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Immaculate Conception Church ~ 1849

2012 Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes Immaculate Conception Church 1

Tour Gathering Place

A Rochester landmark for 150 years, Immaculate Conception Church was founded by Irish immigrants in 1849.  The first church was a frame structure that was destroyed by fire in 1864.  Construction of a second church began that same year.  The new church, which was built of brick in a modified Romanesque style, was damaged by fire in 1872.  The parish subsequently repaired and enlarged the surviving structure.

The present church is basically the 1864-1873 building modified by two large-scale renovations.  An entrance portico was added to the east façade and the spire was removed from the north tower.  The main sanctuary windows, installed in 1923, are made of richly colored German stained glass.  Pike Stained Glass Studio installed the handsome blue rose window and the three large lancet windows behind the organ in the 1950s.

In 1992, Immaculate Conception Church was placed on the National Register of Monroe County Historic Buildings. To prepare for the 150th anniversary of the church, the building underwent extensive rehabilitation in 2000.  Some pews were removed to make room for a gathering space near the back of the church.  An accessible entrance was added and the entire interior of the church was repaired and painted.

Today its congregation has joined with the St. Bridget’s community to form a thriving Roman Catholic Church of African American tradition.

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.

Mark IV on Avery Mall ~ Adams St., 1986

Jones Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

This home is one of seven townhouses built as part of the Mark IV Construction project, designed to complement Avery Mall Park and named after well-known Rochester watercolor artist Ralph Avery who lived in Corn Hill.

This end unit abuts Adams Street and Avery Mall Park and features a large living room and kitchen on the ground level, three bedrooms upstairs and a partly finished basement.
The view from the living room is of the Avery Mall Park where people going to and fro frequently stop to sit and enjoy the many large flower pots maintained by the Corn Hill Neighbor Association’s Beautification Committee.

We see Adams Street from the dining room and enjoy the many types of birds eating at our bird feeders. We have a running fight with six squirrels but we think we are winning.
Our joy is the brick enclosed patio, our oasis, where we spend many contented hours. Even during the Corn Hill Festival we are not very conscious of street noise.

Friday evenings in the summer we join the denizens of Corn Hill in the Avery Park Mall for drinks and snacks and catch up on the Corn Hill news, vacation plans, talk about books, movies, current events, etc.

Since our April 2011 arrival we have upgraded the kitchen with new appliances, cupboards, countertops, an eating area and refurbished our powder room. Our bedroom has been repainted and the upstairs has new carpet. All seven of the Avery townhouses were resided in 2014.
At Halloween we love having 400 kids come knocking on our door. Some of the kids remember us from year to year.

Mark IV on Fitzhugh ~ South Fitzhugh St., 1982

Frey Comatos Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

It’s not often that homeowners can start from scratch when furnishing a “new to them” home, but that’s exactly what happened here. When the owners sold their previous home, a large rambling farmhouse in the Finger Lakes, the buyer bought 90% of their furniture and furnishings! This suited them, as they like to let the architecture and style of a house dictate the type and color of furnishings. In the past, they have lived in a 3-story contemporary home on the Hudson River, a century old Arts & Crafts home near Cleveland, Ohio, a Cape Cod in Maryland, a 90-year-old farmhouse in New Paltz, NY, and the aforementioned 150-year-old farmhouse. Corn Hill became home in March of 2006 and this home was on the tour that year. Almost everything has changed in the intervening eight years!

This home was the first Fitzhugh Street “new build” (1982) by Mark IV Construction (who also built Corn Hill Landing on the Genesee River.) It has a surprisingly private feel given the proximity of neighboring homes. Note the beautiful, diagonally laid walnut floors in the living room.

The few pieces of furniture the homeowners kept from their previous home are family antiques, including the sewing machine and armoire in the living room.

This home is one of six legal two-family homes on S. Fitzhugh Street. As such, it has a separate one bedroom apartment at the rear of the home which is also open for the tour today.

The Rowley-Frost House ~ South Plymouth Ave., 1870

Capstone Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

This historic home-turned-office building will serve as the refreshment stop during this year’s tour. The Italian Villa at 252 South Plymouth Avenue is home to Capstone Information Technologies, Inc. The company, with a staff of 20, provides IT services to small and medium businesses throughout Western New York.

The 4,000 square foot building was built in 1870 by William and Caroline Rowley. The next owner was Edward Frost, who was followed by Mr. Greenburg, an attorney. Upon his death it became the law office of Mr. Falk & Associates.

The owners and CEOs of Capstone Information Technologies, Inc. are Sitima and Michael Fowler. Prior to purchasing Rowley-Frost in 2008, they rented offices in the Corn Hill area. As the business grew, so did their need for more physical space. While briefly debating moving their business closer to their home in Fairport, they realized they had come to enjoy the convenience of Corn Hill; the ease of walking to restaurants and the emerging opportunities associated with downtown development. The Fowlers elected to stay in the area when Rowley-Frost became available, thus renovating, painting and restoring much of the grandeur of this stately dwelling. Initially they rented out the upper level of the building, but now their business has grown to the point where they occupy all offices on both floors.

The building provides an excellent example of creating a business space while retaining the fundamental character of a historic home. Many of the offices have restored chandeliers, molding, floors and fireplaces.

The Smiley House ~ Adams St., 1870

Brandt Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

The home at 80 Adams Street, which dates back to the 1870s, has undergone numerous transformations and alterations that have led to its present state. Prominent Rochester tailor Archibald Smiley purchased the house for $14,500 in 1875 and owned it until his suicide by morphine in 1885. The house had dozens of subsequent owners before it became an unfortunate victim of the urban renewal movement of the 1960s. Like many of Corn Hill’s older homes, it sat vacant and boarded up for years. Spray-painted messages on one of its exterior walls became a symbol of area residents’ frustration with local public housing policies.

In the early 1970s, the house was threatened with demolition before the Landmark Society intervened to save it. Kenneth Frantz purchased 80 Adams Street in 1972, paid off its six years of unpaid taxes, and promptly sold it to Jose Flores. Unfortunately, the rear part of the house and full-length porch were not salvageable and Mr. Flores had them removed. He restored the current section of the house and added the triangular addition on the rear of the dwelling, as well as the current front porch, in the mid-1970s.

The current owners purchased the home in July 2013. Over the past year, they have focused the majority of their efforts on renovating the kitchen, bathroom and other areas to make it more consistent with their vision for the house. Their modern touches on this delightful residence have all been completed while attempting to carefully preserve its historic charm. They invite you to explore their unique home and hope you enjoy it as much they do!

The Skillman House ~ Glasgow St., 1870

Baldwin Home - Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes

This stately home was built by Home Jeweler Jacob Skillman and his wife Sidney in 1870, having bought the property from Mary Redfield and Mary Ely in 1868.

Like many of the neighborhood homes, by the 1960s and early 70s the house had fallen into disrepair. It was purchased and rehabilitated by Joseph Bellanca around 1977. The house was completely gutted and extensively remodeled inside. The original outside walls and facade were the only parts that were preserved. The result was a striking home which is a study in openness.

Mr. Bellanca removed the ceiling in the original dining room to create a dramatic two-story dining atrium. The dining room has decorative wood paneling that was originally from an East Avenue mansion. The two upstairs bedrooms have balconies overlooking the dining room.
At that same time tin ceilings were added to the powder room and kitchen. Cedar walls were also added in the kitchen. Exposed brick was dramatically positioned throughout the house. The main house has two working fireplaces, one with a marble mantle and hearth. A solarium was recently completed off the kitchen and provides a light and airy additional living space overlooking the gardens.

The current resident is a newcomer to Corn Hill, having formerly lived for many years on Strathallan Park. He has particularly enjoyed the dining area and open floor plan for entertaining.

He and his family and friends are looking forward to transforming this gracious home into a spectacular example of holiday wonder. They look forward to seeing you on the tour!