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Atkinson Street ~ 1870

Conklin Main

The Conklin-Porter Home on Atkinson Street, c. 1870

When this Italianate style brick house was built, the mode for illumination was gas, but in the 1920s the house was electrified. In the early 1960s, the house became divided into 5 small units, each with its own utilities, furnace, and water heater in the dirt floor basement. Fortunately, very few major alterations occurred in this division. Forced air ducting was run on the surfaces of the walls and some doors were nailed shut with dead bolt locksets added to others. The real damage to the building occurred in 1972 when the building suffered a fire that left a void from the rafters through the kitchen area and into the basement. The house was boarded up and left vacant for 8 years allowing water from the gaping roof holes to destroy any plaster cornice moldings that had survived the fire. At this time, the original front doors also “went missing.”

The current owner purchased the house in 1980 when “most sane folks had already walked away.” After five years of removing plaster and lath, pouring a new basement floor (after digging the basement a foot and a half deeper by hand) and rebuilding two chimneys, the house then had one finished bedroom and a “temporary” kitchen set up in the front parlor. In 1985, with these two rooms habitable, the owner and his wife moved in. With help from friends and family more rooms were finished, gradually expanding the living space.

The gutted house was rebuilt from the “inside-out” with all new walls, electric, plumbing, heat, and insulation. Much care was taken to restore as much as possible, retain, replace or duplicate missing details. For example every piece of door, window trim & base board was removed, sent out and stripped of 10 coats of paint, then carefully re-fitted to original positions & re-painted. All but three of the doors are original to the house, but the replaced rear porch door and the parlor pocket doors are true to the style and period of the house. All porches are new and are copies of the originals. A new garage was added to the rear of the house, with a Beaver Street access. The “temporary” parlor kitchen remained for 20 years until the current kitchen was finished in 2005. Please note the full size paper mock up of the NEW doors for the front hall. The clear pine to fabricate these doors was purchased 31 years ago and is still is in the garage.

This house harkens back to the original purpose of the Landmark Society’s first Third Ward House and Garden Tour of 1971, when tourgoers were given the opportunity to witness restoration projects still in progress. One has to have vision with an undertaking like this!

Adams Street ~ 1892

Adams Street 1892 - Main

The Wickham House on Adams Street, 1892
Browne and Walsh Home

Built originally on Genesee Street, this tri-gabled “L” structure was the home of the Wickham family for approximately 40 years. The last Wickham was Margaret, who operated a millinery business from the house. The neighborhood saw many changes over the years, including the circa 1925 construction of the Madison Theatre, a mere foot away from Margaret’s business. As a result, that side of the house never saw another coat of paint. Years of decline followed. The house became rental property and was finally abandoned in 1975.

In 1980, with the threat of demolition looming, the house was given a new lease on life when it was moved to its Corn Hill location on Adams Street. When the current owners took possession, the house was a shell with many broken windows. The only functioning item in the house was the Victorian doorbell, which still graces the solid oak front door. There was no plumbing—the copper pipes had been removed. There was no heating system—the steam radiators had also been removed, although their footprints can still be seen in the oak floors. All the wood in the house, with the exception of the downstairs floor and the front door, had been covered with so many layers of paint that many of the designs were completely obscured.

The plumbing, heating and electricity were brought up to modern standards. After removing multiple layers of paint, it was revealed that the window casings were chestnut, and the floors were oak or pine. In one of the upstairs rooms, many long pins were discovered—a legacy of Margaret Wickham’s millinery shop. Also note the elaborately turned spindles, posts and railings on the front porch—a reminder of the craftsmanship that could be found even on the smaller houses of the day.

Tremont Circle ~ 1864

Tremont Circle

The Webster-Kirley House on Tremont Circle, 1864
Butler and Baird Home

Corn Hill is famous for its dramatic renovation success stories, but few are more dramatic than the rebirth of this Tremont Circle house. Built in 1864 by Mr. H. Webster of Clyde, New York, this brick Italianate house was soon sold for $2,500 to Philip Kirley, a leather dealer and shoe manufacturer. The Kirley family lived in the home until 1919, after which the home was partitioned and transformed into a multiple residence—a change that led to the house’s decline. During these years, the house served as living quarters for a professional lacrosse team (which painted the house in team colors), and as an R.I.T student residence. By the 1960s the house was dilapidated, abandoned and singled out for demolition by a city councilman. Although the house itself was boarded up, the front double doors had been removed, leaving the large entryway open to rain, snow, stray animals, and vandals. During this time a fire destroyed much of the interior.

Thanks to the efforts of Mrs. David (Libby) Stewart, of the Genesee Landmarks Foundation, the house was spared demolition and sold in 1967 to Mary Grooms for $2,500, the same amount for which it had sold 103 years earlier. Ms. Grooms, a small building contractor, renovated the house, converting it into its current state as a two family residence. The handsome entrance porch was restored, and the original entrance doors, which were found rotting in the back yard, were returned to their hinges. In 1972, Ms. Grooms received a Gannett Newspaper Award for her efforts.

Inside, the house features twelve and a half foot ceilings, original crown moldings, and a prominent medallion in the dining room designed to complement the existing architecture. The foyer features a curving staircase and original pine flooring. The current owners have restored one of the two marble fireplaces, which originally burned coal, to a working gas fireplace, and, like recent owners of the house before them, have made various updates to the home.

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church ~ Refreshment Stop ~ Adams St.

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church
Mt. Olivet Baptist Church was organized in 1910, and the congregation built its first building on this site between 1912 and 1915. That building was replaced by a second church, begun in 1923 and dedicated in 1927. Today the 1927 sanctuary remains part of the church complex, but a state-of-the-art sanctuary dedicated in 1999 is the main worship space for this thriving congregation.

Church description from

Stevens/Walls House/Singer Home ~ Clarissa St. ~ 1900

Singer Home - Clarissa Street - 1900
Former residents of this house highlight its significance. When Clarissa Street was known as Caledonia Avenue, the Stevens family called this house their home. Jessie Stevens operated a grocery store down the street on the corner of Spring Street. Daughter Jennie’s son, Charles Price, became the first African American officer on the Rochester police force. Daughter Bessie Walls became a teacher and, for quite some time, was the only African American teacher in the Rochester City School District.

Bessie and her husband lived here until the early 1960s when they sold the homestead to Aunt Pearl James. Aunt Pearl served for many years at Strong Memorial Hospital, as well as the Elks Club.

The current owners bought the home in 1984. After their three children grew up and moved out on their own, they opened up the house as a Bed and Breakfast. They also operate their herbal tea business, Hallelujah Royal Heritage Tea, from the house.

Hawley House/Copeland Home ~ Eagle St. ~ c.1880

Copeland Home - Eagle Street - circa 1880
This lovely Queen Anne Victorian appears to have been built in approximately 1880. The land itself, originally owned by Judge Chapin, was sold to Nelson G. Hawley, a State Street bookbinder, for $423.63. Mr. Hawley had planned to build a row house and live in one side of the structure but, unfortunately, he did not survive to see the house finished. It was eventually occupied by the McKelvey family. The two halves were originally mirror images and the two front parlors were joined by double arched brick passageways. Currently, the two dwellings are quite different, with #21 (on the holiday tour last year) retaining much of the original Victorian spirit and #23 updated to a modern, open structure. The current homeowner lived in New York City for many years, moving to Rochester 11 years ago. Many Corn Hill homes, and his home in particular, reminded him of the brownstones on the upper east side of Manhattan. He bought his current home in May 2005 and Corn Hill has become “home” to this New York City transplant. He loves the neighborhood and has made many friends in this close knit community. He values how the neighbors look out for one another.

Miller House/McGhee Home ~ Atkinson St. ~ 1895

McGhee Home - Atkinson St. 1895
When Corn Hill Landing was built, the goal was to recapture the charm of the European village and update it with the finest comforts of modern luxury. A magnificent view of the Rochester city skyline is just the first highlight you’ll notice. The location features boutique shops and services, as well as unique dining opportunities. Amenities include private underground parking, modern effective security, a fitness center, a harbormaster and access to boat docks.

This spectacular home, built in 1895, has almost no history in the usual sense – it has never been rebuilt in any way, it has not been bought and sold a number of times, and it has not been touched by the usual flow of fashion in interior design. Because of this, it is judged as a truly authentic example of Queen Anne design of late 19th-century America.

The current owner and his late wife bought the house 25 years ago, after learning, “It hadn’t been all chopped up and rooms moved around.” Prior owner Cora Russell was only the second owner of the house (her father, Anthony Miller, was the first), and she kept it the same way until she died at 94. The current owner bought the estate from her niece.

Conklin Home ~ Exchange Blvd. – Corn Hill Landing ~ 2005

2009 Conklin - Exchange Blvd. 2005
When Corn Hill Landing was built, the goal was to recapture the charm of the European village and update it with the finest comforts of modern luxury. A magnificent view of the Rochester city skyline is just the first highlight you’ll notice. The location features boutique shops and services, as well as unique dining opportunities. Amenities include private underground parking, modern effective security, a fitness center, a harbormaster and access to boat docks.

This year’s tour features an apartment with a beautiful view of the Genesee River. The homeowner downsized in 2005 from a ten-room, 100-year-old home in Maplewood, where she had lived for more than forty years. Her new home is a 1600 square foot, two-story loft apartment. That’s significant downsizing!

Ianazzi Home ~ Adams St. ~ c.1880s

2009 Adams Street, circa 1880
This small brick cottage stands today as the result of a change in community development policy from that of demolition to conservation. It originally served the servants of some of Corn Hill’s wealthiest families. It was bought by a previous owner for $800 at a city auction in 1977 to save it from the wrecking ball. He filled three dumpsters with the debris he and friends hauled out of the house.

The present owners have owned the home since 1999. The backyard was completely re-landscaped in 2006 to create an easy-to-maintain urban space. The new design mantra for the house is “ease of living.” The owners want to create an easy to maintain, work-free environment.

An exterior renovation, complete with a new front landscape, picket fence and new paint color is set for spring 2010.

Shaw House/Sarkis Home ~ Atkinson St. ~ 1837

2009 Atkinson Street, 1837
The Henry Shaw House was built by a wealthy fur trader in 1837. Some of the many changes included addition of a carriage house, an in-ground pool, and a process of restoration that began in 1991.

The present owner originally owned the home from 1991-1997 and repurchased it in early 2009, creating a beautiful home for himself and his father, who is now retired. It has become “the family home” and the extended family gathers here nearly every Sunday for dinner.

The neighborhood has immensely enjoyed watching this grand home regain its original glory.