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More about the Trolley


Two weeks ago this column spoke about the Rochester and Eastern Trolley. My thought today is to expand on the building that was the station house for that electric line and discuss its evolution.

A small brick building was erected at 60 North Main Street, where the tracks came into the village from Rochester between Elm Street and Line Street, running south and into the station. That building has been remodeled frequently and has housed numerous businesses.

The McConnell Family, who owned a dairy business located on Penn Street (now Washington Road) was one of the first businesses to take title to the property when, in 1932, it was no longer needed as a station house. The building was enlarged and the dairy expanded into a thriving ice cream emporium. Many Rochestarians, on a beautiful spring or summer evening, would make the drive out to McConnell's for a delicious ice cream cone. (Remember gas was then only about 10 cents a gallon and the time it took to get to the destination was part of the delight of the cone!)

Later another enlargement took place and a restaurant was added. It became a chosen place for many Nazareth students as well as Pittsford High School students to go for lunch or snacks. On balmy afternoons, it was not unusual to see groups of young women (Nazareth was then a women's college), walking on North Main Street towards McConnell's. It was also a place for young people to obtain their first job by waiting on tables and dipping ice cream. Dairy products could still be purchased and "Red" McConnell still used family favorite recipes for making the special flavors. Some of the "old timers in Pittsford remember when there was a delightful and enormous ice cream offering called the "Pigs Dinner" and if a patron could finish one, he or she was offered another at no charge!

The rear of the building was rented to another individual. This business took on a very special service during WW II. A very large freezing unit housed separate bins or drawers that could be rented to area residents in which they could place large items, such as sides of beef or pork or containers of frozen vegetables from "victory gardens". This very popular enterprise was before almost every home had a freezer or a refrigerator with a freezing section.

This was also the place to obtain a delicious fish fry for Friday evening's dinner. Perhaps that is how Fridays became the evening to eat out.

The company burned in the Spring of 1961 and the McConnells rebuilt making the exterior of the building more "colonial" in design and in keeping with other construction taking place in Pittsford. The business was soon up and running again with hardly a noticeable decrease in commerce.

But, after 45 years in the dairy restaurant business, the brothers, "Red" and Frank McConnell decided the time had come to retire and the business was sold to two other brothers, Tom and Bill Wahl, who would continue to offer much of the same fare.

After the retirement of the Wahl brothers, the building was sold and again remodeled and turned into the Pittsford Pub, which it is today. The rear of the building housed a separate restaurant called "Ciao's", which served Italian food and wood fired pizza. The restaurant located there now is called "JoJo's".

So now, dear reader, you can see how businesses begun in 1932 have evolved and buildings recycled in our community. And as an historian, it is gratifying that things have pretty much remained the same.