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Childs hamlet in Orleans County named ‘Five to Revive’

Photos by Tom Rivers: The Landmark Society of Western New York unveiled its annual list of “Five to Revive,” which included the hamlet of Childs in the Town of Gaines, Orleans County. The district is home to several cobblestone buildings, Tillman’s Village Inn and other historic structures.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 October 2019 at 6:35 pm

Designation from Landmark Society has spurred preservation projects in Holley, Rochester region

ROCHESTER – The Landmark Society of Western New York unveiled its 7thannual list of “Five to Revive,” which are historically significant sites that are need of protection and financial resources.

The list includes the Childs hamlet at the intersection of routes 98 and 104 in Gaines. The hamlet includes three cobblestone buildings – a church, house and schoolhouse – that are a National Historic Landmark, a designation approved by the federal Department of Interior in 1993.

Larry Francer, associate director of preservation for the Landmark Society, turns over the display highlighting Childs as a historic district in need of protection, and also investment.

That is highest historic status given to a site, one of the few in Western New York, said Cynthia Howk, architectural research coordinator for the Landmark Society.

“This is the crème de la crème of historic sites,” Howk said today.

The Landmark Society says the district is threatened by an “automobile-oriented design” that is dangerous to patrons of the museum and local businesses. The Landmark Society also is concerned about “insensitive new developments.” A new Dollar General has been proposed for construction across from the schoolhouse, which was built in 1849.

Here is the full writeup from the Landmark Society on the hamlet of Childs in Orleans County:

“The unincorporated hamlet of Childs is located a few miles north of the Village of Albion, at the intersection of State Routes 98 and 104. The hamlet is home to the Tillman’s Historic Village Inn and Fair Haven Inn, several pre-Civil War wood frame and brick historic houses, and the National Historic Landmark Cobblestone Museum. Also known as the Ridge Road, Route 104 has served as a main artery for east-west travel between the Genesee and Niagara Rivers since the early 19th century. Childs has functioned as a stopping point along the route since the first portion of the Village Inn was built in 1824.

“The hamlet’s history as a transportation corridor, which initially allowed it to flourish, has paradoxically contributed to its present-day struggles. Automobile-oriented design and development have made the hamlet inhospitable and dangerous to patrons of the Museum and local businesses while insensitive new developments threaten to further erode the character and vitality of the historic hamlet.

“The future economic potential of Childs lies in its unique historic character. Modern planning and zoning practices that encourage sensitive new construction, along with the addition of pedestrian-oriented infrastructure and design, could help guide the hamlet’s growth and enhance its economic development.”


The Town of Gaines is proposing to extend the commercial district on Route 104, to east of the historic district going to near Brown Road. That would give developers more options for buildings that are away from the historic district. The town also is looking to expand the commercial district near the intersection of routes 104 and 279.

The Cobblestone Museum resisted the Dollar General, and more than 1,100 people supported a petition against the store in the historic district. Town officials said the developer hasn’t communicated with Gaines in several months about the project.

File photo by Tom Rivers: Nelson Leenhouts, chairman and CEO of Home Leasing, addresses a crowd on Nov. 11, 2016 outside the former Holley High School. Leenhouts is leading the redevelopment of the site into senior apartments and the village offices. The “Five to Revive” designation drew the company’s interest in the property in 2013.

Childs is the fifth site in Orleans County to make the “Five to Revive” since 2013. The old Holley High School was on the debut list in 2013. That designation drew the attention of Home Leasing, a Rochester company.

Home Leasing started construction in November 2018 on a $17 million transformation of the former Holley High School, turning it into 41 apartments and the village offices for Holley.

The school transformation was cited as one of the biggest success stories of the “Five to Revive.”

Hillside Cemetery and chapel in Clarendon made the list in 2014. The designation also was helpful for Clarendon to secure a state grant to put a new roof on the Hillside chapel and repair stained-glass windows.

In 2016, the Landmark Society highlighted the deteriorating condition of the Lake Ontario State Parkway as a “Five to Revive.” The state Department of Transportation has since repaved part of the Parkway in Hamlin and near Kendall.

Last year, the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Holley made the list. The village has since been able to gain title of the property and can now guide its redevelopment, said Thomas Castelein, chairman of the Five to Revive Committee.

The Landmark Society is pleased with several success stories since the list started. The Five to Revive has rallied communities around important buildings and locations, drawn attention to the sites, and helped bring much-needed financial resources to the properties.

“All of these success stories are dependent upon partnerships and alliances,” Castelein said. “There wouldn’t be success stories without everyone working together.”

Matthew Lenahan, vice president of preservation for the Landmark Society, welcomes a crowd to the unveiling of the 7th annual “Five to Revive.” The event was held at The Historic Parsells Church on Parsells Avenue in Rochester. The church was picked to represent a growing concern in the region – large church buildings with relatively small congregations and dwindling financial resources. The Parsells Church was picked to represent the challenge of adaptive reuse of a historic house of worship.

The Landmark Society made the announcement of the Five to Revive at The Historic Parsells Church in Rochester.

Besides the Childs Historic District in Orleans County, other sites include:

• Highland Reservoir and Cobbs Hill Reservoir in Rochester

• 6 Madison Street in the Susan B Anthony Neighborhood in Rochester

• King’s Daughters and Sons Building, Dansville

• Adaptive Reuse of historic houses of worship – a thematic listing to shed light on people trying to adapt old churches to new uses. Four buildings were selected to represent the theme. They are the Historic Parsells Church, 345 Parsells Ave., Rochester; Trinity Church, 520 S Main St., Geneva; Logan Community Center, Town of Hector, Schuyler County; Former Wesleyan Church, 140 Fall St., Seneca Falls.

Click here for more information about this year’s Five to Revive.

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