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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!

The Pagan Steinbrenner Home ~ 1983, Troup Street

Steinbrenner Exterior

Two 1800’s single houses originally stood at this site and faced east on South Washington Street. During Corn Hill’s urban renewal project in the 1970’s, the homes were demolished. In 1983, the present building, divided into two single family residences (102 and 104 Troup Street), was built facing south on Troup Street.

The 102 and 104 Troup Street structure was designed by local architect, John Pagen, a resident of Corn Hill. It was specifically designed to complement the surrounding historic homes. Another Corn Hill resident, Al Rayburn, built the two homes as a labor of love with the artisans who worked with him. Both include contemporary layouts, 10 foot ceilings, expansive floor plans and magnificent windows.

The current owner of 104 Troup Street purchased the property in 2008 and is the fifth owner of this home. Working with another Corn Hill resident, Anita Hansen, a local interior designer, the entire interior of the home was revamped and repainted and extensive artwork added to the second level for use as a small boutique law office and conference area. The aging deck was redesigned and replaced to include locally designed and custom made wrought iron railings, below deck weather protected storage, and direct access to the lower back garden area. The unfinished ground level of the home was transformed into a private office with half bath, with an entry room and private hallway to the side parking area. The third mezzanine level was converted into a media room. The fourth level was redesigned and upgraded to contain a legal assistant office and combination master suite bedroom with adjoining modern European style bath. Many other personal touches were added as well.

The owner lived in the Corn Hill Commons area of the neighborhood for almost 10 years in a condo overlooking the river and had not planned on moving. Once inside this exceptional structure, which was showcased on the 2007 Corn Hill Christmas Tour of Homes, he fell in love with the avant-garde design and open layout and future potential not yet utilized. The owner is ecstatic on his move to the historic part of Corn Hill and being able to work and live in this very unique structure within the oldest neighborhood of Rochester.

The Hawley/Maguire-Ryan Home ~ c. 1880, Eagle Street

Maguire Exterior

Built by Nelson G. Hawley in approximately 1880, this Queen Anne Victorian has a twist–it was actually built as a “row house” and consists of two separate residences which look like one from the street.  The land, originally owned by Judge Chapin, was sold to Nelson G. Hawley, a bookbinder on State Street, for the amount of $423.63.  Mr. Hawley planned to build a row house and live in one side of the structure.  He did not survive to see the house finished and it was eventually occupied by the McKelvey family.

To this day, the house remains a separate home from its “sister” side. The two dwellings are quite different with this home retaining much of the original Victorian spirit while #23 was updated to a modern open structure.  The homeowners love the original character of this home and plan to preserve it.  The home features a living room with floor to ceiling windows, dining room, two bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and a separate servant’s quarters (now guest quarters) which has been updated to include a bathroom which allows guests to have complete privacy.

The owners have lived in their historic home since 2004 and have slowly added touches which bring some of their personal character to light.  This includes rebuilding the exterior fence from scratch which boasts colorful finials.  The courtyard, which is full of flowers during the warmer months, is their respite from spring through fall.

The Peck/Gearhart/Mayer House ~ 1873, Atkinson St.

Mayer Exterior


This foundation of this simple Italianate house indicates that it was originally a small house facing Greenwood Street but was later expanded for William Farley Peck and completed in 1873.  William Peck worked at the post office and later became a lawyer, journalist and historian.  It was in this house that he penned the first of his histories of Rochester.  Later he and his brother Edward moved to a larger home at the north end of Greenwood Street, now 121 Troup St – also on the 2013 holiday tour.

Like many of them homes in the area, from the turn of the century to the early 1960s the house was split into smaller quarters, first a rooming house and then a fraternity house for the Mechanics Institute (later RIT).  At one time there was a beauty parlor in the rear of the dwelling and, finally, it became a seven bed rooming house.  RIT moved to its Henrietta campus at the same time as a major population “flight” to the suburbs, causing this home and many others like it to be left to slumlords and deterioration.  There were several fires at this home and the house was marked for demolition.  Even the Landmark Society had labeled the home “OK for demolition,” since they did not believe anyone would come forward to save the historic home of Historian Peck.

Chuck Gearhart, a young photography graduate from RIT and his college roommate Peter Frosiq had become interested in urban pioneering and had purchased a home on S. Washington Street. When an auction was held in 1970 for the home at 48 Atkinson, despite its red “condemned” sign, Chuck purchased the home for $1375.  He gutted the house and restored many of the rooms to their original size.  Illness kept him from completing his work, but his friend and the home’s current owner, Bonny Mayer, picked up the challenge and continued the restoration.

Upon visiting this home, you will see a combination of turn of the century design in the parlor and dining room as well as modern space in the kitchen and library.  The second floor contains a bedroom with cupola, expanded bath and photo gallery and a work place or office, where the current owner and community historian continues the Peck tradition.

As you leave the home, spend a few moments in the meditation garden which, in the winter, is a haven for birds.

The Peck/Lawson Home ~ c. 1875, Troup St.


In 1870, Edward Peck commissioned the architect J. G. Cutler to build a three story home on the corner of Greenwood and Troup streets.  The home, a Queen Anne shingle style, was designed to have the lower floor be brick and the upper floors be frame.  The home was completed by 1875, since it begins to appear on Rochester maps at that time.  Edward, a prominent business man as secretary treasurer of the Cooperative Foundry and later the Vice President of Standard Sewer and Pipe Company, was William Peck’s brother.  See the description of 48 Atkinson Street for more information on William.  Both brothers lived in the house that is now 48 Atkinson Street prior to moving to 121 Troup.

Over the years, the house served as housing for the students of the Mechanics Institute (now RIT) and then a ten room boarding house.  Urban renewal reduced the residential size to three units but at various times, the house stood vacant.  A fire on February 13, 1977 caused extensive damage to the home.

The current owners bought the house in the spring of 2012 as a three unit building.  Prior to that time a management company was responsible for the home since the previous owner lived in California.  The owners now occupy the two story apartment at the front of the building.  The two additional units are located at the back of the house on Greenwood Street.  Over the past year all three units have been upgraded including new kitchens in the front apartment and upstairs apartment and a total renovation of the lower back apartment.

The Flowers/Gates Home ~ 1989

Gates Exterior

During the 1980s dozens of new residences designed to be com­patible with the scale and character of historic streetscapes filled areas cleared during earlier urban renewal campaigns. This townhouse was one of seven built in 1989 by John Flowers in the first phase of the award winning Corn Hill Village on Greig Street.  These individually owned units were developed along the lines of a 19th century English country compound. Each unit has a different and unique layout.

The current owner purchased this 2 story townhouse in 2001 after downsizing from a home in Mendon and is only its second owner.  She was attracted to the layout, full basement, garage, the porches and the green space behind the unit.  Outside you will notice the 3 porches, 2 in front and one in back, that afford the owner, an avid gardener, many hours of relaxation and bird watching during the warmer months.

Inside, this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home features a larger master suite complete with its own porch.  Over the past 12 years the owner has enjoyed updating the home by removing wallpaper, adding oak floors on the main floor, pushing out a wall and adding a window seat in the dining room and adding granite counter tops and new appliances in the kitchen.

Fully decorated for the holidays, note the crèche in the dining room with hand carved Italian figures that was collected by the owner’s parents over many years. Also note the collection of snowmen in the kitchen as well as many handmade Christmas decorations made by the owner.  The two story stairwell features posters from past Corn Hill Arts Festivals including several original ones from the first festivals produced by the owner’s partner, one of the original artists.  The photographs throughout the townhouse were taken by the owner and her partner who is a professional photographer.  Upstairs you’ll find handmade quilts and pillows in each bedroom including some made by the owner’s great grandmother.

On the way to and from the Gates home you can see Corn Hill’s newest homes to the West, a new townhouse development targeting first time home buyers. When complete the project will consist of 2 buildings, each with 4 units and a center court yard area.

The Burns/Howard Home ~ 1883

 Burn Exterior

Built in 1883 as a single family home, this East Lake Victorian house has gone through many stages.  From a single family home to a boarding house, to housing multiple families and finally back to a single family home, the Burns/Howard house has seen its share of changes.

Brent Howard purchased the house on New Year’s Eve 1999, when the house was in need of serious repair.  A few years later, he met his partner, Matt Burns, and the two lived together in the house, carefully and lovingly renovating each room, as well as updating and improving the exterior landscape.  Unfortunately, in March 2011, Brent suddenly passed away, and the projects ceased for a period of time.  Recently, Matt has begun the process of updating the home again, returning to “our vision of what this house could be: a beautiful place full of charm and love.”  Now, after fourteen years, the house is still being renovated carefully, keeping its original allure (the staircase in the front is original), yet updating and modernizing many aspects.

Legend has it that previous owners had one child, a son who fell ill and passed away at a very young age.  Although that family moved on, their son has not.  To this day he still considers the house his home by making his presence known as he watches the owners renovate different rooms of the house.  No need to be alarmed, though, as he is a very friendly, loving and peaceful ghost!

Charles E. Hart Carriage House ~ 1888

2012 Corn Hill Holiday Tour of Homes Hart Carriage House 1

The Charles E. Hart Carriage House on Troup Street, 1888

Salis Residence

The Italianate Villa on the corner of South Plymouth Avenue was built in the 1830s by James Seymour, president of the Bank of Rochester and later the Sheriff of Monroe County. In 1866 Henry S. Potter, the first president of Western Union, purchased it and in 1888 the next owner, Charles Hart, had the Troup Street carriage house built for his livery. There are poignant photos of this period, when the Hart family simultaneously housed horse and carriage as well as automobiles here.

In 1952, the Rochester Institute of Technology leased the carriage house to showcase arts and crafts created by its “School of American Craftsmen” professors and students that included internationally recognized artists such as Albert Paley and Wendell Castle. The gallery, called Shop One, was a unique institution in its time, providing not only a business venture originated and managed by crafts people, but also a forum for the presentation of museum quality avant-garde craftwork. Until it closed in 1972, Shop One continued to promote its mission of educating the public to the special beauty of handmade objects.

When the current residents purchased the carriage house in 1975, they converted the upper level into a family home befitting of its artistic legacy. A ceiling was removed in the main living space to expose four more original windows, which illuminated much of their collection of late 18th and early 19th century American portraiture, landscape, and still-life oil paintings. The German/Swiss armoire dates from the 1700s, as does the desk at the end of the hallway. The spiral staircase leads to an open- air garden and dining space. But before ascending to this unique residence, be sure to take notice of the 1957 Morris Minor parked in the large heated garage.