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 # 22 – North Greece / Jenkin’s Corners

This week and in the following 6 six snapshots we will be exploring the North Greece area and the people, Hotel DeMay or the hotel with many names that it had over time, Jerome Combs a baseball player, Doctor Abdiel Carpenter, and so much more. North Greece Fire Department will be covered in a later snapshot along with the other fire districts in the town. But this week we will give you an overview of the area and give you a breakdown of what is in the North Greece Area.

North Greece Overview

The North Greece area is located at the intersection of North Greece Road and Latta Road the streets that are included in this area are the east side of Manitou Road, The North side of English Road from North Greece Road to the intersection of English and North Ave if Pickering and Flynn Road Connected that would be the edge of the east side of the district up to the HoJack Line on Flynn Road, it then follows the Hojack line but it drops south of G. W. Northrup’s Property on North Greece Road, then down the back sides of the properties that sit on the west side of North Greece Road as soon it comes up to Latta and head west back to Manitou Road.

North Greece Area Map
North Greece Area Map

Latta Road

Latta Road
Latta Road highlighted in red

Latta Road is one of the Oldest Routes in the county but Latta only runs from Manitou Road to Lake Ave. But as for State Route 18 otherwise known as NY 18 begins at a junction with NY 104 south of a complex grade-separated interchange that includes NY 18F, NY 104, and the Niagara Scenic Parkway on the eastern edge of the village of Lewiston. to NY 104 in Lewiston then it zig-zags thru Orleans County until it passed thru Hilton and Parma then it turns on Manitou Road then on to Latta road and passes right thru the Hamlet of North Greece it then intersects NY 390. After a small distance east of NY 390, NY 18 passes Greece Arcadia High School as well as the newly built Greece Central School District Transportation and Support Services facility, Paddy Hill School, Mother of Sorrows, and intersects Mount Read Boulevard at the Paddy Hill Hamlet before intersecting Dewey Avenue a half-mile to the east. NY 18 turns south onto Dewey Avenue; however, state maintenance continues to follow Latta Road east to where it crosses into the Rochester city limits at Charlotte. This section of Latta Road is designated as NY 941A, an unsigned reference route. NY 18, meanwhile, becomes maintained by Monroe County as part of CR 132, an unsigned designation that follows Dewey Avenue north to its end at the Lake Ontario shoreline. The route continues south on Dewey Avenue to the Rochester city line, where CR 132 ends, and maintenance of the route shifts to the city of Rochester. NY 18 ends about 1 mile (1.6 km) later at a junction with NY 104 in an industrialized area known as Eastman Business Park.

North Greece Road

Surveyed in 1807, North Greece Road started out as just a dirt road that connected these two travel arteries.  Initially, it ended at Latta Road but was eventually extended to the south shores of Braddock Bay at the point where North Greece Road turns left and becomes Hincher Road and Buttonwood creek discharges into Braddock bay. North Greece Road and Elmgrove were realigned to meet at one light between 1988 and 1993 when Elm Ridge Shopping plaza was constructed to help get commercial trucks into Sam’s Club and Walmart as well as the Hess Gas station now Speedway and Pep Boys.

1988 North Greece Road at Ridge Road1993 North Greece Road at Ridge Road
Left 1988 – Map of North Greece Road at Ridge Road – Right 1993

The Hamlet of North Greece

North Greece map 1858 from Rochester Public Library
North Greece map 1858 from Rochester Public Library

Not surprisingly a hamlet sprang up at the crossroads of Latta and North Greece Roads. Although not denoted on a map, the hamlet was often called Jenkins’ Corners. We don’t know for sure why it was called this; there was a local farmer, William Jenkins, who may have given his name to the community, or perhaps it was named after an itinerant preacher, the first Methodist circuit rider to the area, the Reverend Amos Jenks. The natives of North Greece would sometimes say that they lived “down at the Jenks.”

H.C. Phelps

We took a look at this general store as well as two other general stores in Snapshot # 14 – General Stores

North Greece Fire Department

William Schmitt, a Buick dealer, formed the North Greece Fire District. A Pierce-Arrow truck was purchased for $6,700, the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. In June of 1922, the Blacksmith Shop once owned by Lewis Combs at the corner of North Greece and Latta Roads became the first firehouse, and William Schmitt, the first chief. During the ’20s the Department responded to many fires and traveled out of the District to assist surrounding Fire Departments.

In 1935, Chief William Schmitt declared 1922 Pierce-Arrow unsafe; two 1936 American-La France pumpers were purchased. The Fire Department had grown to 55 members.

On July 27, 1958, the new house at Latta Road and Mt. Read Blvd. was dedicated. In September of 1958, two new Seagrave pumpers were placed into service at the new firehouse.

On September 15, 1963, the construction of a new communication center and three-bay addition was dedicated at the station at North Greece and Latta Roads. This building replaced the Lewis Comb’s carriage and wagon manufactory with a more state-of-the-art building for fire departments in the 1960s.

More on the history of the North Greece Fire Department up to 1982 was can be found in the book Milestones Along The Way 1922 to 1982, written by Eugene Preston and John Stageman. Just this June the North Greece Fire Department Celebrated its Centennial years of service to the North Greece Community

We at the Greece Historical Society say thank you for your service to the folks that live within the North Greece Fire Department District and that the department can grow and evolve its firefighting efforts with new technology and equipment to battle fires better, as well as better building techniques that different engineering and building codes change because of fires, accidents, water rescues and some of the different natural disaster that is occurring now due to climate change.

N Greece Fire House 1926
N Greece Fire House 1926
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
Engine 5 at Station 1
Engine 5 at Station 1
September 15, 1963, Station 1
September 15, 1963, Station 1

Hiram Bice and Lewis Combs Butter Business

North Greece business notices 1872 Map from Rochester Public Library
North Greece business notices 1872 Map from Rochester Public Library

Lewis Combs and Hiram Bice went in together on a butter business together.

As their business notice said, they manufactured a butter-churn that was “acknowledged as the best churn in the United States.” 

The churn had a horizontal shaft that extended the length of a rectangular box on its legs.

A series of radial beaters was attached to the shaft. According to his patent filed in 1865, the inventor, J. F. Sanborn of Hardwick, Vermont, said that he wanted to “contrive a churn that would be efficient for producing butter from cream, and then serve as a butter worker for washing and mixing salt with the butter…” Individuals such as Lewis Combs and Hiram Bice used the design to make these churns which could produce butter in eight to fifteen minutes, half the time or less of a vertical hand churn, and much easier on the arms.

Drying House

North Greece had a fruit drying house. Drying was a major method for preserving fruit, especially apples, to export to Europe.  LeFrois’ was used into the first decades of the twentieth century until supplanted by cold storage and canning factories.

School District #6

School # 6 before 1927
School 6 1927 -1949
Present Day Private House

Perhaps reflecting the hopes of parents and students, the North Greece school was located on College Avenue. It was also called the “gooseneck” road by local residents because of the bend in the road. 

This is the old brick school.

In 1927 the school had swings, slides, and teeters outside. The pupils in the upper grades played baseball in the back of the school on the baseball field. The school had two rooms, with four grades in each room. The school was heated with a coal furnace. They had a bathroom for boys and girls. This year they had regular electric light.

In 1949, the North Greece school district joined the Hilton Central School system.

Aerial Photos of North Greece 1930-1999

You can explore some Historic Aerial photos of the North Greece area on the Monroe County Interactive Historic Data Map website it has from 1930 to 1999 aerial photos in black and white whereas Google Maps and other modern map sites now have color Satellite images on their platforms.

North Greece Post Office

The North Greece post office moved around from H. C. Phelps on the Southwest corner of Latta and North Greece Roads to the hotel on the Southeast Corner then it moved behind what was Lewis Combs’s carriage and wagon manufactory. Then at some point in the 1950s or 1960s, it moved to a brick building at 640 N Greece Rd, North Greece, NY 14515 which is south of where the DeMay Hotel stood at the corner of Latta and North Greece Road.

The Hotel of Many Names Hotel Larken, Hotel Domino, Hotel DeMay, and more names

The next 3 Weeks will be About the Southeast corner and the Hotel of Many Names. One Hotel in our Hotel of Many names is actually the Manitou Beach Hotel and which was located at the western end of the Manitou Beach Trolley Line in 1943 it closed and never reopened after that year.

If you have memories or pictures of the inside of the DeMay consider posting some to our Facebook page so you can share a piece of Greece History for the rest of us to read and see what it looked like before it left us as a staple in the North Greece area.

Till Next week… This has been your look into the hamlet of Jenkin’s Corners / North Greece.

Related Material to this snapshot:

Manitou Beach Hotel by Alan Mueller

DeMay Hotel 1909 by Alan Mueller

North Greece Post Office by Alan Mueller

Related Snapshots:

Bicentennial Snapshot # 14 – General Stores
Bicentennial Snapshot # 10 – Samuel and Lydia and George and Frances Latta
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