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Endangered places

Much of our region's character can be found in its architecture: the homes, industrial buildings, schools, office buildings, and churches that were built when Rochester's star was rising. Now many of these buildings are abandoned or are facing vacancy or bankruptcy, while new developments and building projects crop up all around. If these older structures are not preserved, we could lose them; and along with them, we will lose a part of history.

Some talented and devoted architects, craftspeople, designers, and builders worked on these buildings. They were built to last, with quality and beauty as the first priorities. But 100 to 200 years later, they need some help.

This is an updated list of some of the area's most stressed places, compiled with help from the Landmark Society of Western New York.


RoseInnMansion and Carriage House, 625 Mount Hope Avenue

The former RoseInn bed and breakfast and its fire-damaged carriage house --- one of the most architecturally distinctive in MonroeCounty --- are vacant, and their future is uncertain.

ParazinBuilding, 208 Mill Street

Built in 1826 as the Selye Fire Engine Company, this stone building is one of the oldest industrial buildings in Rochester. It's the last vacant structure in the HighFalls area.

Eastman Dental Dispensary, 800 East Main Street

The Italian Renaissance-style brick building, built in 1917 by George Eastman as a children's dental clinic, inspired copies in Brussels, Paris, Rome, and Stockholm. It's been empty since 1977.


Built in 1962 as the first downtown, indoor shopping mall in America, MidtownPlaza was successful for 30 years. Now it needs tenants and a new vision for its future. Can Renaissance Square help rejuvenate it?

KirsteinBuilding, Andrews Street

This vacant former eyewear manufacturing facility, built in 1908, is adjacent to the St. Paul Corridor. Perhaps it could take on new life as more downtown loft apartments.

Erie Canal Stone Warehouse, Clinton Street, Brockport

This important early 19th-century industrial building is situated on the south bank of the Erie Canal. Located in MonroeCounty's premier Victorian-era commercial district, it offers a rare opportunity for redevelopment.

Former St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 2390 West Ridge Road, Greece

This major example of late 19th century Gothic Revival style is the only historic, stone-constructed church that survives in Greece. The rare (for our area) sandstone church is vacant and available for commercial purposes.

Free AcademyBuilding, 13 South Fitzhugh Street

Noted local architect Andrew Jackson Warner designed this building, which was constructed in 1872-73 and served as Rochester's first city high school for 30 years. While it is occupied, the building needs attention and new tenants.

SibleyBuilding, 228 East Main Street

Designed by J. Foster Warner and built over many years in the early 20th century, this building housed the legendary Sibley's department store. The Urban Land Institute thinks Rochester's largest department store is ripe for redevelopment into loft apartments, but the privately owned building is saddled with financial problems and debt to the city.

James Cunningham, Son & Co.

Once Rochester's largest employer, this massive carriage-manufacturing complex extends along three blocks facing on Canal, Litchfield, and Silver streets near the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood. The area has attracted development interest in recent years, and the Cunningham building seems to be a prime candidate for adaptive rehabilitation.


Financial challenges have forced the county to postpone its plan to pave part of this historic park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, for a parking lot. But the plan, presumably, isn't dead, and preservationists are still keeping watch over it. Rochester is one of only five American cities with an Olmsted designed park system.

Sts. Peter and Paul's Roman Catholic Church, 720 West Main Street

One of MonroeCounty's most architecturally significant religious buildings, Saints Peter and Paul was modeled after churches in Florence, Siena and Rome. Dedicated in 1912, the church follows the grand basilica form, with a huge barrel-vaulted ceiling painted in ivory and gold. The church is scheduled to close.

The Gracey House, 1160 Routes 5 & 20, just west of Geneva

This elegant 1848 Greek Revival-style farmhouse is one of the most significant examples of cobblestone masonry in the region. The house should be preserved in its rural context, but it's located in a rapidly developing commercial corridor.

Success stories

Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station, 320 West Main Street

Three cheers to Nick Tahou's for putting an outstanding new roof on the city's oldest surviving passenger train depot, located at downtown's western gateway.

The Flatiron, 3 State Street

Commendations for Mitch Rowe and Tom LaBue, who saved this cool building from demolition. Go have a cup of coffee and stay for open mic night to celebrate the rebirth of this eye-catching building at the corner of State Street and Lyell Avenue.

Michaels-Stern Building, North Clinton Avenue

Another example of successful redevelopment of a former clothing factory into loft apartments, this one was done by Buckingham Properties.

Esperanza Mansion, Route 54A, near Branchport in YatesCounty

Esperanza, which means "hope" in Spanish, is aptly named. One of the great Greek Revival mansions in New YorkState, it proves that a building can have nine lives. This landmark mansion survived eight decades of neglect as well as owners with ideas bigger than their pocketbooks. Treat yourself to day out of town by taking in a meal at this restaurant-inn while enjoying one of the most breathtaking views in the region.

Medical Arts Building, 277 Alexander Street

Rochester's most glamorous Art Deco address now provides high-rise living. The Billone family spearheaded the innovative and stylish rehabilitation of this former office building, which emphasizes geothermic heating and energy efficiency.

In This Guide...

  • Home/Design 2006

    PRESERVATION. The old saying goes that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

  • 20 is the new 19

    Why it's worth preserving 20th century architecture
    Sid and Barbara Braverman were on their annual winter trip to Florida when they received a call about their house in Brighton. Nothing was wrong with the Thackery Road residence.

  • Right for the part

    Where to find replacement hardware and more for your
    You love your old house --- it has charm, it has character, it has significance. But you don't love it when, say, your antique doorknob breaks off and the only replacement options at Home Depot are slick, modern numbers that scream "2006" rather than "1916."

  • Casting their vote

    Neighbors band together to rehabilitate Susan B. Anthony Preservation District
    Residents of the Susan B. Anthony Preservation District have a history of working cooperatively for the greater good. In the parlor of her Madison Street home, Anthony herself worked with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass tirelessly campaigning for women's suffrage and civil rights for all people.