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New video tells the story of the Cobblestone Museum

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 16 July 2019 at 8:14 am

‘Our Cobblestone Heritage’ highlights the cobblestone masonry from the 1800s

Photos by Tom Rivers: Doug Farley, director of the Cobblestone Society Museum, presents a new video on Sunday during a premiere in the lower level of the Cobblestone Universalist Church.

CHILDS – Supporters of the Cobblestone Museum got to attend a premiere showing of a new video, “Our Cobblestone Heritage,” on Sunday afternoon at the historic Cobblestone Church.

The video was produced by Oh!Davidson Creative of Rochester at the request of Diane Palmer, a former board member and vice president of development for the Cobblestone Museum. Click here to see the video.

Megan O’Hearn-Davidson, left, joins Diane Palmer, a former Cobblestone Museum board member, and Drew Davidson in cutting the cake on Sunday during a premiere of a 10-minute video the Davidsons produced for the museum.

“Around the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, Diane was instrumental in our efforts to begin rebranding the museum,” said director Doug Farley. “This included our new logo and the creation of a video, which we could use to not only promote our museum, but would allow us to extend our season into the winter. That way, if a visitor stopped in the winter and we didn’t have a special event going on, we could show them a video.”

Palmer was familiar with the work of Megan O’Hearn-Davidson and her husband Drew. They photograph and film weddings and other special events in the Rochester area. Megan is an Albion native. Palmer contacted them with her idea.

“The video is about more than promoting our museum,” Palmer said. “It is also promoting the heritage of our cobblestone history. It’s an honor to be part of something like this.”

Farley said the museum is very proud of the video and he credited Palmer with being the driving force behind it. Palmer, who has moved to Washington, D.C. with her husband Keith, returned to Albion for Sunday’s special showing.

“Our rebranding is a process which is still underway,” Farley said. “Our video can be used in a number of ways. Our goal is to become a 12-month facility and now we have a product we can use all year. It is also an outreach tool which tells our mission and our goals for the future.”

While the original idea was to have a video to show visitors to the museum, the project has evolved differently than they first thought, Palmer said.

“Now with a full video of the history of the museum, we can use it to train docents, as well as give visitors a full overview of the museum,” she said.

While the full video is 45 minutes long, those at Sunday’s presentation saw only a 10-minute version. The full-length video includes Bill Lattin, the retired director of the museum, giving a tour of the museum, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Palmer explained she worked closely with the Davidsons in creating the video.

“I gave them an outline with the information, and they created the script,” Palmer said.

She also said Megan has a special interest in history.

After moving to Washington and visiting museums there, Palmer said she realized their video needed closed captioning, and that was added to the Cobblestone video.

Drew said it was definitely a fun project to work on. Former Cobblestone director Bill Lattin was interviewed for much of the video.

Lattin served as director for 40 years – from January 1971 to December 2010. He called cobblestones a “glacial legacy of the Great Lakes.”

The museum also has new signs featuring its new logo.

Lattin also said there were 900 cobblestone structures built in New York state between 1825 and 1860. Today, 90 percent of all the cobblestone buildings in the country are in Western New York.

While Lattin was responsible for major acquisitions by the Cobblestone Society during his years as director, and for its designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1993, he also said he realized it was time to retire.

He is very pleased with the direction Farley is taking the museum.

“I had always hoped somebody would come along like Doug and move the museum into the 21st century,” Lattin said. “I am so happy the museum has become so much more technically adroit.”

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Cobblestone Museum will have video unveiling this afternoon

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 July 2019 at 10:14 am

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum today will celebrate the completion of a new marketing video for the museum, the only National Historic Landmark solely in Orleans County.

OhDavidson Creative made the video for the museum. Albion native Megan O’Hearn-Davidson and her husband Andrew Davidson produced the video under direction of Diane Palmer, a former trustee for the museum.

The museum will host a viewing and celebration today at 3 p.m. for the video, “Our Cobblestone Heritage.”

That event will be in the lower level of the Cobblestone Church, 14389 Ridge Road West.

The museum wants to use the video to promote tourism in Orleans County.

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Cobblestone Museum hosts annual patriotic church service with picnic on Sunday

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 3 July 2019 at 9:39 am

File photo by Tom Rivers: There were several American flags out in July 2017 for the Patriotic Service at the Cobblestone Church.

CHILDS – The Cobblestone Museum’s annual patriotic service on July 7 will have a new twist this year.

After the 11 a.m. service in the historic 1834 cobblestone church, a picnic will take place on the side lawn of the church.

The Rev. Don Algeo will give the keynote address titled “A Spirit of Independence.” There will be a performance by Albion High School alumni Enoch and Elijah Martin, accompanied by Richard Della Costa.

The Martin brothers are preparing patriotic songs, said Maarit Vaga, who is helping to organize the service. She is also a member of the museum’s board of trustees.

Vaga has attended several of the patriotic services in the past and considers the tradition a precious acknowledgement of Orleans County’s unique and significant history, she said.

“Next to the Erie Canal, Western New York’s cobblestone heritage is singular in the United States,” Vaga said. “Therefore, I find it very fitting that, as a community, we would celebrate our nation’s birthday in the oldest cobblestone church in North America. Since childhood, I have had an affinity for museums as portals into times long past. Whenever I visited museums, I liked to imagine myself in another time and place. I don’t think that yearning has ever left me, so it was very natural that I would become enthralled with volunteering at the Cobblestone Museum. Studying to become a docent for the museum has been inspiring.”

Vaga added that the men and women who established the communities around Orleans County were remarkable, resilient and industrial people.

“As I sit in the Cobblestone Church on July 7, I will be thinking of their tremendous efforts which laid the groundwork for all the opportunities we currently enjoy, and I will offer a prayer of thanks,” Vaga said.

The soloists, Enoch and Elijah Martin, are no strangers to anyone who has been fortunate enough to see an Albion High School theater production, Vaga said. Elijah graduated in 2015 from Albion and his brother Enoch graduated last Friday.

The service and picnic are free, but a free will donation will be accepted.

Anyone wishing more information may call the Cobblestone Museum at 589-9013.

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3rd annual Summer Solstice Soiree on June 19 features Bonsai

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 15 June 2019 at 9:53 pm

Bruce Kirby will discuss his gardens, Bonsai during the event

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Bruce Kirby puts birdseed into birdhouses made from a white birch limb, which hang from a tree in his yard. Kirby will welcome visitors to his gardens during a Summer Solstice Soiree on Wednesday to benefit the Cobblestone Society.

GAINES – Bruce Kirby may have retired from a lifelong career in farming, but he has still found a way to keep his hands in the dirt.

Kirby, 69, grew up on the Densmore Road, where four generations of his family have farmed, and where he lives with his wife Edna Kriner-Kirby, whom he married in 1998.

It’s not surprising he should transfer his love of making things grow from fruit trees to flowers and shrubs, a love he and Edna share. Edna jokes she had to marry Bruce because he had a backhoe and could move her grandmother’s plants. He also loves to cook. His extensive gardens were developed piece by piece, he said.

When Shirley Bright-Neeper, a friend and member of the Cobblestone Society, asked the Kirbys if they would be willing to open their gardens for a Summer Solstice Soiree to benefit the Cobblestone Society, they were thrilled.

This Wednesday will be the third annual Summer Solstice Soiree and will have a focus on music, as well as art. The Renaissance Musicians, an Irish group from Hamburg, will entertain at 5 p.m. Local artists will include Tom Zangerle of Medina, who will be painting in the garden. Bruce’s cousin’s daughter, muralist Stacy Kirby, will also be on hand.

The Kirbys’ extensive Bonsai collection and interest in fairy gardens provided an added focus for the event, and led to a collaboration with fairy garden designer Betsy Marshall of Rochester. Marshall has created a special fairy garden out of cobblestones, which is on display in Bruce’s garden. She has also given the Cobblestone Society a collection of teacup fairy gardens which will be on display at the Soiree, and one visitor will get to take one home. Doreen Roth-Wilson, co-founder of Albion’s Strawberry Festival, is the fairy garden coordinator for the event.

These lupines line the driveway of Bruce Kirby’s home on Densmore Road.

Bruce became interested in Bonsai after attending the Lilac Festival in Rochester in 1990, where the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York had a show.

“They are the most active Bonsai group in the country, and I became fascinated,” Bruce said. “Now that I’m retired, I have more time to do these things.”

Bruce will give a talk on the art of Bonsai during the Summer Solstice Soiree.

Bruce Kirby of Albion checks the blooms on a giant weigela in his garden. A birdhouse peeks up through the leaves.

Bruce walks through the shaded paths of his gardens, and he knows every bloom, shrub and tree and when it was planted. His favorite spot and the one of which he is proudest is what he calls “Wisteria Alley.” He points out a weeping flowering peach, which amazed him when the pits from the peaches which fell on the ground re-seeded themselves. A tamarisk tree and curly willow tower over the end of his house.

Many of the blooms in his garden were not purchased, but just split from plants he already had, like the hostas. A row of black alders was moved from another farm and transplanted to make a border between the farm orchard and his gardens.

He was sad to see a 100-year-old black walnut in his yard looked like it has finally died. There is one sucker on it, which he is hoping will take hold and grow.

The peonies in his garden were started by his grandmother, he said.

Bruce has started putting a lot of his flowers in pots, which he displays on the steps of his porch and throughout his gardens.

Wine and light refreshments will be served. The Soiree begins at 4 p.m., rain or shine, Bright-Neeper said.

Tickets are available at Kirby’s Farm Market in Brockport, Rusty Relics in Holley, the Book Shoppe in Medina and the Cobblestone Museum in Albion.

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Eagle Harbor church donates to recovery outreach center

Staff Reports Posted 4 June 2019 at 8:01 am

Provided photo

EAGLE HARBOR – The Eagle Harbor United Methodist Church on Sunday donated $1,000 to the ROCovery FITness Outreach Center. Pastor Susan Boring, left, and Kyle Syck announce the church’s donation to the Rochester organization.

The donation came from the mission money that was collected as a part of the church’s Lenten journey this spring.

ROCovery FITness on Dewey Avenue is a “sober active community center.” The programs are free and open to anyone with 48 hours of continuous sobriety.

The center offers services ranging from running, body conditioning, weight lifting, cycling, hiking, yoga, meditation, planned trips, social events and other activities for people recovering from addiction in Western New York.

ROCovery FITness also offers peer support and connections to treatment/community resources.

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Cobblestone Museum opens for the season today

Staff Reports Posted 1 June 2019 at 8:32 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: These sculptures from the “Rogers Groups” are part of an opening day exhibit at the Cobblestone Museum today. The exhibit is in the bottom floor of the Cobblestone Universalist Church on Route 104.

GAINES – The Cobblestone Museum is opening for the season today and will unveil the museum’s new “living history” program. “A Day in the Life” is complete with costumed re-enactors and heritage demonstrations from noon to 4 p.m.

Visitors can step back in time in many of the museum buildings and “meet” people from the past who lived and worked in Orleans County in the 19th century. Blacksmiths and printers, along with other re-enactors who will portray school teachers and preachers will be on hand to entertain.

The museum will also serve up a complimentary slice of strawberry pie at the conclusion of the tour today.

The museum today at 4 p.m. will also have an official opening for the newest exhibit, “Rogers Groups,” which features a dozen works of statuary art by 19th century sculptor, John Rogers.

Known as “The People’s Sculptor,” Rogers sculpted in plaster instead of bronze to make a product that was affordable by the masses. Cobblestone Trustee Bill Lattin has loaned his personal collection of statuary to the museum for this special exhibit.

The opening will be held from 4 to 6 p.m., with remarks by Lattin at 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. The Rogers Groups Exhibit will be on display in the museum’s Danolds Room throughout 2019, located in the lower level of the Cobblestone Church.

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Gaines couple, 3 dogs safely flee fire on Allens Bridge Road

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 May 2019 at 2:20 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

GAINES – A firefighter approaches a house that was on fire this afternoon at 2861 Allens Bridge Rd.

Kevin Wright and his wife, Lyace Keeman, were able to safely get out of the house. Their three dogs also are safe.

Fire went through the entire house, which is a mobile home with a house built around it.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 12:57 p.m. Steve Cooley, an Orleans County fire investigator, is on scene trying to determine the cause.

Albion, Barre, Carlton, Medina and Ridgeway firefighters all responded to the scene. National Grid also has crews on site.

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County Planning Board supports Gaines’ solar energy regulations

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 May 2019 at 5:46 pm

GAINES – The Orleans County Planning Board on Thursday voted in favor of proposed regulations from the Town of Gaines for solar energy systems and solar farms.

Gaines has proposed regulations for ground-mounted and roof-mounted solar projects. Large-scale projects which are greater than 4,000 square feet of lot coverage are allowed in Residential-Agricultural and Commercial districts, but are subject to site plan review.

The large-scale projects aren’t allowed in the Commercial Historic District, which includes the Cobblestone Museum.

The solar projects need setbacks of at least 100 feet from the front of a road (120 feet on Ridge Road), and 15 feet of side and rear setbacks.

Projects that are 40,000 square feet of lot coverage or more will require a special use permit from the town.

Those larger projects also have front setbacks of at least 100 feet (120 from Ridge Road). The side and rear setbacks are a minimum of 50 feet.

Solar farms (primarily for off-site use) will require the following:

• Minimum lot size of 3 acres for systems with 4,000 square feet or more of lot coverage;

• Site plan review required for systems with 4,000 square feet or more of lot coverage;

• Special use permit required for systems with 40,000 square feet or more of lot coverage;

• Minimum requirements for lot size, setbacks, lot coverage and height;

• Fencing for mechanical equipment;

• Vegetated buffer for screening;

• Signage identifying operator contact information and voltage warnings;

• Glare prevention;

• Operation and maintenance plan;

• Abandonment and decommissioning, which stipulates that large-scale solar energy systems or solar farms will be considered abandoned after six month without electrical energy generation, and must be removed from the property. Developers of the projects need to have  decommissioning plan for how they will remove infrastructure, and remediate soil and vegetation. The developer will be obligated to remove all ground-mounted solar collectors, structures, equipment, security barriers and transmission lines, and also needs to dispose of any solid or hazardous waste in accordance with all state and federal regulations.

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Cobblestone Museum welcomes first school tour of the season

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 May 2019 at 8:54 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Anaiya Griffin, an Albion third-grader, tries to lift a bear trap in the Farmer’s Hall at the Cobblestone Museum. About 60 Albion third-graders toured the Cobblestone Museum on Friday, the first school tour of the season.

There were three Albion third grade classes at the museum on Friday. Three more classes from Albion are scheduled to visit on May 29.

Brenda Radzinski, left, served as one of the tour guides. She said the bear trap is about 200 years old. A bear got caught in the trap and managed to walk in it for 14 miles about 150 years ago, when the trap was found in Barre.

Farmer’s Hall functions as an exhibition hall for 19th and early 20th century farming implements. One of the more interesting items in the Farmer’s Hall is a dog-powered butter churn.

Brenda Radzinski shows third-graders a barrel which she said were made by skilled people known as coopers.

Gerard Morrisey, one of the guides, leads the group into the Cobblestone Universalist Church, which was built in 1834 and is the oldest cobblestone church in North America. Morrissey shared with students how the early residents of the communities collected stones from fields and near Lake Ontario and set them in rows of mortar on the outside of buildings. Children back then would help their families collect the stones to build the cobblestone houses and churches.

Georgia Thomas gives students a tour of the print shop, which was originally in Medina in the 1870s. Thomas said the printer did the work without spell check and had to set the type manually.

Photo courtesy of Marsha Rivers: Sandy Heise, a retired Albion teacher, discusses life in the one-room schoolhouse, which opened in 1849 and served the Gaines community until it was closed in 1952.

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Cobblestone’s annual dinner, auction raises about $50K

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 May 2019 at 10:49 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

CARLTON – The Cobblestone Society and Museum held its second annual membership dinner on Wednesday evening, which included an auction at the Carlton Recreation Center.

The event raised about $50,000 for the museum, which is located in Gaines near the intersection of routes 98 and 104.

Orleans County Sheriff Randy Bower, center, served as the auctioneer. Larry Albanese, left, was one of the spotters. Marty Taber holds a writing desk that was bought by the highest bidder.

There were 21 items in the live auction.

Joyce Chizick of Lyndonville bids on one of the items, a one-night stay in the Cobblestone Cottage Bed & Breakfast, built in 1837 in Canandaigua.

About 100 people attended the dinner and auction. In addition to the items the live auction, there were 44 items in a silent auction and 42 baskets and gifts in a general raffle.

Tim Pierce, right, fills a plate with food catered by Zambistro in Medina.

Marty Taber holds a rocking chair with blue cushions which was sponsored for the auction by Frank’s Auto Repair in Albion.

Randy Bower scans the room for a bidder at the auction.

Gail Johnson serves as chairwoman of the event, which has become the museum’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

Russ Bosch of Clarendon holds a 1980 clock, which he and his wife Erin Anheier donated for the auction. They also donated a clock from 1870 for the event.

Next year’s Cobblestone Membership Dinner will be May 6, 2020. The museum opens for the season this year on June 1.

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