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Hilton Hotels Eyes Some Interesting Old Buildings on Main Street

The Hilton hotel chain is strongly considering adapting this five-story former National Clothing Store on Main Street into a Hilton Garden Inn. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
A recent story external link in the Rochester Business Journal had me pleasantly surprised to learn that the Hilton hotel chain is strongly considering adapting a five-story former clothing store at 155 E. Main Street external link into a Hilton Garden Inn. Around the corner at 25 Stone Street external link, a smaller two-story building (formerly the Stone Street Grill) would also be part of the 15 million dollar plan.

Normally I don’t get all revved up for national chains, but there are at least two REALLY good things happening here: Private interest/investment in Main Street (good), AND adaptive reuse of three or four old buildings (REALLY GOOD).

I also learned something very interesting about these buildings. What’s old may be new again…

This building used to be a National Clothing Store. Here's what it looked like in 1947. [PHOTO: Rochester Municipal Archives]
The primary building on Main Street was originally a National Clothing Store. Here’s what it looked like in 1947 (above).

But before it was a clothing store, there had already been one hotel on this site…

Hotel Eggleston. 1916. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
The Hotel Eggleston was located here from 1898-1925. The photo above shows the hotel as it was in 1916. Library archives indicate this building may have been built just after the Civil War although exact construction dates are unknown.

The National Clothing Store replaced the Hotel Eggleston and is shown in this 1926 plat map. [IMAGE: Rochester Public Library]
Also known as the Eggleston Hotel or Eggleston “stag” Hotel, in 1925 the hotel moved to 48-50 South Avenue so that the building could be razed to make way for the National Clothing Store (shown in the 1926 plat map above).

But wait, there’s more…

Hotel Eggleston in 1924. Offices of James Vick's Sons seed company can be seen around the corner on Stone Street. [PHOTO: Albert R. Stone]
By 1925 the ground floor shops included Harry L. Zelter (which sold trunks, leathergoods, bags, and travel equipment), and Henry J. Klee (which sold men’s furnishings). And look around the corner.

At 25 Stone Street we can see a vertical sign that reads, “Vick Quality Seeds.” That was one of the offices of James Vick’s Sons seed company!

You know Mr. Vick external link… one of the dudes who helped turn the Flour City into the FLOWER City. Rochester still has two streets in the Park Avenue area called Vick Park A and Vick Park B. Yes… that Vick.

Of course, James Vick died of pneumonia in 1882. But his sons carried on his monthly floral magazine and seed business, which prospered into the early 1900′s before being sold to the Burpee Seed Company.

But here comes the cool part. I think those are the same buildings that are still there today – as the former Stone Street Grill!

The former Stone Street Grill, and offices of James Vick's Sons seed company. [PHOTO: Rochester Public Library]
It looks like one of the buildings has had its top 2 floors removed. You can still see the window sills just below the roof line. But compare these two buildings to the ones in the black and white photo above. Yup. There’s no doubt about it. James Vicks wuz here.

Now, I’m sure I’m not the first one to discover this. But does the City (and Hilton) realize this was one of the Vick seed company offices? I’m not sure. The building doesn’t appear on the City’s list of landmarks or Designated Buildings of Historic Value. I realize not every building deserves to be a landmark. But this one might deserve a closer look.

Let’s hope Hilton and Thomas Masaschi of DHD Ventures LLC realize what they’ve got here. If you have any more information on these buildings, please drop a comment below.

Thanks to Benjamin Woelk at GardenAerial external link for help with this story.

UPDATE: I received some bad news from a City employee today who says the Vick building will be demolished. “For better or worse, this project was permitted as of right downtown and only needed to go through an administrative process known as ‘site plan review.’ It received all its zoning and building approvals already and, alas alas, 25 Stone Street is not on any sort of protected list and will be demolished and rebuilt as the hotel’s drop-off entrance.”

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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 9th, 2013 at 7:57 am and is filed under Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News, 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.

16 Responses to “Hilton Hotels Eyes Some Interesting Old Buildings on Main Street”

  1. matt r says:

    Great detective work, Mike. Well done. Having Hilton in these buildings is so much better than them sitting empty. Investment in Main Street is a great harbinger of more to come.

  2. Adrian says:

    I’m just not sure that a hotel would be “appropriate” for Main St… it would seriously alter the character of the neighborhood (away from vacancy)… don’t we have enough hotels already? Think about all the additional traffic… and the terrible effect on the viewshed from the Alliance building… and wouldn’t this just create a precedent for additional investment in downtown!? Terrible.

    ;)

    Speaking of which are there any reports on how the meeting on 933 University went yesterday?

  3. UPDATE: I received some bad news from a City employee today who says the Vick building will be demolished. “For better or worse, this project was permitted as of right downtown and only needed to go through an administrative process known as ‘site plan review.’ It received all its zoning and building approvals already and, alas alas, 25 Stone Street is not on any sort of protected list and will be demolished and rebuilt as the hotel’s drop-off entrance.”

  4. capuath says:

    How do u apply for a job there??

  5. @capuath, reasonable question… I don’t know. I’d check their web site.

  6. Renee says:

    Great complement to the RBJ piece! Nice research, Mike!

    Happy to see more interest in downtown!

    And I’m with Adrian — any word on the 933 University meeting?

  7. John says:

    Sad the buildings will be demo’d, but I guess in the grand scheme of things the preservation and reuse of several other buildings, especially larger and more prominent ones is worth the “cost”. I’m with you on not being overly thrilled about chains, but as someone else pointed out (maybe you), the amount of research and on hand capital (especially for franchises) does show a lot of confidence and investment in downtown.

    If the 933 University project gets the plug pulled by a bunch of anti-urban nimbys I’ll go insane, especially in light of the Standard Brewery Buildng’s recent destruction for a parking lot. Might be less about preservation and good urban planning and more about what neighborhood it is in. The city demo’s buildings of much greater value and historical significance in poor neighborhoods daily.

  8. @John, I’m with you 100%.

    @Renee, I’m waiting for word from the City about 933 University and the Preservation Board decision. I haven’t been able to find any news on it yet.

    My guess would be that the Preservation Board denies the demo because the building is quite clearly within a preservation district and isn’t falling down. But that’s just a guess. I’ll post a comment here when I find out for sure.

  9. Peter says:

    Know what successful cities frequently have downtown? Traffic! Lots of it! Now, I hate traffic as much as the next guy, but getting into downtown sometimes is almost so easy I wonder what is (or is not) going on down there. I’m not really sure if there is any demand for another hotel, but anything is better than empty tall buildings.

  10. chase tyler says:

    There should be a map of Rochester showing the empty/abandoned buildings.

  11. Irene says:

    I dislike chains, but for a hotel it seems to be pretty much the only option anymore. Glad to see this cool building ( the clothing store) being put to good use. I assume they are not tearing it down too?

  12. Mike says:

    I think you guys will be really impressed with the plans for this building, especially on the interior. The corner building and the two story building with the mansard roof on East Main will both be a part of the rehabilitation.

  13. john says:

    Is there going to be anything on the first floor open to the public, like a bar and/or restaurant?

  14. Lorenzo says:

    Stop the demo keep the build is the hotel deal dead. Go on with the plans or make it condos and apartments..people are moving downtown.when the stores come back this will be a great location.downtown will never what it was but will be like the way it should be for this time erra.

  15. Joe says:

    Good detective work but no way does that qualify for stopping this project. Upscale hotels are never a bad thing for a economically depressed area. I would stay at a hgi before a Hyatt radius on or Rochester plaza hotel when I come back to Rochester… Can’t call every old building a landmark just because someone’s famous cousins friends in laws neighbor sneezed inside of it 200 years ago.


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