Find us on Facebook

Holley given $5K grant to bolster preservation efforts

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 October 2014 at 12:00 am

Old School, Public Square eyed for historic district

Photos by Tom Rivers – Tania Werbizky, regional director of technical and grant programs for the Preservation League of New York, discusses a $5,000 grant with Holley Mayor John Kenney while the two stand in front of the old Holley High School. The League is giving Holley the grant to help with its application to get a cluster of about 40 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

HOLLEY – Wayne Goodman drove into Holley this afternoon from Rochester. He passed through the mid to late 19th century buildings in the Public Square and then saw churches made of Medina sandstone.

The old Holley High School is a dominant presence at the corner of routes 31 and 237, and many grand residential homes are nearby.

“You have a beautiful village here,” Goodman, executive director for the Landmark Society of Western New York, said at presentation today when the village received a $5,000 grant.

That money will pay a consultant, Bero Architecture of Rochester, to help Holley with its application to be included on the state and national registers of historic places. Bero will help with the research, writing and compilation of the application that could include 40 buildings in the Public Square and surrounding neighborhoods.

Wayne Goodman, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, said Holley has many historic resources that are worthy of recognition at the state and national levels. He is pictured with Mayor John Kenney.

Goodman said Holley is deserving of the recognition. It’s historic sites are largely intact and they remain from the canal’s heyday in the 1800s.

“So many communities strive to achieve the power of place and Holley has that,” Goodman said while standing next to the old Holley High School.

The school was built in 1930 and has been vacant for about 20 years. Mayor John Kenney said several developers have eyed the site for senior apartments.

If the school is included on the state and national registers, a developers could access up to 40 percent of the project’s rehab costs in tax credits. That could be a difference in getting the building restored and back as a contributing asset to the community, bringing tax base and jobs to the village, Goodman said.

“This is another step in the revitalization process,” Kenney said.

The old Holley High School is not beyond saving, preservation officials said today. The Landmark Society named the school one of its “Five to Revive” last year, trying to draw attention and resources to the site.

Tania Werbizky, regional director of technical and grant programs for the Preservation League of New York, presented Kenney with the $5,000 ceremonial check this afternoon. She said the grants were competitively selected.

Holley stood out as a canal town with enviable historic resources, she said. The Preservation League also was impressed with recent improvements to the commercial district in the Public Square, and the village’s commitment to bringing back the old school.

“We think Holley is primed to take advantage of this program,” Werbizky said about the tax credits from the state and national registers. “We’d love to come back for a ribbon-cutting in the near future.”

Holley’s Public Square includes many commercial sites from the mid to late 1800s.

The school closed in 1975. Kenney, a retired Holley teacher, started his career working out of the building. Village Trustee Kevin Lynch and County Legislator John DeFillipps were both in the Class of 1975, the last to graduate from the school.
Lynch marveled at the school’s solid condition, despite years of neglect.

The building may have many broken windows, and the front columns may be gone, but the Landmark Society has seen buildings in far worse shape be rehabilitated, said Larry Francer, associate director of preservation for the Landmark Society.

“We see nothing here but potential,” said Caitlin Meives, preservation planner for the Landmark Society.