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Cobblestone Museum plans for a busy 2020, which is its 60th anniversary

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 January 2020 at 8:11 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Doug Farley has served as director of the Cobblestone Museum in Gaines since 2017. He has since developed a full schedule of events in an attempt to grow the museum. This year’s schedule includes more than half a dozen new events, in addition to most of the old favorites.

GAINES – When Doug Farley became director of the Cobblestone Museum in 2017, his goal was to grow the museum and make it a year-round destination, and this year’s schedule of events alludes to that success.

The museum will be open by appointment during May and will open for the season from Wednesday through Sunday, beginning June 3.

However, the Sunday Painters Art Classes will start the season with their first class on Jan. 26. The successful classes are a return event, and will take place at 1 p.m. for four weeks on the last Sunday of January, February, March and April. Medina artist Pat Greene will teach the classes for beginners, intermediate and advanced students.

Greene has created a new syllabus for each class. Participants will start with a blank canvas and leave with a finished painting. Farley called Greene a “real professional.” People who have taken her classes said she is very helpful, he said.

New this year is a bus trip April 4 to Corning Museum of Glass. The trip will include admission to the museum and lunch on the bus.

A Cobblestone Spring Trivia night is also new, with a date in April to be announced. Maarit Vaga has volunteered to be emcee for the night and has her questions ready. Farley suggests putting together a team of two or four, even six contestants. The evening will include wine and refreshments.

A Mother/Daughter Tea on May 10 (Mother’s Day) is a new event, organized by Georgia Thomas of Medina. A short program on the history of Mother’s Day will be included. Cobblestone Society members will have priority, but it will be open to the public if space permits.

The group who participated in the Cobblestone Museum’s bus trip to view cobblestone buildings in the Rochester area are pictured here in front of an Amish cobblestone home near Palmyra. The tour this year will take participants to the Sodus area in August.

The Cobblestone Society is honored to welcome Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension to the museum on June 6, when the 4-H program will host their statewide 4-H Fashion Show from 10 a.m. to noon in the cobblestone church. After lunch at Tillman’s Village Inn, a group tour of the cobblestone campus will follow.

A Civil War Re-enactment at a date to be announced in July or August is new. The Lewiston Reenactment Group will portray a Civil War field hospital with nurses and surgeons demonstrating skills and medical tools of the era.

A fall history bus trip Oct. 10 will take participants on a narrated tour of cobblestone homes in the Finger Lakes area, while viewing fall foliage along the way. The trip will feature a tour of the facilities at Ganondagan State Historic Site near Canandaigua, the Seneca Arts and Cultural Center and the full size replica of a 17th century Seneca Nation Longhouse.

The last new venture for the Cobblestone Society this year is creating a float to take to local parades, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Cobblestone Society. Parades will include Holley’s June Fest Parade June 6, Albion’s Strawberry Festival June 12 and 13, Lyndonville’s Fourth of July Celebration and Medina’s Parade of Lights Nov. 28.

Returning for a second year is Cobblestone Museum Day March 21 at Lures Restaurant at Bald Eagle Marina, Kendall. Lures will donate a portion of the proceeds from guests who eat at the marina from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Photo by Tom Rivers: Mike Deniz of Airport, center, plays the violin during an April 14 performance by Elderberry Jam at the Cobblestone Church in the Gaines hamlet of Childs. Nearly 200 people attended the concert. Elderberry Jam will be back for another concert at the church on April 26.

Farley is also thrilled to have been contacted by Elderberry Jam, an extremely popular fiddlers’ group from the Finger Lakes area, asking if they could return. The Museum waited several years to book them for their first appearance last year, when they packed the cobblestone church.

The Cobblestone Society’s Membership/Fundraising dinner will take place May 6 at Carlton Recreation Center. The evening will feature dinner catered by Michael Zambito, live and silent auctions and raffles throughout the event.

The third annual Progressive Organ concert and dinner will move to Holley and Brockport this year on May 16, with visits to the Morgan Manning House and two historic churches. A catered dinner will follow.

The opening exhibit June 7 is “Historical, Hysterical and Naughty,” featuring some very unusual novelty pieces from the collections of Bill Lattin and the late Rene Schasel.

The Cobblestone Patriotic Service July 5 will celebrate the museum’s cobblestone heritage and 60th anniversary. The nation’s independence will be observed with patriotic songs and readings at 11 a.m. At noon, all churches in the community will be welcomed for a picnic lunch on the side lawn. A freewill donation will be received.

Sue Starkweather Miller will host the annual summer garden bus tour, at a date to be announced in July. The trip will visit four or five new gardens in Orleans County.

The Cobblestone Museum is working with Orleans County Tourism to put together events for the 10 days of the Orleans County Heritage Festival Sept. 11 to 20. A celebration of the storied history of Orleans County will be celebrated by many different partners throughout the county.

An Old Timer’s Fair and Antiques Appraisal is scheduled for Sept. 12. The museum will come alive with artisans and re-enactors as they recreate the feel of Orleans County life in the 19th century. Admission is free for the fair, but a small fee per item will be charged for the appraisal service. A Chiavetta chicken barbecue will take place for dining on site or takeout from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or until sold out.

The Cobblestone Tour of Homes on Sept. 26 will branch out to several fine examples of cobblestone structures in western Orleans and Niagara counties. Self-drive or bus tour options are available.

Photo by Tom Rivers: These girls portrayed students at the District No. 5 Schoolhouse at the Cobblestone Museum during a Ghost Walk on Oct. 8, 2017. The girls include, from left: Meganne Moore, Kelsey Froman, Ella Trupo, Autumn Flugel and Liana Flugel. The museum will have another Ghost Walk on Oct. 17.

The Cobblestone Ghost Walk on Oct. 17 will showcase Orleans County happenings at the conclusion of the Civil War.

The Cobblestone Museums Gift Shop will again be turned into a Holiday Shoppe on Nov. 6, 7, 8 and Dec. 5, featuring a Christmas wonderland of decorations and gifts at low cost. There will also be Christmas music at special times.

The Cobblestone Society will hold its annual meeting from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at a location to be announced.

The final event of the year is the Christmas Tour of Homes on Dec. 5, featuring Christmas displays and homes in Holley. Diana Flow is working with the Holley Historical Society to select homes that will be on the tour. Again, a self-drive or bus option will be available.

Further information on all events is available on the Cobblestone Museum’s website or by calling the museum at 589-9013.

Farley and the museum also continue to explore options to create an Orleans County Welcome Center at the Cobblestone campus.

“It will be a very busy year,” he said.


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Cobblestone schoolhouse bell tower gets some attention

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2019 at 1:27 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – Bob Fisher of Robert Fisher Contracting Inc. in Kendall is about 26 feet up high today, working on the base of the bell tower roof at the Cobblestone schoolhouse.

Fisher on Friday set up the scaffolding for the lofty work. Today he removed old tine from the bell tower roof on the schoolhouse, which was built in 1849 and is part of the Cobblestone Museum, a National Historic Landmark on Route 104.

Fisher is putting in new plywood sheeting and aluminum for the roof on the base of the bell tower roof. He expects to be finished with the project on Tuesday.

Fisher heads down the ladder on the schoolhouse, which closed in the 1950s and remains largely preserved by the Cobblestone Museum from the era when it was an active schoolhouse.

Fisher said working on older buildings requires some ingenuity. “They’re always interesting,” he said about the historic sites. “You never know what you’ll run into.”

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3 highway superintendents retiring after century of service

Photo by Tom Rivers: These town highway superintendents – from left, Larry Swanger of Clarendon, Mike Fuller of Shelby, and Ron Mannella of Gaines – are pictured at Tillman’s Village Inn on Wednesday. They were honored at the monthly meeting of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 December 2019 at 8:45 am

Swanger, Fuller and Mannella led their towns through major waterline expansions

GAINES – Three town highways superintendents in Orleans County are retiring, with the trio serving 106 years combined as highway workers, including 70 years as the highway superintendents.

Larry Swanger of Clarendon, Ron Mannella of Gaines and Mike Fuller of Shelby have each put in many new miles of water districts, in addition to leading their departments in maintaining and plowing roads.

The superintendents were honored on Wednesday at the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association. They received citations from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley and the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways. That group’s president, Joel Kie of the Town of Dickinson near Binghamton, attended the meeting and praised the three local highway chiefs for their service.

Larry Swanger, left, is presented with citations for his service by Joel Kie (center), president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways; and Michael Niedert, Albion town highway superintendent and president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

Swanger is retiring after 30 years as Clarendon’s highway superintendent. When he started, there was one water district in Clarendon, and it was privately owned and served Thomas Estates. Now, Clarendon has 13 water districts spread over 50 miles with 830 customers. About two decades ago, the town built a water tower.

Swanger is the water superintendent, in addition to the highway leader. Mannella and Fuller also serve in both roles.

“I’ve liked the people and the other highway superintendents,” Swanger said. “It’s the people that you get involved with.”

Swanger said the job is more complicated than people realize.

“People don’t see the behind-the-scenes paperwork, the contracts you have to deal with,” he said.

Swanger didn’t seek re-election in November. Tracy Bruce Chalker was elected to the position and starts Jan. 1.

Ron Mannella is presented citations for his service by the president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways and the president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association.

Ron Mannella is retiring after 26 years as the Gaines highway superintendent. Before working in Gaines, Mannella was a motor equipment operator for six years with the Town of Albion Highway Department.

When he started with Gaines, the town had 8 miles of waterlines. Now there are more than 50 miles with 750 to 800 water customers. The expansion of public water is a big accomplishment for the town, Mannella said.

Gaines also used a grant to cover most of the costs of a salt storage shed. In 1999, the town highway garage collapsed after a heavy snow storm. A rebuilt garage opened in 2001.

Although Mannella is retiring as the highway superintendent, he will stay in public service as a new member of the Gaines Town Board. He received the most votes in November among four candidates. Mark Radzinski was elected in November to succeed Mannella as the highway superintendent.

“It was a good run,” Mannella said about the 26 years as highway superintendent. “The people of Gaines are really nice.”

Mike Fuller smiles after receiving his citations for a 44-year career with the Town of Shelby Highway Department.

Mike Fuller has worked 44 years with the Town of Shelby Highway Department, starting as a motor equipment operator when he was 21. The past 14 years he has been highway superintendent.

The town built its first water district in 1972 with 125 customers in the hamlet and on South Gravel Road. During Fuller’s career, the town expanded to 12 water districts serving 800 customers. Shelby also built a salt storage shed.

“We put in a lot of waterlines,” Fuller said. “Those are big projects.”

Shelby used to have its town building on Maple Ridge Road, where ALDI is located today. That site had contaminated soil from fuel. Fuller led the effort to have the soil removed from the site and relocated to the town property on Salt Works Road. The town used a bio-cell where micro-organisms improved the soil, which was cleared by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Fuller said that project was an interesting challenge for the Highway Department.

He also is pleased with the town’s efforts in helping to put in infrastructure and clear land for the Medina Business Park. Shelby teamed with the Medina Department of Public Works and Orleans County Highway Department for projects at the Business Park.

Fuller lost a close election last month to Dale Root for highway superintendent. Fuller said he will remain active in the community. He is past chief and current president of the East Shelby Volunteer Fire Company. He also serves with the Knights of Columbus and has a part-time job with Mercy EMS in Batavia.

“I’ve enjoyed serving the people,” he said.

Mike Neidert, president of the Orleans County Town Highway Superintendents Association, is finishing his first four-year term as Albion’s superintendent. He said the local highway leaders embraced him when he started. He urged the group to continue that approach with the three new highway superintendents.

“Everyone took me under their wing and welcomed me in and I encourage everyone to do that with the new guys coming in,” Neidert said.

Joel Kie, president of the New York State Association of Town Superintendents of Highways, attended the meeting, driving from near Binghamton. He said the town highway departments will need to press the state legislators to maintain funding for road maintenance. Kie said he is concerned about the state funding, especially with the state facing a shortfall.

He urged the highway superintendents to attend lobbying days in Albany on March 3-4.

“This year will be extra tough because of the deficits,” he said.

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Cobblestone Museum, businesses would like speed limit reduced in Gaines hamlet

Photos by Tom Rivers: Grace Denniston, a trustee with the Cobblestone Museum, walks on the edge of Route 104 near the Cobblestone Museum during an Oct. 19 Ghost Walk at the museum.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2019 at 12:03 pm

‘Five to Revive’ designation could help bring resources to historic district

GAINES – The recent “Five to Revive” designation by the Landmark Society of Western New York should bring attention to the historic district in Gaines, where there are cobblestone and brick buildings from before 1850.

The Cobblestone Museum is hopeful the designation will galvanize local and state officials to look for ways to make the district more pedestrian friendly, while also promoting the area as a tourism destination.

The routes 98 and 104 intersection is a busy spot in Orleans County. Not only are there several businesses and a museum in the hamlet, but motorists pass through on their way to other destinations.

The museum would like to see sidewalks in the district, better signage, historic-looking street lights and a reduced speed limit.

“This area has so much history,” said Doug Farley, the museum director. “The (Five to Revive) will do nothing but help us if we promote it right.”

Mark Tillman, owner of Tillman’s Village Inn, would like to see a reduced speed limit, and more ambitious marketing plan for the historic cobblestone district. The businesses and museum do a lot of their own marketing, and would benefit from a bigger collective push about the historic district, he said.

The district is highlighted by three cobblestone buildings – a church, a residence and a schoolhouse – that were designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1993. This is the only site in Orleans County ranked as a National Historic Landmark.

This ranking means the sites have national importance, including such nearby sites as the George Eastman House and Susan B. Anthony House in Rochester, the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia, and the Darwin R. Martin House and U.S.S. The Sullivans in Buffalo.

Farley said the historic district is at a main crossroads in the county, with routes 98 and 104. The museum is exploring having a visitor’s site at the district and would welcome the county as a partner in the project, Farley told county legislators last month.

The Five to Revive has been critical in bringing attention and funding to the former Holley High School (being renovated for $17 million into apartments and the village offices) and the chapel at Hillside Cemetery.

Farley said the historic district is not well marked with signs and he is concerned about the 45 mile per hour speed limit.

“The cars travel past us at a very high clip,” Farley told the county legislators.

There isn’t much parking in the hamlet for larger tractor trailers and trucks. Many park on the edge of Route 104 near the Crosby’s convenience store.

The museum will often bring out traffic cones and have road marshals during events to make it safer for pedestrians.

Carol Culhane, the former town supervisor, manages Fairhaven Treasures at a brick building owned by Ray Burke at the routes 98 and 104 intersection. She said a reduced speed limit should be a top priority.

The speed limit drops to 40 mph near the Gaines Town Hall to past the intersection with Gaines Basin Road. Culhane would like the speed limit to go down to 35 in the historic district. But she said it isn’t an easy process to petition the state Department of Transportation and get DOT approval for a reduction in speed.

“To lower the speed limit would be wonderful,” she said. “But the state is very particular. It is a very long, arduous journey to get them to change that.”

The museum buildings are spread out on Route 104, with several buildings also on Route 98, south of Ridge Road. The museum could use more parking, and the sidewalks would make it safer for the visitors on foot, Culhane said.

Farley urged the local elected officials to work with the museum, businesses and residents in the district to develop a plan to better promote the district, and make it safer for pedestrians.

“We certainly have a wonderful historic product here that we can be proud of,” he said. “The sky is really the limit if we put on our thinking cap with the resources we have.”

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Gaines Carlton Community Church celebrates 50 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 November 2019 at 9:57 pm

Photos courtesy of Clarissa Steier

GAINES — Kristina Nesbitt and Sarah Collyer sing “Oceans/You Make Me Brave” during today’s 50th anniversary celebration of the Gaines Carlton Community Church. The congregation at 14585 Ridge Rd. was formed as part of a merger of three churches in East Gaines, the Bridges and Kent.

Today’s services included reflections from members from the three former churches. Ingrid LaMont shared a history of the consolidation of the three churches.

A certificate from State Assemblyman Steve Hawley was read about the church’s 50th anniversary. From left include Gary Davy, Martha Batt, Pastor David Beach and Ingrid Lamont. LaMont would talk about the history of the three churches.

Hope Stirk shares memories from the Bridges Church.

Audrey Wheelock recalled memories from the Kent Church.

Janice Mann-Beech shares memories from the East Gaines Church.

From left: Clarissa Steier, Marietta Schuth, Peggy Bropst and Isabel Wager sing “Top of the Tower” which was written by the late Donna Rooden, former mayor of the Albion.

Children choir members includes, in front: Olivia Andrews, Makayla Bentley, Kendyl Collyer, Brody Collyer and Madalyn Ashbery. Back: Mallory Ashbery, Taylor Soule, Leah Platt, Owen Collyer and Nicholas Andrews.

Formor Pastor Kathleen Danley shared a Scripture from 1st Corinthians 12: 4-6, 12-27.

David Beach, current pastor of the church, shared a sermon, “Not So Long Ago.”

The anniversary committee includes, front: Andrew Gaylord. Middle row: MaryJo Bentley, Sue Davy, Janice Mann-Beech and Ann Batt. Back: Ingrid LaMont, Pastor David Beach, Martha Batt and Connie Driesel.

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Cobblestone Museum honors key supporters at annual meeting

Photos by Tom Rivers: Brenda Radzinski is applauded after she was announced as the Cobblestone Museum’s Volunteer of the Year during the museum’s annual meeting on Saturday at Tillman’s Village Inn.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 November 2019 at 3:36 pm

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum honored many dedicated volunteers and supporters during the organization’s annual meeting on Saturday at Tillman’s Village Inn.

Brenda Radzinski was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year. She is active in many activities at the museum, including as a docent for school tours and for other museum visitors. Radzinski is a museum trustee and helps with the many of the museum events.

She had a lead role in developing the script for a Ghost Walk last month. She created a quilt that was auctioned off to benefit the museum. She volunteered at a bridal show in Medina, to promote the museum as a wedding venue.

Radzinski is a master gardener and helped decide where to put perennials on the museum grounds. She also volunteered during “cobblestone kids’ days” during the summer and the led the crafts activities with children.

The following were recognized with awards during the Cobblestone Museum annual meeting, front row, from left: Erin Anheier with Proctor Award for leading two big capital projects at the museum; Pat Morrisey with the Donna Rodden Hospitality Award for hosting events on behalf of the museum; Anna Migitskiy, who manages Lures Restaurant in Kendall, which was presented with the New Business Partner award; Grace Kent of Albion, with Rufus Bullock Award for outstanding and sustained contributions to the museum.

Back row: Andre Tsyupa, owner of Lures Restaurant, New Business Partner award; Brenda Radzinski, volunteer of the year; Andre Migitskiy of Lures Restaurant; Gerard Morrisey, donna Rodden Award for hospitality; Camilla VanderLinden of the Dunn Martin Fund for Communtiy Partner Award; and Gary Kent of Albion with Rufus Bullock Award.


Besides the volunteer of the year, the Cobblestone Museum recognized the following:

The Rufus Bullock Award was presented to Gary and Grace Kent for their “outstanding and sustained contributions to benefit the museum.” The Albion couple have been long-time supporters and volunteers for the museum. The award is named for Bullock, who grew up in Albion and went on to be elected as governor of Georgia in 1868. His outhouse form his home on Liberty Street in Albion is now at the museum. Bullock moved back to Albion and donated many valuables to the former Swan Library for the community to enjoy.

• The Frances Folsom Cobblestone Board Alumni Award is a new award for “excellence in serving the museum by a former board member.” The debut award was presented to Susan Starkweather Miller, a former museum trustee who remains active with the museum, leading tours. The award is named for Frances Folsom, a former Medina resident who became First Lady in 1886 at age 21 when she married Grover Cleveland at the White House.

Starkweather Miller this past year led a Summer Garden Bus Tour on July 20. This bus trip around the county looked at several spectacular horticultural displays.

She also led a bus trip on Feb. 9 to the George Eastman House in Rochester. The tour included a visit with Landscape Manager Dan Bellavia, who shared how the Eastman Mansion prepares for the earliest bulb show in North America.

Starkweather Miller makes the trips fun with “cobble-scones” and unique door prizes, said Chris Sartwell, a museum trustee.

Sue’s mother Roz Starkweather accepted the award on Saturday.

• The Community Partner Award was presented to Camilla VanderLinden of the Dunn Martin Fund, which has provided funding for the museum’s internship program during the summer.

Next year the Dunn Martin Fund will pay for a closed circuit camera system at the Cobblestone Universalist Church. Events in the church’s sanctuary will be able to viewed in the church’s basement, which is handicapped accessible.

Anna Migitskiy accepts the New Business Partner Award for Lures Restaurant in Kendall. “We’re excited for the opportunity to be in the community,” she said.

• The New Business Partner was presented to a new supporter of the museum. Lures Restaurant, led by Anna and Andre Migitskiy, shared 20 percent of the proceeds from a day of sales at the Kendall location in march with the museum.

Donna Rodden Hospitality Award is named in honor of the late Albion mayor who was instrumental in having many historic sites in the community be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Patricia and Gerard Morrisey have opened their home for cobblestone events and volunteered at many other museum programs.

• The Proctor Award was presented to Erin Anheier for assisting the museum in an extraordinary manner. She has spearheaded two big capital projects at the museum, writing and managing grant projects that included masonry repairs to the 1849 Cobblestone Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse also received a new roof, had wooden trim work painted, and windows restored.

Anheier also led a grant project at Farmers Hall to strengthen the foundation and add collar ties to firm up the rafters. The building, formerly the Kendall Town Hall, was sagging. The additional foundation support will stop that, and the turnbuckles will keep the building from spreading apart.

The Proctor Award is named for John Proctor, the founder of the Childs hamlet where the museum is located.

Derek Maxfield, a professor at Genesee Community Community, was the keynote speaker and shared about Ulysses S. Grant in his role as general for the Union during the Civil War.

The museum has a 19-member board. Erin Anheier of Clarendon was elected as president. She will succeed Richard Remley, who will be in the role of executive vice president in 2020. Anheier served this past year as vice president of development. Toni Plummer will be in that role in 2020.

Other officers for 2020 include: Kevin Hamilton as treasurer, Shirley Bright-Neeper as secretary, Grace Denniston as corresponding secretary, and Gail Johnson as membership secretary.

New trustee terms beginning on Jan. 1 will be filled by the Rev. Don Algeo, Diana Flow, Pat Morrissey and Al Capurso.

Remley said the museum is committed to be part of a revived historic district in the Childs hamlet along Route 104 in Gaines. The museum has worked to preserve its historic buildings and is interested in developing a visitor’s center in the future.

This past year the museum put up new signs on its campus. A new front door was replaced on the Brick House next to the Cobblestone Universalist Church and some of the Brick House shutters were repainted.

The leaking gutters on the Cobblestone schoolhouse were repaired. An electric heaters was installed at the schoolhouse and a derelict furnace was removed. The bell tower on the schoolhouse also should soon have a roof repair, and there will be landscaping behind the schoolhouse to raise the frost level at the corners. A well stone will also be placed at the schoolhouse, which was built in 1849.

Kathy Scroger and Judy Ernenwein of Kendall stopped by Farmers Hall for a photo after the annual meeting. The building used to be the Kendall Town Hall but was taken apart and reassembled at the Cobblestone Museum. The building received new foundation peirs and rafter collars this past year.

At the Farmers Hall, a building that was once the Kendall Town Hall, new foundation piers were put under the building and roof rafter ties were installed.

The museum also put new roof shingles on the book sale building, which was a voting booth in Hamlin.

Museum seeks $4,000 to replace furnace in Ward House

Remley and the museum are making a year-end appeal for $4,000 to replace the furnace in the Ward House, which was built around 1840.

Any funds received beyond the furnace cost will go in an account for future building maintenance.

Donations can be sent to the Cobblestone Society, P.O. Box 363, Albion NY 14411.

The museum has an upcoming event to close out 2019. The annual Christmas Tour of Historic Homes will be from 2 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 and includes many stops in Albion with the option of a bus tour.

For information about tickets, check CobblestoneMuseum.org or call (585) 589-9013.

Maarit Vaga, a museum trustee, shares some plans for the museum’s 60th season in 2020. The museum plans to step up its community outreach, including creating a float to be in the local community parades.

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At Ghost Walk, Cobblestone Museum highlights life locally in 1862

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2019 at 2:39 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – The Ghost Walk at the Cobblestone Museum last Saturday included a double wedding. Josilynn Russo, left, of Pavilion portrayed one of the brides. She married a character played by Spencer Lombard, an Albion High School senior.
Martin Hillman served as the minister.

The museum had a team of 75 volunteers for the Ghost Walk, which focused on life in the Fairhaven hamlet in 1862. (Fairhaven was the name for the hamlet before it was changed to Childs.)

The two men who were married were about to set off and fight for the Union in the Civil War.

The newlyweds share a playful moment near the end of the ceremony.

The couples head out of a full sanctuary at the Cobblestone Universalist Church. About 125 people attended the Ghost Walk. The other couple was portrayed by Robin Lewis and Bradley Jordan.

Marty Taber portrays Abraham Lincoln during the event. Taber helped write the script for the event. He is shown giving the response to an editorial written by prominent abolitionist Horace Greeley. Gerard Morrisey portrayed Greeley, who owned the Ward House next to the Cobblestone Church.

Greeley penned “The Prayer of Twenty Millions,” in which he scolded Lincoln for the way he was conducting the War Between the States.

Rachel Lockhart of Rochester portrayed a teacher in the Cobblestone School.

Gabby Davila of Brockport, front right, is one of the school children. The one-room schoolhouse opened in 1849 and served the Gaines community until it was closed in 1952. It remains largely preserved from the way it was when it was last open.

Melissa Nowicki of Hilton portrays Jenny Ward who is baking in the kitchen of the Ward House for the wedding. She is joined by sisters, Aubrey and Sylvia Bruning.

Jeff Casillo portrays the blacksmith, Joseph Vagg. Judy Larkin of Ridgeway also worked in the blacksmith shop during the Ghost Walk.

Erica Wanecski hands off a pair of boots to a cobbler portrayed by Fred Freeman. Kim Remley, left, also was a character in the Ghost Walk.­­

Natalie Bertsch of Albion is one of the townspeople.

Doug Mergler, a retired Albion teacher, portrayed the printer at Hill’s Print Shop.

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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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Gaines looks to bring back Planning Board, expand commercial district on 104

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2019 at 12:50 pm

Courtesy of Town of Gaines: Gaines is proposing a change in the zoning map that expands the commercial district on Route 104, west of the Cobblestone Museum. Gaines also has commercial zoning districts at the 5 corners and intersection of routes 279 and 104.

GAINES – After a year-long effort, the Town of Gaines is proposing changes to its zoning regulations and map, including expanding the commercial district on Route 104, from the Cobblestone Museum going east to Brown Road.

That will allow more options for development on Ridge Road that aren’t in a historic district.

The town also is looking to eliminate a commercial  zoning district in the Eagle Harbor hamlet, while keeping the commercial district at the 5 Corners and expanding the district at the routes 279 and 104 intersection.

The Town Board will have a public hearing 7 p.m. Thursday about the zoning changes. The hearing will be at the Town Hall.

The Town Board formed the Zoning Advisory Committee about a year ago to review the zoning. That committee worked with LaBella Associates on the project.

The committee recommended Gaines bring back its Planning Board. That board was abolished in January 2012 with its duties passed to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Town Supervisor Joe Grube said Gaines is the only town in the county without a Planning Board.

He is pleased with the zoning revisions proposed by the committee and Labella. It5 also updates a comprehensive plan for land use, that Grube said was originally adopted in 1983.

“This will bring the zoning into 2020,” Grube said.

The revisions include more detail on development in the commercial districts, especially with signage.

Other highlights include:

• Establishes regulations for R-1 Residential District and Planned Development District as floating zones. They are not specified on the zoning map, but can be added to rezoned land if the Town Board deems either district appropriate.

• Establishes new regulations for the Commercial Historic District, including standards for building design, building placement, parking and landscaping, with a goal to prevent incompatible development with the historic district.

• Adds provisions for farm labor and agricultural packing and processing facilities.

The Orleans County Planning Board last Thursday reviewed the proposal and recommended the Town of Gaines pass the changes.

Click here to see the zoning ordinance being proposed by Gaines.

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Log cabin will be moved from Albion next to historic cobblestone schoolhouse in Gaines

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Bill Lattin, left, and local contractor Rick Ebbs check the dimensions of a log cabin at the home of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse, who have offered to donate the structure to the Orleans County Historical Society. Ebbs thinks he can stabilize the building so it can be moved.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 September 2019 at 11:19 am

10-by-14 cabin was built by Boy Scouts in 1930

GAINES – If efforts are successful, visitors to the historic Gaines Basin No. 2 cobblestone school on Gaines basin Road will have another attraction to look at.

The Orleans County Historical Society, which is restoring the schoolhouse, has been given a log cabin, which they hope to move behind the school.

The idea was born about a year ago when Bill Lattin, retired as both the Orleans County historian and director of the Cobblestone Society Museum, was talking with Al Capurso at a Cobblestone board meeting.

Bill Lattin looks at the crumbling stones and oil tank from the chimney of a log cabin which has been donated to the Orleans County Historical Society. The cabin was built in 1930 by Boy Scouts and sits in back of the home of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse on Linwood Avenue. Pat’s father was one of the Scouts and her grandfather supervised the work. A limb fell off a nearby tree, knocking the chimney down.

“Al made the suggestion that it would be nice to build a replica of a log cabin on the Cobblestone Museum grounds,” Lattin said. “I could see by the look on the board members’ faces, that wasn’t going to fly.”

Lattin commented it was the mission of the Cobblestone Society to preserve historic buildings, and asked why they didn’t consider preserving a log cabin, instead of building one.

Capurso asked where they would find one.

“I said, ‘On Linwood Avenue in Albion,’ and his jaw dropped,” Lattin said.

Lattin knew the property owners, Pat and Ralph Moorhouse, and when they were contacted, they agreed to donate the deteriorating log cabin if it could be moved.

The Cobblestone Building and Grounds Committee felt they had enough on their plate without taking on another project, so Capurso presented the idea to the Orleans County Historical Association, which agreed to allow the cabin to be moved behind the Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse – if Lattin and Capurso could raise the $6,000 needed to get it in shape to move.

The log cabin was built by Boy Scouts in 1930 as a place to camp out, which makes it kind of unique, Lattin said.

“It’s one of a kind,” he said.

It is 10 feet by 14 feet and barely six feet tall at the peak. The Scouts also constructed a cot of sorts inside and a fireplace. On the outside in back is a tank, which held oil and was rigged so a drop of oil would fall periodically on the fire, keeping it burning.

What makes the log cabin so special is that Pat Moorhouse’s grandfather supervised building the cabin, and her father Ferris Benton was one of the Scouts.

The log cabin is already beginning to deteriorate badly and the front has sunk at least a foot into the ground.

“If it is not preserved now, it will soon rot out,” Lattin said.

Rick Ebbs, a local contractor who has been working on restoration work at the schoolhouse, agreed to tackle the project. He expects to line the interior and exterior with plywood to brace it so it can be lifted with a fork lift. He hopes to be able to move the fireplace intact as well.

“If we have to rebuild it stone by stone, it will spoil its integrity,” Lattin said.

Lattin hopes to interest some Scout troops in helping with restoration of the cabin.

“This would be a wonderful Eagle Scout project,” he said.

Lattin said they have already received about $1,000 in donations toward the project. Anyone wishing to make a monetary donation or donate services in kind can contact the Orleans County Historical Association at P.O. Box 181, Albion. Latin said anyone who donates $50 or more will receive a copy of Irene Gibson’s book, Historic Sites in Orleans County.

Bill Lattin, retired Orleans County historian, points to the spot behind the Gaines Basin cobblestone schoolhouse where a nearly 100-year-old log cabin will be situated. The cabin sits in back of Pat and Ralph Moorhouse’s home on Linwood Avenue, and they have agreed to donate it to the Orleans County Historical Association.

Lattin said the timing is perfect, as they just learned a drivable lane has been completed up to the towpath on the east side of the Gaines Basin Road canal bridge.  The northernmost point of the Erie Canal is just 900 feet west of the canal bridge.

“This was one of the only roads in the county which crossed the canal and didn’t have access to the towpath,” Lattin said. “We hope to have a kiosk and sign which tells people they can stop and see an authentic log cabin and one-room schoolhouse.”

The schoolhouse was built in 1832 and is the oldest documented cobblestone building in the region. It was used until 1944, when the district centralized. Constructed of local fieldstone, it also shows early use of Medina sandstone for quoins.

It is the last remaining structure of the pioneer-era Erie Canal hamlet known as Gaines Basin. It was falling into ruin until the Orleans County Historical Association took interest in it several years ago and Jim Panek, who owns the land, agreed to donate the building and surrounding lot to the Historical Association.

When restoration is complete, the schoolhouse will serve as a small museum and meeting place.

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