Bicentennial Snapshot No. 50: Barnard and Lakeshore Fire Districts

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.”

Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Aerial view of Dewey Avenue at Clark Park, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

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.

Leon Cox
Leon Cox

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.

Map of Environs of Rochester and Monroe County, 1931, G. M. Hopkins Company, from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Barnard Fire Truck, the 1930s, from the Office of the Town Historian

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.

Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian
First police Department, 1940s, from GHS

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)

Barnard fire station, the 1960s, Office of the Town Historian
Barnard fire station, 2017, Office of the Town Historian

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.

Barnard fire station, 2006, photo by Bill Sauers
Squad 227 from barnardfire.org

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.

Barnard Exempts Board of Trustees, Greece Press, circa 1937

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.

Officer's Exempt Form
Officer’s Exempt Form
Barnard Park from google maps

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.

People gather for the Barnard Parade, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

The Carnival was held every year from 1928 to 2016 attracting thousands of people.

Ad for 1943 Barnard Carnival, from the Office of the Town Historian

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.

Current Lake Shore Fire District Coverage Map

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.

Lake Shore Fire Distract shield on side of the Ling Road fire station, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian

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.

Braddock Heights Fire Station
Braddock Heights Fire Station, which closed in the Late 1990s, now a Studio Home
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s Greece Town Historian
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s, Greece Town Historian

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.

Clip 21: Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Ad for Braddock Heights Fire Department Carnival from eBay

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.

Fire apparatus of Crescent Beach Fire Department, 1930s, Office of the Town Historian
Lake Shore fire apparatus, 1984
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road

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

Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS)
Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS) was Located at 1391 Edgemere Drive
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at 225 Lowden Point Road, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers

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.

Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauer
Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauers

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.

Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers

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.

Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Rescue Boat
Lake Shore Rescue Boat

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.

Ling Road station sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

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.

Map of the Walden Fire District that the Lake Shore Fire District assisted

As a Volunteer for the Greece Historical Society, I, Pat Worboys 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.

This is a link to my timelapse and pictures from the blizzard of 2022 and give you a look at what that Friday looked like for me when the blizzard hit https://photos.app.goo.gl/ADLsKhi8LG76hWGm7.

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.

A National Grid Substation was frozen by snow and required blast heaters to melt the snow to get them back up and running

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about some of the notable women in the history of Greece.

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Paddy Hill School

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.

Common School District #5
Common School District #5

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

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Board of Appeals, 271 App. Div. 33, 60 N.Y.S.2d 750 (N.Y. App. Div. 1946)

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece, 191 Misc. 241, 79 N.Y.S.2d 683 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1947)

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece, 273 App. Div. 942 (N.Y. App. Div. 1948)

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.

Learn more about the William C. Pomeroy Foundation does by going to https://www.wgpfoundation.org/

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 41: Northgate Plaza

Today we are talking about Northgate Plaza.

Two-page ad announcing the opening of Northgate Plaza, Greece Press October 29, 1953

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.”

Emil Muller developer of Northgate, from his obituary, Democrat & Chronicle, November 28, 1989
Dobson farm on 1902 Map

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.

Aerial view of Northgate area to the Lake, circa 1960s, from GHS
Original L-shaped layout of Northgate, from GHS

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.”

McCurdy’s at Northgate, 1957 from GHS
North end of the plaza, 1957, from GHS

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.

Wynken Blynken and Nod, 1960, photo by Tom DiBello
Publicity still for Cisco Kid (Duncan Renaldo)
Cisco Kid Ad
Cisco Kid Ad

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 Western television 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.[1] Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados wanted for unspecified crimes,[2] but were viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help.[3] It was also the first television series to be filmed in color,[4] 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.

One of the streaming services you can watch the Cisco Kid is Freevee on Amazon Prime

The Cisco Kid. (2022, December 7). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cisco_Kid_(TV_series)

Publicity still for Poncho (Leo Carrillo)
Ad for Miles Shoe Store, Greece Press, October 29, 1953

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.

Northgate Christmas ad Greece Press, December 8, 1955.
Nearly full parking lot at Christmas, 1957

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.

W. T. Grants Logo c. 1951-1965
J.C. Penney’s logo 1951–1962
Northgate sign, 1960
Greece woman drives home in wrong car, Times-Union, May 3, 1958

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.

’58 Bel Air
’58 Impala
Northgate sign 1980s from the Office of the Town Historian

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

The south end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010
North end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010

There were still businesses on the south and the north ends of the plaza.

Middle of Northgate plaza, June 2010, photo by Travis Beaver

But the middle section that once housed McCurdy’s was crumbling and had to be cordoned off.

Panoramic view of Northgate, 2009, photo by Bill Sauers

Now there were more seagulls in the parking lot than cars.

Tearing down where Big Lots was in Northgate Plaza

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 sign, 2017, from the Office of the Town Historian

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.”

Historical Marker at Northgate, 2012, photo by Bill Sauers
Northgate Plaza Shopping Center By Marie V Poinan

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.

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Monroe County Bicentennial Reflections (Feb. 2021)

On March 9, 2021, at the Greece Public Library, Monroe County Historian Carolyn Vacca presented a history of the county’s 200-year development through 19 towns, 10 villages, and the City of Rochester. The event, recorded by the Greece Historical Society, was part of the county’s bicentennial celebrations.

Thank you to Bill Sauers and the Greece Historical Society for recording the event. For more bicentennial events and information, visit www.visitrochester.com/bicentennial

The Ridgeway Air Park

For years during the 20th century, many communities in our area had their own airports ranging from grassy fields to paved run­ ways with hangers to store airplanes. Hilton had the Hilton Airport on Burritt Road. The Brizee airport in Pittsford was on Marsh Road. In Henrietta, there was the Hylan Airport and the short-lived Genesee Airfield. Woodward Field was well-known in Leroy; even Honeoye Falls had a small airfield. Let’s not forget the very early Britton Field on Scottsville Road organized by former Greece Supervisor Willis Britton.

What about the Town of Greece? Our first known airfield was run by WW I Ace, Roy DeVal, located in the Shoremont area in 1927. It had one of the first hangers in Monroe County. During the 1960s and 70s, the Greenleaf Flying Club had a private field on Kuhn Road. Of course, there were other landing areas on private farmland.

The largest and most infamous in the Town of Greece was located at the Southeast corner of Ridgeway Avenue and Lee Roads.

Shortly after WW II, Richard (Dick) Kaiser opened Ridgeway Air Park. At the time many veteran pilots

were looking for a place to store their planes or just a convenient field to land and rest, and this seemed to be an ideal spot. The place had a small hangar and at one time 16 private planes were quartered there.

But by the summer of 1947, neighbors began to complain about the low-flying planes over their homes. In July The Greece Press reported that the Town Board received petitions from the residents of the Latona Tract and Koda Vista neighborhood, citing flights allegedly created by the airpark that were “detrimental to the physical and mental health of the residents, especially children.” They wanted the place closed down.

Kaiser claimed that Ridgeway fliers were getting blamed unfairly for the low-flying acrobatics, but eventually did change the flight patterns of the planes flying in and out of the air park. This seemed to have calmed down the nearby residents.

However, a tragic accident occurred in October of 1947 when an Army Air Corps veteran flew too low while coming in for a landing and crashed into the Erie Canal embankment just north of the landing field killing himself and an 18-year-old passenger.

In June of 1948, a social organization, the Greece Aero Club, was formed at the airpark, and in August of ’48, Jim Earl, also an Army veteran, took over ownership of the place. But soon news reports about the airpark vanished.

Dick Kaiser and his wife, June, eventually moved to Utah. By 1956 Kiser’s wife, also a pilot, was flying in (I kid you not)a “Power Puff Derby” in Salt Lake City and Dick was employed by a company in Utah.

We are not sure when or what exactly ultimately ended the life of this airfield. There were reports of young boys using the “old field” for radio-controlled planes in 1955. Industrial expansion eventually took over the airfield land, forever covering any evi­dence of it ever having existed. Now, three-quarters of a century has all but eliminated hearing personal stories of the Ridgeway Air Park.

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Carousels of Monroe County

Linda Bartash-Dawley unveiled her work, “Carousels of Monroe County,” in a recent presentation. The narrative represents a comprehensive exploration of the historical carousels in Monroe County, appealing universally to carousel enthusiasts, historians, and anyone curious about local culture and heritage.

How Different It Might Have Been?

The fall of 1953 was a rapidly changing time for the residents of the town of Greece. The Lake Ontario State Parkway (LOSP) was under construction and contractors had all they could do to build new homes for Greece’s growing population, as 100 people a month moved into the town. According to Ray Cole, the town’s building inspector at the time, 55 new home permits were issued in September alone. Then there was the Northgate Plaza grand opening, a three-day event that drew crowds of up to 75,000. A new shopping complex today would cause little excitement, but back then it was to be the very first suburban shopping center in Monroe County.

Meanwhile, in October, a small group of town citizens would affect the future of Greece. A grassroots group, the Shoremont Association, headed by Mario Berardi of Edgemere Drive, was protesting the proposed construction of a factory at Dewey Avenue and Ling Road. It seemed that a 47-year-old local company with 800 employees was rapidly outgrowing their plant on Hollenbeck Street and other sites scattered around the City of Rochester.

The company had acquired an option on the land and was seeking a zoning change to build their proposed “campus­ type” research and production facility. The group of residents was afraid that a factory “would destroy the natural beauty of the lakeshore site, increase traffic, cause a smoke and industrial dirt nuisance and depreciate nearby proper­ ty values and those of Greece as a whole.”

A Democrat & Chronicle editorial praised the residents for their opposition to changing the towns zoning laws “that might allow the installation of a big factory in their neighborhood.” The editorial stated that “the company was one with a conscience and a sense of civic responsibility. Its officers were public-spirited, and it could be taken for granted they would not willingly ruin a great public asset”. (Indeed, the president of the company had been mayor of the City only 20 years before). ‘The citizens were wise to move rapidly in trying to repulse an effort to change the zoning laws.” Because of the residents’ protest, the company pulled out of the deal and began the search for another site.

Were the right decisions made that first week in October of 1953? Certainly, it would have changed the character of the neighborhood and we now know the site that the company had chosen would have been woefully inadequate.

Would they have soon abandoned the site when they ran out of room, leaving another empty building, such as the old Odenbach shipbuilding factory that was unoccupied for many years, or would they have continued to expand throughout the town of Greece? We will never know.

The Town of Greece certainly did prosper over the years without that factory, but so did the community that eagerly welcomed it. In 1954, Joseph C. Wilson, the president of the Haloid Co. announced his com­pany’s plans for a new complex in the town of Web­ster. Several years later in 1961, the company changed its name to Xerox.

The area as it looks today (Google Maps)

This is an edited version of a story by me that originally appeared in the Greece Post Oct 16, 2003.

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