LANDMARK SOCIETY ANNOUNCES 2020 FIVE TO REVIVE

An example of a neighborhood hardware store in the region.
11/12/20

LIST FEATURES PRESERVATION PRIORITIES IN WESTERN NEW YORK

The Landmark Society of Western New York today announced its 2020 Five to Revive – a list that identifies opportunities for targeted, strategic revitalization. The announcement was made at a virtual news conference from The Landmark Society headquarters in Warner Castle.

The List includes:

  • Clarissa Street Corridor
    City of Rochester, Monroe County
  • Williams Opera House
    Village of Attica, Wyoming County
  • 692 Joseph Avenue
    Future home of the Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance / Former Congregation B’Nai Israel

    City of Rochester, Monroe County
  • 67-89 Canal Street
    City of Rochester, Monroe County
  • The Neighborhood Hardware Store
    Throughout the region

This is the eighth year that The Landmark Society of Western New York is announcing the Five to Revive list to draw attention to key priorities for revitalization in western New York.  “The Landmark Society staff is dedicated to work collaboratively with owners, municipal officials, and developers to facilitate investment, foster rehabilitation, and  carry out our mission to protect the region’s unique architectural heritage,” said Wayne Goodman, Executive Director.

“In such revitalization projects that previously appeared on the list as the Eastman Dental Dispensary, Holley High School, Sampson Theatre, Perry Downtown Block, and Parrott Hall in Geneva, the Five to Revive initiative is proving to be very successful and continues to demonstrate that preservation and adaptive reuse are key strategies for revitalization in western New York,” said Tom Castelein, chair of The Landmark Society Five to Revive committee. “Our goal remains to return these important historic resources to places of prominence in their respective communities, as economic and social assets that spark even more investment and revitalization.”


Background on 2020 Five to Revive sites

 

Clarissa Street Corridor
City of Rochester, Monroe County

Located in Rochester’s Third Ward neighborhood (today known as Corn Hill), Clarissa Street has long been a focal point of African American culture and history. As early as the 1830s, Reverend Thomas James established the A.M.E. Zion Church in the Third Ward, a building that would become a stop on the Underground Railroad and where, in 1847, Frederick Douglass would publish the first editions of his abolitionist newspaper, The North Star. In the 1970s, A.M.E. Zion relocated to Clarissa Street. In 1922 the African American YWCA was founded at 192 Clarissa Street.

By the mid-20th century, as a result of the Great Migration, the African American population in Rochester had more than tripled. Racist housing policies such as red-lining confined most Black residents to one of two neighborhoods—the Third or Seventh Wards. This led to overcrowding, concentrated poverty, and sub-standard housing conditions in the Third Ward. At the same time, Clarissa Street became a hub of commercial activity for the neighborhood. As elder resident, Howard Griffin, recounts in Clarissa Uprooted, a documentary produced in 2020 by Teen Empowerment and the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee, “You really didn’t have to go downtown to shop for anything. Everything you needed was in the neighborhood.”  The corridor functioned as a self-contained village with restaurants, grocery stores, barber shops,  and a family-like sense of community. By the 1950s, Clarissa Street had also become a center of Rochester’s vibrant jazz scene. Clubs like the Pythodd (1953-1973) and Shep’s Paradise (1968-2002) became iconic gathering spaces. In Clarissa Uprooted, historian Dr. David Anderson explains that, “Clarissa Street is the foundation of Afro Rochester.”

In the decade following the July 1964 uprising, however, government-sponsored urban renewal cleared large swaths of the Third Ward, decimating much of Clarissa Street. The Pythodd Club was demolished in the 1970s. Today, the streetscape along Clarissa bears almost no resemblance to the once-thriving corridor that held a vibrant community of businesses and residents. The site of the Pythodd Club at the corner Clarissa and Troup St remains a parking lot. The former home of Shep’s Paradise is one of only two commercial buildings that remain standing.

But current and former residents—elders who experienced Clarissa Street and the jazz scene in their mid-century heyday—have been working to revive the corridor and preserve its stories. The Clarissa Street Reunion Committee has organized the annual Clarissa Street Reunion since 1996. This past year, they teamed up with Youth History Ambassadors from Teen Empowerment to produce the documentary, Clarissa Uprooted, that tells the story of this corridor’s cultural legacy.

With this listing, we support the ongoing work of the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee and Teen Empowerment as they share Clarissa Street’s past and chart a course for its future.

 

Williams Opera House
Village of Attica, Wyoming County

Built in 1879, the former Williams Opera House is a distinctive example of the Romanesque style. Located in the Exchange Street Historic District, it is one of the largest and most impressive buildings in Attica’s downtown commercial core. The building has had several uses over the years; most recently it was used as a racquetball court, resulting in the complete enclosure of the historic, two-story opera hall space. Plans for a re-imagined Opera House, prompted by a new owner in 2018, were delayed when the building suffered a partial collapse of its rear wall during a windstorm in early 2020. Today, the building has been stabilized but requires additional structural investigation as well as an extensive rehabilitation. With several successful historic tax credit projects completed in downtown Attica and a motivated owner, there is still potential to revive this community icon.

 

692 Joseph Avenue
Future home of the Joseph Avenue Arts & Culture Alliance / Former Congregation B’Nai Israel

City of Rochester, Monroe County

Located in Rochester’s northeast quadrant, 692 Joseph Avenue was built in 1928 as the Congregation B’Nai Israel synagogue. The congregation left the building in 1961 and it has been vacant since. The Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance acquired the property in 2015, with plans to convert the former synagogue into a state-of-the-art Center for Performing and Visual Arts, providing free, equitable, and accessible world-class arts programming and educational events. This initiative and the request by the region’s residents is what JAACA was born out of and why free and ever-growing programming was begun ahead of the center’s completion. The Arts and Culture Alliance has been actively fundraising and successfully providing quality arts programming to the community for years. However, the organization still faces significant (and mounting) rehabilitation expenses, especially during an economic crisis. 

 

67-89 Canal Street
City of Rochester, Monroe County

This large, brick industrial building in the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood was built in two stages—in the late 19th century for the James Cunningham & Son Company and between

1900-10 to house a shoe manufacturing facility. With open floor plans, large windows, its location adjacent to Main Street and downtown, and its listing in the National Register of Historic Places, this property is an ideal candidate for adaptive reuse. Other former industrial buildings in the neighborhood have been converted to new uses, such as the Carriage Factory Apartments, which provides affordable housing and supportive services for income-eligible tenants. East House and MM Development Advisors are currently partnering on a proposed redevelopment project that would adapt the building into a mix of supportive and affordable housing units and tackle needed environmental remediation. The success of such a large-scale project requires, however, significant financial investment, particularly challenging during difficult economic times.

 

The Neighborhood Hardware Store
Throughout the region

It’s where you go for your old-house DIY supplies, an obscure refrigerator part, or a friendly bit of advice. The neighborhood hardware store provides more than just hammers and nails or paint chips and dropcloths; it’s a resource for homeowners, weekend warriors, and contractors alike. Knowledgeable, attentive, and helpful staff are on-hand to find you just the right nail or to help walk you through your DIY project. Like the neighborhood bakery, coffee shop, or butcher, the small, locally owned hardware store distinguishes itself from the big box stores with its customer service and personalized care for you, the customer. Whether located in an urban neighborhood or rural village, the local hardware store is a convenient, easy to access, part of the urban fabric.

Unfortunately, like other locally owned businesses, the neighborhood hardware store has become an increasingly rare resource. Stiff competition from corporate-owned stores has forced many out of business. Demographic and cultural shifts back to urban cores and reinvestment in rural villages could help reverse this trend. With this listing, we seek to highlight the locally-owned, often family-run, neighborhood hardware stores that continue to provide quality service to our western New York communities and to encourage historic homeowners to shop local. 

 

About The Landmark Society: The Landmark Society of Western New York, Inc. is one of the oldest and most active preservation organizations in America, serving nine Western New York counties. Formed in 1937, The Landmark Society continues to protect the unique architectural heritage of our region and promote preservation and planning principles that foster healthy and sustainable communities. For additional information about The Landmark Society, visit www.landmarksociety.org. The Landmark Society is supported in part by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

 

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