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Clarendon Stone Store will get new life

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 October 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Joe and Sue Fertitta have begun the process of turning the old stone store building, currently an eyesore at the corner of routes 31A and 237 in Clarendon, into an attractive asset for the town.

CLARENDON About two years ago the Town Board nearly unleashed the wrecking ball on a prominent building at the corner of routes 237 and 31A.

The building, a former store that dates back to 1836, had fallen into disrepair. Neighbors complained about rodents from the structure as well as its dilapidated appearance.

During a July 2011 meeting, some residents asked the structure to be torn down. The town owned it because a previous owner stopped paying taxes on the property.

But a small group of residents saw potential at the site. They asked the board for time to clean up the property and work to find a buyer.

A new owner, with a track record of reviving worn-out structures, is now working on the Clarendon Stone Store. Joe and Sue Fertitta expect to have the project done next summer, with 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.

“A lot of people have helped to make this happen,” Town Supervisor Richard Moy said Friday during a celebration at Town Hall.

Town Supervisor Richard Moy, right, presented the keys of the Clarendon Stone Stone to Sue and Joe Fertitta on Friday. The couple also was presented a souvenir T-Shirt from the town’s bicentennial. An image of the store is on the back of the shirt. Mrs. Fertitta is holding the couple’s granddaughter, Jazlyn.

He presented the keys to the building to the Fertittas. He also gave them a shirt from the town’s bicentennial, which has an image of the stone store on the back.

“This shows it can be done,” said Erin Anheier, chairwoman of the Old Stone Store Preservation Committee. “These buildings can be saved.”

The town established the Old Stone Store Preservation Committee to work on the project. Anheier connected with the Landmark Society of Western New York, which hired a firm to do an engineering report on the structure. Community donations helped pay for the study that showed the structure was still solid.

Anheier and the committee were also successful in getting the building, one of the oldest stone commercial buildings in the area, on the state and national registers of historic places.

“To see a stone store building from the 1830s is extremely rare,” said Caitlin Mieves, a preservation planner with the Landmark Society.

A historic photo shows the Clarendon Stone Store back in its heyday.

The building was last used as a store in 1975. It not only served as a hub for commerce for nearly 150 years, but was the center of the community from a social aspect, Mieves said.

She praised the town for giving the building a chance for a new life, and for the group of volunteers for spearheading the project.

The local committee and Landmark Society worked with the town to find an owner for the building. The property is being transferred to the new owners for only $1. But the new owner needed to submit a plan so the building would resemble its original splendor.

This rendering shows how the former Stone Store building in Clarendon should look after renovations and upgrades, including a new porch. (Bryant Design Studios)

The Fertittas of Parma have revived many structures that were in a state of ruin, including a condemned house on Bennetts Corners Road in Clarendon. Melissa Ierlan, the town code enforcement officer, reached out to the Fertittas.

“This is a walk in the park compared to what we’ve done before,” said Mrs. Fertitta.

She and her husband have already hauled out two dumpster loads of garbage and debris from the building.

They have made a few exciting historical finds as well, she said. They took out the drop ceiling in the first floor, which exposed the original wooden beams in the building. They have found a black-and-white photo from a previous owner, Wes Potter.

They also discovered his daughter Stephanie’s school identification card, from the 1955-56 school year at St. Mary’s Catholic School. Three old buttons have also turned up. Mrs. Fertitta showed off the relics to town officials on Friday.

“We love doing this,” she said about rehabbing buildings.

Sue Fertitta shows three buttons and a school identification card from 1955-56 for Stephanie Potter, daughter of the building’s previous owner.