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Landmark Society announces preservation and restoration awards for 2012

By Howard B. Owens

This post has been updated with the write-up for the Griffen home.

Press release:

The Landmark Society of Genesee County will hold its annual Preservation Awards Dinner on May 19 at the St. James Episcopal Church ((405 E. Main St., Batavia). The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and the awards presentation will follow (at approximately 7 p.m.).

Six buildings in Genesee County will be recognized this year. Each year the awards committee tries to choose a group of structures that is varied in styles of architecture, geographic location, building materials, and type of building such as residences, churches, commercial, and public facilities.

“Historic preservation does not mean that everything must stay the same.  Rather, it focuses on the character and quality of construction,” explained Landmark Society President Laurie Oltramarie.

“Preservation comes in many forms --renovation, restoration, adaptive re-use, rehabilitation, and even reproduction. In a neighborhood, the ultimate goal of preservation is to maintain the character of a place and activity within it. And we think this year’s honorees accomplish that beautifully.”

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is a nonprofit, volunteer operated organization. Since 1965, The Landmark Society has encouraged local communities and individuals to work together to preserve our architectural heritage. Preservation, protection, and improvement of the landmarks located throughout Genesee County are the objectives of this organization.

Above, the home of Dave Howe on Alexander Road, Alexander. Here's more info on the house:

David Howe purchased this circa 1888 Shingle Style home in 1986. This handsome home features multiple gables and the original porte cochere.  Mr. Howe recently had the cedar shingles and clapboards restored and repainted. The interior features leaded and stained glass windows, inlaid hardwood floors, three original fireplaces with elaborate oak trim and ceramic tiles, original sliding window shutters, and natural oak trim.  Leaded glass windows in the dining room are bowed to produce a rainbow effect throughout the room. The matching shingled carriage house still stands and was recently re-roofed.

Here's a slide show of pictures of each the winners. If you have trouble viewing the slide show, click here. After the jump (click on the headline), pictures and write-ups of each of the other winners.


Roy and Frances Griffen

11137 Buckman Road

Pavilion, NY 14525

The proud owners of 11137 Buckman Road are Roy and Frances Griffen. This home, recognized by the Landmark Society for their tender, loving care, has been in Mr. Griffen’s family for almost 100 years. Mr and Mrs. Griffen have owned the home since 1980 and began living in it around 1984.

The current home is not the first one on this property. Prior to the construction of the existing home in 1916, there was another home on the property that burned. Mr. Griffen’s grandfather, Wakefield Burks and his wife Magdalena, built the home that stands today. Originally from England, Wakefield Burks was a farmer. All the lumber to build the home came by train to Linden and was brought by horse to the property, according to Mr. Griffen. One year after the home was built, one of the barns was built in 1917. Mr. Griffen still possesses the original plans for the house. It should be noted that the year 1874, that is located near the top of the front of the house is not the year that the home was built, rather it is the year that Mr. Griffen’s grandfather came here from England.

Upon the death of Mr. Griffen’s grandfather, the side door located in the front of the home was never used again after Mr. Burks’s casket was brought through it. Mrs. Burks and her son, Glover, along with a helper, Richard, continued to live in the home and kept the farm going. Mr. Griffen recalls sheep being on the farm and remembers his Uncle Glover delivering cream, milk and eggs to Batavia. Mr. Griffen spent a lot of time during the summer while young on the farm.

Mr. Griffen’s uncle never married and thus left the home and land to Mr. Griffen. At the time, Mr. and Mrs Griffen lived in Warsaw and decided to move to Buckman Road so that Mr. Griffen would be closer to where he worked in Batavia. Since the Griffens have owned the property, they added the garage onto the home. A previous garage was a distance from the home, making it difficult to bring in groceries and other items. The Griffens also have had the home painted every 10 years. Prior to their ownership, the home was painted all white. Their painter suggested a colored trim and the Griffens agreed, allowing the painter to add a light blue to the house.

Mr. Griffen recalls many events in this home, but feels that the best memory he has is that his whole family has lived in the house that he and his wife call home. Today, it is rare that one family resides in a town for 100 years, yet alone a home, making the Griffen’s story even more special. Mr. Griffen has no plans to even sell the home and foresees it staying in the family, for others to provide the same tender, loving care that he and his wife have given during their ownership.

Kistner Concrete Products, Inc.
10 Ellicott St.
Batavia, NY 14020

By Larry D. Barnes

The story of the former St. James Rectory building really begins in 1812 when missionary bishops of the Episcopal Church started to visit the Batavia area.  Occasional services were held in the part of Ellicott Hall known as Hickock’s Inn.  Kneeling cushions for these services were stored at the home of Robert Smith and had to be carried to the Inn for each service.

In June of 1815, those who had been attending the Episcopalian services gathered for a business session to choose a committee to arrange for incorporation. The Holland Land Company gave the incorporated congregation a lot on Ellicott Street (then called Big Tree Street) and ground was broken in April of 1816 for a church building.

Building the church turned out to be a slow process with financing of the project a major obstacle. It took six years to complete the construction. Finally, in 1822, the congregation had a habitable brick building on a gray stone foundation standing about where the recent Ponderosa Restaurant used to be and where the Mexican restaurant Rancho Viejo currently stands.

Apparently the structural quality of this brick building left something to be desired and, in 1836, the Episcopalians tore it down. On the same foundation as the first church, they then erected a stone building that stood until 1975. (Incidentally, that building had problems, too, and the roof structure had to be torn off and rebuilt not too many years after the building’s erection. Observing the work now taking place on the tower of the current East Main church where stones have been falling from the building, it would seem that the Batavia Episcopalians have been unusually cursed with structural problems in their houses of worship.)

When the first church building was taken down in 1836, the bricks were saved for re-use. That “re-use” was the construction of a rectory next door at 10 Ellicott St.  This handsome building served as a rectory until 1909 when the congregation moved into its current church building at 405 E. Main St. The rectory building then entered into a series of new uses.

Starting in 1909, 10 Ellicott St. was owned by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge No. 550. However, by 1912, the lodge had grown to 275 members, too many to meet comfortably in the former rectory. So, the Elks sold the building and moved to 213 E. Main St. where the organization remained for the rest of its existence. (Recall that the Main Street Elks building was torn down this past year.)

In the 1920s, the former rectory building became the property of the E. N. Rowell Co. The Rowell Company manufactured cosmetic boxes. One of its two main buildings was located where the new Genesee County Courthouse is situated.  The Rowell Co. used 10 Ellicott St. to print box labels and to store paper and cardboard. By the 1970s, it was in pretty sad shape. Many expected that it would be demolished, along with the other Rowell buildings, during Batavia’s urban renewal deconstruction phase.

In 1979, the Landmark Society of Genesee County purchased the old rectory building to save it from demolition. The Society restored the exterior and rebuilt the interior. (At one point, Catherine Roth and her husband, Dr. Laurence Roth, gave a $25,000 loan to fund the work.) Following restoration and renovation of the building, the Landmark Society sold the building in 1981 to Stephen B. Hughes, a local attorney. For a number of years, the structure was then used for law offices.

In 2007, 10 Ellicott St. was purchased by Kistner Concrete Products, Inc., a family owned business. William M. Kistner is the current head of the operation.  During the last five years, Tom Hume, construction and maintenance supervisor for the company, has been engaging in further restoration work on the building.  Mr. Hume has commonly been assisted by up to two employees working full-time on the project.

Time has not been kind to the old rectory. By the time Kistner Concrete purchased the building, it again needed major work. Most notably, a wall at the rear of the building was leaning severely and in danger of collapse. Stabilizing and repairing this wall was a major undertaking complicated in part by a need to replace about half of the brick work. The challenge of locating brick from the proper era was solved by salvaging brick from the former Masonic Lodge that was being torn down in Le Roy.

Brick work in other areas of the exterior wall required replacement of between 750 and 1,000 bricks. This was in addition to repointing the brick work, a significant undertaking in its own right.

Four second-floor windows have been replaced with custom-made units designed to replicate the original windows. The part of these windows exposed to the elements is made of painted aluminum. The interior parts are made of wood.  Four cellar windows have also been replaced. Ultimately, all the windows in the building will be replaced. It should be noted that this work has been undertaken in cooperation and under the supervision of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. In fact, the Commission has recognized the work on the property with a plaque mounted on the exterior.

Additional exterior work has involved efforts to protect the foundation from water infiltration. A trench was dug down 6 feet around most of the building’s perimeter, the foundation surface was cleaned, re-mortared and parged, a tar coat was applied below grade, and a drainage system was constructed.

Extensive work has also occurred in the basement which had a dirt floor. In order to provide more ceiling clearance, 250 cubic yards of dirt were carried out in 5-gallon pails. Then a concrete floor was poured. An interesting feature of the basement is a fireplace located in the rear. A replacement mantle and hearth have been cast from concrete in a manner designed to create the appearance of stone. (Incidentally, when excavation occurred near the fireplace, large numbers of chicken bones were discovered, indicating that food preparation must have taken place there in the basement.) The walls of the basement were also cleaned and re-mortared. The space is now being used, among other things, for storage of records.

Work on the basement led to the discovery that the building is sitting over a bed of water-soaked sand. It’s one more support for the claim that Batavia is built on a swamp.

Other interior work on the first and second floors has involved removal of partitions to open up work areas. Trim has been installed which is historically appropriate, when the original couldn’t be retained. One particularly nice touch is the installation of floor registers made of cast iron and made in a style typical of the early 1900s.

Floors have been sanded, repaired as necessary, and stained. In some areas, the ink stains from the period when the Rowell Co. used the building have been deliberately left in view, a feature which evokes a part of the structure’s history.

Restoration and renovation of the building is an ongoing process with much left to be done. An example of such future work will be the resetting of the front steps which have settled considerably over the years. In another area, where blackened walls signal a past fire of some magnitude, the ceiling will be raised along with the roof above. How much longer will it take to finish this extensive undertaking? When pressed on the matter, Mr. Hume indicates that he hopes to be finished by his targeted date of retirement seven years from now.

Coffee Culture
6 Court St.

Batavia, NY 14020

Adaptive Re-use

By Laurie Oltramari

Preservation comes in many forms -- pure preservation, renovation, restoration, adaptive reuse, rehabilitation, and even reproduction. In our urban setting of Downtown Batavia, the ultimate goal of preservation is to maintain the character of a place and activity within it.

This corner of Court and Ellicott streets has had a lot of activity over the years including a hotel that predates the Park Hotel, which was built around 1880. In 1919, the hotel became the Lafayette Hotel. And in later years, the hotel was reported to serve as an overflow annex for the Hotel Richmond. In later years the building was sold to the Continental Motor Corporation. By mid-century it housed Trailways offices and terminal. The building was ultimately razed in 1965.

Its replacement was a one-story corner building within the downtown. Express Opticians occupied the space until 2009 when Coffee Culture offered to buy the building to house its Canadian-based coffee business. Although the building was not actually for sale, the price was right and thus, a form of rehabilitation took place.

A corner site is a prime location in terms of urban design and promotes the business mantra, "location, location, location." Its high visibility is good for business, but maintaining the corner anchors the downtown and its success can affect the overall block. Rehabilitation plays a huge role in the preservation of a downtown because it can make spaces functional once again.

Historic preservation does not mean that everything must stay the same. Rather, it focuses on the character and quality of construction. Coffee Culture has successfully taken the building and turned it into an inviting space. It has captured the essence of a cozy coffee shop with warm color tones, lighting, wood grains, and a reproduction tin ceiling. Its seating, both indoor and outside, are welcoming. Currently, Coffee Culture rents the space next door for meetings.

Brenda Richardson is the current manager of Coffee Culture and has brought tremendous energy to the downtown. Although Coffee Culture is located at the corner of Court and Ellicott streets, you will see Coffee Culture participate in all the downtown events -- the Downtown Batavia Public Market, Cinema in the Square, the Wine Walk, and the Taste of the Holidays, to name just a few. Community begins with communication and commitment, and Coffee Culture is most welcome in our community of Batavia.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County would like to present Coffee Culture with a Preservation Award for its role in the adaptive re-use of 6 Court St. in Batavia.

Matt and Laura Luft
4747 Oak Orchard Road

Elba, NY 14058

By Loren Pflaumer

Nestled on just under two acres and surrounded on three sides by farmland, sits this quaint circa 1880 national style farmhouse. Matt and Laura Luft have spent the last five years painstakingly restoring and repairing their home. The house, which in the 1930s was known to travellers on Route 98 as the Happy Acres Tea House, was purchased at auction in 1996 by Torrey Farms. The Lufts attended the auction and were lucky enough to move into the home as renters. After living at the house for a few years, the Lufts purchased the property in 2005 and have been busy restoring it ever since.

The inside of the house is almost completely restored. The original wood floors have been sanded and refinished and saved wherever possible. Many of the rooms were suffocating under layers of wallpaper (12 layers were removed in one room!). The paper was removed, the walls painted, and all the trim and door hardware were cleaned up and re-used. An original light fixture was re-wired and salvaged. The brick fireplace was cleaned, touched up and a mantle was added. The stairs were stripped and refinished. The kitchen boasts built in cabinetry which Matt stripped and repainted and a swinging door leftover from the Happy Acre Tea House days. When a new exterior door was needed, the original was saved and repurposed. Matt and Laura have gone to great lengths to keep the house as true to its original style and layout as possible.

The work that the owners have done on the exterior is what gets this house noticed. Lifetime Elba resident Don Gavenda moved into this house as a child and lived here for many years. As far back as he can remember, the house was always painted white with green shutters. Matt and Laura were certain they were going to be the first to add more color to the place. Yellow and green were both considered, but when the new Bank of Castile building on West Main Street was built, the combination of brown and beige caught their eye. Having inquired at Sherwin Williams as to this color combination, they were told that the paint on the bank building could be matched exactly, as it had been mixed and bought at their store. So with the final color scheme in hand, Matt painted the entire place with no more than a coffee can and a paint brush. The contrasting colors really show off one of the homes best features, the arched porch supports.

The circa 1910 barn was also given a face lift. Originally built to house farm animals, the barn was later converted into a cold storage for onions. Former owner Maureen Marshall remembers buying fresh muck-grown produce from the owners when she was a child. Produce that she remembers as being the best and freshest around. The barn has had the faux brick siding removed, and the original underlying wood repainted. A new metal roof was added and a large entry door was moved from the side to the front. The smaller entry door is the door that was salvaged when the kitchen was redone. The finishing touch to their outdoor renovations was the addition of the split rail fence, which is always blooming and seasonally decorated.

It is such an honor to give the Lufts our Restoration Award this year. They have so much passion and love for their home that you sense it when they talk about it. They are not yet finished with all they plan to do and we look forward to watching the continuing transformation.

Tim and Lisette Stoddard
20 Ellicott Ave.
Batavia, NY 14020

By Lucine Kauffman

The first thing you notice about this painted lady is the large circular front porch.  Upon closer inspection, you find an architectural surprise in every nook and cranny of this circa 1890 Queen Anne style home. Many of the ornamentation designs are drawn from the Colonial and New-Classical styles. In particular the oval window and wooden molding in the porch gable of an urn form reflect turn of the century design. There is also a small ornate “sleeping” porch on the second floor; and a recessed window with a balustrade in the top-most pediment suggesting another porch.

Each gable has its own unique decorative trim with variations of sunburst and foliated motifs.

Shingles, clapboards, and wooden panels cover the exterior.

Maria Kibbe purchased the residence in 1928 and it stayed in the Kibbe family until 1968. Real Estate Broker Harry Smith Kibbe, son of Chauncey Kibbe, lived here.

When the Stoddards bought this elegant home in 2006, they bought a “diamond in the rough.” The house had been divided into three apartments and the front porch was dangerously rotted. When they embarked on their long journey, they lived in one of the small upstairs apartments…with their four young children.  Their first priority was to create a functional kitchen and bathroom to accommodate their family. The house had other plans, though. The front porch collapsed, thus diverting their interior plans to the exterior. They put down a new mahogany floor, replicated the balustrade, and painstakingly bent wood boards to conform to the porch’s curve. Only the original top spindles were savable.

Back inside, the Stoddards set out to uncover the original floor plan. Doorways had been moved, walls built up and others torn out, and windows had been boarded over. The clue that guided them throughout the process were the intact narrow strips of mahogany wood that framed each room’s floor perimeter. 

Where able, they restored the existing original gumwood trim around the windows and doors. The living room fireplace mantle had several coats of white paint.  Lisa used knitting needles and a lot of patience to strip the paint from the crevices of the intricate design, and refinish the wood. They are currently in the process of restoring the main stairway. 

Where the Stoddards had to rebuild doorways, they recreated the trim style using poplar stained to replicate mahogany.  These doors were purchased in Pennsylvania years ago in anticipation that some day they would find a good home. 

The original stained glass foyer window provided inspiration for the kitchen window they had custom built. They also had a new stained glass window built for the dining room to replace the board that had been covering the opening.  Another original stained glass window brightens the living room. A curved glass bay window also graces the living room. Notice the narrow wooden strips border curved in concert with the windows.

Lisa diligently researched period appropriate interior decoration such as hardware, wall treatments, window treatments, furnishings, and light fixtures.  She scoured Ebay and estate sales to find items from the period. Of special note are the plaster medallions Lisa handcrafted to frame each ceiling light fixture.  Some have been given a “mod podge” treatment.

Building the kitchen was the first interior project the Stoddards took on. With Lisa’s skillful direction, Tim’s carpenters were able to create a room that blends with the rest of the house while incorporating all modern conveniences. The glass cupboard doors surrounding the range were custom built to match the kitchen window. Lisa sewed a curtain out of antique flour bags for her broom closet.  Again, period appropriate hardware accents were employed. On the kitchen walls wainscoting was installed topped with a plate rail.

The downstairs bathroom was also meticulously appointed with antique and reproduction fixtures. The hardwood floor had to be replaced because a bathroom pipe burst and ruined the original floor. 

The Stoddards believe that Tim’s office is the same room that Harry Kibbe used for his office. They stripped and refinished the original cupboards. Lisa antiqued the walls using a rag rolling painting technique. She then painted narrow frames on the wall to simulate panels. 

The Stoddards picked a five-color scheme for the exterior.

The carriage barn remains intact.

The Landmark Society is pleased to present Tim and Lisa Stoddard a Preservation Award for the excellent work they have done on their home, a stunning example of Queen Anne Style architecture inside and out.

Michael Pullinzi

Yes, Dave Howe did a great job on his home in Alexander. He also has a great building on Main Street, Batavia, the old Masonic Building, and it is one of the few remaining in town from days gone by on Main Street.

May 13, 2012, 8:48pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Not only is Dave a great landlord for The Batavian, if the Landmark Society ever comes up with a lifetime achievement award, Dave should be first on the list. His place in Alexander, the barn across the street, and the Masonic Building are all great structures that he takes care of with exceptional diligence.

May 13, 2012, 8:53pm Permalink

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