Clarendon resident leads push to preserve several historic sites

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Heritage Hero: Erin Anheier

Photo by Tom Rivers – Erin Anheier is pictured at Hillside Cemetery in Clarendon with a chapel from 1894 in the background. Anheier wrote the application to get the site on the National Register of Historic Places. She said a fund-raising campaign may be needed to refurbish the chapel, particularly some of the window panes that are rotting.

CLARENDON – When Erin Anheier retired as personnel director for Delphi in Michigan, she wanted to come back to her roots.

In 2008, she and her husband Russ Bosch bought a cobblestone house on Bennetts Corners Road. It’s not too far from where she grew up on West Sweden Road, just across the Orleans County line.

Anheier’s house was built in 1849 and the masonry includes lake-washed cobblestones.

“They are very carefully sized and arranged,” she said. “You can see the skill in the masonry and it’s spectacular.”

Anheier wanted to recognize that effort and she applied to have the house listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It made the list in 2010.

Anheier was content to live in her old home and be back in the area with her family.

“I’ve always loved it here,” she said. “The area is beautiful. I like the change of seasons and the topography.”

But her experience working on the National Register application, and her heightened awareness of local historical resources, soon came into play.

Courtesy of Erin Anheier – When Anheier moved back to the area in 2008 after a career with Delphi in Michigan, she and her husband picked this cobblestone home on Bennetts Corners Road. They made repairs to the house and got it listed on the National Register.

The Old Stone Store, a mainstay at the corner of routes 31A and 237 since 1836, was going to be demolished. Town officials and many residents saw the building as an eyesore.

But Anheier saw it as an important part of the town’s history and identity. She helped to rally support for the building. The town held off on the wrecking ball, while Anheier and other volunteers cleaned up some of the site.

She connected with the Landmark Society of Western New York, which worked with Anheier to get the building on the National Register. The Landmark Society also teamed with the town to market the property. The Old Stone Store is one of the oldest stone commercial buildings in the region.

Joe and Sue Fertitta bought the Old Stone Store and have been renovating it.  They expect to have a tenant living in the upstairs and the first floor available for offices. Besides gutting and renovating the building, the couple plans to put on a front porch to match the building’s original look.

“This shows it can be done,” Anheier, chairwoman of the Old Stone Store Preservation Committee, said in October during a town meeting. “These buildings can be saved.”

File photo by Tom Rivers – The Old Stone Store was nearly demolished in 2011 after residents and town officials complained of its shoddy shape. Erin Anheier and other residents worked to clean it up. The site from 1836 was added to the National Register in 2012 and is currently being renovated with a front porch to be added to match its original look.

Anheier said the building will make Clarendon distinctive, with such a historical building at its main corner. She praised the community for coming together to keep up the site.

Anheier will be presented with a “Heritage Hero” award on Friday at 7 p.m. during a ceremony outside GCC’s Medina campus. Five “Heritage Heroes” will be honored during the Civil War Encampment.

Anheier was picked for leading several preservation projects, and for helping to change the culture in Clarendon, making preservation a priority.

She also sees potential in Hillside Cemetery. That site used to be owned and managed by a not-for-profit cemetery association, but was turned over to the town of Clarendon about a decade ago.

Anheier said Hillside is a great Victorian cemetery, a fitting final resting place for community residents. However, the site needs some upgrades, especially the chapel built in 1894 from local Medina sandstone.

Anheier wrote the application that landed the cemetery on the National Register last year. The designation should help the town secure grants for restoration projects.

“I also knew if we got it on the Register, the town would recognize we have a treasure here,” Anheier said.

File photo by Tom Rivers – The chapel at Hillside Cemetery could use some repairs. The cemetery was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

She is secretary of the Clarendon Historical Society. The group would like to mount a fund-raising campaign to restore rotted window panes, repoint mortar and make roof repairs. Anheier would like to see the chapel used again for services and community events.

Anheier is working on other preservation projects. She wrote the application for the National Register designation for the John and Chauncey White House, the White Farm Bed and Breakfast, on White Road in Brockport. She expects that will be approved soon.

She also is working on the application for the North Star School, Hamlin District No. 11. That will be reviewed for the State Register in June.  She is in the early stages of researching the Spencer-Sommerfeldt House, a stone house on the west side of Route  237, just north of New Guinea Road in Clarendon.