Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Carr's

September 20, 2021 - 10:42am

atwater_couple_1.jpg

Two members of a prominent family with deep ties to Batavia – notably a pair of the stately homes that now are part of the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse campus – paid a visit last week to the community that has provided them with many fond memories.

Stephen Atwater of Walnut Creek, Calif., and his sister, Sarah Atwater Mayer, of Scarborough (Westchester County), are the grandchildren of Edward Perrin and Rowena Washburn Atwater, who purchased the historic house at 424 East Main St. in 1937. Edward P. Atwater was president of Batavia National Bank.

(Stephen and Sarah are in the photo above with John Bennett, GCASA executive director, in front of the home at 424 East Main St.)

Built in the 1830s, the Greek Revival and Italianate-style structure has for the past 23 years served as GCASA’s Atwater Community Residence, a place where up to 17 adult male and female clients can live while receiving professional services to help in their recovery.

Furthermore, Stephen and Sarah are the great-grandchildren of Judge Edward A. Washburn, who owned what is known as the Washburn house at 430 East Main St., which now is GCASA’s primary substance use disorder treatment facility.

And their mother, the late Patricia Carr Atwater, was the granddaughter of C.L Carr, who founded the Carr’s department store in downtown Batavia. It was later taken over by her father, Robert Carr, and then her brother, (the late) Steve Carr.

Stephen and Sarah’s aunt, Beth Carr, who resides in Stafford, was closely involved with managing Carr’s store with her husband, Steve, prior to its closing.

“It was known as Batavia’s Finest,” Stephen said of the store, “and it still is.”

'WE HOLD THE CITY NEAR TO OUR HEARTS'

“Moreover, we’re proud to be a part of Batavia and to have a strong attachment to the city based on our family history as it relates to the Atwater, Washburn, and Carr families,” he said. “We hold the city near and dear to our hearts.”

Stephen and his twin brother, John, and sisters, Sarah and Martha, were born at Genesee Memorial Hospital in Batavia and, although they grew up in Rochester, spent much time during their childhood years in the 1960s at their grandparents’ home at 424 East Main St.

Sarah and Stephen said they are pleased about the way GCASA has maintained the architectural heritage of all of the houses on its East Main Street campus.

“We think it’s wonderful,” Sarah said, with Stephen adding, “We’re happy to see it is being used and that they have maintained the appearance and integrity of the houses. The fact that they maintained the character of the house is priceless.”

A special feature of the interior is the Mexican mahogany paneling in the library, which was one of the last jobs completed by the Batavia Woodworking Company before it ceased operations in 1939.

Stephen said he and Sarah were in the area to take care of things at the Rochester home of their father, Julian “Joe” Washburn Atwater, who passed away on July 30 at the age of 90. They also went to Le Roy to check on the headstone of their father, who will be buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, where his brother, Edward, and his wife, Patricia Carr Atwater, are buried.

Julian Atwater received the nickname Joe while he worked at the former Massey-Ferguson plant in Batavia back in the ‘50s, Stephen recalled.

“Someone asked him what his name was and he said, ‘Just call me Joe.”

Their father, who went on to become a corporate lawyer in Rochester, had two older brothers -- the late Edward, and James, now 93. They were the sixth generation of their family to live in Western New York.

A 'GIFTED' CHILDHOOD IN BATAVIA

Sarah said the many days in Batavia with her grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins contributed to a special childhood.

“We had a very, very gifted childhood by being able to spend so much time in Batavia in the sixties,” she said, noting that the four Atwater children would take the Trailways bus from their Rochester home to Batavia to stay at their grandfather’s house.

Stephen said he remembers sliding on the bannister and playing billiards on the pool table that was “right at the bottom of the staircase.”

“And they had a cat named Walter Mitty,” he said. “One of the things we did when we got to the house would be to try to find the cat, but often times we couldn’t find him.”

He said he recalls going to the Treadway Inn with his grandmother to have roast beef au jus, dining at Mancuso’s Italian Restaurant and attending St. James Episcopal Church.

Sarah said she enjoyed the walks down Main Street and having lunch at the counter at JJ Newberry or going to see their maternal grandfather at Carr’s store.

“I love Batavia but when I come here, I try to imagine it the way it used to be,” she said. “It’s getting better, though. My brother and I went to Eli Fish and the brewery – because GCASA has one of Eli Fish’s old houses, too. We noticed the old JJ Newberry sign.

“Carr’s Department Store (being gone) makes us really sad because we loved that. I still talk to people who say their parents went there for everything. They bought their furniture there, their makeup, their jewelry, their baby clothes. We rode the elevator; I remember the gumball machine on the third floor.”

ATWATER HOUSE CALLED 'ICONIC'

Stephen, a veterinarian specializing in treating animals with cancer, and Sarah, who is retired, were joined by their brother, John, on a phone call with The Batavian. Martha passed away in 2013.

John, a chemist from Potomac, Md., called the house at 424 East Main St. “iconic.”

“It represents the wonderful times that I spent there as a kid in Batavia, which was such a fun town to be in,” he said, with Sarah adding, “A charming, small town.”

Although the long row of storefronts on the north side of Main Street gave way to Urban Renewal in the early 1970s, Sarah remarked that the city still has “a lot of potential.”

“We still love it,” she said, asking about the Greet yogurt plant (which now is HP Hood in the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park), O-At-Ka Milk Products and other places of employment to attract young people to Batavia.

Ultimately, Stephen said they consider it an honor that the Atwater and Washburn family name continues to hold a special place in the community.

“I think the fact that we are able to give something back to the community that maintains the name of the Atwater family is an honor,” he said. “And to have that history entrenched in the City of Batavia as it was, obviously, is such a large part of our heritage.”

atwater_family_1.jpg

Photo: Atwater family photo from 1964 in the Atwater House living room -- sitting on floor, from left, children Connie, John, James and Stephen; seated from left, James and his wife, Joan, holding son, David; Rowena Washburn Atwater and her husband, Edward Perrin Atwater, holding grandchildren Rebecca and Sarah; young Ned, with his father, Edward C. Atwater, and his mother, Ruth Prole Atwater; standing, Patricia Carr Atwater, holding daughter Martha, and her husband, Julian Washburn Atwater. Julian and Patricia are the parents of Stephen, John, Sarah and Martha.

atwater_grandkids_1.jpg

Photo: The Atwater grandchildren in 1964. Front from left, David, Connie, Ned; middle, Rebecca, Sarah and baby Martha; top, John, James, Stephen. Andrew, the 10th grandchild of Edward Perrin and Rowena Washburn Atwater, wasn’t born yet. Andrew passed away in 2013, three days before his cousin, Martha. Submitted photos.

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is the publicist for GCASA.

August 26, 2021 - 3:58pm

cl_carr_building_1.jpg

While there has been much activity in the City of Batavia, especially with Downtown Revitalization Initiative and NY Main Street Grant projects, the same can’t be said about the renovation of the former C.L. Carr department store at 101-107 Main St.

According to the “project tracking” chart generated by the Batavia Development Corp., a $1 million DRI award (of the $5.25 million total investment) was allocated to the Carr’s rehabilitation.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, at this morning’s Batavia Development Corp. board meeting, said building owner Ken Mistler has met with representatives of Urban Vantage of Buffalo, a consulting firm, as he seeks the best course of action to repurpose the space.

“I’ve had several meetings with Mr. Mistler and he would like to move the project forward,” Tabelski said. “The next steps are to see if they want to go after an historic designation for the building – whether it’s worth that and the tax credits – and assuring that they can get architecture, engineering and design on the building done because you can’t do construction until you get that done.”

She said her discussions with Mistler have focused on keeping the bottom floor as commercial space, with the possibility of multiple stores there, and turning the upper floors into residential space.

“We talked about potentially doing furnished corporate loft-type space for some of the companies we have here,” she said. “We’re always getting requests for furnished space.”

The building has one section with three floors and another with two floors.

Tabelski also mentioned the need for corporate rentals and boutique hotel space in Batavia.

“When they look at their return on investment, they’re not just going to look at residential, they’re going to see if some of these mixes could work there,” she offered, mentioning The Shirt Factory Café in Medina as a prime example of mixed-use success.

There, the first floor houses a coffee shop, hair stylist and mead works, while the second floor has an attorney’s office and boutique hotel room in the loft space, and the third floor features boutique hotel rooms.

“In a way, the business model could be very similar to Carr’s. A very different building, very historically-significant -- The Newell Shirt Factory in Medina – but the mix of tenancy could be a great example for them to look at and follow.”

She said some preliminary work was done on the Carr’s site before COVID-19 hit “and now they’re getting back to it.”

“It’s nice to see it get moving along because when looking at all of the projects, that is the one that needed to advance through the necessary stages,” she said.

Contacted this afternoon, Mistler said that he has not contracted with Urban Vantage at this point and any information on what the renovation ultimately will look like is speculation.

Photo by Mike Pettinella

July 2, 2014 - 6:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Business, downtown, Carr's.

There was an open house this afternoon for the new mixed-use complex in Jackson Square.  

The former Carr's Department Store Warehouse is now four apartments and a downstairs office space.

One of the apartments is already rented. Thermory, a company that installs thermo-treated wood decks, has moved into the office space.

The building was purchased by developer Paul Thompson and partners, who invested more than $500,000 of their own money as well as leveraged $115,000 in state grants to complete the conversion project.

Features of the building include exposed original beams, industrial-grade wood floors and brick walls.

June 24, 2013 - 5:54pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Business, downtown, Carr's.

Steve Carr, a popular local businessman who managed the C.L. Carr store in its final years, passed away Friday after suffering a heart attack while swimming at Stafford Country Club.

Carr was 66.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but will be handled by H.E. Turner.

His death comes as a shock to many people who remember him as a warm and fun person.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian remembers that Carr helped her get reestablished in Batavia after she returned to her native city 40 years ago.

"He was a generous person," Christian said.

Peter Mumford, Carr's cousin, said they were both born in 1947 and grew up together and remained close.

"He was always trying to help people out," Mumford said. "I always considered him a bon vivant. He liked to travel. He liked people a lot. He liked music, especially blues."

Carr was the grandson of C.L. Carr who opened a retail store in Batavia in 1917. That store would become one of the mainstays in the city until about 2001, but changes in the local market made it difficult for the family to keep the large department store open.

Carr was the majority shareholder, but members of the Carr, Minor and Mumford families also held shares, Mumford said.

A member of Rotary, Carr remained active in the community after the store closed.

June 22, 2010 - 6:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, cats, Ken Mistler, Carr's.

catplace01.jpg

catplace02.jpgThere are five cats that have the basement of the old Carr's building pretty much to themselves.

The cats wound up in the basement after owner Ken Mistler sold his pet store on East Main Street and the new owners wanted to get out of the cat sale business. Mistler's wife, Andrea, set up the cozy basement apartment and she ensures all of their needs are met.

They have plenty of places to climb and lounge. There's even a ramp to a cat gate that allows them outdoor time in a fenced-off area behind the Carr's building.

Andrea takes care of the cats and besides feeding them and keeping the litter boxes clean, she gives them plenty of affection.

For the cats, the living arrangement is probably more like a penthouse than a basement.

April 22, 2009 - 10:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Ken Mistler, Carr's.

There may be a theater, possibly a dinner theater, in the future of the former Carr's Department Store location, if owner Ken Mistler can line up appropriate funding through the BID.

Mistler does not have many specifics on the proposal at this time, but has been working on putting together the project for several weeks.

In response to an e-mail, Mistler said:

I do not have any exact plans until the Engineers get back to me... Engineer hopes to give me my plans/answers early next week.

In a comment on The Batavian, Mislter acknowledged that he paid only $10,000 for the Carr's building, but has spent a good deal of money renovating it.

  • $214,000 on the Jackson Street façade
  • $22,000 on replacing windows
  • $87,000 on the back façade, which helped preserve the structure
  • $58,000 on new roofs
  • $42,000 on the front façade
  • $150,000 on repairs from leaks due to broken pipes (the elevator and dry wall were damaged)
  • $20,000 on a new sprinkler system
  • $15,000 on heating and air conditioning

In another comment, he said:

I offered Old Navy 4 years free rent on a 7-year lease. After 4 attempts they finally replied. They are not currently seeking any type of retail location in your (our) demographic. Now I will look toward entertainment.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break