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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.

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.