homes tucked into city neighborhoods; big, stoic dairy barns reminding us of an
earlier time; massive cathedrals on modern urban streets --- the buildings left
us by earlier generations contribute character and elegance to the Greater
Rochester's landscape. But these places offer more than just quaint
history; they are resources that can be used to generate jobs, tourism,
affordable housing, and downtown investment.
An old-world craftsman tends a flock of church buildings
"It's almost like the guy who likes
to restore cars," says Henry Swiatek. "You know people who do it because they
love doing it, they rebuild an old car.
As iconic as the barn is --- it can
represent in the American imagination the whole farming lifestyle and economy
--- it isn't often recognized for its value as a historic building. Not an
office building or a home, where the value is more obvious, or even a school or
a factory, where new uses tend to suggest themselves: Barns can fall off the
table in architecture-preservation discussions.
Much of our region's character can be found in its
architecture: The homes, industrial buildings, schools, office buildings, and
churches that were built when Rochester's star was rising. Now many of these
buildings are abandoned or are facing vacancy or bankruptcy, while new
developments and building projects crop up all around.
One of the Rochester area's biggest treasures is often
overlooked, and, worse, underappreciated: its extraordinary number of old, ordinary, early 20th-centuryhouses. When we think of
"preservation," we think of the mansions on East Avenue, the Victorian groupings
in villages like Pittsford and Spencerport, the Frank Lloyd Wright house on