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From Eyesore to Opportunity: Rochester’s Lehigh Valley RR Station

March 29th, 2012

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station on Court Street. From Eyesore to Opportunity: a snapshot of adaptive reuse in Rochester N.Y.
All the controversy over whether or not to demolish the 120 year-old brewhouse at 13 Cataract Street external link got us thinking. Those in favor of demolishing the building say it’s an eyesore and a haven for drug dealers; even prostitutes. So, just remove the building and our problems go away.

Right?

But if we demolished every eyesore in Rochester, would we have solved all the City’s problems? Or might we end up tossing the proverbial “baby” out with the bath water? For the next two weeks we’ll take a look at some local eyesores …or rather, opportunities, nearly lost.


Lehigh Valley Railroad Station
99 Court Street

Designed by F.D. Hyde of New York City and completed in 1905, the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station is the only surviving structure inside the Inner Loop which recalls the importance of rail transportation in the growth and development of Rochester. The station is dramatically situated above the Johnson-Seymour mill race and the Genesee River on massive rock-faced limestone piers. It reflects late Victorian period taste with its picturesque massing, the use of colorful materials (two-tone brick walls, copper gutters and flashing, and originally a red tile roof) asymmetrical tower and stylistic references to the French Renaissance in its detailing.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station on Court Street, Rochester N.Y.
After providing rail passenger service until the 1950’s when the lines were abandoned, the building served a short time as a bus depot and then stood vacant for more than three decades. When Max Farash, a Rochester developer, bought the building from the City for $1 in 1982, it had seen better days. The interior was badly damaged by vandals. Graffiti covered the walls, all of the windows were broken, and part of the roof had collapsed. Holes in the floorboards—some as large as three square feet—exposed the building to the Genesee River rushing below.

The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station on Court Street, Rochester N.Y.
After a nearly two-year restoration Mr. Farash said of the project, “it was an irresistible challenge…a labor of love.” After a short time as a nightclub, appropriately named “Carpe Diem”, the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que moved in. According to owner John Stage, the Dinosaur now serves over half a million pappy-slappin’ customers each year at this location.

Here’s the “eyesore”…
The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station on Court Street, Rochester N.Y.

And here is the “opportunity” we nearly lost…
The Lehigh Valley Railroad Station (a.k.a. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que) on Court Street, Rochester N.Y.

Thanks to Caitlin at The Landmark Society, Manager Kevin & John Stage at the Dinosaur, and Bob at Rundel Library! And thanks to Rich Margolis for the “after” photo!

How You Can Help…

Speak out against the demolition of 13 Cataract Street. Send an email to the Brewery and City Hall external link and show your support for a larger vision—Rochester’s Brewery Square.

Attend the public hearing on April 4 and speak out for saving 13 Cataract from Demolition.And attend the public hearing external link on April 4 at 8pm and sign up to speak in favor of preserving 13 Cataract for future development and reuse.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 at 8:39 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “From Eyesore to Opportunity: Rochester’s Lehigh Valley RR Station”

  1. Although I vist Rochester about once a year, I have not lived in the Flower City for many years. I am delighted to see the restoration of the old Lehigh Valley Railroad station. In its heyday the Lehigh Valley was one of several alternate sources of rail transportation in and out of Rochester. In its later years of operation a relatively short two-car passenger train, powered by an extremely loud and thunderous gas-electric locomotive hauled the train twice daily to and from Rochester Junction at the Lehigh Valley main line a few miles outh of Rochester. Yes, I can still hear it!

  2. Keith Bednar says:

    Well said. The tearing down of these great buildings is the crime. The bad folks hanging around these places will just move on and make the next area the “bad place in town”. The buildings only offer hope for us to hold onto what ever we once had. And we had alot!

  3. chase tyler says:

    Bummer they tore down so much already. None of us will ever see a building fixed up and beautiful if it gets torn down.


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