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Landmark Society honors four properties, and their owners, with preservation awards

By Howard B. Owens


The Landmark Society of Genesee County presented its annual preservation awards Friday night at the First Presbyterian Church of Byron.

Photo: Matt Gray, partner, Eli Fish Brewing Co., Rev. James Renfrew, First Presbyterian Church, Jermey Liles, Oliver's Candies, and Bill and Lucine Kauffman.

Below, links to writeups and photos (or in the case of Eli Fish, a video) for each of the award winners:


Rev. Renfrew with the volunteers from the church who prepared and served Friday night's dinner at the church.

Landmark Society Awards, First Presbyterian Church of Byron, tender loving care

By Howard B. Owens


Award text:

The people of the First Presbyterian Church of Byron celebrated their 200th year of ministry in 2018.  It was organized as a Congregational Church in the beginning but came under the care of Genesee Presbytery in 1830. The present building was dedicated in 1830 and reflects the meeting house form. It was 53 feet long and 40 feet wide.  Some of the lumber that was used was hauled from Dansville by oxcart with the remainder of the lumber being furnished by members in the area. The church was entered by two doors on the front as it is today, with stairs going to the galleries that were on three sides. In the early days, the church building also hosted community functions in addition to religious services.  In the early 1900s, the community gathered in the sanctuary of the church for a dramatic theater presentation.  The fixtures for the old velvet curtains, that would be drawn at the end of each performance, still remain. That evening the play required the use of a gun and unfortunately when the gun was fired it was not a blank and the real bullet hit the thick wood of the pulpit. The bullet hole is still there.

The original features of the church that survive include the flush board façade with pilasters and pediment with applied elliptical ornament.  In 1866 the balconies were removed and the building extended 12 feet to the north.  Also, the altar area was changed to the opposite end of the Sanctuary.  In the 1890s the Sanctuary floor was raised and a ground floor was added.   They now had rooms for classrooms and a kitchen.  Later in the nineteenth century, the church was remodeled along with the windows being altered to round-headed arches. At the same time, the Romanesque Revival style belfry was added and the bell is still rung each Sunday and at weddings and special days.  The next extension to the building was added in 1955 and is a two-story rear addition with a dining room and classrooms above.  This addition was dedicated in November of 1955.  Many in our communities have enjoyed the Annual Turkey dinner here in the Fellowship Hall for the last 50 years.  In the 1990s the new side entrance and lift were added.  Also, the front steps were added to the church.

Several years ago the rough-cut center beam that runs north and south through the church was splitting causing the floor to the crown.  Mike Loewke, a local contractor, had to wrap a steel band around the beam to correct this problem and then replace the floorboards.  The center aisle has been re-carpeted.  Other large projects completed in the last 5 years are having the parking lot resurfaced with commercial grade pavement, the two ancient front doors replaced and the roof was replaced with metal roofing.

Rev James Renfrew of the First Presbyterian Church of Byron shared some of the challenges of a building this old: ”Old building are never ”square”! Foundations sink, roof lines slump, old timbers warp, walls bow (thus our corner-to-corner tie rods).  Original builders were not thinking of modern accessibility issues at all, so stairways everywhere, and difficult to retrofit for modern needs. With security and safety as modern concerns for large gathering places, it is particularly difficult to adapt to these old building.  We can put glass panels in each interior door and institute child safety measures. But having so many entrances in an out of the building is a challenge.”

Rev. Renfrew said, “we love our old building, we are blessed with a generous congregation, and capable Trustees to maintain it, but as we all know, a church is first and foremost the faithful people.”

The Landmark Society of Genesee County presents the 2019 Tender Loving Care Award to the First Presbyterian Church of Byron


Landmark Society Awards, Kauffman residence, Elba, restoration

By Howard B. Owens


Award text:

Restoration category description - maintaining or recreating the original integrity of a building's exterior (perhaps the interior) architectural features, layout, materials, etc.

The style of the Kauffman residence is Greek Revival.  This was a popular American architectural style during the mid 19th century (between 1810 - 1855).  It was also referred to as the "National Style" because of its popularity.  This can be attributed to Thomas Jefferson and his affection for Greek culture, particularly the idea of democracy. Thus, reviving this classic Greek building form was appropriate for the burgeoning US democracy.
The Kauffman's purchased the house in 1992, approximately 160 years after the initial house was constructed.   It was designed as a simple farmhouse in the new "National Style" in approximately 1832.

This house, like many long-standing houses, was altered over time to fit the needs of the current owner.  In the late 1880's a wing was added to the primary structure and included a front porch that serves as the formal entry to the house.

Subsequent additions lengthened the house, adding more living and working space, including a summer kitchen.  These changes necessitated interior changes, such as relocating the interior stairs, not once, but four times.

As with all farmhouses, a barn was a central component of the landscape. 

It was torn down in the 1980s and the wood recycled to construct the utility shed.  Elements adjacent to the house still remain reflecting the rural nature of the site, including a concrete trough nestled beside the century old maple, and directly outside the kitchen, is the outdoor water pump that still functions today.

In 1923 the house was purchased by Orville and Emma Slater - who were prominent spiritualist in the area.  Their daughter Vera continued to live in the house until the late 20th century, selling it to Robert and Gabriel West in 1985.  The Wests are credited with saving the house from demolition.  They not only stabilized the house but added modern amenities such as indoor plumbing and heating.  (This image was taken in 1988 by Harold Kilthau and is featured in the Architectural Heritage of Genesee County book.)

The Wests did considerable work to the house. They added two fireplaces that were not original to the house and used local materials collected from other historical structures to embellish the interior design. (The Gothic-inspired cupboard doors were from a local church).

The Kauffman's, like the Wests, try to remain true to the architectural style and history of the house.  Their additions include a new bathroom and redesigned kitchen.  They retain original elements that illustrate the transformation and history of this house.    

In the kitchen, original fixtures are utilized, and custom built cabinets are modified to fit today's needs while maintaining the character and charm of the original.  Period paint colors are used and floors are refinished to highlight their age and natural beauty. 

The Kauffman's in a desire to honor the history and constraints of a 19th century home opted to commission furniture that fits the scale of the rooms while being sensitive to the Greek Revival farmhouse style house they call home.

Genesee County Landmark Society Preservation Award: Eli Fish Brewing Co.

By Howard B. Owens

Award text:

The fourth recipient of this year’s Landmark Awards goes to Eli Fish Brewing Company for their Adaptive reuse of the building known as J. J. Newberry at 109 111 Main Street in Batavia. Matt Gray and Jon Mager are here tonight to receive the award.

I am sure most of you in the audience tonight are familiar with Eli Fish and the story of their creation of Batavia’s first brewery in many, many years. There has been lots and lots of press coverage of the project and many happy diners and beer lovers have paid a visit since their opening in March of 2018. 

Many of you have memories of what was there before- I have fond memories of Main Street Coffee and Pieces (the jewelry, frame spot, art gallery) being there in the early parts of this century. After that, Brian and Beth Kemp’s T-Shirt ETC found a home there as did The American Red Cross. Of course, the biggest memory jogger for Batavians and folks from Genesee County was the decades that the building was known as Newberry’s.

The three-story Italianate style building was constructed in 1881. The architect was George J King who designed several buildings and residences in the area. The building was built by C.H. Turner & Son Company, a prominent local furniture maker and undertaker, before the J.J. Newberry Company, a national five-and-dime store, purchased the building in 1929.

Downtown Batavia was a hopping center of commerce during those years –both sides of Main Street were lined with late 19th century 2 and 3  story buildings, filled with every kind of business needed for a county seat. Shops were on the ground level floor and offices above. On the corner of Jackson and Main the Bank of Genesee, the building stands still, next it the now long vacant Carr Building remains as well. Between Carrs and Newberry a theater once stood, but a fire devastated it in the mid-thirties and was eventually replaced with a single story addition onto Carr’s.

Following World War II, storefronts in Batavia and all across the country began to change. In an effort to embrace the sleek new look in vogue, many buildings were altered by covering up the brick facework with steel or aluminum. The Newberry building’s storefront was altered- but not to the extent that other Newberry properties experienced across the country.  In 1948 a single story building was erected to the rear of the original structure, more than doubling its length.  The

renovation included a relocated lunch counter with a curved Art Moderne hood.  Main Street Coffee incorporated into their operation and Eli Fish left a portion of it exposed in the entry area of the brewery.  The modern storefront configuration with large plate glass windows was a marvel at the time; it even warranted a full article and large picture in the paper announcing its completion.

Newberry maintained its façade between the 1920s and 50s, even to the point of utilizing hand-cut

wooden gold lettering across the signboard to advertise its presence on Main Street, which was much more

sympathetic to its Italianate Design. The use of gold-painted wood is noteworthy given the proliferation of

plastic molding techniques which have become the dominant sign making style since plastic became available en-mass in the 1940s. Indeed, the Batavia sign was reportedly done by H.H. Upham Company out of New York City, one of the city’s most distinguished sign companies.

When thousands of square feet of Batavia’s downtown meet the wrecking ball in the sixties and seventies, the Newberry Building remained. In 1996 it closed and was briefly home to another 5 and dime before it was sold to Andrew Mistler in 2003. That’s when the building was divided into two elongated spaces available for rent. Main Street Coffee and Pieces rented floor space for a period of time, then T-Shirts ETC and The Red Cross followed them.

In 2015, the building was sold to AGRV Properties with the dream of drastically overhauling the building into a Brewery, restaurant and living spaces. Matt Gray and Jon Mager consulted with the Batavia Development Corporation and arrived at the concept of Fresh Lab to bring in two start-up kitchens to supplement Eli Fish’s own operation. Shortly after purchasing the building, Gray and Mager brought in Buffalo’s Preservation Studios to start the process of listing the property on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places. That highly detailed process resulted in the J J Newberry building attaining a position on the list on September 11, 2017. It joins 23 others on the Register in Genesee County. The achievement, in addition to the historical significance, greatly enhanced the financial feasibility of the project to do a 20 percent tax credit at both the federal and state levels.

Construction began in the spring of 2017. During the construction process, the original plans for the brewery evolved from having the brewing operation on the first floor to moving it into the rear portion of the basement, necessitating the removal of portions of the floor and altering the project’s use of the interior space. The final layout occupies more restaurant space than was originally intended.

Since opening last year one of the two start-ups has left the operation but Eden ( featuring vegan fare) has been very well received as has Eli Fish’s beers and food. The operation at the brewery continues to evolve with additional soundproofing to reduce interior noise levels and adjustments to their menu to meet the demands of the clientele.

Quote from The Preservation Exchange Blog entry by Matt Shoen

“The density of our streets have decreased as companies attempt to gain their own spaces, damaging the feeling and cohesion of our cities. Simply look at images of old Batavia to see how the city's commercial district used to be dominated by three-story Italianate buildings, filled with large stores and commercial tenants on the upper levels. Much of these are gone, replaced by box stores and the downtown mall. The Newberry Building is actually a bit of an albatross, standing between buildings put up in the 1950s. The fact that the building maintained its form from 1881 to the present day is remarkable, even more so considering Newberry's company-wide remodeling plan from the 1950s that sought to sheath many of its buildings with metal siding. The Newberry Building in Batavia escaped this treatment, making it one of the few buildings in Batavia to survive relatively unscathed from the city's heyday….., reminding pedestrians of the shape of their old Main Street.”

Batavia should start pitching tents to help bring people back to Downtown

By Howard B. Owens

Downtown Batavia's future is not the mall; it's the open areas south of Main Street, suggests Tim Tielman, a preservationist and urban planner with a track record of success in Buffalo.

Jackson Street, Jackson Square, the south side of Main Street, are where we can find what's left of Batavia's vitality, Tielman said, in a recent interview with The Batavian. The mall, he said, is the last place Batavia should invest tax dollars.

"It's a continuing drag on Batavians, their creativity, their dynamism, their energy," Tielman said. "It's this energy sucking death star in the middle of the city, and you shouldn't spend any money making it a better death star."

We interviewed Tielman in advance of his talk this Wednesday night at 7 o'clock at GO ART! for The Landmark Society of Genesee County's annual meeting.

The topic: How Batavia gets its mojo back. 

Tielman's basic thesis is that Batavia was at its apex just after the end of the 19th century when the village, soon to become a city, had a robust, densely populated urban center with hundreds of businesses.

If that downtown, which was destroyed by urban renewal, still existed Tielman said, people from Rochester and Buffalo as well as the rest of the GLOW region would flock to Batavia every week for the small city experience.

Niagara on the Lake still has it. Batavia lost it. But, with effort, Batavia can get it back, but it will literally be a ground-up process, not a top-down, consultant-driven, developer-driven effort. Batavians have to do it for themselves. But Batavians are already pointing the way if city leaders will listen.

"There's obviously an innate human need for want of a better term, congenial spaces, in towns, cities, and villages, and even in times where they've been destroyed in war or urban renewal, people find them or build them," Tielman said. "What we see in Batavia is people have happened upon Jackson Square because it's a leftover thing that no one thought about and wasn't destroyed.

"The qualities of the thing as a physical space make it a very interesting case. You enter through a narrow passageway, and suddenly, totally unexpectedly, you come to a larger space, and even though it obviously wasn't designed with gathering in mind it has everything people want as a place to gather."

Jackson Square, Jackson Street, combined with the local businesses that still populate the business district on the south side of Main Street are strengths to build on, Tielman said. Batavia can leverage the density already found there and add to it.

But Tielman isn't an advocate of trying to lure developers with tax dollars to build big projects. He believes, primarily, in a more grassroots approach. 

The "death star," he said, and continuing efforts to deal with it, are part of the "urban renewal industrial complex," as he put it, and that failed approach should be avoided.

"The solutions (of urban renewal) are all the same," Tielman said. "It's like, 'let's put out an RFP, let's get some state money instead of saying', 'well, what do the Batavians need? What are they thirsty for? What are they dying for?' What you'll find is that Batavians are like every other group of homo sapiens on the face of the Earth. If they had their druthers, they'd want something within walking distance.

"They'd want to meet friends. They'd want to do stuff close at hand and in a way that they're not killed by vehicles careening down streets at 30 or 40 miles an hour. They want their kids to be safe. They don't want to worry about them being struck by a tractor-trailer when they're riding their bikes to the candy store."

That means, of course, narrowing Ellicott Street through Downtown, perhaps adding diagonal parking to Main Street, moving auto parking from out of the center of the city, particularly in the triangle between Jackson, Main and Ellicott, which Tielman sees as the most promising area of downtown to increase density first.

Batavians will need to decide for themselves what to do, but what he suggests is that the city makes it possible for the parking lot between Jackson and Court become one big mini-city, filled with tents and temporary structures and no parking.

"The rents for a temporary store or a tent or a stand or a hotdog cart should be low enough to allow a huge segment of the population (of Batavia) to experiment," Tielman said.

Low rents remove one of the biggest impediments to people starting a business and open up the experimental possibilities so that Batavians decide for themselves what they want downtown. 

"This gives Batavia the best chance to see, whether for a very low investment on a provisional basis, (if) this will work," Tielman said. "It's not sitting back for 10 years trying to concoct a real estate investment scheme based on some RFP to lure developers and give them handouts at tremendous public risk. The idea is lower the risk and do things the way successful places have done it for millennia."

That's how it worked for Canalside, one of the projects, besides Larkin Square, Tielman has helped get started in Buffalo. With Canalside, development started with tents and temporary vendors. Now the area is revitalized, and permanent structures are being erected. It's a Buffalo success story.

The idea of starting new business and community centers with tents and temporary structures is something Tielman suggested for Batavia's future when he spoke to the Landmark Society in 2013. He suggested then the major obstacle standing in the way of Batavia's economic vitality wasn't the mall, it is massive amounts of asphalt for parking -- economically unproductive and mostly unused.

While he likes the Ellicott Street project, primarily because of the 55 apartments being added to Downtown's housing stock but also because of the involvement of Sam Savarino who has been part of successful restoration projects in Buffalo, Tielman thinks the project needs to have "connective tissue" with everything on the north side of Ellicott Street.

That means narrowing Ellicott, adding wider, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalks, and slowing down truck traffic flowing through Downtown.

Any such plan would involve the state Department of Transportation but that, he said, is just a matter of the city being willing to stand up to the DOT and paying for its own maintenance of that stretch of Route 63.

"If the Batavia's really serious about fixing (Route 63), it should do it on its own dime," Tielman said.

As part of Tielman's suggestion to concentrate growth strategies on the south side of Main Street, Tielman agrees that the farmer's market, currently at Alva and Bank, should be moved to Jackson Street.

The current location is too far from the existing local businesses, so the tendency is for people to drive to Alva, park, shop and leave. The traffic being drawn downtown isn't staying downtown.

Tielman talked about contiguity, the quality of commercial spaces adjoining each other, being necessary for convenience of users and survival of businesses.

"Connective tissue," a phrase used several times by Tielman, is critical to city centers.

"Contiguity is the lifeblood of settlements of towns and of cities," Tielman said. "If left to their own devices, places will develop like this -- and you'll see this up to World War II -- whether they were European cities, Asian cities or American cities.

"Look at a (1918) map of Batavia, contiguity was everything," Tielman added. "In a town of 18,000 people you had four-story buildings. It's crazy, you would think, but (it was built up that way)  because (of) the distance from the train station to Main Street to the courthouse. That's where you wanted to be. Everyone's walking around."

People are social animals -- Tielman made this point several times -- and Batavians, if given a chance, will support a city center with more density, Tielman said because that's human nature. What exactly that looks like, that's up to Batavians, but creating that environment will give residents a stronger sense of community, more personal connections, and shared life experience. That will foster the community's creativity and vitality, which is better than just accepting decline.

"I mean, if you look at the great John Gardner," his formative years are "when Batavia was still a place where a young John Gardner could walk up the street, buy comic books, get into trouble over there by the railroad tracks, buy something for his mother on the way home, blah, blah, blah. He could have quite a day in town and encounter characters of different stripes that can actually (be worked) into pretty rich novels of American life. You wonder whether Batavia could produce a John Gardner today."

Tim Tielman has a lot more to say about Batavia getting its mojo back (this is condensed from an hour-long conversation). Go to GO ART! at 7 p.m. Wednesday to hear more about it, ask questions, even challenge his ideas.


Top: Use the slider on the map to compare Batavia of 1938 with Batavia of 2016.

Landmark Society winners honored at annual dinner Saturday

By Howard B. Owens


Press release:

The Landmark Society of Genesee County held its annual Preservation Awards and Recognition dinner on Saturday at the Batavia First United Methodist Church.  Three historic churches, three private homeowners, and one business were recognized.

Those in the photo above are, from left: Dave & Noreen Tillotson -- Pavilion homeowners; Dave Bateman-Batavia homeowner; Dorothy Lawrence & Betsy Abramson accepting for Corfu United Presbyterian Church; Dennis Mellander accepting for Le Roy St. Mark’s Episcopal Church; Bob Carlson accepting for East Bethany Presbyterian Church; Jennifer & Dean Eck -- Corfu homeowners, Sarah Farmer & Chris Grocki accepting for Farmer’s Creekside Tavern and Inn in Le Roy.

Creekside Inn, three churches and three houses honored by Landmark Society

By Howard B. Owens


The Landmark Society of Genesee County has selected seven properties and their owners for recognition for their preservation efforts.

The awards will be present Oct. 7 at the Batavia First United Methodist Church, 8221 Lewiston Road, Batavia. Dinner is at 6 p.m. with awards presented at approximately 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 per person. Reservations are due by Sept. 30 by calling (585) 757-2714.

Each year the awards committee tries to choose a group of structures that is varied in styles of architecture, geographic locations, building materials, and type of building such as churches, residences, commercial, and public facilities. 

"We are recognizing three historic churches all celebrating 200 year anniversaries this year," said Cleo Mullins. "The three homeowners owners being honored to have all put a lot of love and sweat into their homes. The business owners spent a decade working on their building to ensure that their results were the perfect blend of preservation with modern technology, comforts, and conveniences." 

The winners:

Landmark Award 2017: Corfu United Presbyterian Church

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Cleo Mullins

The Corfu United Presbyterian Church on Route 77 in Corfu was built in 1831 and has a gable front form, typical of the early rural church, that has remained basically intact. They are celebrating their 200th year as a congregation this year and it is a time to reflect on many projects they have been done over the years.

They have many beautiful stained glass windows from the 1880’s and in 1918 a lovely round stained glass window was installed on the wall behind the main alter. The pews that they have now came from the Methodist Church when it closed in Corfu. Over the years there have been additions to the church to accommodate the needs of the community. In 1956 there was extensive remodeling done to the Church with the balcony being reopened. Also that year an addition was built on the north end with classrooms, offices, a new dinning room and the kitchen was rebuilt. The big change to the exterior was the two front doors were installed to replace the single entrance.

In 1998 a bequest was used to remodel the sanctuary and narthex, and to enlarge the balcony and another bequest in 2004 was used to remodel the kitchen. This year they have a new sign that all can see as you travel route 77 and they have also done landscaping.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County Preservation award goes to Corfu United Presbyterian Church for their Tender Loving Care. 

Landmark Award 2017: East Bethany Presbyterian Church

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Cleo Mullins 

East Bethany Presbyterian Church congregation is celebrating their 200th year. In 1826 plans were formulated to build their first church on land they had purchased from Edward Dixon. In church records, it was specified that the building was to be no less than 50x40 feet and was to be built of stone and brick. The bricks for this church were made at a brick factory about one mile south of NYS Route 63. The church was completed in 1828 in the Federal style. It had balconies on both sides of the sanctuary. In 1827 an acre of land was purchased from Edward Dixon for a burying ground behind the church. Many of the early members were buried here with the earliest date of 1841. Edward Dixon passed away in March of 1868 and is buried here. East Bethany Cemetery Association now owns the cemetery.

The first of several additions happened in 1949 and after excavation had started they had a heavy rain and the balconies were hanging as if they were going to break off. With help of the community, the balconies and supporting wall were saved. There are narrow staircases going to the balconies on both sides of the church entry. The doors going into the balconies have the antique door handles. We have a lovely view of the sanctuary from the balcony.

The last addition was put on in 1981, which included a conference room, pastor study, a new kitchen, bathrooms and fellowship hall. In 1989 a new sub-floor was put in the sanctuary to level the floor as it had been necessary to step up to enter the pews. Also, new oak wainscoting was put on the two outside walls under the windows, new carpet, and pews. Then the sanctuary was painted and new interior doors were installed. They were now ready to celebrate their 175th year as a congregation.

In years since new oak front doors have been added and in preparation for their 200th Anniversary they had the outside of the church painted last year. The church has been modified over the years but still retains its federal-style features.

The Landmark Society Preservation award goes to East Bethany Presbyterian Church for their Tender Loving Care. 

Landmark Award 2017: Farmer’s Creekside Tavern and Inn

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Cleo Mullins

Farmer’s Creekside Tavern and Inn has taken a Le Roy Landmark that was built in the 1820’s and after ten years Bill Farmer has created a four story building that will serve as a meeting place for many. It is a perfect blend of preservation with modern technology, comforts and conveniences. It opened this past spring. The original building was built of black Marcellus shale in irregularly sized stones that were dug from the Oatka Creek. It was always covered with stucco until the 1990’s. This building has served as a hat factory, bank office, law office and private home for Percy Hooker (NYS Senator), Harold Cleveland, and Dr. Knoll, who also had his medical office in the building. Later the building was used as a restaurant. I could not find a list of all the restaurants but I can name two (The Ganson House and Creekside Tavern. The stucco was removed while it was The Ganson House in the 1990’s according to an article.

In 2004 fire broke out and it took 200 firemen and 10 companies to put out the fire. After the fire, the owner Jim Gomborone put on a roof and windows. In 2007 Jim had hired Catenary Construction to estimate the cost to repair the building. Bill Farmer is the founder of Catenary Construction and is the senior estimator that came to the property. Bill Farmer said, “ without the roof, the building would never have survived”. Bill found the building in dire condition and the estimate with all the work that needed to be done was so high that the owner suggested that Mr. Farmer buy the building. Mr. Farmer could see the potential in this distinctive building that dates back to the 1820’s. Mr. Farmer and his son purchased the property in the fall of 2007 and on the day of closing the remainder of the south wall collapsed.

With the goal of salvaging as much of the original structure as possible, the rocks from the collapsed walls were saved to be used again. It took four full seasons of masonry work on the project.

The original shale walls and about 100 square feet of original floor, a fireplace, some window boxes and the two front entrances still remain. The rest of the building is a total reconstruction. The floor in the fine dining area call the Cleveland Room with the original fireplace is the original deep brown hemlock floor. Where the floor had been burned it has replacement boards. The next room also can be used as fine dining or a meeting room has the original striped floor of black walnut and a lighter maple. One area still has the scorched boards from the fire. The tavern is on the level beneath the street and has a copper beer system that they designed and had custom built with 18 taps of different beers. They have a spacious kitchen to prepare food for the fine dining area and the tavern. The top floor has three suites and each has rustic beams that came from the building. The beams had been taken down to be cleaned and evaluated and then were reset in the downstairs tavern and upstairs inn. The lowest level, next to the creek, has an outdoor bar with patio seating. The fine dining room, the tavern, and the patios can accommodate 400 people.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is awarding Farmer’s Creekside Tavern and Inn the Preservation Award for the extensive renovation they have done on this historical building. 

Landmark Award 2017: 64 East Main Street in Corfu

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Joan Bird

The Eck home at 64 East Main Street in Corfu is the recipient of the Landmark Society preservation award for Tender Loving Care.

Dean and Jennifer Eck purchased the home in 2000.The house has many Greek Revival touches as illustrated by the columns. This style was built between 1830-1860.

The clapboard siding and six over six windows in the front of the house are original. Also original are the door and beveled sidelights.

As I mentioned, the six over six windows are original and are made of rolled glass. The distortions in antique glass are part of the charm of old windows and a historic feature valued by their owners.

The exact building date of the house is unknown. It is believed that what is now the apartment is the original house. That portion of the house is all heavy timber construction built with square nails. The floors in this section are original to the house.

The foundation of this portion has been scored to look like stone.

The porch pillars in front have been rebuilt but remain the same size and shape as the original ones. The patriotic colors the home is painted reflect the feelings of the present owners.

As the owners worked on the home, they found a collection basin for spring water under the back porch. It was connected to a pump in the old kitchen.

As with most old homes, the Ecks have found many “treasures” as they look pulled down old walls and ceiling. These “treasures” include a pair of spectacles and a newspaper from 1927. It is fascinating to see the “news” of 1927 as well as the advertisements, especially the prices of certain items.

Perhaps the most interesting “treasure” is a registry from 1890 of the students at the Corfu school. It’s fun to imagine how it came to be in the walls of this house.

Those who have worked with old homes know the challenges and the creativity needed to preserve the past.
this award to the Eck family. 

Landmark Award 2017: 11129 River Street, Pavilion

By Howard B. Owens


Article by Cleo Mullins

This cobblestone home is the only one in Pavilion. William Henry purchased the land in 1829 and in a book about Pavilion it listed William Henry as a stone mason so it is likely he built this home. With its rectangular form, simple lines and ornamentation and the use of cobblestones, it is presumed that this residence was built shortly after 1829.

Over the years additions were added. Ten years ago Dave and Noreen Tillotson bought the house, barn and 160 acres as they owned a farm within a mile of the place and needed the land and barn. One of the first jobs on the house and barn was to clean up and make the barn ready for cattle. This is a present-day picture of the barn. Note the new roof, paint job and landscaping. Before there were only a few trees. This is a later picture but I wanted you to see the shape of the build. The larger cobblestones with less precision arrangement were used on the sides and back of the house.

The Gillard Construction Company of Berger was the contractor of this project. The roof was torn off and new rafters were put up in the house. This is the 2 story part of the house.

This is the one story part of the house where the kitchen will be. Note the square opening that they found in the house and retained it.

Now with the new roof the next year job was to replace all the windows (six over six) by Anderson.

The front door has been uncovered and now has a glass storm door to protect the original door. Notice the uniformed size cobblestones that were used on the front of the house. Note the original quoins, lintels, and windowsills that are cut from limestone. They had been painted over with white paint so it was removed.

This shows the addition to the house that have bedrooms, bath and entrance to the house.

Pictures of outside landscaping and the rail fence that is a type that would have been used in colony times. 21-22 They have added a garage and created a welcoming entrance.

When Noreen saw the living room of the house that featured the original mantel, original wood floors of old growth pine and the full original woodwork of the interior of this room she knew she wanted the home.

The fireplace uses carved limestone to line the front of the fireplace opening.

In this room, Noreen did all the removal of paint from the woodwork and then repainted them. She also stenciled the walls.

This is a picture of the original door and doorknob.

This is the room right of the entrance across from the living room.

In the kitchen they have left the original cobblestone walls exposed at the peak of both ends of the room and the beams that are exposed and running horizontally are original and part of the structure. It is a nice place to display crocks and other items. Note the square opening that we mentioned earlier, this was left so when you can see into the kitchen from upstairs. This is above the door leading to the upstairs. The steps were replaced to code and the upstairs has the old growth pine floors.

Note the deep windowsill due to the walls being over two feet thick.

This is pictures of the other end of the kitchen with the doorway going into the family room.

When the family room was added on, they left the original wall of cobblestone of the house as a wonderful work of art that could be appreciated and enjoyed each day.

A picture of this lovely home in winter.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is giving the preservation award of restoration to Dave and Noreen Tillotson for breathing new life into a 1830 cobblestone home. 

Landmark Award 2017: 27 Summit Street, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens


By Lucine Kauffman:

Ashley and David Bateman purchased their 1862 home at 27 Summit Street, Batavia in 2014. 

They obtained an early photo of the house and set out to restore the exterior as closely as possible to the original design. 

As you can see, their house closely resembles another house in Batavia built at the same time. This home at 314 East Main Street still has the original Second Empire style mansard roof. The windows and the layout are matches. 

Lovell Gibbs, son of Mormon pioneer Horace Gibbs, built this house at 27 Summit Street. At one point, Joseph Barnes of JC Barnes Clothing Store owned this house. 

And now, the owner of a present day clothing store, Pollyanna and Dot, owns this house.

When the Batemans bought the house, it was clad in yellow aluminum siding and the original windows had been replaced with vinyl. 

The original hitching post and carriage block survived and are currently located in the parkway between the street and sidewalk.

The crew that performed the recent street reconstruction reset the hitching post and carriage block when the project was completed.

The Batemans removed the aluminum siding during the start of their second year in the house. Dave did much of the work on the house himself.  They chose a seven color historic paint scheme.

The side porch was an addition sometime after 1902. Dave resided the side porch with wood siding after using the original clapboard to replace an area next to the front porch that had rotted.

They discovered that some of the architectural details were taken off when the siding was put on. The exterior has been almost completely restored to the original design with the exception of a small balcony above the side porch that will be recreated eventually.

Each peak has its own details.  The two side peaks feature different sunburst patterns.  The front peak features an original stained glass window.  The far back peak, only visible from across the street had been cut into for a vent and was recreated using shadow lines.

The house was built with Second Empire style features, and later was “modernized” with late Victorian features such as fish scale siding and a leaded glass window.

The trim on this peak was reconstructed and painted in a coral shade to pop out.

The original rope trim and scrollwork around the windows remains intact. &

The leaded glass window next to the front porch was added after 1902 when the front living room was widened.

The porch was enclosed with storm windows cobbled together.  Dave removed the windows and will eventually build screens.

The scrollwork on the front porch gable was missing, but Dave was able to replicate it using a shadow, or stain, on the house.

The front doors are massive and ornate. The beveled glass and panels make an elegant entrance. &

The transom window brings light to the foyer.

A curved stairway hugging a curved wall graces the foyer. The Drews (previous owners) stripped and refinished the front doors, treads and bannister which were all painted.

So many details make this house special.

The Batemans had the English oak wood floors refinished.

When the Batemans took up the wall to wall carpeting they found that the floors were in pretty good shape but the wood floor grates had been cut through.  Gene McMaster rebuilt the registers and refinished the floors.

The baseboards and doorway trim are elaborate. The Batemans had a local mill cut custom knives to match the baseboards and trim so they could repair the areas where it was missing.

A previous owner removed the pocket doors in between the living and dining rooms. The Batemans found this “fretwork” in the attic, probably from the 1880s/1890s and re-installed it in the opening.

Dave re-framed the leaded glass window in the front living room where water damage had rotted it.

Handsome French doors lead out onto the side porch.

The fireplace in the living room was added by a previous owner sometime after 1920.

The house’s interior walls were completely covered with wallpaper. Removing it and painting proved to be an arduous task but gives the house a fresh look. 

The brass, dragon-themed gas fireplace in the dining room dates to 1886 but is no longer functional. 

An Eastlake rocker has been passed down through several owners of the house.

A large beveled glass French door leads into the kitchen.

The kitchen is housed in an addition. The Batemans gutted the room to build their dream kitchen.  They installed new, red tiger wood floors.

An island serves as a practical work and dining space.

It also serves as an architecturally interesting focal point. Dave installed the white subway tile himself.

Brass accented lighting warms the kitchen area. The Batemans chose an imported Italian marble countertop. The Statuarietto marble arrived in one large piece.

They had the mill create new baseboards to match the rest of the house.

The reproduction brass drawer pulls and glass knobs lend warmth to the white cupboards.

The original glass doorknobs dress up the solid wood doors throughout the house.

The Batemans inherited an assortment of skeleton keys which they use on the still functional locks throughout the house.

Some of the 19th century lighting fixtures remain in place.

Some, but not all, of the original slate sidewalks were salvaged from the recent street and sidewalk reconstruction and installed in the walkway up to the house.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County is pleased to honor Ashley and David Bateman for their loving renovation of their home at 27 Summit Street.

Landmark Award 2017: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens


Press release:

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church of Le Roy congregation is celebrating their 200th year this year. In 1867 they decided to replace the original church and purchased land on Main Street where the Upham’s flour mill stood. They reasoned by using the foundation of the mill as the church’s foundation it would result in a savings on the building cost. The Patterson Manufacturing Company of Warsaw, New York constructed this church using Andrew Jackson Warner’s design. Mr. Warner was one of Rochester’s best know architects. The church is constructed of limestone with limestone quoins. The Gothic features of this building are the buttresses at the towers, gabled roofs and lancet windows. Also observe the rose window with its quatrefoil pattern openings. St. Mark’s formally opened in December 1870.

After many years of planning and delay the cornerstone ceremony was held in September,1957 for a whole new addition which included classrooms, meeting room, offices, restrooms and another boiler room to heat this the new structure. This was formally consecrated in 1961.

It was not until 2000 when the floor of the nave was sagging that the church foundation was inspected and found the original beams from the mill had either rotted off the foundation or were inadequate to hold the weight of the building. In 2002 a capital fund campaign was successful in raising money for the foundation, remodeling the Undercroft and kitchen. In 2003 the Altar window, that shows the biblical story of the angel St. Mark above the lion, was refurbished. In 2006 the Rose Window was refurbished.

In 2007 the church added a memorial chapel with a columbarium. It was decided that the best location for the memorial chapel would be in the tower room adjacent to the nave. This area was in need of restoration and repairs including re-plastering, repainting the walls, refinishing the woodwork and upgrading the light system. The added beauty of the beautiful blue Stained-Glass windows in this area makes for a prefect Memorial Chapel.

The Landmark Society of Genesee Co. preservation award for Tender Loving Care is given to St. Mark’s. 

Landmark Society of Genesee County to hold annual Preservation Awards & Dinner Oct. 7, must RSVP by Sept. 30

By Billie Owens

The public is invited to attend the Lanmark Society of Genesee County's annual Preservation Awards & Dinner on Oct. 7 at Batavia First United Methodist Church.

Dinner begins at 6, with the awards ceremony to follow. The church is located at 8221 Lewiston Road, Batavia.

RSVP by Sept. 30 to (585) 757-2714 or

Cost is $15 for a chicken dinner. If you prefer a vegetarian meal, please request this when making your reservation.

The 50-year-old society supports the many people who enhance the quality of our county by the preservation and improvement of their homes, churches and businesses.

The awardees for 2017 have not yet been announced.

The Landmark Society of Genesee County
P.O. Box 342
Batavia, NY 14021-0342

One of oldest homes in Stafford demolished

By Maria Pericozzi


There is a pile of rubble located at the bottom of Temperance Hill on Route 5, where one of the oldest properties in Stafford, dating back to the early 1800s, used to stand.

A piece of history was forever lost last Wednesday morning when the property was demolished, according to Linda Call, a member of the Stafford Historical Society.

“We, as the Stafford Historical Society, feel badly that this piece of history is no longer something we can go look at,” Call said.

The property was built by Worthy Lovell Churchill, a colonel who commanded the 164th Regiment of State Militia during the War of 1812, when he came to Stafford in 1803. Churchill served as the Genesee County Sheriff between 1820 and 1825. Garth Swanson, the Stafford historian, said the house was built no later than 1805.

Swanson said he has lived in the area for about 25 years and has never seen it occupied.

“I know the house was in conditions beyond repair,” Swanson said. “But, it’s a sad loss of an incredibly significant piece of history. He was one of the founders of Stafford.”

Churchill’s child was the first child born in Stafford and could have possibly been born in the house, Swanson said.

The house was used as a public house, with a tavern and dining room on the first floor, with rooms and living quarters on the second floor.

“It was a very significant house,” Swanson said. “It served as a public house for a number of years.”

In 1820, the house was sold to Persis Prole Bell and her husband, who died in 1828. Persis was the first woman to receive a driver’s license in Genesee County, according to Michael Eula, Ph.D., the county historian.

Persis remarried a man named John Hitchcock, who transformed the house into a temperance house.

Swanson said the hill was later named Temperance Hill.

“The house saw both ends of the spectrum,” Swanson said. “One end there was alcohol in the early 1800s and then it went to no alcohol at all.”

Call said the house served as a two-family house during the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

“There used to be a sprung floor dance floor that was used for parties and dances,” Call said. “Travelers would stop and stay upstairs. It’s sad to lose it as a property.”


Above is a hand drawing in an Atlas of the house, provided by the Genesee County History Department. 





Landmark Society honors owners of six local properties

By Howard B. Owens


(Photo submitted by the Landmark Society of Genesee County.)

The Landmark Society of Genesee County presented its annual preservation awards Saturday during a dinner at the First Presbyterian Church of Le Roy.

Pictured are: Garth and Amy Swanson, David and Robyn Tufts, Peg Sanford with Gregg and Debbie McAllister, Beverly Bodeker, manager of the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant, Michelle and Chris Krtanik, Pastor David Pepper and Ann Ver Hague.

For more information on the winners, click here.

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant, 1227 Gilmore Road, Corfu, Tender Loving Care

By Howard B. Owens


Amanda Owczarczak, Owner

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant

1227 Gilmore Road, Corfu

Tender Loving Care

Article by Tony Kutter

The Log Cabin Restaurant is located on land overlooking the Tonawanda Creek Indian Falls. It was part of the Tonawanda Indian Reservation until 1857.

In 1826, a grist mill was built on this location and was run by William Parker, father of Ely S. Parker, aide to General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. It was the only grist mill in the Holland purchase run by Native Americans.

In 1879 the Gilmore Mill was built on this location. During the 1930s an addition was built on the crumbling mill and it served as a refreshment stand.

In 1940 Clayton Betzold and Ken Hodgins bought the mill and tore it down. They built a log cabin restaurant on the mill’s original foundation. At one point it was named the Falcon Crest.

Originally they wanted to have a dance hall, restaurant and entertainment center in conjunction with near by Boulder Amusement park.

To build a log cabin they had to timber pine logs from area forests. It requires sturdy timbers in lengths long enough to support a roof which had to be straight and not tapered in diameter. It was uniquely constructed with mortar between logs. It has been said that there were Indians who built log cabins on the Reservation who instructed locals on construction techniques.

What is most fascinating about this log structure is its construction similar to cabins built in the 18th and 19th century, not from factory hewn boards. Logs were usually notched and stacked on top of one another, but they did not rest against one another. The next process was called chinking the logs. Materials used earlier between logs varied from clay, straw paper, and cloth and even dried animal dunk. This effectively sealed the interior from exposure to the elements. In the past century, log cabin construction methods utilized mortar mix similar to what was used to lay bricks or cement block.

Today most log cabins are built with log siding. One owner added an addition on the west side using log siding. However we are fortunate that the original owners in 1940 built it using the construction methods of 100 years prior.

The current owner, Amanda Owczarczak, purchased the restaurant in 2009. An outdoor deck was added to the front of the building in 2013.

For decades, the Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant has attracted diners from all over western New York because of the unique environment along the Tonawanda Creek; the beautiful, scenic view of the waterfalls; and the rich history of the property.

Tony Kutter

Landmark Society to present awards to six properties Saturday

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The Landmark Society of Genesee County will hold its annual Preservation Awards Dinner on Oct. 15 at The First Presbyterian Church of Le Roy at 7 Clay St. Catered by the church (which is also an honoree), the dinner will begin at 6 p.m. and the awards presentation will follow (at approximately 7 p.m.).  The cost is $18 per person. Reservations can be made by emailing

Six buildings in Genesee County will be recognized this year:


Gregg & Debbie McAllister

21 Ross St.


Tender Loving Care

Classical Revival


Garth & Amy Swanson

6209 Main Road





David & Robyn Tufts

4857 Ellicott St. Road, Batavia


438 E. Main St.


Adaptive Re-use

Mid-Century Modern


Chris & Michelle Krtanik


4835 Linden Road

East Bethany



Eclectic Style

First Presbyterian Church of Le Roy

Pastor David Pepper

Historian Ann Ver Hague

7 Clay St.

Tender Loving Care


Colonial Revival

Indian Falls Log Cabin Restaurant

Amanda Owczarczak, Owner


1227 Gilmore Road



Tender Loving Care

Log Cabin


“This year’s honorees beautifully represent the architectural variety we enjoy across the county,” said Lucine Kauffman, Landmark Society president and chair of the awards committee. 

The buildings being recognized on Saturday include one church, two commercial properties, and three private homes.

“We are fortunate that Genesee County has such a rich, long history and that some of the physical markers of the people who have made our local history so rich still remain standing today.” 

All of the owners of the buildings being recognized have one thing in common. In addition to all of their hard work, creative vision and patience, they have passion.  They have restored, replaced, reused, and revived their properties. And in every case it was a labor of love.

By investing in their historic properties, these award winners have invested in their neighborhoods and communities.

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.

Chris and Michelle Krtanik, 4835 Linden Road, East Bethany, Renovation

By Howard B. Owens


Chris and Michelle Krtanik

4835 Linden Road, East Bethany


Article by Molly Grimes

Chris and Shelly Krtanik purchased their home in 1994.  This federal style house was built in 1833 and used as a tavern for many years. Other uses included a stagecoach stop, a barber house and a boarding house for travelers.  The parcel of land where the house stands was purchased from the Holland Land Company in 1811 and 1833. Mr. and Mrs. Faunce acquired the property and erected this house. This house is typical of the federal style. The Italianate features of the bay window and oversized scroll brackets are believed to have been added sometime in the 1870s or 1880s.  Interestingly, the home was used by the New York State troopers as headquarters during the unsolved Linden murders in 1922 and 1924. 

The house was in rough condition when Chris and Shelly bought it in 1994.  They have spent countless hours stripping paint on both the inside and outside of the house.  The entire outside of the house had the paint stripped down to the original wood on the clapboard and repainted the colors of Gingko Tree, peach and spice.  This task was undertaken by not only Shelly and Chris but other family members using a heat gun and scrapers over countless hours.  Chris was able to take sections of the original moldings and have reproductions made in places where sections were missing.  The original windows and storms remain on the first floor of the house, while the second floor has replacement windows.  There was an addition on the back of the house at one time; it has since been removed and replaced by a deck.  The side porch also has a huge roof overhang that Chris is still working on restoring and putting the tongue and groove ceiling back in place.    A hole has been cut in the porch floor to accommodate an existing shrub.  The landscaping has been going on as projects have been completed, the garden beds have been beautifully defined with rock walls hand placed by Chris.  Originally there was a barn when the Krtaniks purchased the home in 1994, but due to the dilapidated condition of the structure it has been taken down and removed. 

Their work on their house is ongoing.  Projects include working on the side porch as well as working on restoring the inside.  The staircase has been stripped and sanded, along with the hard wood floors, trim and moldings inside the house.  Stripping the molding in the living room took Shelly two summers to complete using tiny tools to get within the grooves.  The house continues to be a labor of love.

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