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.
Our Snapshot this week is based on an exhibit researched and written by the late Gloria LaTragna and edited and designed by Gina DiBella in 2001 and updated for showing at the Greece Historical Society in 2018. This photo exhibit, Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses, is currently on display in the new Greece Office of Student Transportation Services at 1790 Latta Road. We greatly appreciate Gina sharing it with us for this Snapshot. Some corrections and updated information were provided by Pat Worboys who was doing research at about the same time and found things that were not included in the exhibit Restore, Renew, Rediscover Your Neighborhood Schools. My research started because my mom’s grandfather Harold Tebo, purchased not only Common School District Number 9, he also purchased the larger 2-room school on the northwest corner of Elmgrove Road and Elmore Drive the Greece Ogden School Number 12 which you will see in Part 2 of Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses that I became interested in researching the school houses of Town of Greece and with my dad Doug Worboys, we started doing more digging in on the research which took us to the Landmark Society of Western New York and there we found some information that I had Maureen correct before we recorded Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872 Parts 1 and 2. One of the most unique things that happened in the summer of 2003 was when Gene Preston came over and got both me and my dad to come over to the stand, and said he has an elderly lady who had either taught at school # 9 or was a student once we got to the stand we started talking with her by the way we never got her name before she left the stand. She told us about some of the interesting things about Common School District Number 9, how the teachers would enter the school from the rear and the students entered from the front. I will fill in more of this in part 2 of Rediscovering Greece’s Historic Schoolhouses of 1872.
Long before the establishment of the centralized Greece School District, students in the Town of Greece were educated in schoolhouses scattered throughout the town. Students in the area previously known as the town of Northampton have had the opportunity for a formal education since 1798 when the first school commissioner was elected. In 1823, one year after the Town of Greece was established, it was divided into Common School Districts. By the end of the 19th century, Greece had 17 common districts and two Joint districts that sat on the Parma Greece border just north of the North Greece Common School District # 6 area and west of the Frisbee Common School District # 7. There were some Districts that ended up being renumbered and restructured when the number of students kept increasing which occurred around 1919 and included the annexation of some of the districts into the City of Rochester School District as well.
Common School District #1
Common School District No. 1 school was located on the west side of present-day Lake Avenue, just north of Little Ridge Road [now West Ridge Road]. This one-room schoolhouse served the students in Hanford Landing. Today Kodak Park occupies the site of the schoolhouse and surrounding farmlands.
After moving from this location the school was located in an old frame building on Dewey Avenue north of Lewiston Avenue (Ridge Rd). The school housed 50 students. Mrs. O. H. Gordon was the principal until 1912. In the spring of 1912, the new present Kodak school 41 was completed. The school was admitted to the University of the State of New York. The name of the school switched to Kodak Union (Kodak No. 41) school in 1916. George H. William was the principal. At about that time a high school department was added with about 18 pupils. In 1917 an addition was added due to tremendous growth. In 1919 the school came into the city system. The student population at that time was 350 students in grammar and 45 students in high school. The high school became known as Kodak High School. Districts # 1, 4, and 10 were consolidated in 1916 when they were annexed by the city. Later high school students would attend John Marshall or Charlotte High School.
Common School District # 2
Common School District #2 Big Ridge School was located on the north side of Big Ridge Road [now Ridgeway Avenue] between Long Pond Road and Latona Road. A 1902 map, however, no longer shows a schoolhouse located on this site. There is no picture of this school located on Ridgeway Ave based on overlaying the 1872 map over a current map that puts the structure between Wehner Mower and Ventdi Septic Services on Ridgeway Ave today. The only thing we have from a Common School District No. 2 town of Greece of County of Monroe for the school year ending July 31, 1919, to Fred W. Hill who was District Superintendent at the time and you can see that Trustees Report here
Common School District # 3
Common School District #3 – Walker School was located on the west side of Mitchell Road near the site of the former Mitchell Road branch of the Greece Public Library. This school sat right on the Walker Property and the house still stands today. In 1912 – 1913 Elizabeth J Crawford was the teacher at Common School District #3 and Fred Hill district Supt.
Common School District #4
Perhaps in existence back in 1817. The first known teacher was a member of a pioneer family, Miss Adeline Holden. The school was located at Latta (Broadway) and Stutson (Holden) streets. In 1837 George Latta donated a site at the North side of Stutson St. A new one-room brick building replaced the old one. In 1837 bricks used for the building were made on-site. In the 1860s the school was overcrowded with 1 teacher handling 80 students. In 1868 a new school was built at the corner of Latta Rd and River Streets serving students grades 1 thru 8. In 1893 a two-story addition was completed at a cost of $ 6,200. In 1907 a second school was constructed on site which was Charlotte High school’s first building, and finished in 1908, sat on the site of the present Rochester Fire Department’s Engine 19 / Marine 1 / Gator 2 / Brush 1 at the Y where Lake Avenue and River Street meet right next to the Charlotte Cemetery. In 1911, the district employed 13 teachers. Both school buildings were demolished in 1937.
After annexation, Rochester built school # 38 on Latta Rd in 1928 and put on an addition in 1953. School # 38 Latter closed and is now home to Lake Breeze Condominiums. And Charlotte High School moved across and down the road no more heat 30 feet to the north where it used to sit. Students in this area ended up going to District #10 Greece or what is now called the City of Rochester, District # 42 – Abelard Reynolds School more on this School in Part 2 of Common School Districts of 1872.
Common School District #5 – Paddy Hill
District No. 5’s frame structure originally stood on the same parcel of land that Paddy Hill Elementary School occupies today. On the southwest corner of Latta Road at Mt Read Blvd, Mother of Sorrows Church and Cemetery were and still are located across the road. This district was in existence seven years after the Town of Greece was formed. The first school was located on a 60 x 60 lot on the southwest corner of Latta Rd. It was created by early settlers. The land was donated by Judge or Squire Nicholas Read. In the middle of the room was a three-legged pot belly stove that heated the room during the winter. Double benches could seat a total of three students. were the fixtures. In 1887 the student numbered 83. By 1894 the number had grown to 92. Miss Kate McShea and Miss Mary Burns were two of the earliest teachers. The salary in those days was $395.00.
The schoolhouse was closed in 1929 due to a fire that damaged parts of the school it would cost 5,000 to repair the building instead of it getting torn down the structure was salvaged and purchased by Milton Carter who moved it down the hill on Latta Rd so he could use it for his residence. The old school serves as a home presently.
Students attended Barnard School from 1929 until 1931 when a new brick school was opened across from the old frame building at 1790 Latta Road in 1932. A much-mentioned feature of this new school was the indoor lavatories. This one had 4 classrooms, a gymnasium, an assembly hall combination, a teachers’ room, a store room, and inside lavatories all on a nine-acre plot. Only one classroom was used for many years. The school grew to 11 teachers. When this closed in at the end of the 1954-55 School year the students then went back to the southwest corner of Latta Rd and Mt. Read Blvd when Paddy Hill Elementary school opened.
In 1955, Paddy Hill Elementary School was built and students moved across the road once again.
There has been a public elementary school at this intersection since 1839, either here or across the street 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.
The large brick school building No. 5 was converted to administrative offices for the Greece Central School District. It was torn down in 2021…
to make way for the GreeceOffice of Student Transportation and Student Services Facility. This is where you vote for the school budget each year and it also holds the District Board Meetings instead of at Greece Odyssey Academy. In the back of this complex is a sea of buses that brings the students to and from school each day and behind that is Arcadia Middle and High School
Several artifacts from the building were saved including this sculpture of the Torch of Knowledge which is now mounted in the backyard of the Greece Historical Society and Museum. Gina DiBella, on behalf of the Society, is preparing a report documenting the history of the building for the New York State Historic Preservation Office.
The name plaque above the entrance door was also preserved. According to sources both within the School District, the Town of Greece, and Members of the Historical Society, said there are plans to mount this 10-foot by four-foot slab near the flagpole of the new building with a time capsule buried with the students from Paddy Hill school participating. But as of this post that has not occurred yet when it does happen it will be added to this post and in a story as well in the January Newsletter will be a story on Paddy Hill School written by Bill Sauers, and when the museum reopens in March we will Feature this school as the featured exhibit of the year for 2023.
Common School District #6 – The Gooseneck School
The irregular direction of College Avenue as it winds from North Greece Road to Latta Road forms what appears to look like a gooseneck. Although this road does appear on the closeup map of the North Greece area in the 1872 Monroe County Plat Map by Beers, F. W. (Frederick W.). Atlas of Monroe Co., New York: From Actual Surveys by and Under the Direction of F. W. Beers. New York: F. W. Beers & Co. which you can see on the Monroe County Public Library http://photo.libraryweb.org/rochimag/mcm/mcm00/mcm00009.jpg
The name of the street is said that the name of the road came about due to the school. The first school on this site was a brick structure.
In 1927 the school had swings, slides, and teeters (teeter-totters or seesaws) 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. that same year they had regular electric lights.
The children of the small hamlet of North Greece attended this school until 1949 when Common School District No. 6 joined the Hilton School District.
After the school closed, the school bell was relocated to the top of the chimney of the former Hotel DeMay.
The school building still stands today as a private residence.
Thank you for joining us today. Next week we continue our tour of the old Common School District with Districts 7-17 and Joint Districts 13 and 14.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
This church continued to be at the heart of the Irish community.
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.
Paddy Hill Library/Rochester Academy Charter School
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.
Look at this 1902 map and you can see that Read’s Corners is still surrounded by Irish family farms.
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.
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.
Thank you for joining us today, next week our Snapshot is about growing up on Paddy Hill.