Historic Gaines house opens as ‘Fair Haven Treasures’
After 18 months of work, Ray and Linda Burke open new business
GAINES – Ray and Linda Burke drove by the big brick house many times. They admired the site at the corner of routes 98 and 104, but worried about its decline. For about five years the property was vacant until the Burkes bought it in November 2012.
It was a daunting task, but they renovated the house with a corps of volunteers, determined to breathe new life in a 3,000-square-foot house built in 1834, the same year the Cobblestone Universalist Church was erected across the street.
The Burkes opened Fair Haven Treasures on Saturday. They have high-end artisans and crafters at the site, and they want to make the building available for workshops, concerts, book-signings and other events.
“It just sat here with not much going on,” Mr. Burke said about the building. “It was getting run down.”
The Burkes met Carol Culhane as part of the planning for the town’s bicentennial bash in 2009. Mr. Burke and Culhane also served on the Zoning Board of Appeals together. Culhane is now the town supervisor and she saw potential in the old brick house.
She saw the site as a hub for artists and culture. She shared that vision with the Burkes, and offered to help with the cleaning and painting needed to get the site ready for the public.
Culhane’s husband Gerry also volunteered. The group removed plywood and linoleum from the floors, and discovered hardwood floors underneath. They took out one wall to make a bigger room that can be used for performances, book-signings and public events.
Culhane is managing the site, lining up vendors and events. She said the site is ideally located along historic Ridge Road. The eight-building Cobblestone Society Museum is across the street on both 104 and 98. Other businesses that sell antiques also have opened nearby.
“There is a lot of potential here,” Culhane said. “We could be another Lewiston.”
Culhane is working to have an International Peace Garden established in Fair Haven’s front lawn. The site was once owned by John Proctor, who is considered the Paul Revere of Ridge Road. He warned residents the British were coming during the War of 1812. Proctor also gave the hamlet the name Fair Haven.
Burke has connected with classic car owners and there will be cruise-ins on Sundays beginning June 8 from 4 to 7 p.m.
This fall Culhane wants to bring in teachers who will lead workshops on canning, quilting, sewing and knitting. “People don’t do it anymore but there’s a hunger for it,” Culhane said.
She grew up in the “Dutchtown” neighborhood in Rochester. That area in Jay, Childs and Ames streets has been overwhelmed with crime, and so many of the houses, even her old high school, have been torn down, Culhane said.
When she saw the brick house deteriorating, she worried it would meet the same fate as some of the beloved buildings of her youth.
“I lost my community from when I was growing up,” she said. “I lived through this.”
Culhane, as town supervisor, said the decline of the brick house was hurting the community. She worried if the site fell into more disrepair.
“It’s the centerpiece of Gaines and Childs,” Culhane said. “Repurposing this old house, what else would have happened to it?”
She believes the site’s use for art and culture will be an asset for the community, possibly leading to a growing trail of venues for artists. She noted the efforts to bring back the Pratt Opera House in Albion and also the Bent’s Opera House in Medina.
Ted Hicks of Oakfield is one of the vendors at Fair Haven. He sells wooden bowls and furniture he makes from reclaimed wood. Hicks typically sells his work at shows. He is grateful to have a permanent site for his products.
“They’ve been very enthusiastic about what this place can become,” Hicks said. “It is a great venue with the historic value of this building and the buildings around it.”
Fair Haven is open Fridays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.