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Mark IV on S. Fitzhugh (1982)

Mark IV on S. Fitzhugh

This single family home has a surprisingly private feel given the proximity of neighboring homes. Originally built as a two-unit home, the current owners converted it into a single family home. The home leans towards a modern retro style with custom made stainless steel railings and rubber industrial flooring utilized in various parts of the home. The tour participant will be treated to many unique décor and decorating options that complement the modern feel to the home.

These modern homes were a “new build” in 1982 by Mark IV Construction (who also built Corn Hill Landing on the Genesee River.)

The Grant House (1851)

The Grant Home - Eagle St.

This Eagle Street home was built in 1851, and is in a vernacular Italianate style with a low hip roof on the main structure, gabled roof on the rear extension and a pillared covered porch as the main entrance. The traditional Italianate has a tower with arched openings, molding and double doors, which may have been lost during home updates. There are also some Eastlake elements such as the brickwork on a chimney and the brick alterations on the front. Both the covered porch and the enclosed porch were original to the house. The open porch was added in 1979.

The first owners appear to have been S. M. Grant and James Crane, a wigmaker. Over the years the single home morphed into an eight unit boarding house, and in the 1980s was returned to a single family dwelling.

As you approach the side door of the home, notice the stucco outbuilding at the rear of the property that was originally a horse stable. Today it is a two car garage with a basement and a second-floor apartment. The current talented owners are enjoying a new life in Rochester, having purchased the home in 2011 after retiring from their respective jobs and life in New York City. You might smell some wonderful cooking from Mr. Caruso, who was recently the head chef and director of Operations at A Meal and More, the oldest soup kitchen in Rochester. He has written two cookbooks, the latest being Oy Italia, a Jewish Italian cookbook (available at Although Dr. Gehl will not be singing, he is a member of several Rochester choral groups, including Madrigalia, The Rochester Oratorio Society/Resonanz, The Eastman Rochester Chorus and First Inversion. You may also see some of his Lionel trains around the Christmas tree; the main collection is in the Carriage House basement.

The main floor is open on the tour, along with the master bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. You may also enjoy the extensive collection of Al Hirschfeld caricatures throughout the house. If you can identify all 14, you will receive – an extra Christmas cookie!


Pagan House (1983)

The Pagan House 1983 2
This residence is one of two attached townhouses built in 1983 on the site where two single-family homes once stood. The current 3-story, AIA award-winning structure was designed by local architect, John Pagan, a resident of Corn Hill. Another Corn Hill resident, Al Rayburn, built the two homes.

While the design of these two units is quite contemporary, the brick exterior with V-shaped bay windows and front gables very nicely mimics the lines and features of nearby historic houses, helping this structure easily blend into the neighborhood. The interior’s eleven-foot high ceilings, open floor plan, skylight, tiered levels and angled walls and alcoves create a beautiful, modern space that makes an instant impression on any visitor.

The current owner purchased the property from its original owners in 1998 and recently completed a few renovations on the home. The living room sits at the front of the home’s first level and steps up to the dining room with a built-in sideboard separating the two spaces. The hardwood floors on the first level were recently refinished from a walnut colored stain to a natural red oak.

The dining room steps up one more tier to the brand new, contemporary kitchen at the back of the house. Earlier this year, the original, contractor-grade galley kitchen and adjacent breakfast room were taken down to their studs and the wall between the two rooms removed to make way for the new gourmet kitchen. The kitchen looks out over a recently rebuilt, multi-tiered deck made from sustainably forested Brazilian Cumaru hardwood.

The stairway runs from the lower level, through the first level, up to a mezzanine converted to office and media room, and on to the top level with two bedrooms and two full baths. The master bedroom and mezzanine both recently received brand new oak flooring, completing the updates made to this architectural gem.

Mark IV (1982) – Frederick Douglass Street

Mark IV Frederick Douglass
In 1982, Mark IV Construction Company completed the first phase of its Corn Hill Commons homes. This was the city of Rochester’s first comprehensive housing development in 30 years. These residences were advertised as maintaining “the flavor of Victorian America, coupled with the convenience of today.” Over a five-year period, hundreds more housing units would be constructed on 12 Corn Hill acres.

This home is one of two multi-family townhomes in the Corn Hill Commons. A unique feature of the home is that in addition to the 1400 square-foot “owner’s” apartment, it also has a lovely one bedroom loft apartment with hardwood floors, ideal for one person on the go. Both apartments will be on display for the Holiday Tour of Homes.

The larger unit has two bedrooms, 1 & 1/2 baths and a wood burning fireplace. It also has a lower level office/family room with a separate laundry room and a one car attached garage — convenient for avoiding Rochester’s inclement weather.

Corn Hill Commons recently completed the siding project it had started the last time a Corn Hill Commons townhome was on the Holiday Tour. The $1.2 million siding project has enhanced the value and energy cost savings to owners while using historic colors to blend in with the historic nature of the neighborhood.

The Hayden House (1850) – South Fitzhugh Street

Hayden House S. Fitzhugh

This Italianate landmark, named for previous resident Rochester mayor Charles Hayden, was damaged by fire and had been vacant for twelve years before the Loftus Brothers—Tom, Jim and John—bought it in July of 1982. This brick mansion is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a prime example of how many Corn Hill mansions of yesteryear have been repurposed into apartments. The Loftus restoration created seven apartments that range in size from 650 to 1,200 square feet. They include five working fireplaces with original, refinished mahogany mantels. Original ceiling moldings have been restored or replaced with custom-made moldings to match.

Apartment 2, on the tour today, is 1200 square feet and an urban dweller’s dream – especially one who has an affinity for 19th century architecture. The large windows, bamboo floors and fully functioning fireplace with a marble mantel create a warm and inviting space on the first floor. The kitchen offers modern conveniences and style while maintaining the character of this historic landmark. The second floor accommodates a bedroom suite, recording studio and guest space. Beautiful hand hewn beams adorn the second floor, serving as a reminder of the painstaking labor inherent to 19th century building practices. One can easily see where the ax fell in the forming of these support beams. Finally, a spiral staircase leads to the third level cupola, with windows on all four walls offering beautiful views of the Rochester skyline as well as a perfect and private place to take in the fireworks.

The Scott House (1907) – Atkinson Street

The Scott House (1907) – Atkinson Street
A charming American Foursquare, the home you see today was constructed in 1907. It was converted to a two-family home in 1941, denoted by the unusual full bath on the first floor, and was restored to a single-family home in the 1950s.  

While the style of the home is common for the era in which it was built, it has a number of unique architectural and design features, such as the pediment-style dormers on the hipped roof. Further, the home’s foundation is brick, while the first story is fashioned with wood shingled siding, and the second story aluminum. The living room showcases a fireplace, framed in heavy oak and covered in an ornate brass grill, original to the house. Details from the home’s construction such as the gumwood trim, woodwork and doors abound.  

A great deal of the home’s restoration is owed to the Scotts, who resided here for over half a century. Mr. and Mrs. Roy L. Scott lovingly furnished and maintained the home, emphasizing its original character and warmth. Mrs. Scott also took great pride in her garden and landscaping and their collective efforts won them the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for neighborhood rehabilitation long before the revitalization of Corn Hill began.   

The current owner bought the home in 2013 and has been busy maintaining it and putting on his own touches.

The Mather House (1869) – Greenwood Street

The Mather House Greenwood
This Greenwood Street house is a wonderful home with a charming history. The lots for #9 and #11 were purchased together (as part of the Bishop Tract) in the mid to late 1860s by William Bishop, an attorney, senator and son-in-law to Colonel Rochester.  

William Doody constructed the gracious house in 1869.  In 1872 the home was sold to Sarah Mather, daughter of John Chapman (a soldier under Lafayette during the Revolutionary War) and wife of Cotton Mather’s great grandson.  In 1867 Cotton Mather (age 15) was the youngest graduate of Harvard College; he went on to become an influential Puritan preacher and is thought, by some, to have been the primary inspiration for the Salem Witch Trials.  It is for this history this home is not only part of the Corn Hill Landmark District, but also a Rochester Landmark Society Covenant Home and part of the National Landmark Registry.

Sarah Mather and her sister lived in the house until 1941. During the 1960s, like many Corn Hill homes, the house served as an RIT fraternity house.  The house underwent a major renovation during the Urban Renewal Program of the 1970s.  Mrs. Rex Rial remodeled the original one-family house into one large family dwelling and one micro/efficiency rental unit (which you can view when exiting the home on the driveway side).  Mrs. Rial also reclaimed the garden area, restored the wide yellow pine floors, and added the salvaged Italianate staircase window.  

The house was built in the East Lake Victoria style with Italianate porch and accents.  The home’s current owner has cared for and enjoyed the home since 1996.  

The Sabey House (1837) – Greenwood Street

The Sabey House (1837) – Greenwood Street
Built in 1837, when Martin Van Buren was inaugurated as the 8th president of the United States, this cottage style home was likely built and occupied by a craftsman’s family who lived above the ground floor shop and served the wealthy surrounding neighborhood. The original architect and builder are unknown. Documented ownership dates back to Sarah and James Sabey who lived here from 1853 to 1868, succeeded by Elizabeth J. Loop until 1908. Nellie Loudes Philbrick, who resided here until 1948, extended the string of female owners of this home, uncommon during this period.

In 1989, prominent TV news reporter and R-News founder, Pete Dobrovitz, moved into this residence. Pete added an urban raised bed garden and patio in the backyard and cultivated a unique lilac bush grafted atop a cherry tree trunk in the front yard, all of which can be seen on the property today. Following Pete’s death and several years of vacancy, the current owners purchased the home in 2013, largely preserved in its historic state.

The exterior exhibits a whimsical mix of architectural styles including a three-bed gable facing the street, a raking cornice with dentils and broken pediment, a Gothic pointed attic window, and Italianate porch pillar posts. The interior features art and craftsmanship of the local community. Note the elegantly curved banister and staircase stringer, the original wide floorboards, and the many brass light fixtures dating back to the turn of the century. The house has recently been repainted to a vibrant blue that reaches back to the popular color palate of the mid 1800s.

The Churchill/Ford House ~ Atkinson St., 1883

Coughlin-Seidel 10 Atkinson Street

This East Lake style brick house was built in 1883 for Jane Churchill when she married C.P. Ford, a manufacturer of ladies’ shoes. Her father, William Churchill, a prosperous mason in the Rochester area, owned neighboring 249 S. Plymouth Avenue and built the home for his daughter as a wedding present.

The property became Mrs. Ford’s in 1898 after her husband passed away, and she lived in the house until her death at age 91 in 1949. Mrs. Ford bequeathed the home to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church with the intention that it be used as a rectory. Due to financial circumstances, the church was forced to sell the property in 1953. It was converted into an eight-apartment rooming house which RIT students occupied until 1979. Since then, the house has undergone a series of renovations and was restored to its previous grandeur by its past owners. Much of the home’s original detailing remains.

The most unique feature of the home, the “prayer room” remains. Mrs. Ford traveled extensively and, after a visit to the Middle East, she added a room to the house, at the landing of the grand staircase. The prayer room features intricate wooden panels made from the roots of cedars of Lebanon, a hand-painted ceiling, Arabic inscriptions and leaded glass windows.

The current owners bought the property in early 2013 and have been slowly working to create a warm and welcoming living space while maintaining the formal character of the home.

The Dent House ~ South Fitzhugh St., 1871

Williams Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

Built by Jonathan Dent, a Corn Hill plasterer, mason and builder, this warm, elegant Italianate-style row house boasts nine-foot ceilings, wide moldings and two marble fireplaces. Outside features include a shallowly pitched roof, arched windows with keystones, and bracketed eaves. Sadly, Jonathan never enjoyed this home as he passed away just before its completion. His wife Eliza moved into the home in 1871 and resided here until her death in 1878.

Three generations of families lived in both sides of the house from 1945 until the early 1970s. To accommodate the large families, each side of the row house was turned into three apartments.

As urban renewal was sweeping the country in the 1970s, homes in Corn Hill were rated high to low using colors to define agricultural significance. Each dwelling was classified as “red” (most significant), “green”, “yellow” or “grey” (least significant). This home was rated yellow, meaning that the home “enhanced other significant structures by harmonizing with them or because with other structures, make-up of the streetscape or neighborhood was worth saving.” During urban renewal this home was restored to a one-family home.
The current homeowners have lived in the home for over ten years. Recently, the top floor was opened up to create separate, private living space from that on the middle floor, now an apartment for the family’s oldest son. Due to a disability, he had lived many of his early adult years in a group home. Knowing that he wanted to be closer to his family, his parents asked him if he would like to move to his own apartment in their home. An exuberant “Yes!” and “How Soon?” followed. Three years ago and with support from family and friends, their son joined his family in his new home.