Rochester has countless historical gems, from the tree-lined streets of the East Avenue Preservation District and its gracious Edwardian mansions to the hip High Falls Neighborhood that used to house the water-powered industry of Rochester’s Erie Canal trade. Our downtown main street, though, could use some…a lot…of TLC. Once home to offices, department stores, and the first urban indoor mall in the United States (how could that go wrong?), Main Street, and particularly East Main Street, is a series of a handful of successful businesses and hopefully successful revitalization projects, neighbored by vacant properties and discount stores.
In an effort to draw attention to the few remaining historical structures left untouched by revitalization along the downtown thoroughfare, the YUPs are planning an advocacy event for early August. Our event will feature a DJ, local beer, a downtown coloring contest, and a slide show featuring historical photos of East Main Street juxtaposed against other successful main street revitalization projects that featured historic preservation (we’re looking at you, Lynchburg, Virginia and Ferndale, Michigan!) The slideshow will be projected onto the side of the former Neisner Brothers Department Store, a location that was part of a failed demolition effort to build the new $230 million “Renaissance Center” that was to contain a performing arts center, an urban campus for our local community college, and a central bus terminal. This site and a few other buildings once marked for demolition are in the very preliminary stages of rehabilitation projects.
In tandem with the YUPs East Main Street event, the Landmark Society is also hard at work pulling together an application for listing this block and several other adjacent buildings on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.