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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 Hervey Ely House ~ 1837

2012 Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes Hervey Ely 1

The Hervey Ely House sits like a Greek Temple atop a hill in Corn Hill near the site of the Seneca Indians’ Last Sacrifice of the White Dog. It is the sole remaining testament to the grandeur that once was the historic Third Ward’s Livingston Park. Boston architect S.P. Hastings was commissioned to design this grand mansion. The style is Greek Revival, with freestanding Doric columns guarding the portico. Various entablatures, paneled pilasters, and carved capitals are other important external features. Inside the elegance continues with lavish parlors, elaborate plaster decorations, and nine fireplaces.

Mr. Ely was one of Rochester’s leaders during the booming flour milling period. He made his fortune by running a general store, a sawmill and the Red Mill gristmill. Hervey Ely and his wife Caroline lived in this gracious mansion on Livingston Park, the social heart of the Third Ward for only four years. After the collapse of the grain market in 1841, Ely was forced to sell the house. He passed away at 71 and is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Over the years, this historic mansion passed from prominent owner to prominent owner, including William Kidd, president of the Rochester Savings Bank. In 1920, it was acquired by the Irondequoit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution for their headquarters. The Hervey Ely House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated a landmark by the Rochester Preservation Board.

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.