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October 12, 2016 - 11:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in landmark society, Stafford, restoration, preservation.

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Garth & Amy Swanson

6209 Main Road, Stafford

Rehabilitation

Article by Brian Dougherty

The Swanson home at 6209 Main Road Stafford, was built in 1846 by Stephen Crocker, a local businessman for Isaac Newton Stage.  Stage was the proprietor of the Stafford Hotel. 

The house is a classic example of an early Victorian Italianate design with a low pitched hip roof, large eaves and prominent corbels that reflect the Italianate influences. 

The property’s original name was “Boxwood”; a shrub that was prominent throughout the property during the 19th century. Garth and Amy Swanson purchased the house in December 2014 which sits on approximately 5 acres of land.

While none of the original plantings remain they have carefully sought to include a variety of boxwoods in their planting scheme as they begin to restore the lawn and gardens.

The previous owner started the renovation process by stabilizing the chimneys, replacing the Bilco door and having a metal roof installed. 

 Prior to the Swanson’s purchasing the house it had been unoccupied for 4 years (unless you count the resident woodchucks and raccoons).  The house lacked a heating system, running water, a working bathroom and the electrical wiring was from the 1920’s.  Most of the plaster walls were cracked, falling down or completely gone.

A conscious decision was made to invest in the “bones of the house”.  The interior of the structure was gutted to the studs.

They reinforced the structural timbers in the basement and raised the floor by approximately four inches.   The interior is more reflective of a 19th century farmhouse, emphasizing function over form and was in serious need of modernization but they wanted to retain the 19th century character of the house. 

All the existing wiring and plumbing was removed.  The house was completely rewired and plumbed with a modern heating system and fully insulated.

Structurally, they have tried to change the exterior appearance of the house as little as possible and where possible have attempted to restore original design elements. 

Sometime in the early 20th century the ceilings in the house had been lowered to 8 feet. In almost all rooms they were able to raise them back to their 11 foot original height.

They created a modern kitchen in a 19th century farmhouse style. 

The second floor is the only space to experience serious reconfiguration. 

They created two baths (there was previously no plumbing on the 2nd floor) and a master bedroom. 

This space was previously bedroom space for farm hands and hotel staff. 

They have retained the two seater indoor outhouse (not used), however; and added laundry facilities. 

They worked hard to re-use as much of the original material as possible restoring almost all the hardwood and pine floors in the house with the help of skilled craftsmen.  The original woodwork throughout the house was kept. 

The house retains two fireplaces—unfortunately, neither fireplace is currently functioning but the long-term goal is the restore them useful function.

They are presently working with a master craftsman to build new storm windows for the seven second floor arched windows.  These are a unique architectural characteristic that we don’t want to lose.

Many projects still remain.  They are working to replace several of the corbels and other exterior architectural details.  They have plans to replace numerous sections of molding and trim damaged over the years as well as continuing to stabilize and secure the exterior by pointing up the rubble foundation.

PhD Painting did a wonderful job overseeing the exterior painting of the house.  They chose colors similar to the earth-tone palette used in early Victorian homes.  

The renovation has restored “Boxwood” with all the modern conveniences and energy efficiency of a 21st century house within an graceful, original Victorian Era shell. 

October 15, 2014 - 4:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in restoration, Old Courthouse.

Workers found a few surprises when they started work on restoration of the Old Courthouse roof and cupola.

The copper cupola was pockmarked from gunshots, probably bullets from a .22 rifle, and beams that supported the cupola were far more rotted than anybody anticipated.

It's probable there is a bit of a connection between the two sets of unanticipated damage. County Manager Jay Gsell suggested that at least more than 20 years ago, somebody thought he could solve the pigeon problem on the roof with a rifle. That didn't work, of course, and the pigeons kept coming back and coming back and coming back, and their nesting in and around the cupola caused the rotting beams.

Repairs to this damage caused a $30,000 cost overrun for the restoration project, which was originally budgeted for $180,000.

The Public Service Committee approved a recommended budget amendment yesterday to cover the cost of the overrun.

Photos courtesy Tim Hens, county highway superintendent.

A worker fills bullet holes with copper welds.

The view down West Main from atop the Old Courthouse.

July 19, 2009 - 2:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Le Roy, Creekside Inn, restoration.

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The Oatka Festival in Le Roy yesterday may have been the place for all the fun, but the former Creekside Inn -- soon to be the Creekside Tavern & Inn -- was where you heard all the buzz.

The site of many grand times, and no small bit of history, was jammed with people looking over what Bill Farmer and his son are doing to the rustic stone building set against the falls of Oatka Creek.

Farmer is a man passionate about restoration, having put a whole career into working on some of the landmark restoration projects in Rochester. The Creekside project was supposed to be a hobby project, but has become Farmer's full-time avocation. 

For those who think entrepreneurs won't invest in Genesee County, Farmer will have sunk more than $1 million into the project by the time the restaurant and tavern opens next spring.

I spent at least 30 minutes just chatting with Farmer.  He's passionate about the project and believes it will become a destination point, drawing diners and beer lovers from Buffalo and Rochester to a village that has seen better days.  Farmer believes, and I think he's right, the Creekside restoration could spark interest from other developers in the village, which he thinks is one of the great undiscovered villages in WNY. 

The Village of Le Roy is well located, with some great older buildings and plenty of local history to be a draw for shoppers and diners from all over the region.  It's great to see an entrepreneur like Farmer take such a huge step to help save one great building and hopefully spark a new economic era for Le Roy.

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