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Sandstone Society presents 21 nominees for inaugural Hall of Fame

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 October 2013 at 12:00 am

List includes 9 sites in Orleans County, a staircase in Albany, and other upstate buildings

Photos by Tom Rivers – David Miller, a Medina Sandstone Society member, discusses one of the nominees for the new Hall of Fame: the Belhurst Castle in Geneva.

MEDINA – A list of nominees for a new Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame includes prominent sites in Orleans County and upstate New York, well-known landmarks that have endured harsh winters and, in some cases, neglect.

The buildings made of Medina sandstone have proved formidable, and many are striking architectural marvels, created by the master stone cutters from more than a century ago.

The Medina Sandstone Society is working to create a Hall of Fame that showcases some of the great buildings and structures made from the local stone. The list of 21 nominees was presented on Thursday, and that list will be pared down to five to seven inaugural members of the Hall of Fame. The first class will be announced in December.

“We want to keep Medina sandstone alive,” Jim Hancock, a member of the Hall of Fame committee, told about 75 people on Thursday during a nominee unveiling at the Medina Theatre, a sandstone building on Main Street. “There is Medina sandstone all over the state, the country and even the world.”

Jim Hancock, a member of the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame committee, discusses the Million-Dollar Staircase in Albany, which was partially built with Medina sandstone. It’s one of 21 nominees for the new Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame Committee – Hancock, David Miller and John Slack – visited many of the nominees, taking photographs and learning about the history of the sites. They shared their findings during the nominee unveiling on Thursday.

The nominees include nine from Orleans County including St. John’s Episcopal Church in Medina (1832 – 1836), the Old Stone Store in Clarendon from 1836, the Civil War Memorial at Mount Albion Cemetery in 1876, the chapel at Hillside Cemetery in Holley from 1894, the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church in Albion from 1894, the Medina Armory (now Orleans County YMCA) in Medina from 1901, St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Medina from 1902-1904, the railway station in Medina from 1908, and City Hall in Medina from 1908.

Other nominees in the Buffalo area include St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo from 1849 to 1851, the H.H. Richardson Complex in Buffalo from 1870, the St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo from 1889, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Olean, the Connecticut Street Armory in Buffalo from 1899, and the Genesee County jail in Batavia from 1903.

In the Rochester area, Sandstone Society members nominated the Charlotte Lighthouse in Rochester which was built in 1822, the Bellhurst Castle in Geneva from 1888, St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester from 1891 to 1893, the Civil War monument in Brockport from 1894, and a series of 30 structures at Hamlin Beach State Park from 1938.

Photo by Chris Busch

The St. Louis Roman Catholic Church in Buffalo, built in 1889, includes a 245-foot-high steeple that is topped by a 72-foot-high pierced spire, the tallest open-work spire ever built completely of stone without reinforcement.

The Million-Dollar Staircase in Albany, which used Medina sandstone for the steps, also made the list.

Nearly all of the nominees are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and some have been declared National Historic Landmarks.

Hancock and Miller both said they have gained more appreciation for Medina sandstone and its role as a superior building block in some of the finest structures in the region and state.

They will submit a list of inductees to the Medina Sandstone Society board to vote on during the group’s November meeting. A public announcement will be made in December. At that point, Hancock said a location for the Hall of Fame should be determined.

Orleans Hub congratulates the Sandstone Society for working on this project. The Hall of Fame should draw visitors to our community, help us to form new connections with owners of Medina sandstone buildings outside the county, and promote community pride.