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High Falls Smoke Stack Will Go Before Winter

September 8th, 2012

The end is near for the iconic High Falls smoke stack. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
In February we heard rumors external link that the iconic High Falls smoke stack might be coming down. Yesterday I noticed scaffolding going up around the structure. Today I learned the stack will be completely demolished, probably before winter…

Scaffolding going up around the last RG&E Beebee Power Station smoke stack, High Falls. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]

The news was shared at the last High Falls Business Association meeting. Attendees at that meeting told me that RG&E has determined the structure needs extensive repairs, the cost of which could not be justified by RG&E since the old power station no longer benefits their customers.

As it turns out the stack is actually two stacks in one – a very old one encased in a “newer” (probably 1950′s or 60′s) shell of concrete. RG&E says the older one is completely decrepit and the newer one’s concrete is “punky” meaning it’s crumbling and disintegrating. Two similar smoke stacks next to this one were taken down in 2007.

Sources say the structure will be gone before winter. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]

The tower features the distinctive mark of the High Falls Historic District at the top. Standing watch over the neighborhood since the mid-1900′s, it’s become an icon nearly as recognizable as nearby Kodak Tower or the High Falls themselves.

Michael Philipson says the stack is an iconic structure, which really helps define the area and visually marks the “place” of High Falls. Philipson is President of a marketing firm located on nearby Brown’s Race. “It is frustrating that it really doesn’t seem like it can be saved in the current state.”

Could anything ever replace the towering icon of the industrial High Falls neighborhood? A vertical windmill is one idea. [PHOTO: PopularMechanics.com]Philipson is also the co-founder of the upcoming Greentopia Festival external link and the GardenAerial Project external link which seek to transform the High Falls gorge into a 21st century public space and showcase of sustainability.

“This is something that we are looking at in our overall plans for GardenAerial and how it might be easier to just rebuild another ‘stack’ on the site from materials that would be more resilient.” Philipson said. “The idea of replacing it with a windmill is also a possibility.”

Would it be possible for someone else to come in and put up the money to make repairs and save the smoke stack? I think it’s a real long shot. Genesee Brewery’s recent demolition of the 120 year old Cataract Brewhouse was a huge blow to local preservationists. And that building actually had usable square footage that could have been occupied and taxed. The smoke stack is pure romance at this point.

RG&E’s estimated cost for repairs is unknown. I’ve been trying to contact someone at RG&E about this story for over a week now with no response.

Related Stuff:

High Falls Gorsline building to be partially demolished external link
Genesee/North American Brewery Demolition Photos
Old Images of the High Falls external link
End is near for Hojack swing bridge external link

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 8th, 2012 at 10:32 am and is filed under Rochester Images, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure, Urban Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Responses to “High Falls Smoke Stack Will Go Before Winter”

  1. John J says:

    It’s probably better, I can only imagine all the crud in the smoke stack from use. Let them take it down and clean it up, it can always be rebuilt or replaced with something to mark High Falls. It was nice don’t get me wrong its a nice marker for the neighborhood, but its probably easier to just demo it and figure out a replacement. Its not like its unique architecture that would be hard to recreate.

    I always liked the red smoke stack poking up from beneath the Bausch St bridge better anyways.

  2. Mittens says:

    13 Cataract, Charlotte swing bridge, High Falls Smokestack, St. Anne’s Tower. What’s going on this year, Rochester?

  3. Matthew says:

    It’s a shame that it has to come down. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has a fairly nice re-purposed power plant complete with smoke stacks that visually anchors the area. I do like the idea of replacing it with something that riffs on the idea of the stacks in a modern way. Finding a way to fund it seems challenging if the plant itself is simply going to end up as ruins.

  4. Jim says:

    I agree with Matthew. Let’s focus on re-purposing the plant complex to prevent further losses and to justify more cool ideas to promote the river corridor. Is anybody taking the lead on this?


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