Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Great American Architecture Vol. 4

I'm back today with a report on the oldest building still standing in the city of Rochester. Can this be considered 'Great American Architecture?' The author of the news story says no, while the commenters and I say that simply what it represents and its rarity makes it great.

by Larry Seil, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Article Key Points:
  • Completed in 1823, the Old Stone Warehouse at 1 Mt. Hope Avenue predates the opening of the Erie Canal and was built in its anticipation
  • Originally Gilbert's Warehouse, building has also housed a foundry, malt storage, Rochester Carting Company, and its current resident ABVI-Goodwill Industries Inc.
  • Bought by developer Ben Kendig in 1986 for historic preservation

While I'd agree that there is little architecturally of note, I disagree wholeheartedly with Mr. Seil's assertion that the building possesses a "supreme air of ugly, old decrepitude." I find it hard to understand how someone writing a mostly thoughtful article on preservation can be so smug. Mr. Seil also takes potshots at the Rochester Subway, "if at all [remembered]," and closes with the familiar, but impertinent whine of the old Rochester guard about the downsizing of Kodak and Xerox.

This building deserves the utmost respect as the last remaining evidence of pre-canal Rochester. It's ability to last is a nod to the style of the time, solid construction with only available materials. In a historic context, it does not deserve to be docked for what it lacks.

Violating the architecture tag today are a short news blurb and a personal anecdote.

The Rochester-Toronto Ferry operations, both private and public, that existed in 2004 and 2005 were and still are one of the most polarizing issues amongst the greater Rochester community of haters and activists. Word out of city hall is that the most recent request for proposal for possible utilization of the excellent terminal facilities was answered by Hover Transit Services of Canada. I took 3 round trips on the old ferry and loved every minute of it. Count me among this venture's supporters.

Finally, I'd like to sing the praises of the RGRTA system once again. My wife and I took the bus to work yesterday and left work a little earlier than normal to catch our return home trip. It turns out the bus system works much better when you get on the correct bus...

Seeing a bus pull into our stop at University and Blossom, we ran the rest of the way to it, not bothering to check on the number on it. The bus we got on was definitely a University Ave. bus, but it was an 18, not a 19. We first realized our mistake when it turned north onto Culver Rd and briefly considering getting off immediately, but we aborted that plan when the 19 we were supposed to be on passed us in the other direction. Realizing that the 18/19 route was a continuous loop, and noting the fact that we had a sizable layover at Midtown anyway, I decided we'd just take the long scenic route.

While idling at a layover point at Strong Hospital, I decided to get a feel for our time crunch by talking to the bus driver. Our #30 to Webster would leave the Hall of Justice at 6:09, but what I didn't realize what that we'd cover much of the U of R campus and not be scheduled to make it to Midtown until 6:12. Our next option would be the #45 to Webster leaving at 10:31PM or a cab. The bus driver came up with the great idea of radioing ahead to the dispatch and asking if the #30 driver could wait a couple minutes before departing. As a result of this and her other idea to get off at Plymouth and Broad, we made it to our stop with a couple minutes to spare. I didn't catch her name, but I'd like to salute the driver of the #18 Plymouth that left Strong at 5:44 on Monday and plan on doing so again with a letter to the RGRTA. That's the kind of customer service that will keep me coming back.

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