Tucked away in a remote corner of downtown, facing the back side of the Geva Theatre and surrounded on all sides by parking lots, stands this unassuming brick house. In downtown Rochester there are several lonely buildings like this one, still hanging on long after its neighbors have all been read their last rites.
I admire old little structures like this. Maybe it doesn’t have a glamourous story to tell. But it’s stuck it out for the last 150+ years – from Rochester’s boom, all the way through the toughest times this rusty city could throw at it. Whenever I’ve visited Geva Theatre I’ve taken notice of this one and wondered if it would find new life…
But in this town it seems there’s no winning. No point at which a place like this is safe from the encroaching asphalt tide. A developer has asked the City to allow him to demolish this one holdout. He wants to clear it to make room for a few more parking spaces for his nearby properties, including these new Geva lofts .
Rochesterians have fought the wrecking ball several times in recent years – mostly in vain. I suspect there’ll be no fight this time though. No petitions, no headlines, no big debates at City Hall.
This building is not protected by any historic registry—and probably not even eligible for listing. It’s had an ugly addition mashed onto the front, and it’s missing much of its interior, its windows, and trim.
What’s more, the developer, Patrick Dutton, has worked to rehabilitate many older buildings in Rochester; including 1 Capron and most recently the former RIT Bevier Building . I was unable to reach Patrick this weekend for comment. But certainly anyone with his track record has earned the benefit of the doubt from the local preservationist community – myself included.
Of course none of these things mean this house couldn’t be spared, cleaned up, and restored to some degree. Being the last remaining house like it in downtown’s Washington Square Park Neighborhood should be worth something, I would think.
I could see the grounds being landscaped and turned into a corner pocket park. The house could even be converted into something like a sandwich & ice cream shop with some outdoor seating for the new loft residents and theater-goers.
Alas, winter’s grip tightens over this place and its days are numbered. But for now it stands here, inviting me to think about what this neighborhood was once like – and what downtown could be again. For that I thank you, little house.
Tags: 1 Capron, Bevier Building, Capron Street, demolition, Geva Theater, Geva Theatre, Patrick Dutton, St. Mary's Place, The Lofts at Capron, Washington Square
This entry was posted on Sunday, January 25th, 2015 at 10:36 pm and is filed under 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.
Agreed. Thank you for pointing this out. This is a very unfortunate decision that has been made here. It is the oldest remnant of the neighborhood, and although not what would be considered an “architectural gem”, it is certainly a valuable marker of time. Perhaps the developer (who I believe is from out-of-town) should consider the old developer adage “highest and best use”? Are a few (and I mean a few, we are talking about a very very small building footprint) surface parking spaces more valuable than this structure with potential re-use as a small cafe or restaurant to serve the neighborhood? Some may say yes. I don’t believe so. I feel that in development one needs to be pragmatic, and often there is collateral damage in the wake of the big picture. In this case however, the benefit of demolition over preservation seems to be nothing.