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Recycled historic homes have varied lives


In a recent article I discussed the "Pittsford Style" of architecture home and some of those are being used as other than residences. That brought to mind that many of the buildings in Pittsford have been preserved by "recycling" - using existing structures for commercial or business purposes. Thankfully the mindset of the '50's did not prevail which was "tear down the old and construct new". Kudos to those people who saw the potential of preservation and reuse! I will suggest a few of those and hope that one or two readers will indicate some others.

On Golf Avenue, which was called at one time, Stoutenberg Road, the clubhouse for Monroe Country Club was once the farm home for the Stoutenberg family. This is hardly recognizable since the recent extensive remodeling, but the present building sits on the footprint of the original farmstead.

Canandaigua National Bank is housed in a building at 18 State Street that had been built originally by a jeweler named Daniel Parmeley. It served as a home for him and his family and he also created and sold pieces of fine jewelry. The home was constructed in 1826 and its proximity to the Erie Canal allowed Mr Parmeley to obtain his raw materials from boats traveling from Eastern ports. This building served as an early apartment building and an insurance company in the lower level until it was purchased by the Monroe Savings Bank and remodeled as a bank. That institution worked very closely with an architectural historian and carefully restored a cook oven and pieces of glass and cookery and other sundry items that were found in the surrounding grounds. All of this memorabilia was carefully catalogued and contained in glass fronted cabinets for patrons to admire and ponder. Unfortunately, when that bank left Pittsford, all of those materials left with them and even after numerous phone calls and letters from the Town and Village historian, not one of them was returned.

Another obvious recycle is the wonderful Cobblestone building on Church Street that began its life as a village schoolhouse and has been purchased and lovingly maintained as the Masonic Temple. The exterior is very much the same as when it was built in 1842 but the interior has been remodeled to serve as a meeting hall and public room specific to the Masonic order.

Most of the North Main Street buildings have been converted to places of business. Unfortunately numerous homes are gone, either by razing, moving them, or by fire. The Village Hall began life as a single family home and then turned into a library. Now it is a municipal building for the government of the Village.

The only one remaining as a private home is at 44 North Main Street, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Corby, who own and operate the Pittsford Farms Dairy located in the rear of the property.

Another single family home housed in a residential neighborhood, now and for many years, is the Zornow Hedges funeral home at 21 Lincoln Ave. To anyone not familiar with the community, it would not be recognized as anything other than a residence, but for over 50 years, this has housed a mortuary. It served as a home for the Zornow family but is currently used just for the business.

Schoen Place is full of recycled buildings. Some of them were single family residences changed to accommodate businesses or office space. One of the outstanding examples is the Village Coal Tower Restaurant that was changed from being a coal tower into a thriving restaurant. At first the coal chutes were visible in the interior but now all that remains of the original structure is the tower. There may still be some coal found in it!

The next fine example is the newly restored Victor Flour Mill. A steamflouring mill was built on property that has become Schoen Place located between the railroad and the Erie Canal. It began operation in 1883 and in 1921 it became known as the Victor Flour Mill. Mr. Perrigo acquired the Pittsford Mill having owned the larger Victor Mill. The grain tower that is so highly visible, creating "Pittsford's Skyline" was built in 1938. The mill was purchased by Mr. Theodore Zornow in 1940 and was used primarily for storing red kidney beans, a major crop of local farmers. Grain was stored in the silos. That endeavor ended in 1996 and the building remained empty and grew unsightly until two local entrepreneurs purchased it and, after extensive remodeling, have greatly improved its exterior looks without changing its style. It has been converted into an office building with promises of loft apartments and/or offices in the tower.

Another wonderful example of recycling rather than razing. That's what makes Pittsford such a charming and desirable community!