Addison Gives Travelers a Reason to Stop

One of the most striking vistas in the Finger Lakes can be found at the crown of Orr Hill in Pinnacle State Park in Addison. A sweeping view of massive hills and deep valleys surrounds anyone who hikes the park’s grounds, plays a round on its rolling golf course, or dines at The Lodge at the Pinnacle restaurant.

“I remember Orr Hill very well,” says 82-year-old Jim Greengrass from his home in Georgia. “As kids we hunted there, hiked there and sledded from the peak through the woods, and all the way to the edge of the village.”

He often reminisces about his youth in Addison – summer days playing baseball from dawn to dusk on a sandlot field next to the Tuscarora Creek. “We didn’t have much money,” he says, “but it was a wonderful place to grow up and we sure had a lot of fun.”

The endless summer games beside the creek paid off for Jim. He got his first professional baseball contract in 1944, a year before graduating from Addison High School. It led to a 16-year baseball career including major league stints with the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies between 1952 and 1956. A “Home of Jimmy Greengrass” sign at the entrance to the village proudly salutes one of Addison’s favorite sons.

In many ways the Addison of today is the same quiet village it was in Jim’s memories. Nestled in a valley and bisected by the winding Canisteo River, its streets and traditional homes stretch in a scattered pattern amid the rising spires of churches and public buildings. The village features two historical districts, on Main Street and along Maple Street, which is lined with its classic Victorian homes. Those who established Addison’s early factories and mills parked their fine carriages there beside tree-covered parks to enjoy the parties in the elegant residences. The Hiram McKay home, for example, boasted a third floor ballroom.

Like so many other towns, Addison has experienced difficult times, but individuals and groups continually work to improve a town they all agree is “a great place to live.”

Ray Walch has been Addison’s mayor since 2007 and knows the village as well as anyone. A lifetime resident, he was schooled there and served as one of its police officers as well as its postmaster. Walch has been involved in many village businesses, clubs and services over the years. He said: “We have a good set of ‘doers’ in Addison, and with their efforts and a comprehensive village plan now in place, we all see some positive things happening down the road.”

For instance, the village went two decades without a pharmacy until the Addison Apothecary recently opened on Main Street. In 2009, The Middletown Historical Society Museum moved into an 1875 brick-front building, also on Main Street. The building’s original tin ceilings and rich longleaf pine flooring makes it the perfect spot to store and display valuable books, photographs and artifacts.

It’s hoped that other businesses will follow, bringing additional commercial activity to Addison’s historic 19th-century downtown.

The village of just fewer than 2,000 people commemorated its bicentennial in 2008. Every September the ever-growing Pinnacle Fall Festival is celebrated with a colorful array of autumn activities: games and hayrides, an auto show, crafts, pumpkin painting, toe-tapping music and lots of food.

The Addison Race Fest, a favorite Steuben County event, bursts on the scene each May. For a quarter-century the fest has provided races of all types for all ages – serious competitors and fun seekers alike. Runners dash through Addison’s streets while bicycle racers roam scenic country roads. Canoeists compete on the Canisteo River.

With its festivals, refurbished businesses and natural assets, Addison optimistically works to mold a bright future. Spirited groups like the Addison Ambassadors carry on promotion of community minded cultural and historical events.

“Resting in this beautiful valley we have no village bypass road,” says Mayor Walch. “State route 417 runs straight up our Main Street, and with something in the neighborhood of 10,000 vehicles a day passing through town, it only makes sense to give people a reason to stop.”

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by James P. Hughes

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