This week we explore the history of Barnard and Lake Shore Fire Districts.
Barnard Fire Department
“Early in 1927, a group of civic-minded citizens of the Barnard District seeing the rapid growth of the section, decided that some form of fire protection was needed. This group set about to organize a fire department, and on April 14, 1927, this was realized by having the incorporation papers approved by the Greece Town Board.”
The firehouse was built in 1928 on land donated by George H. Clark.
Leon Cox helped found the Barnard Fire Department, was a town councilman, and was a leading businessman in the area.
The district’s approximate boundaries are Mount Read Blvd on the west, Latta Road on the north, and the city of Rochester on the east and south.
Their first piece of apparatus was a White truck, combination hose, and chemical, purchased from the City of Rochester. The new company fought its first fire on February 4, 1928, at the MacDonald residence on Wendhurst Drive.
25 to 30 firefighters responded to the fire. It was an all-volunteer company, but today is a combination of career and volunteer members.
When Greece converted from constables to a police department in 1932, their headquarters were a room in the Barnard fire station. The police department moved to the town hall in the 1950s.
The fire district operates from a single fire station approximately in the geographic center of their service area. In 1950, realizing that their iron lung machine was better off in a hospital setting, the Barnard Fire Department donated it to Strong Memorial Hospital. (Snapshot # 47 Childhood illnesses and diseases)
The firehouse was expanded in 1999.
At 3.7 miles, the Barnard Fire District serves the smallest geographic area in Greece, but it has the densest population at 5,536 per mile.
At least one of the firefighters on duty each shift is a paramedic and “Barnard is the only fire department in Greece to provide paramedic first-response.” Of their average 3,500 calls for service, 77% are EMS-related.
In 1935, the Barnard Exempt Fireman’s Association was founded to provide relief aid to disabled or indigent members and their families, to promote the volunteer department, and to foster camaraderie among current and former Barnard firefighters. Under New York State law, exempt in this case meant that the volunteer firefighters were exempt from jury duty and although not in the town of Greece from a small portion of their property taxes.
In 1937, the Exempts purchased a 16-acre tract on Maiden Lane to build not only a clubhouse for themselves but also with the intention “to turn it into the finest town small park in the state.” They laid out a baseball diamond, set out tables and benches for picnics, and constructed fireplaces for hotdog and marshmallow roasts.” Over the years the park and the party house have hosted thousands of functions.
And on the grounds of the Barnard Exempts, there is a shed that was used as a camp headquarters for a Boy Scouts troop that was sponsored by Barnard Exempt members
A staple of the Dewey-Stone area was the annual Barnard Carnival and Parade, a fundraiser for the fire district.
The Carnival was held every year from 1928 to 2016 attracting thousands of people.
It has been replaced by Bands at Barnard, a series of summer music concerts. You can find more information online for the 2023 schedule for Bands at Barnard by going to their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Bandsatbarnard.
Lake Shore Fire District
In 1957 four separate fire companies that served the lake shore communities joined together to form the Greece Lake Shore Fire District. They were the Braddock Heights Fire Department, Grand View Heights Fire Department, Crescent Beach Fire Department, and Lake View Fire Company.
In the early 1930s, Barnard and North Greece fire districts were under contract with the town to provide service to the shore communities; Barnard was responsible for Shoremont west of the city line to Island Cottage to the Buck Pond outlet and the North Greece territory was from Crescent Beach west to Braddock Heights, including Grand View Beach and Grand View Heights.
But these areas also had their own fire departments. Like Barnard, concerned citizens formed a volunteer fire department at Braddock Heights in 1930. It was located on East Manitou Road at 2nd Ave. Their nickname was The Swamp Rats.
A new station was constructed circa 1965 at 35 East Manitou Road; today, it is no longer a fire station but a studio home.
Crescent Beach Fire Department was founded in 1934 as the Crescent Beach Protective Association but changed its name to Crescent Beach Fire Department when it was incorporated in 1936. It was located on Edgemere Drive. Their symbol was an owl with the motto “We Never Sleep.”
And Grand View Heights established its fire association in 1925 and incorporated in 1936 and was chartered by New York State as a fire department in 1944. They were located at Lowden Point. In the background of the station is the fire siren that was used to call the volunteers to the station before pagers, beepers, cell phones, and radios in the firefighters’ personal vehicles.
Since they were not under contract with the town, they could not be supported by taxes. Each of these volunteer groups and their women’s auxiliaries held frequent fundraisers such as card parties, sauerkraut dinners, and annual carnivals just like Barnard.
The funds raised were used to purchase firefighting equipment.
In 1957, when they joined together a new firehouse was constructed on Ling Road and called the Lakeview Fire Company
Two of the Lake Shore Fire Department Stations suffered fires the Crescent Beach fire on February 16, 1983, and the Grand View Beach on March 15, 1983, with both stations unable to operate out of their station bays a new station was required
The Lake Shore Fire District decided to replace both stations with a new building centrally located between both Cresent Beach and Grand View Beach at 1 Long Pond Road. In 1992, the fire station was officially re-dedicated it as the Charles L. Carroll Fire Station honoring the first fire chief of Lake Shore.
The new site was centrally located in the fire district, and would provide a “more efficient reaction and response in all directions.” It became the first full-time staffed station in the Lake Shore Fire District and was designated the headquarters. It eventually incorporated Braddock Heights in the late 1990s.
The Ling Road Fire House was replaced with a new building in 2012 and on June 16, 2012, the fire station was officially dedicated in the name of Robert Brindley, LSFD life member and past fire chief of the Lakeview Fire Company. The Ling Road station covers the east end of the Lake Shore Fire District.
As of 2018, the department had 11 full-time career firefighters and 41 volunteers.
Unique to the Lake Shore Fire district, the department has two boats and crews trained in water rescue; the boats are assigned to the Ling Road Station. The fire department averages 1,000 calls for service per year, 67% are EMS-related. In 2018 there were 13 events that required the rescue boat.
All the Greece fire departments give mutual aid when required: to the other Greece fire districts, the city of Rochester, and neighboring towns, but sometimes they also provide assistance or will fill in for the fire station, and will deploy elsewhere if needed in the state and country to show support or relief for other fire companies. Most recently Lake Shore District firefighters went to Buffalo to assist them after the Christmas weekend blizzard of 2022. Below is the Map of the Walden Fire District in the Town of Cheektowaga.
As a Volunteer for the Greece Historical Society, I worked on the Extreme Weather Snapshots with Maureen, which we put together and aired in November, a month before the Christmas Blizzard hit Buffalo.
It was the second record snowfall in less than a month, from the 78 inches dropped in Orchard Park and then 64.7 at Christmas. It is the most snow in New York State to fall between Buffalo and Tug Hill for the 2022 – 2023 snow season.
I have pictures and 2 time-lapsed footage of the Christmas Weekend Blizzard of 2022 from my apartment in the City of Buffalo, where I only lost power for 24 hours.
Some of the issues that the county of Erie and the City of Buffalo had to deal with were the amount of snow that fell in the county and the number of trapped or stranded vehicles. High winds reduced visibility to zero; streets became impassable. Tragically, the City had the highest number of deaths.
One of the more unique problems was that the power substations that are built in what look like fake buildings ended up becoming frozen. Because of the way the heat systems in those substations operate, some of the stations did not allow the snow to pass through nor had very good snow barriers to prevent snow from building up in them; the accumulation of snow and ice inside them caused the grid to crash in certain parts of the City of Buffalo.
Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about some of the notable women in the history of Greece.
Every year or so, with shifts in population, there seems to be changes where our children go to school, but change has been going on since children have been attending school. One hundred years ago, most Greece children attended one-room schools in one of more than a dozen individual school districts. As times changed, new schools were built, old ones closed, and school districts merged. High school students even attended City high schools. It wasn’t until 1961 that Greece graduated its first high school class. All the while there has been one constant, a public elementary school has been at that intersection at Latta Road and Mt. Read Boulevard for 183 years.
In 1839 Bernard and Mary O’Neil, the owners of a large tract of land, at the Northwest corner of what would become Mt. Read Blvd. and Latta Road, sold one-eighth of an acre of their land to Common School District Number Five for $50.00.
A small school was soon built and used for nearly 90 years, until 1930 when a modern brick school building was built across the street. That brick building was demolished in 2021. It is said that the one-room school building was then moved down the road and became a private home of the first chief of police Milton Carter, but the school district remained the owner of the small one-eighth acre.
The remainder of the O’Neal property was purchased by Patrick and Margaret Rigney in 1850 and eventually owned by their only daughter Mary. In 1944 the land was transferred to the Diocese of Rochester, then to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Corporation who had plans for a new cemetery. This action resulted in a three-year legal battle between the Town of Greece, and the Diocese. After several court battles, a final State Supreme court decision ruled in favor of the Town, leaving Holy Sepulchre no choice but to sell the land. You can read summary about the cases of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Board of Appeals and Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece at casetext.com
In 1948, Harmon Poray purchased most of the O’Neal-Rigney land from Holy Sepulchre, and shortly after Joan and Robert Feeney purchased the original farmhouse. By the early 1950s, Greece was becoming the fastest-growing town in New York and the need for a new school was evident. In 1954 Poray sold a large portion of the land to the Union Free School District #5 and in 1955 sold the remainder of the land to Latta Real Estate Corp. Within two years Picturesque Drive was being laid out in what would soon be a sprawling sub-division and a new school, now called Paddy Hill School would open in Sept 1956 on the very corner that its predecessor, School #5, was built in 1836. In 1956, the Greece Central School District was organized with the merging of districts 2, 5, 15, and 17.
Over the years the present Paddy Hill School has expanded to meet the needs of a growing neighborhood. But we can safely say that Paddy Hill School is the oldest school in Greece and possibly Monroe County.
In 2014, as a gift to the school, the Greece Historical Society secured a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation for a historical marker commemorating the history of the school. That marker sits on that original 1839 land purchase.
On October 29, 1953, “the first major suburban shopping center in Monroe County and one of the largest open-air malls in the eastern United States” opened at 3800 Dewey Avenue. On the site of the Dobson Farm.
Northgate, as the plaza was called because it was “the northern gate of the city” of Rochester, was the brainchild of developer Emil Muller. A Swiss émigré, Muller was a self-made, multi-millionaire known for his “expertise in building shopping plazas.”
Muller built Northgate on land he purchased from the Dobson family. On this 1902 map, you can see the Dobsons farmed on both sides of Dewey Avenue. Dewey Avenue at that time was called Barnard’s Crossing and Denise Road was Clinton Avenue.
Muller chose Dewey Avenue for its demographics—it was densely populated and Greece was growing by leaps and bounds. On this Aerial view of the Northgate Plaza, you can see the following Greece Schools from closest being English Village School, then Britton Road School, and Lakeshore School, in the top left is Rochester Gas and Electric Rusell Station Power Plant, and in the top right of the aerial view is the pier and the Genesee River.
The plaza had 24 stores grouped in an L shape. The more familiar horse-shoe layout would follow in 1956 when it expanded to 30 stores.
Another first for the plaza and Greece, when McCurdy’s opened a store here it was the first time a large downtown department store extended “on-the-spot service to a local suburban area.”
Among the other original stores were Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, Fanny Farmer’s Candy, Scrantom Book & Stationary, Security Trust Bank, Woolworth’s, and not just one but two supermarkets, Star Markets, and Wegmans. To keep customers safe while walking to the stores and to protect them from inclement weather Muller erected an eight-foot-wide marquee that covered the sidewalks. Parking was free. There were 3,000 parking spaces but sometimes that wasn’t enough.
A favorite of children was Gray’s Hobbies which later became Wynken Blynken and Nod.
The three-day grand opening event featured appearances by currently popular tv characters the Cisco Kid and Poncho.
The Cisco Kid is a 1950–1956 half-hour American Westerntelevision series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, the Cisco Kid, and Leo Carrillo as the jovial sidekick, Pancho. The series was syndicated to individual stations and was popular with children. Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados wanted for unspecified crimes, but were viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help. It was also the first television series to be filmed in color, although few viewers saw it in color until the 1960s. The show would run for 6 seasons with 26 episodes per season for a total of 156 episodes you can find episodes of The Cisco Kid on a variety of streaming services. Here is a link to a Google Search that will let you find and watch whichever episode you would like to watch https://g.co/kgs/RQEhd1. In Rochester, Cisco Kid aired on WHEC-TV/WVET-TV channel 10 at 6:30 PM.
Fun Fact Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo did do most not all of the horse riding themselves they were very talented horse riders.
There were added incentives to draw customers, such as a free handbag from Miles Shoes, but they probably weren’t necessary. 60 to 70 thousand people attended over the three days.
Needless to say, Christmas brought scores of people out to shop in Northgate Plaza.
By 1957, there were 30 stores in the plaza including J. C. Penney’s which opened in 1954, and W. T. Grants in 1956. The parking lot was nearly full during the Christmas season. It was quite a distance to walk to your car from McCurdy’s to the front entrance.
Finding one’s car could be problematic. Such was the case for the mother of our Society’s President, Bill Sauers. And it wasn’t even Christmas.
On May 2, 1958, Mrs. William Sauers drove to Northgate Plaza in the new Chevy Impala that they had owned for only a few days. After finishing her shopping, she returned to her car but had trouble getting the key into the ignition. She complained to her husband that she shouldn’t have had that much trouble with a brand-new car. Well, the police showed up at her house at 11 pm to tell her that she had driven away in someone else’s car, a Chevy Bel Air. The police who had been called by the owner of the Bel Air were able to determine who had taken her car when the only car left in the Northgate parking lot had tags registered to the Sauers and they righted the unintentional car switch.
Northgate had a difficult time competing with the new indoor malls that were constructed, particularly Greece Towne Mall and Longridge Mall in the 1970s—and by the time the two malls were combined in 1997 Northgate was in terrible shape. We discuss the Mall at Greece Ridge in BICENTENNIAL SNAPSHOT # 12 – THE RIDGE PART 2
There were still businesses on the south and the north ends of the plaza.
But the middle section that once housed McCurdy’s was crumbling and had to be cordoned off.
Now there were more seagulls in the parking lot than cars.
Walmart purchased the plaza property in 2007 and after several years of legal wrangling, got the go-ahead to build a Walmart Supercenter and reconstruct the plaza. Some of the issues for the area where the amount of shoplifting that occurred at Wal-Marts, traffic issues that could cause backup on Dewey Ave, English Road, and Denise road, and no Auto Center at this Wal-Mart Location.
The new Northgate opened on August 12, 2012. and just to the left about no more than 15 feet, you will come across this Historical Marker that was unveiled at the ceremony marking the grand opening a historical marker was erected acknowledging the Haudenosaunee who used to camp on the site, the pioneer Dobson family, and the “first major suburban plaza in Monroe County.”
If you would like to read more about the history behind Northgate Plaza, the Society’s publication, Northgate Plaza Shopping Center, compiled by Marie Poinan, is available in the Museum’s gift shop.