Here is another in our continuing series about things going on around Rochester.
Western New York has long been known for its beautiful architecture and historic landmarks. This is especially true for Rochester, home to the Edward E. Boynton House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908, the George Eastman House, and countless other examples. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that two of Rochester’s historic districts were recently included on a list of 22 New York State properties nominated as state or national historic sites.
On March 25, New York State announced that 22 sites throughout the region had been nominated for inclusion on state or national registries for historical sites. These registries serve as official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites that are deemed significant to New York State or the United States. This importance is based on a nominee’s history, architecture, archaeology and culture. Currently, there are more than 120,000 historic buildings, structures and sites located throughout New York.
In Monroe County, the two latest nominees are the Arvine Heights Historic District and the Inglewood and Thurston Historic District. Both located in Rochester, these areas represent noteworthy periods in the city’s history: Arvine Heights, for example, was a product of the rise of middle-class residential development in the early 20th century, as transportation improved, wages increased and property became more affordable, making the areas around Rochester’s thriving industrial centers an attractive choice for many. The area reportedly takes its name from Lily Arvine, who was believed to be the area’s first female real estate developer. Meanwhile, the Inglewood and Thurston Historic District became a prominent neighborhood in the 1920s, when streetcar service made it easy for suburbanites to reach businesses like the Eastman Kodak Company, General Railway Signal Company, Taylor Instruments and the Pfaudler Company.
While potentially valuable to Rochester as a whole, these nominations may be concerning to some homeowners within the districts, especially those who are interested in renovating their homes. Fortunately, the National Register of Historic Places Program reports that property owners are well within their rights to modify, remodel or renovate their buildings as they see fit as long as their are no federal monies attached to the property. In fact, renovating historic properties may only increase their value: for example, major kitchen remodeling projects alone have an ROI of 63.6% on average, and historic valuation is a well-known factor when it comes to property prices. And thanks to factory direct remodeling retailers, renovating a home is more affordable than ever.
Other nominees throughout New York State include the Helen Hill Historic District in Saranac Lake, which flourished from 1896 to 1930 and includes a number of “cure” porches used to treat tuberculosis; the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center in Brooklyn, a 1952 synagogue and community center influenced by the Bauhaus movement; and the Skinny House in Westchester, a 10-foot-wide house built by a prominent African American carpenter during the Great Depression.