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Brisbane Mansion

June 3, 2022 - 7:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Brisbane Mansion, news, batavia, history, notify.
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Albert and George Brisbane are not history's first feuding brothers, of course, but their divergent ways are a part of Batavia's history, as is the role their father played -- James Brisbane -- in the settlement and development of the little village by the bend in the Tonawanda. 

James Brisbane became a very wealthy man in Batavia and Albert and George were his heirs, with George and his wife Sarah settling into the mansion that James Brisbane finished building in 1855.  The family sold the mansion and property that is now Austin Park to the City of Batavia in 1917, and until 2004, the building was City Hall. Since 2004, it's been the city's police headquarters. Since that is to change within a few years, the city has acquired a $20,000 grant to study what might be best for the historic building.

To help educate the public about the importance of the building, the Landmark Society of Genesee County, with a grant acquired through GO ART!, produced a play written by local historian Derek Maxfield about the Brisbanes, or more specifically, the feuding brothers, Albert and George.

The play is set in 1878 and centers on George's resentment of Albert. George, the younger brother, stayed home and tended to the family's financial affairs while Albert traveled the world, married multiple women, sired several children, and extolled the virtues of a socialist utopia.  

The play was set, in part, in 1878 because in that year native son Gen. Emory Upton paid a visit to his hometown; so for Maxfield it was a chance to bring this important historical figure into the drama.  

Brothers at Odds: The Brisbane Story debuts tonight at the First Presbyterian Church, 300 East Main St., Batavia.  There are additional performances on June 11 and June 15. All performances begin at 7 p.m. and are free. 

The cast:

  • Daniel Snyder as Albert Brisbane
  • Derek Maxfield as George Brisbane
  • Quincy Maxfield as Sarah Brisbane
  • Jessica Maxfield as Anna the Servant
  • Michael Gosselin as Gen. Emory Upton
  • Wesley and Wyatt Fisher as the children
April 11, 2022 - 8:46pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, Brisbane Mansion, City Hall.

barnes_larry_1.jpgUpdated: April 12, 10 a.m., with names of previous historians:

City of Batavia Historian Larry Barnes is going beyond the written word to illustrate the significance of the Brisbane family and the mansion at 10 West Main St. that has served as the community’s City Hall and, currently, as its police station.

Speaking at tonight’s City Council Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, Barnes (photo at right) said he realizes that Council members will want to hear from residents about the future of the Brisbane Mansion, which was completed in April 1855 at a cost of $25,000 (equivalent to $750,000 in purchasing power today).

“I know you will want them to be fully informed as you seek their input in the decision-making process,” Barnes said. “To help inform the public, I am working with the Landmark Society to present a play on the Brisbanes and their mansion. This play will be presented on three occasions in June and I encourage everyone to go see it.”

He said the Derek Maxfield, as associate professor of History at Genesee Community College and noted playwright, wrote the script. The cost of production is being underwritten by a grant through the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council.

Dates, times and locations of the play will be announced, he said.

Barnes said the Brisbane Mansion is a building that deserves preservation.

“The mansion … was erected as the home of George and Sarah Brisbane. This structure is historically signficant both in terms of the building, itself, and in terms of the Brisbanes who occupied it,” he said. “When the police department moves to its new facilities (on the Alva Place parking lot), you will be responsible for deciding the future of the mansion. Will it be saved and, if so, what function will it serve?”

Last year, Barnes updated his brief history of the building – a six-page document that provides details of the mansion as published in The Daily News in 1917-18, its use as City Hall and of the key members of the Brisbane family.

Following Barnes’ five-minute address, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. reiterated the board’s support of “repurposing” the building due to its historical value.

Barnes said he “totally agrees” with that stance, but reminded Council that “we’ve lost some pretty incredible buildings” over the years.

In a related development, Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to compensate Barnes with a $5,000 annual stipend.

Over the past 13 years, he has done the job on a volunteer basis, just as the previous historians for the city have done since 1919. The one exception occurred in 1962 when the city historian received a $100 stipend, payable in two equal, semiannual installments.

A list of previous City of Batavia historians, as provided by Barnes:

-- William C. Coon, 1919-1953;
-- Georgia Northrup Foote, 1954-1967;
-- Mary McCulley (later Mary McCulley Henry), 1969-1970;
-- Ruth M. McEvoy, 1971-1985;
-- Mary McCulley Henry, 1986-1995;
-- Corinne Johnson Iwanicki, 1995-2007.

Ellen C. Ruffino served as an assistant historian from 1966-1968.

Other resolutions passed tonight:

  • Extending a contract for a School Resource Officer with the Batavia City School District for two more years, through June 30, 2024. Officer Miah Stevens currently has that position, which is paid for by the school district.
  • Creating a temporary full-time detective position in anticipation of the retirement of a detective this summer. The temporary post carries an increase in pay of $15,000 to cover the promotion.
  • Extending a contract with Client First Technology Consulting for six months at a cost not to exceed $44,600 for continued assistance with the city’s Enterprise Resource Planning system. The ERP integrates functions to ensure best practices, automated workflow and project management efficiency.

Photo of Larry Barnes by Mike Pettinella.

July 11, 2021 - 6:38pm

With it looking more and more as though a new City of Batavia Police Department headquarters will be constructed on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street, city leaders are trying to figure out the best course of action for the current station at 10 W. Main St.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a memo dated July 2, is recommending that City Council pass a resolution to support the Batavia Development Corp.’s submission for a 2021 Consolidate Funding Application under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

The item is part of the agenda for Monday night’s City Council Conference and Business Meetings at the City Hall Council Board Room, starting at 7 o’clock.

Tabelski wrote that the grant, if received, would be used to hire a design firm “to prepare building reuse analysis, renderings and cost estimates for the reuse and rehabilitation of the historic former Brisbane Mansion.” That report would set the stage for the application of a future NY Main Street building renovation grant.

Per the memo, the BDC is interested in helping ensure proper historical renovation and restoration of the building,

CLICK HERE for a history of the Brisbane Mansion written in 2015 by Larry Barnes, city historian. Relocating the police force has been a topic of discussion even before that year.

Tabelski wrote that the goal is to find a private developer to purchase the property, rehabilitate it and eventually return it to the tax rolls.

Deadline for the CFA grant submission is the end of this month.

Phone calls to Sharon Burkel, chair of the City Historic Preservation Committee, for comment were not returned by the time of the posting of this story.

In a related development, replacement of the current police station’s flat roof is moving forward in the form of a resolution that, although not complete, provides City Council with an update on the project.

According to a memo from Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt to Tabelski dated July 1, the roof sections over the 1960s addition and over the rear vestibule have deteriorated to the point that the roof is no longer waterproof and the insulation has become saturated.

Last month, Council approved the use of $100,000 from the facility reserve fund to replace these sections.

Tourt advised that the Department of Public Works is in the bidding process and will recommend a contractor in the near future.

The resolution would authorize Council to award the contract to the responsible low bidder.

Other agenda items:

  • Resolutions accepting a pair of awards from Genesee County STOP-DWI to the Batavia Police Department – one for $32,981 to fund enforcement nights, training, equipment/supplies and calibration/repairs related to driving while intoxicated enforcement and the other for $2,400 to fund high visibility checkpoints during the July 4 (which has passed) and Labor Day (Aug. 20 through Sept. 6) holiday periods.
  • A public hearing concerning the application of a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main. Tabelski previously indicated that the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost. Council is expected to vote on the resolution during the Business Meeting.
  • A resolution to set a public hearing for Aug. 9 to formally (and finally) approve the rezoning of the 211 and 211 ½ E. Main St. parcels from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) to accommodate the Healthy Living campus project of the GLOW YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center. The City Planning & Development Committee recommended the rezoning for both properties on May 18 and June 15, respectively, stating that the C-3 designation is consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2017.
  • A request from Batavia Brewing Co./Eli Fish Brewing Co. for an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 18, starting at 4 p.m., at Jackson Square. A 20- by 20-foot tent with a dozen picnic tables will be set up for the event, which will feature food, beverages and the sounds of The Frankfurters, (photo below), a German music band out of Buffalo that also is known as “The Best of the Wurst."


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