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Landmark Society

By on November 2, 2017

Regional meeting on Landmark Society Affiliate Program brings local officials and preservationists to Brockport

Officials and historic preservation-minded residents from both Monroe and Orleans Counties took part in a regional meeting Thurs., Oct. 5, at the Red Bird Cafe in Brockport, held by the Landmark Society of Western New York.

The Landmark Society has worked the past two years with three local communities including the Village of Brockport, to develop an Affiliate Program, and now Landmark Society officials say they are ready to expand the program to include local preservation organizations and efforts.

“Building a network in the region is the most important part of the Affiliate Program,” said Larry Francer, associate director of preservation at the Landmark Society of Western New York, who led the Oct. 5 meeting.

Francer said the program will bring local communities together, “to learn from successes and failures and to see that you are not alone.”

The two other local communities involved in the pilot program were the Village of Perry and the Village of Seneca Falls.  Francer described how the pilot programs had worked in each of the three communities including Brockport, where the Greater Brockport Development Corporation (GBDC) agreed to expand its mission to include preservation and to be a resource for the area.

He also detailed organization and individual benefits for organizations which would like to become part of the Affiliate Program. Those benefits include reduced membership dues for the Landmark Society, as well as priority consideration for the Preservation Grants Fund, direct access to the professional services of the Landmark Society’s staff and Affiliate Council meetings for exchange of news, resources, techniques, and/or informational speakers.

Residents and leaders from the Towns of Greece and Henrietta attended as did a member of the Board of Directors of the Cobblestone Museum located in Orleans County.

Gina DiBella of Greece is part of a grassroots effort to “Save the DeMay” – the historic Hotel DeMay located at the intersection of N. Greece and Latta Roads. The 108-year old building is in danger of being torn down for the construction of a gas station and convenience store, DiBella said.

“We have no quaint main street,” she observed of the Town of Greece, “we are trying to preserve the little bits of history left here.”

Les and Ellie Carr of Greece also attended.  They are a part of the Save the DeMay effort. The Carrs held their wedding reception at the DeMay and said the preservation and re-purposing of the hotel might result in a re-birth of the N. Greece/Latta hamlet. “It could be good for the heart of Greece,” they said.

Greece Planning Board Chair Al Fisher attended the meeting and noted it is important for the town to interface with organizations interested in saving the DeMay Hotel.

“The building is in good condition,” he said, and added the planning board should have a, “better understanding of historic preservation. Being associated with enthusiastic and knowledgeable people will provide the opportunity to do the right thing.”

Town of Henrietta historian Tina Thompson and Henrietta Historic Preservation Committee chair Gary Goodridge said their town faces similar challenges to those faced by the Town of Greece. Thompson and Goodridge were interested in becoming part of the the Affiliate Program and noted that Henrietta will celebrate its bicentennial next year.

Josephine Matela, president of the GBDC, credited the Landmark Society with providing resources and support in Brockport’s historic preservation efforts.  She said the GBDC works to reach out to those who own historic properties to provide guidance and information on the resources available, including help with tax credits.  She said she is, “excited about the potential,” provided by the Landmark Affiliate Program.  Fellow GBDC Board of Directors member Bill Andrews, who also serves as Village of Brockport Deputy Mayor, also attended the meeting.