Old cobblestone schoolhouse has new purpose and historical marker

Photos by Tom Rivers – Posted 17 October 2015
GAINES – Al Capurso is pictured with a new historical marker that was unveiled today by the former one-room schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal. The schoolhouse was built in 1832 and is one of the oldest cobbesltone buildings in the area.

It has been largely abandoned since decentralization in 1944. The marker also notes that Caroline Phipps taught at the school. She went on to be a distinguished educator and ran the Phipps Union Seminary in Albion from 1837 to 1875. That spot later became the County Clerks Building.

A swing is pictured next to the former schoolhouse.

The restoration project has been backed by the Orleans County Historical Association and includes a new roof on the building and new windows, as well as the historical marker.

Here is how the building looked last winter.

Here is how the historical site looks today.… More

New panel at Mount Albion tells life story of Charles Howard

Photos by Tom Rivers – Posted 1 October 2015
ALBION – Mount Albion Cemetery employees this morning installed a 2-foot by 3-foot interpretive panel that shares the story of one of the cemetery’s most prominent residents: Charles Howard.

Howard is best known as the man who started a Santa Claus School. He ran it from 1937 until his death in 1966. The school has been moved to Midland, Michigan, and still bears Charles Howard’s name.

Howard also was a farmer and a toymaker with a flair for the dramatic. He was part of community efforts to build a model of Niagara Falls with 10,000 gallons of sweet cider in 1928. He also helped make a 12-foot-wide apple pie in 1929 and a create a 14-foot-high cake that weighed 3.5 tons.

Howard developed the Santa School after noticing many Santas didn’t have training, and didn’t always interact with children well or meet a standard for dress.… More

Some things are worth celebrating

Editorial by Tom RiversPosted 4 September 2015 OrleansHub.com
Good deeds and major milestones deserve some recognition, so let’s consider a few recent examples in Orleans County.

Maurice Hoag and his wife Courtenay gave another $100,000 to Hoag Library. They had already given $250,000 to the new library, which opened in 2012. That was enough to have the building named in their honor.

Mr. Hoag, the valedictorian of Albion’s Class of 1961, worked in the chemical engineering field. He lives in the Baltimore area but comes back to Albion for class reunions.

Photos by Tom Rivers

A plaque at Hoag Library notes the contributions from Maurice and Courtenay Hoag.

In July, the library received a surprise check from the Hoags. They asked that the money be used to pay down the mortgage on the new library.

That will reduce the debt payments and get the building paid off sooner. It could free up funds for programs, staff and supplies, or reduce the library tax.… More

Historic marker about beloved Albion girl gets a much-needed facelift

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 5 August 2015
ALBION –  She is the girl who “changed the face of the presidency.” But for several years the historical marker noted the home of Grace Bedell in Albion has suffered from flaking paint, making it difficult to read the sign.

Bedell is the girl who wrote to Abraham Lincoln, suggesting he grow a beard. Lincoln, then a presidential candidate, took her advice and was elected.

Orleans County Historian Matt Ballard took the marker’s sign down about two weeks ago and Melissa Ierlan, the Clarendon historian, used a power wire brush to take off the rest of the paint. She then meticulously repainted the sign, including all of the lettering.

Ballard put the sign back on this afternoon with help from Jonathan Price, 18, of Kendall. Price is an intern this summer at the Cobblestone Society Museum, where Ballard is the director.

The sign on West State Street is next to Bedell’s home, which is now owned by Jim and Barb Passarell.… More

Clarendon Historical Society plans another big birthday party for famous son

Courtesy of the Orleans Hub

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2015
CLARENDON – The Clarendon Historical Society threw a 150th birthday party for Carl Akeley last May. About 150 people turned out for the event that featured the author of a book about Akeley’s life.

Jay Kirk wrote “Kingdom Under Glass,” a book that traced Akeley’s upbringing on Hinds Road in Clarendon, when he started “stuffing” birds and small animals. By his early 20s he was becoming a legend after stuffing the enormous elephant Jumbo.

Akeley made many safaris to Africa, including with Teddy Roosevelt and George Eastman. The Clarendon native became an advocate for preserving Africa’s wildlife.

Many of his elephants, lions, rhinos and gorillas are displayed in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History. That museum includes the “Akeley Hall of African Mammals.”

The retired director of the Akeley Hall is the keynote speaker on Wednesday for the 151st birthday celebration for Akeley.… More

Sandstone Society honors Bent’s Hall on its 150th anniversary

Photos by Tom Rivers

Robert Waters, president of the Medina Sandstone Society, speaks at the podium during an unveiling of a new stone historic marker for the Bent’s Hall, the building in the back. Others on the stage include, from left: Medina Mayor Andrew Meier, GCC professor Tracy Ford, Sandstone Society member Jacob Hebdon, Kathy Blackburn, Lynne Menz, GCC professor and Civil War Encampment Coordinator Derek Maxfield, and Chris Busch, chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2015
MEDINA – As the Civil War was nearing its end, Don. C. Bent of Medina was preparing to open the Bent’s Hall, a three-story structure made of Medina sandstone at the corner of West Center and Main streets.

Bent acquired the land after a previous frame building burnt to ground on Oct. 7, 1863.

The new building included space for stores and offices, with an opera hall on the third floor.… More

4 ‘Heritage Heroes’ get thanks for efforts to improve community

Photos by Tom Rivers
Genesee Community College and Orleans Hub honored four “Heritage Heroes” on Friday during the Civil War Encampment at GCC’s Medina campus center. The following were recognized, from right to left: Doug Miller (accepting for his wife Susan Starkweather Miller), Andrew Meier, Holly Ricci-Canham, and William Menz.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 April 2015 – OrleansHub.com
MEDINA – Four Orleans County residents were honored with the second annual Heritage Heroes awards on Friday for their efforts to preserve local history and promote community pride by celebrating the county’s past.

The honorees have varied interests and passions, from genealogy, building a monument to veterans, redeveloping historic buildings and working with students on service projects.

All have exhibited fortitude and a love of community in seeing their projects to fruition.
The group was called “really remarkable” for their dedication to many efforts in the county, said Derek Maxfield of GCC, a history professor and coordinator of the Civil War Initiative and Encampment.


Medina dedicates historical marker for Frederick Douglass

Photos by Tom Rivers Posted 24 April 2015 – OrleansHub.com
MEDINA – The Orleans Renaissance Group and students from Oak Orchard Elementary School joined with other community members to dedicate a historical marker today for Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist who visited the area several times in the mid-1800s.

Douglass lived in Rochester and was a powerful orator and newspaper editor. The historical marker unveiled today on Main Street in Medina highlights two speeches he gave in Medina.

Chris Busch, on platform, is chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group, which secured the funding and worked out the details for the marker.

In 1849, Douglass delivered a speech in Medina at the former Methodist Episcopal Church on Main Street (the current Fuller block, home of Main Street Appliance). He also visited Medina in 1869 and gave a celebratory address for Emancipation entitled “We are not yet quite free.” That event on Aug.… More

Church bells will ring to mark 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death

Courtesy of OrleansHub – Tom Rivers

The bell at  the Cobblestone Universalist Church will ring at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was shot on April 14 while watching a play at Ford’s Theater. An actor, John Wilkes Booth, shot the president in the back of the head. Lincoln’s death came six days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, effectively ending the Civil War.

Churches around the country will ring bells at 7:22 a.m. on April 15 to mark Lincoln’s death. The Cobblestone Society met last night during its board meeting and agreed to have the historic church on Route 104 join the bell-ringing in appreciation of Lincoln’s life.

Other churches are urged to participate.


Community urged to help preserve old cobblestone school

This former one-room schoolhouse on Gaines Basin Road, just north of the Erie Canal, has been largely abandoned since decentralization in the mid-1940s.

Courtesy of OrleansHub

For about 110 years, from 1835 to 1943, that little cobblestone school house that sits on the west side of Gaines Basin Road, just north of the canal, served to educate the children from Gaines District #2.

Back in the day, the town of Gaines had 12 one-room schoolhouses, roughly located 1.5 miles apart to make access easier by the students in attendance. There is good reason to believe the cobblestone building I am referring to replaced a log school house where young pioneers educators such as Nancy Bullard and Caroline Phipps taught. In fact, it is believed, Miss Phipps, beginning at the age of 14, taught there in the years of 1826-29, before enrolling for a year in the Gaines Academy closer to Gaines Village and The Ridge Road.… More