Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Epworth Hall Recognized for Wyoming County:
Landmark Society Announced Today
2021 'Five to Revive;' List Features Preservation Priorities in Western NY

The Landmark Society of Western New York today announced its 2021 "Five to Revive:" – a list that identifies opportunities for targeted, strategic revitalization. The announcement was made at a news conference this morning on Scio Street adjacent to the Inner Loop. The List includes: 
  • Inner Loop North Infill Project City of Rochester, Monroe County. 
  • St. Michael’s Church and Surrounding Neighborhood City of Rochester, Monroe County. 
  • Alasa Farms Town of Sodus, Wayne County. 
  • Phelps Hotel Village of Phelps, Ontario County. 
  • Epworth Hall at Silver Lake Institute Town of Castile, Wyoming County.  
This is the ninth year that The Landmark Society of Western New York is announcing the Five to Revive list to draw attention to key priorities for revitalization in western New York. “The heart of preservation is community revitalization,” said Wayne Goodman, Executive Director. 

“In 2013, we launched the Five to Revive program, to call attention to five properties in Western New York that are in need of investment. Whether buildings, landscapes, or structures, they are significant historic properties whose rehabilitations can become catalytic projects for the neighborhoods and communities that surround them. The ultimate goal is to return these important historic resources to a place of prominence in their respective communities, as economic and social assets that spark even more investment and revitalization.” 

 “The Landmark Society staff is dedicated to work collaboratively with owners, municipal officials, and developers to facilitate investment, foster rehabilitation, and carry out our mission to protect the region’s unique architectural heritage,” said Tom Castelein, chair of The Landmark Society Five to Revive committee. 

“That has proven to be the key to success in such resources as Holley High School, the former Wollensak Optical Company in Rochester, the Clarissa Street Corridor in Rochester and the encouragement of interest in the traditional trades.” 

Background on 2021 "Five to Revive" sites:  

Inner Loop North Infill Project City of Rochester, Monroe County Construction of Rochester’s Inner Loop highway began in 1952 and was completed in 1965. Like countless highway projects across the country, it involved the demolition of hundreds of buildings—homes, businesses, offices, churches, parks, and more—and the displacement of hundreds of people, disproportionately affecting low-income residents and people of color. 

The legacy of this highway construction is still seen today with high concentrations of poverty, disinvestment, and vacant lots. As American cities rethink urban highways, the City of Rochester has led the way with the removal and infill of the Inner Loop East. The City is now moving forward with evaluation and planning to convert some or all of the northern section of the Inner Loop. 

The Inner Loop North project has the potential to be transformative, knitting back together several Rochester neighborhoods, recreating the urban street grid, and providing land on which the community can start to rebuild the houses, the livelihoods, and the social fabric that highway construction destroyed. If done carefully and with an eye towards social justice, the project could begin to right some of the racial inequities that urban renewal projects like the Inner Loop perpetuated. 

A project of this magnitude also carries the risk of falling short of such expectations or, worse yet, to continue a cycle of displacement and marginalization of neighborhood residents north of the current Inner Loop. Thus, it is imperative that the planning process underway incorporate the voices of the residents who have been most impacted by the destruction of their neighborhood and that the project serve the needs of those residents. 

Along with residents on both sides of the Inner Loop and our friends at Hinge Neighbors, we are advocating for a neighborhood-driven and community-centered design that will physically reconnect neighborhoods and help foster equity and investment. With the Inner Loop North project, Rochester has the potential to become a nationwide model for equitable highway removal and infill. 

St. Michael’s Church and Surrounding Neighborhood City of Rochester, Monroe County.  The magnificent Gothic Revival church that stands on North Clinton Avenue in the northeast quadrant of the city is one of the most important examples of ecclesiastical architecture in the region. With a spire rising over 200 feet, it is also one of the tallest; it is the tenth tallest building in Rochester and has the tallest spire of any religious building in Rochester. 

Built 1888-90 and designed by Chicago architect Adolphus Druiding, the church’s construction was funded by working class German families, many of whom mortgaged their houses to pay for construction. Beginning in the mid-20th century, the neighborhood surrounding St. Michael’s shifted from primarily German and western European immigrants to a predominantly Latinx, in particular Puerto Rican, community. 

St. Michael’s and another northeast church, St. Bridget’s, began conducting masses in Spanish in the 1960s. Today, St. Michael’s is one of only three Catholic churches in the region that offers services in Spanish. Beyond its obvious architectural significance, St. Michael’s Church has also functioned as an important cultural and social anchor in a neighborhood with one of the highest poverty levels in the city, providing not just a place of worship but also a social gathering place and services to surrounding residents. 

In recent years, the City of Rochester, along with partner organizations such as Ibero-American Action League, has made significant investments in the surrounding El Camino neighborhood, with projects like La Marketa at the International Plaza, a Latin-themed event space and marketplace designed to serve as a community gathering space and small business incubator; El Camino Trail and Conkey Corner Park, a collaboration with Genesee Land Trust that created a multi-use pedestrian greenway adapted from an old railroad line; Pueblo Nuevo, a $25 million affordable housing development; and Son House Apartments, supportive housing developed by Providence Housing. 

Faced with ongoing operational pressures, the Diocese of Rochester informed parishioners in 2020 that St. Michael’s would be closing. Parishioners quickly rallied, forming the Saint Michael Society and drafting a proposal to preserve St. Michael's Church as a sacred space and prevent closure. St. Michael’s has since received a new pastor and remains open; however, the building and the surrounding neighborhood remain at a critical tipping point. Like many houses of worship throughout the country, 

St. Michael’s faces declining attendance and finances, along with mounting building repair costs. With costly repairs needed, fundraising and repair plans are critical to ensuring the future of the building and its place as the heart of the El Camino neighborhood. 

Alasa Farms Town of Sodus, Wayne County Alasa Farms comprises a 640-acre property overlooking Lake Ontario’s Sodus Bay. The property contains forests, wetlands, working crop lands, orchards, creeks, and a complex of historic farm structures. The site has a rich history, with connections to the Shaker community, the Fourierist Utopian Society, and Alvah Griffin Strong. 

It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Genesee Land Trust holds a conservation easement to ensure that the property remains as open land in perpetuity, a natural oasis for wildlife, especially migratory birds, and a working farm. 

Alasa Farms is owned by Cracker Box Palace, a non-profit that manages the farm and operates a shelter for large animals on the property. Many of the historic buildings on the site are early 20th century agricultural outbuildings, however, the Farm also includes two extremely rare and remarkably intact c.1833-34 communal residential buildings built by the Sodus Bay Shakers. During the 1920s and 1930s, under the tutelage of its progressive and well-to-do-owner, Alvah Griffin Strong, Alasa Farms was a model farm devoted to avant-garde agrarian practices, a forerunner of the large-scale agribusinesses that soon proliferated across the country. 

Today, Cracker Box Palace has the daunting task of planning for the care and maintenance of its historic buildings while operating the animal shelter. Complicating matters, in 2009 (under the prior ownership), one of the Shaker houses was seriously damaged in a fire. A temporary fix was put into place to halt further deterioration and to forestall collapse of the east side of the roof. While Cracker Box Palace has been able to successfully meet the operational challenges of being Wayne County’s designated large animal shelter, it has found securing the significant capital dollars for the roof to be challenging, and the temporary fix has outlived its usefulness after over 10 years. 

Meanwhile, the west side of the roof, which was less severely damaged and was not subject to remediation, has deteriorated significantly, and is now also at risk of collapse. Despite the significant expenses that the organization faces in addressing its historic buildings, there is reason for hope. A newly formed Historic Committee, which can focus its efforts on the buildings while the rest of the organization focuses on animal care, commissioned a survey of the farm’s historic resources, outlining needed repairs and associated costs. 

The Cracker Box Palace board also adopted a new Vision and Mission Statement in 2020, which includes not only providing shelter and sanctuary to farm animals but also promoting the rich history of the area and engaging and educating the community. With a team dedicated to the property’s historic resources and a plan taking shape for the funding and repair of those resources, Cracker Box Palace is well positioned to begin the next phase of Alasa Farm’s multi-layered history. 

Phelps Hotel Village of Phelps, Ontario County Built in 1867 by peppermint magnate Lehman Hotchkiss, this imposing Italianate style commercial building played a central role in the village’s economic and social life for more than 150 years. It housed hotel rooms, office space, meeting and banquet rooms, and a restaurant and bar. 

After being vacant for several years, the building was purchased by new owners who have begun the process of making the significant repairs and upgrades that are needed, including repairs to the roof. Although a rehabilitation of this scale presents a challenge for a small rural village, with new owners, the support of the Phelps Business Development and Tourism Council, its location in a community with an impressive collection of exquisite historic buildings, and proximity to Rochester and the Finger Lakes region, the future of the Phelps Hotel may be looking brighter. 

Epworth Hall at Silver Lake Institute Town of Castile, Wyoming County Epworth Hall is a rare intact example of a large-scale late-nineteenth century assembly hall designed to house a variety of types of public meetings in a seasonal religious camp. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this multi-purpose building combines simple Queen Anne style elements in its interior finishes with an exterior executed in the Colonial Revival style. It was built in 1892 as part of the Silver Lake Institute, a Methodist-affiliated camp facility, and designed by prominent Rochester architects, Jay Fay and Otis Dryer. 

The Hall is owned and operated by Silver Lake Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of residents and visitors in this small, lakeside community. Since separating from the Methodist church in 2016, the Institute has provided cultural and educational programming in the building, attracting guests from the region and beyond. The organization has worked tirelessly to plan and fundraise for the long term preservation of Epworth Hall, however, it faces significant costs to make the building safe and accessible for all visitors. 

With recent funding awards, including a grant from The Landmark Society and NY State Historic Preservation Office’s Genesee Valley Rural Revitalization (GVRR) program, the Silver Lake Institute has gathered momentum for the full rehabilitation of Epworth Hall.

5 PHOTOS of the projects in alpha-numeric order:

Alasa Farms 1 - credit Landmark Society of WNY

Alasa Farms 2 - credit Landmark Society of WNY

Epworth Hall - credit Landmark Society of WNY

Inner Loop - credit Landmark Society of WNY

Phelps Hotel - credit Landmark Society of WNY

St. Michael's and Surrounding Neighborhood - credit Landmark Society, WNY

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SILVER LAKE EXPERIENCE (SLE) - Registration now Open for this August 4-6, 2022's SLE. See: SilverLakeExperience.org


Walter D. “Pete” Mairs, 81, died peacefully on July 23, 2021. Born in Avon, N.Y., on Sept. 3, 1939, Pete was a longtime resident of Geneva, N.Y., and these past many years in Buffalo, N.Y., as well as his beloved Silver Lake. Pete is survived by his wife, Linda Bergstrom Mairs, a loving and true companion; children, Mimi C. Mairs, Jonathan B. Mairs; sisters, June Huff, Helen Dole; brother, Thomas Mairs; stepchildren, Daniel Brinkworth, Jennie Ramsey; sister-in-law, Anne Bergstrom, eight beautiful grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A service and celebration of life is planned for the fall when all can share the joy of Pete’s life together. Arrangements by Stephenson – Dougherty Funeral Home, Avon, N.Y.

Editor's Note: It was a privilege knowing and working with Pete Mairs during his presidency of the Silver Lake Institute. He was a kind and gentle man, but also firm in his leadership. I served as Treasurer and Chaplain of SLI during those years and I could always depend on Pete's presence in the worship service. He was a man of faith and a gem of a human being. May he rest in God's care.


Gerald C. Sahrle, 80, of Perry, passed away on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He was born on Oct. 10, 1941, in Wayland, N.Y., to the late Charles A. and Helen I. (Blowers) Sahrle. Gerry was a line foreman for 32 1/2 years for NYSE&G, working out of the Perry and Hamburg locations, and was a Town of Perry Councilman. He was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Constellation Lodge -404 in Perry. He was an avid fisherman, hunter and woodworker. He is survived by his wife, Valary A. (Conley) Sahrle; 1 son, Gerald (Pamela) Sahrle II of Silver Springs; 2 sisters, Millie Edmond of Greece, Bonnie Fink of Winston-Salem, N.C., 3 brothers, Ronald (Linda) Sahrle of Dansville, Robert (Susan) Sahrle of Springwater, Kenneth Sahrle of Dansville; 5 grandchildren, Bradley Musscarella, Stone and Winston Sahrle, Conley and Cooper Gayton; along with many nieces, nephews and friends. Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother, Thomas Sahrle, who passed away in 2012. Services will be held at the convenience of the family. Gerry will be laid to rest in West Perry Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Perry Center Fire Department, P.O. Box 204, Perry, NY 14530. For more information, please call (585) 237-2626 or to leave a message of condolence, visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 North Main Street, Perry, NY 14530.

Editor's Note: Gerald and Valarie could always be seen in the family pew with Pamela, Stone and Winston at Perry First United Methodist Church and continue to be loved. Gerry will be sorely missed. Both were supporters of the Arts at the Silver Lake Institute and Valarie was active in painting and participating in the Annual Show in August. Valarie's presence was always valued and appreciated.


"Kathy P." passed November 8, 2021, of Hamburg and Boston, NY. Beloved daughter of Joseph and Barbara Michalak; loving sister of Daniel Michalak; devoted wife of the late Jeffrey Praczkajlo; cherished mother of Jennifer (Shawn) Jump; loving babcia of Lily Jump; also survived by many beloved family members and friends who became her family. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Editor's Note: "Kathy P." as she was better known to us at Silver Lake was an annual summer visitor for most of the last number of years at the invitation of Silver Laker Julia Hoffner. She stayed at the Hoffner Cottage, and became known as both the fun visitor with the vivacious smile to the neighbors at the intersection of Haven Ave. and the Ames Walkway. Kathy P. and Julie could be seen walking and talking between the cottage and the Hoffner boathouse where they could be close to the water. She was also occasionally seen at the Saturday morning breakfasts at Stoody Hall. Her stay was anywhere between 4 days and a week where she had the opportunity to develop a love for Silver Lake. She was not yet eligible for retirement when late last week she developed "a cold" and had to remain home from her job. She did not update her condition over the weekend so the local police made a wellness visit and found her deceased on Monday. She was one of those many people who found Silver Lake and friendship for brief respites where she also found new strength and energy to return to work. She is being particularly mourned by those in the Haven/Ames neighborhood. She will be memorialized next summer at the annual Celebration of Life Memorial Service at Epworth Hall.


Brenda Joan Paddock, 82, of Perry, born April 15, 1939, now resides in heaven with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Brenda met Jesus as her Savior in 1965. She met him in person on Nov. 14, 2021. She had a beautiful homecoming with music, singing and praying, leading her into Glory. Her last words were “I am well, I am well.”

Brenda’s greatest loves were her family and friends. Brenda had five children with her husband Roger: Don and Daelene Paddock of Florida, Jody and Tim Von Sanden of Pavilion, Bradley and Jeanie Paddock of Warsaw, Jennifer and Paul Guy of Massachusetts, and Nathan and Jill Paddock of Perry.

Brenda dearly loved her grandchildren: Jessica Morillo, Nikki and Clint O’Brien, Luke Paddock, Paul Paddock, Ian and Brooklyn Paddock, Joe and Louana Paddock, Burke and Megan Paddock, Aaron Paddock, Ellen Paddock, Andrew Paddock, Rachael Paddock, Abigail Paddock, Erik and Cassandra Von Sanden, Jacquelyn and Michael Jones, Tim Von Sanden, Brandon and Brandee Paddock, Jamey and Laura Paddock, Peter and Kara Guy, Candy and Jay Waitkevich, Marlo and Ryan Bolger and Jenna and Rory Peterson.

Brenda was blessed and loved her great grandchildren: Chloe, Olivia and Nicholas Von Sanden, Joshua and Jaxon Morillo, Jameson and Cassandra O’Brien, Atlas Paddock, Noah and Ezra Jones, Colton, Brantley and Charlotte Guy, Cameron Waitkevich, Amelia Bolger and Brennen Leonard.

Brenda is also survived by her brother and sister in laws; Frank and Emma Paddock, Viva and Jim Phillips-Richardson and Kurt and Lynn Paddock.

Brenda first started working as a secretary at Perry Central School. She then assisted her husband building Paddock’s Breeding Service. Roger and Brenda together built and ran the Sandsabarn teenage nightclub. Brenda was owner and operator of Serendipity Travel. Brenda’s pleasures included playing organ and piano. She played at a number of area churches along with performing for her loved ones. UPDATED -- Brenda also played with conviction at both indoor and outdoor services at the Silver Lake Institute where her grandson, Luke, sang at Epworth Hall on several occasions and was appreciated by all who heard his inspiring voice.

Brenda was preceded in death by her parents Noble and Freda Buckland, her husband Roger and son Bradley.

A Committal service at West Perry Cemetery will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a Celebration of Life at LaGrange Baptist Church at 4 p.m.

Memorial donations may be made in Brenda’s honor to the LaGrange Baptist Church 7092 LaGrange Rd. Perry, NY 14530 or to the First Congregational Church P.O. Box 156 Perry, NY 14530. Arrangements completed by Eaton-Watson Funeral Home, LLC. 98 N. Main St., Perry, N.Y. 14530. For more information or to sign the online guest registry please visit www.eatonwatsonfuneralhome.com.

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