Tag Archives: Rochester

Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood


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What was it like to grow up as the son of a Kodak engineer during the company’s glory days? William Merrill Decker presents a vivid portrait of life in the Rochester suburbs where residents eagerly conformed to period expectations: two kids, two cars, a move from a snug middle-class neighborhood to a spacious upper-middle-class subdivision.

In Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood (2012, Syracuse University Press), Decker recollects the blithe and troubled scenes of America’s postwar prosperity and evokes a bygone era. Continue reading

Finger Lakes Museum Opens New Satellite Office


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The Finger Lakes Museum has a new satellite office space at 81 Browns Race in the High Falls historic district of Rochester. The Museum signed a co-location agreement with the Philipson Group, a creative communications and marketing firm. According to a statement issued to the press, the main purpose of the new office space is development. Current and potential supporters and consultants of the Museum from the surrounding Rochester area are expected to have the place to visit one on one with Museum staff and keep abreast of their progress. Plans for the Museum will be on display and collateral material will be available inside, museum officials said.

To schedule a time to meet with the Museum staff at their new location, call 315-595-2200 or email as follows:

Executive Director, Don Naetzker dnaetzker@fingerlakesmuseum.org

Interim Development Director, John Adamski jadamski@fingerlakesmuseum.org

Communications/Programs Director, Natalie Payne npayne@fingerlakesmuseum.org

Photo: The Finger Lakes Museum employees, Executive Director Don Naetzker and Communications/Programs Director Natalie Payne, stand outside of their new satellite location in High Falls, Rochester.

Replica Manned Civil War Balloon to Take Flight


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In late 1861, Virginia residents were shocked to see a manned balloon rise on the horizon, directing Union Army artillery against Confederate positions. One hundred and fifty years later, a replica of the Intrepid – the first type of aerial vehicle used for combat in the United States – will take flight this summer.

Genesee Country Village & Museum (GCV&M) has begun building the world’s only Civil War manned balloon replica, with the intent of offering flights to visitors starting July 4. Rising 400 feet (32 stories) above the 700-acre museum grounds in suburban Rochester, NY, the Intrepid will carry up to four passengers at a time in addition to the pilot.

“Our launch of the Intrepid brings to life one of the most unique elements of American history in a manner never before attempted,” said Peter Arnold, chief executive officer and president of GVC&M. “As Civil War remembrances occur across the nation during its 150th anniversary, we believed there was no better time to undertake this initiative. The balloon and the planned Civil War encampment surrounding the launch site further enhance our authentic 19th century village – the third largest collection of historic buildings in America.”

Not only was the Intrepid the predecessor to modern-day military aviation, but it also foreshadowed the future of military reconnaissance communications. The pilot would send intelligence information – troop movements, artillery compensation instructions, and more – to soldiers on the ground via telegraph. Conceived by Professor Thaddeus Lowe, the resulting Union Army Balloon Corps was personally approved by President Abraham Lincoln in June 1861.

Originally fueled by hydrogen gas, the Intrepid replica takes to the air with helium. Like the original seven gas balloons used during the Civil War, the Intrepid will be tethered to land for optimal convenience and safety.

Visitors will have the opportunity to book 15-minute flights for a nominal cost in addition to their museum entry fee. More details will be released over the course of the coming months.

The Intrepid is being built by AeroBalloon of Hingham, MA, with historical guidance from GCV&M and a team of advisers including Tom Crouch, senior curator, Division of Aeronautics. National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution; Jim Green, Director, Planetary Science Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Rob Shenk, Director, Internet Strategy & Development, Civil War Trust.

The initiative’s total estimated cost of nearly $300,000 has been partially offset by a number of donations. As construction progresses, GCV&M will continue to seek additional financial support for the project.

Irish History: Eamon De Valera in America


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A new book by Irish journalist and commentator Dave Hannigan, De Valera in America: The Rebel President and the Making of Irish Independence, illuminates an interesting period in New York Irish history when de Valera, born in New York City in 1882, made an important return trip to convince Americans to recognize the newly proclaimed Irish Republic.

Eamon de Valera is one of the most famous characters in Irish history. He commanded troops during the 1916 Easter Rising, co-authored the Irish constitution, and in 1926 founded Fianna Fáil, which continues to be the largest political party in Ireland today. De Valera was head of the Irish government from 1932–48, 1951–54 and 1957–59 and President of Ireland from 1959–73. Continue reading

19th Amendment Festival in Susan B. Anthony Park


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The annual 19th Amendment Festival will be held on Saturday, August 20, 2011 from noon to 5 p.m., in the Susan B. Anthony Park between Madison and King streets in Rochester.

Music and entertainment in the park will be provided by the Hochstein School of Music and Dance as well as the Genesee Harmonic Society of the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Authentic nineteenth-century base ball demonstrations will be provided by Genesee Country Village’s women base ball team, in period costumes, following the rules and etiquette of the game as it was played in the 1800s. Continue reading

Event: Spiritualist Fox Sisters in Petersboro


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Spiritualism was born in the spring of 1848 when Margaret and Kate Fox heard strange rappings in their Hydesville NY bedroom. Within two years the two “Rochester Rappers” with their sister Leah were touring the country communicating with spirits. The Free Church of Peterboro was one site for the rapping demonstrations. “Scraps of paper in the Gerrit Smith Papers showing questions posed to a spirit medium … revealed that the family attempted to communicate with their loved ones, including Fitzhugh and Peter, after they had died,” according to one historian.

At 2 pm on Sunday, July 24 the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro will host programs on 19th Century spiritualism with particular attention to the Fox Sisters and Peterboro’s connections to the spiritualism movement. The program is open to the public and free.

The featured speaker Nancy Rubin Stuart (Osterville, Mass) will present Maggie Fox, Victorian America’s Reluctant Spiritualist. Upstate New York teenager Maggie Fox (1833-1893) rose to national fame as Victorian America’s “reluctant spiritualist.” Young and beautiful, Maggie’s alleged ability to communicate with spirits in America’s first séances of 1848 astounded the press, and made Maggie and her sisters the darlings of Broadway. Maggie inspired hundreds of imitators, and fascinated the most prominent men and women of her era, among them Horace Greeley, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Todd Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William James. After a passionate love affair and secret marriage to distinguished Arctic explorer Dr. Elisha Kent Kane in 1856, during which Maggie promised to give up mediumship, her life took surprising twists and turns, culminating with a startling confession in 1888 at the New York Academy of Music. The lecture is accompanied by slides of Maggie Fox and her era.

Rubin explains that her purpose is neither to prove nor disprove the veracity of spirit communication, but rather to illustrate how 150 years ago the Fox sisters’ introduction of that idea swept through America and why it continues to fascinate people today. Maggie’s story is important, Rubin believes, because of passion – the passionate longing that 19th C. Americans had to once again talk with their beloved dead, and the passionate romance between Fox and Kane.

This Speakers in the Humanities event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Speakers in the Humanities program has linked distinguished scholars with diverse audiences since its launch in 1983, bringing the best in humanities scholarship to thousands of people at hundreds of cultural organizations in virtually every corner of New York State. This program is just one of the ways the New York Council for the Humanities helps all New Yorkers to lead vibrant intellectual lives by strengthening traditions of cultural literacy, critical inquiry, and civic participation.

After Stuart’s presentation, popular local performers and sisters Darothy DeAngelo and Sue Greenhagen will provide a light-hearted look at early spiritualism with a vignette of the Fox Sisters during a rapping session enticing the spirits of some “dearly departed.” DeAngelo portrays Maggie, and Sue portrays Kate.

Beginning at 1 pm, Michael Keene will sell and sign his recently published book by The History Press: Folklore and Legends of Rochester: The Mystery of Hoodoo Corner & Other Tales. The book includes the story of the Fox Sisters, as well as the anti-Masonic hysteria of the early nineteenth century and the unexplained disappearance of former Mason, Captain Morgan. Keene worked for twenty-five years in the financial services industry as a financial planner. He is also the producer of an award-winning 2008 film Visions, True Stories of Spiritualism, Secret Societies & Murder, which, in part, inspired his new book.

Copies of Town of Smithfield historian Donna Burdick’s paper “Spirited Women – and Men & Their Unpopular Causes” will be on sale at the Peterboro Mercantile for the benefit of the Peterboro Area Historical Society. Burdick’s document describes Spiritualism as it was introduced and “practiced” in Peterboro. Burdick refers to written accounts of medium sessions and spiritualism conferences.

The Gerrit Smith Estate and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until October 23, 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information:

Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-006; call 315-280-8828 or visit www.sca-peterboro.org

The History of the ’90-Miler’ in Rochester


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A special program, “The History of the 90-Miler” will be held on May 5, 2011 in Rochester. Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will share the history of the “90-Miler” at the Midtown Athletic Club from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The fee for the program is $10 per person, and includes a cocktail reception.

The “90-Miler” or Adirondack Canoe Classic is a canoe and guideboat race that celebrates the era of human-powered boats in the Adirondacks. The race begins in Old Forge, N.Y. and proceeds up the Fulton Chain of Lakes into Raquette Lake and on to the Saranac Lakes, finishing in the Village of Saranac Lake. In its 28th year, the event is so popular that registration is capped at 250 boats.

Special guest Nancie Battaglia will share photographs of the race, including her award winning aerial photo of the 90-miler chosen as one of Sports Illustrated‘s 2009 Pictures of the Year. A renowned Lake Placid, N.Y. based photographer, Nancie Battaglia is a regular contributor to the New York Times and Adirondack Life magazine and shot the 2010 Winter Olympics in
Vancouver.

The ninety-mile water route from Old Forge to Saranac Lake forms what was known a century and a half ago as the “Great Central Valley” of the Adirondacks. It was the best route through the wilderness at the time – easier travel than roads, which were distinguished by quagmires, corduroy, steep inclines, and rocks. The key to traveling via waterway was the Adirondack guideboat. The Great Central Valley is no longer the most efficient way to get through the Adirondacks, but still has tremendous appeal to people who follow it to experience the woods and waters as the original travelers did.

The Adirondack Museum invites all those who have taken part in the 90-Miler, to come and share your own stories of adventure.

Reservations must be made directly with the Midtown Athletic Club by calling (585) 461-2300.

Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls’: Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

Photo: Paddlers in the 90-Miler by Nancie Battaglia.

Rochester Honoring African-Am Civil War Soldiers


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Nazareth College is hosting the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission’s seventh annual tribute to the nearly 200,000 men of color and 7,000 white officers that constituted the United States Colored Troops (USCT) (USCT) on Tuesday, April 5, at noon in Nazareth’s Linehan Chapel of the Golisano Academic Center. On Behalf of Those Who Lie in Yonder Hallowed Ground is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. David Anderson at danders8@naz.edu or (585) 389-5140.

The event will include dramatic readings of events that were tearing the nation apart during the Civil War, and will be posed against President Lincoln’s executive order that provided for arming men of color, and the eventual Union victory. Frederick and Anna Douglass, parents of two Union soldiers, will also be honored. Frederick’s advocacy was crucial to the Union’s belated decision to enlist men of color.

These commemorative events result from a collaboration of the Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission and Nazareth College Service Learning Center, and support from several community organizations.

Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth’s strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.

April Fools Tour of Stone Tolan House Museum


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A rustic 19th century kitchen complete with an open hearth – and a plate of sushi?

A beautiful 19th century canopied bed, with a chamber pot peeking out from under the bed – next to a pair of flip flops?

On Saturday, April 2, visitors will enjoy a special event tour that has never before been offered in the 40 years that Stone-Tolan House Museum in Brighton (the oldest house in Monroe County) has been open to the public – an April Fools Tour. The “April Fools” have visited the Stone-Tolan House – and have really messed things up for the museum staff! There are all sorts of things in there that don’t belong – and they need the public’s help to figure it out.

Adults and kids will hunt for things that are out of place in the 200 year old rooms, including the tavern room, kitchen, parlor bedroom, hallway and pantry. Some may be obvious – like the sushi. Others will be a bit more challenging (hint: what is the date on that coin?) You’ll get a sheet to record their discoveries. After your hunt is done, take your completed sheet to the education center in the late 19th century Tolan barn. You’ll score your results, see how many you got right – and discover what you missed. There will be prizes!

The April Fools Tour will be open from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission is $5 per adult. For this event, children up to age 16 are welcome free of charge. The Stone Tolan House Museum is located at 2370 East Avenue, with free parking onsite.

The April Fools Tour will take place on this one day only. After all, we’ll need to get everything back to its appropriate, historically correct settings in time for the spring school tours!

The Stone-Tolan House Museum is owned and operated by The Landmark Society of Western New York. Through this site we encourage visitors to explore the formation of an early 19th century community and the lives of the Stone family, who operated a tavern and farm in the early 19th century. It is the oldest house in Monroe County, with the original wing constructed circa 1792.

The Landmark Society of Western New York, Inc. is one of the oldest and most active preservation organizations in America, serving nine Western New York counties. Now in its 74th year, The Landmark Society continues to protect the unique architectural heritage of our region and promote preservation and planning practices that foster healthy, livable, and sustainable communities. For additional information on preservation issues in the Rochester area and surrounding communities, contact Cindy Boyer or visit www.landmarksociety.org.