Central Railroad. But it was colloquially known as the Hojack line. There are to this day speculations of how the line became known as the HoJack Line.’

Hojack Line Myth # 1

“It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his mule-drawn buckboard was crossing the tracks when the mule stopped and wouldn’t move.  When the farmer saw the fast-approaching train, he began shouting, “Ho-Jack, Ho-Jack.” Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the “Ho-Jack.”

Hojack Line Myth #2

According to a story published in the Greater Greece Post in 1965, “when it was necessary to hurriedly assemble a train crew in the wee small hours of the night, the call Ho Jack would boom through the halls of the rooming houses where railroad men stayed.”

Hojack Line Myth #3

A farmer, turned train engineer by the name of Jack Welch would yell Whoa, Jack when he stopped the train as if he were still stopping a horse. It was picked up and passed on as Hojack.

The More Plausible answer to the Hojack Line Myth

From a scientific standpoint if you listen to the sound of a train whistle as the sound travels thru the air it sounds more like hojack or Whoa Jack but even this could be seen as a myth to the nickname of the line.

Want to Explore More on Snapshot 19

Consider the following the following books for more information on the information in this snapshot:

The Hojack Line Remembered Oswego to Lewiston by Richard Chait is available in the gift shop at the museum and where ever books are sold just not available in our online store.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Volume 1
Eight Miles along the Shore
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Bicentennial Snapshot # 18 Henpeck, Hoosick, Hojack, What’s in a Name? Part 1

This week we explore some of the myths of some of the nicknames of the communities in the town. This week we look at Henpeck, Hoosick, Braddock, and Barnard Crossing. Some have myths about the name, while some are named after a person or where one of the settlers came from and decided to call the Town of Greece their home.

Ada Ridge

In Snapshot # 16 we know the commercial hub of the town, Ada, was named after Ada, Michigan, the former home of the postmaster, William Anderson.

The Myths of how the area known as “Henpeck”
South Greece got its moniker

We are not sure how South Greece mostly the crossroads at Elmgrove Road, Ridgeway ave, and the Erie Canal got the moniker of Henpeck. We have three myths of that moniker henpeck but there may be more than three for the location but the three listed here are ones we at the Historical society discuss in the video above.

If you have not seen the following snapshots or have seen them and would like to a refresher then here they are before we get into these myths about henpeck.

1872 Map of South Greece

The first one is Snapshot 15 the Erie Canal and then Snapshot 17 Henpeck, South Greece

Henpeck Myth Number 1

Mr. and Mrs. Henpeck wash the dishes from the Library of Congress
Mr. and Mrs. Henpeck wash the dishes from the Library of Congress

The term, Henpeck, has been around since the 1600s and denotes a meek submissive husband constantly nagged by his wife like a hen constantly pecking at the ground. New York author Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle was a henpecked husband.

That’s the reason given most often for South Greece’s nickname: “Some say [it was called Henpeck] because its residents claimed to be ‘henpecked’ by their spouses.” Would the male inhabitants of a rough and tumble canal port really admit that?

For myth 1 we do not have sufficient evidence to prove that this was the reason for naming the area Henpeck.

Henpeck Myth Number 2

A canal enthusiast, who helped get Henpeck Park developed had another theory; he said in a news account that he knew of stories that the name was linked to a type of hen developed in the vicinity. There were a number of farms in the area some were chicken farms or turkey farms, as well as orchards that grew apples and other produce that was sold in the community. But without enough evidence that the type of hen that was raised in the area and journals or diary entries to prove that this was the reason for naming the area Henpeck.

Chicken by William Baptiste Baird from the Library of Congress
Chicken by William Baptiste Baird from the Library of Congress

Henpeck Myth Number 3

Henpeck is marked by using the star to pin point the little community of HenpeckHenpeck is marked by using the star to pin point the little community of Henpeck
Henpeck is marked by using the star to pinpoint the little community of Henpeck

This one may be a little more realistic considering there is a small hamlet called Henpeck in Cattaraugus County that could make the naming of the area to be a little bit more solid than the last two myths.

The town of Sandusky in Cattaraugus County was the hometown of longtime journalist and chronicler of local history Arch Merrill; he wrote in several of his columns that Sandusky used to be called Henpeck. Perhaps, like William Anderson and Ada, a former resident from the Southern tier brought the name with him.

But without sufficient evidence to prove that the journalist Arch Merrill was the source of naming the area Henpeck.

Henpeck Myth Conclusion

Overall on the three myths we looked at for Henpeck, we may never know how South Greece came to be called Henpeck, but that’s one of the joys of researching local history, one day you might uncover a document that answers the question.

The Myths of how the area known as “Hoosick”
West Greece got its moniker

Map of West Greece
Map of West Greece the Dotten Line is the town board the Pink tint is the Town of Parma the yellow tint is the Town of Greece and sitting in the middle of the line is the Church

West Greece is center at the crossroads of Manitou and Ridge Road on the Greece Parma border as you see on the map. West Greece will be featured in Snapshot number 20.

One of the Myths on Hoosick involves the local doctor Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley and will be featured in snapshot number 21.

Hoosick Myth Number 1

Our First myth about Hoosick comes from the neighbor of Doctor Bradley you can see where the Doctor and Mrs. McNeely’s property is right next door to one of the buildings owned by Doctor Samuel Beach Bradley.

A humorous accounting for that name has been handed down through the years. Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley practiced medicine for many years in West Greece. As the legend goes, he had a neighbor, Mrs. Rosa McNeely, who whenever the good Doctor drove by her house, would stand on her porch “flapping her calico apron wildly and crying out: “Dr. Bradley, who’s sick, who’s sick?”

For some people when you say “Hoosick” it could sound like “who’s sick” without the apostrophe s after who which is why it may sound the same but without some documentation to prove that this is the reason why West Greece is named Hoosick and the cemetery is labeled Hoosick Cemetery.

Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley
Dr. Samuel Beach Bradley

Hoosick Myth Number 2

Hoosick Falls from 1889 by L.R. Burleigh
Hoosick Falls from 1889 by L.R. Burleigh

This myth could be a little bit reasonable as to why the area is named Hoosick, according to historical research, however, it documents a more pedestrian explanation for the name.  The people who first settled in West Greece came from the Hoosick Falls area near Albany and the name was used before Doctor Bradley ever lived there. There is also a tiny town named Hoosick, New York, which could be source two but may depend on the records of where the West Greece settlers came from.

The Braddock Bay Myths

Braddock Bay Marina
HDR picture of Braddock Bay Marina by Doug Worboys

Over the course of time, many Greece residents at one point or another have visited this park because of its views and nature trails or visited the Braddock Bay Raptor Group when they do programs here, or have taken lots of wildlife photos at the park but did you know that Braddock Bay itself has myths of its own but none of them have any documented answers to why the bay is called Braddock near the end of this snapshot.

Braddock Bay Myth Number 1 –
The French and Indian War Connection

The First myth we look at is a General that was stationed at Fort Niagara a British General by the name of John Prideaux. Based on some records and accounts historians theorize that it was named after a British General. During the French and Indian War, most likely near the end of June 1759, General John Prideaux camped on the shores of the bay with two thousand of his troops, and with them were another thousand Haudenosaunee warriors under the command of Sir William Johnson. They were on their way to successfully lay siege to the French-occupied Fort Niagara in July. Alas, Johnson, a prolific journalist, was suffering from a cold when he camped at the bay so there is little detail about it in his journal.

Death of General John Prideaux
Death of General John Prideaux

General Prideaux was killed during the battle for Fort Niagara (unfortunately, he stepped in the way of his own army’s mortar and was decapitated). The Bay was subsequently named after him, Prideaux Bay.  But over the years in which his name was “barbarously mispronounced” his name disappeared; perhaps Yankees found the name too hard to say and it morphed from Bradloe to finally Braddock. Or maybe people confused him with another major general from the French and Indian War, killed in battle in Pennsylvania, Edward Braddock.

But without that journal entries, we will never know it being named after Edward Braddock is not known either but this is the myth of the French and Indian War Myth for naming the Bay.

Braddock Bay Myth Number 2 –
The Lost Treasure of The Pirate Braddock

Faulding Skinner, known as Doc, frequently recounted a story his father told him about Captain Braddock. According to the story, this Braddock was a notorious pirate chased into the bay by British ships. Depending on who was telling or retelling the story, rather than being caught with the goods, he either dropped his loot into the bay or buried it near the base of a tree on the shore.  Whenever Doc told this story, afterward there’d be holes around all the trees near the bay.

Aerial image of the Braddock Bay, NY located on Lake Ontario.
Aerial image of Braddock Bay, NY located on Lake Ontario. – SUNY School SOAR

Barnard Crossing is not a Myth but connected to a real family

We do know for whom Barnard’s Crossing was named. The railroad cut across the property of Mrs. Thomas Barnard and the train station was called Barnard’s Crossing.  The United States postal service streamlined the name and eliminated the ‘s and Crossing so the area for the most part is now known simply as Barnard.

When did the United States remove apostrophes
from most places?

The answer will surprise you it was done on September 4, 1890, President Harrison signed Executive Order 28 instructing Congress on the creation of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) later on during a public law session in 1947 the rules that set up a unified naming convention of geographic name usage throughout the Federal Government. It was the creation of the naming convention that help simplify the naming standards because depending on what map you are looking one could have Braddock’s Bay and then 5 years later it could show just Braddock Bay. There are only five locations that have been approved to use the apostrophes in their name for mailing purposes they are

— Martha’s Vineyard in 1933, after an extensive local campaign;

— Ike’s Point in New Jersey in 1944 because the name “would be unrecognizable otherwise”;

— John E’s Pond in Rhode Island in 1963 to prevent it from being mispronounced as John “Ess” Pond;

— Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View in Arizona in 1995 to keep the reference to a Joshua tree forest in Mohave County from sounding like three first names in a row;

— and Clark’s Mountain in Oregon in 2002 to accentuate the tribute to William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame.

To learn more on what the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) does you can check out the resources at the United States Geological Survey – Board on Geographic Names or Board on Geographic Names Resource page https://www.usgs.gov/us-board-on-geographic-names/resources

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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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Bicentennial Snapshot # 15 – Erie Canal

We explore the impact that the canal had on the Town of Greece, in the state of New York. In 1817 the idea was formed to create an easy way to get products from Lake Erie, and the other Great Lakes to New York City and back.

According to Wikipedia, The canal was first proposed in the 1780s, then re-proposed in 1807, and the survey was authorized, funded, and executed in 1808. Its construction began in 1817 after proponents of the project gradually wore down its opponents; and it opened on October 26, 1825. The canal has 34 locks with an overall elevation difference of about 565 feet (172 m),[1] starting upstream with Black Rock Lock and ending downstream with the Troy Federal Lock. Both locks are owned by the United States Federal Government[2].

Sea level elevation of the Canal route
Sea level elevation of the Canal route

The Canal Started at Lockport and ended at the Hudson River.

The Erie canal had received some nicknames for the Erie Canal project because of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, his project received some interesting names, and his political opponents wanted to call the project, here are a few of the names they called the Erie Canal, the first name it was derided as was “Clinton’s Folly”, another one was “Clinton’s Big Ditch”, and “Clinton’s Ditch”. Over time the folks realized that the Erie canal helped bolster the port at New York City with a strong advantage over other port cities on the eastern seaboard and helped make it easier to travel by water than it was to portage the goods to stagecoaches or other modes of early transportation in the interior of the United States.

The Erie Canal was one of the great civil engineering projects of its time, and the cost to build it was $7,143,789. The total length of the Canal is 363 Feet(584 km) and 50 Locks made up the canal to traverse the change in elevations of sea levels to get it from the Hudson River elevation to the elevation of Lake Erie.

Asa Rowe Ad in the Genesee Farmer Monroe Horticultural Garden
Asa Rowe Ad in the Genesee Farmer Monroe Horticultural Garden

If you remember when we told you about Asa Rowe and his Monroe Horticulture Garden and Nursery he took full advantage of the Erie canal for shipping all his plants and seeds to other states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconson, featured in Bicentennial Snapshot # 13.

Terry Burns

As the canal was dug by hand it required an army of laborers. Some of those laborers, such as Terry Burns, one of the pioneers of Greece, decided to stay after working on the canal, settling in Greece in 1823.

South Greece did have one Lock and it was only used when they did the expansion in 1919 till about 1923 then after it was used as a dry dock for the rest of the 1920s on the canal but later it was decommissioned and blocked off the dock is now just being overgrown with trees and other wild plants.

Erie Canal Completion Medal, 1826 this one is in The Henry Ford Museum
Erie Canal Completion Medal, 1826 this one is in The Henry Ford Museum

During my Visit to the Henry Ford Museum in August, I saw this sitting in the Driving America Exhibit in front of an 1891 Abbot Downing Concord Coach.

The Buffalo Maritime Center is in the process of building a replica of a packet boat at the Longshed at Canalside in Buffalo at the end of the Commerical Slip and they believe it will take at least 2 years to complete the boat project and set sail in 2025 for the 200th anniversary of merging of the waters. In 2025 they will be traveling the Erie Canal and stopping in each community along the Erie canal so people explore the replica, as well as displays about building the boat and how they built it, and the materials they used in the process you can learn more about the project at https://buffalomaritimecenter.org/

1. Finch, Roy G. (1925). The Story of the New York State Canals (PDF). New York State Engineer and Surveyor. Retrieved June 28, 2022.

2. “Locks on the Erie Canal”The Erie Canal. Retrieved June 28, 2022.

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