All the controversy over whether or not to demolish the 120 year-old brewhouse at 13 Cataract Street 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.
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.
16 West Main Street
Before Daniel Powers erected the Powers Building in the late 1860s, the site had been home to Hamlet Scrantom’s log cabin, the Eagle Hotel and Tavern, and the Powers Banking House. Originally a five-story structure, Powers had two additional stories added as well as a three-story tower so the building would hold its supremacy as Rochester’s tallest. A century later the “Grand Old Lady of the Four Corners” had lost its luster and by the 1980s would sit largely unoccupied, deteriorating quickly.
At least five separate efforts to rehabilitate the building failed before Value Properties Inc. (a New York City developer) bought it in 1988 for an estimated $400,000-$500,000, spent $20 Million restoring and renovating it, and reopened it in 1991. While the Powers Building could have easily been lost, today it is widely regarded as an irreplaceable Rochester icon.
And here is the “opportunity” we nearly lost…
Richard Margolis photo-documented the entire restoration process. This “after” photo was taken in 1991 when work was completed. To get the perfect shot, Margolis stood on a 2-foot ledge outside a 4th floor window of the Wilder Building across the street.
Thanks to Caitlin at The Landmark Society for the great information! And thanks to Richard Margolis for the death-defying photos!!
How You Can Help…
Speak out against the demolition of 13 Cataract Street. Send an email to the Brewery and City Hall and show your support for a larger vision—Rochester’s Brewery Square.
And attend the public hearing on April 4 at 8pm and sign up to speak in favor of preserving 13 Cataract for future development and reuse.
Tags: adaptive reuse, Eagle Hotel and Tavern, Four Corners, From Eyesore to Opportunity, Hamlet Scrantom, Main Street, Main Street Four Corners, Powers Banking House, Powers Building, Rochester, Rochester NY, State Street, Value Properties
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at 8:24 am and is filed under Architecture, 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.
“Before Daniel Powers erected the Powers Building in the late 1860s, the site had been home to Hamlet Scrantom’s log cabin, the Eagle Hotel and Tavern, and the Powers Banking House.”
This brings up an interesting question. How many of our current landmarks would be around today if we applied the same standards advocated by many of our most ardent preservationists? Scrantom’s log cabin was quite historically significant. The Eagle Hotel and Tavern was a nice piece of architecture from the couple of pictures I’ve seen. Would the Powers Building itself have been allowed to be built by today’s preservationists or would they have insisted on adaptive reuse and landmark status?
I am not opposed to historical preservation. I live in a restored historic house in a preservation district and I’m a Landmark Society member. But I also believe in property rights and progress. And while I myself would prefer to see Cataract restored and reused and think that Genesee has been less than honest in this whole process I’m not sure that we do a lot for the cause by opposing demolition of nice, but not exceptional, buildings as part of a viable project. After all investment should be encouraged, even if it’s not a perfect plan. And vital urban neighborhoods are almost always a mix of old and new. Are we damaging the cause the next time someone wants to demolish a great old building that has fallen on hard times to create another parking lot or empty lot? Or the next time someone wants to demolish true architectural gems like the old Plymouth Spiritualist Church as part of a wholesale urban renewal style project? Doesn’t it become easier for the general public to buy the misinformed notion that preservationists are busybodies who oppose property rights and all development that doesn’t meet some kind of elitist ideal?