I was trolling additional historic maps and thought to provide a small update to the prior History post. Eagle St. does not appear on either the 1827 or 1834 city directory maps (1827 shown here), but it is on the 1845 map. One of the things that is really telling is how connected Corn Hill was to downtown before being cut off by the highway in the 60’s. I’ll post more about Corn Hill’s history in future posts.



As some of you may or may not know, our property is no less than partly inside of the Corn Hill Preservation District. That makes us part of the district, and we’re on the list of properties here (warning: pdf). The major reason this is a big deal is because our house needs to be compatible with the neighborhood. We don’t feel this is particularly limiting, but it’s been something to keep in mind. As part of the process of preparing myself, I’ve been reading the agendas, notes, and decisions made by the Preservation Board over the past year or so. I highly recommend everyone take a look at the incredible work that goes into the process. All of the board materials can be found here.


So I’ve been trying to do a little bit of research about the property. For example, we really didn’t know if there was ever a house there or not. If there was, we may very well be digging up old foundations or debris someday. Well, the first (and best) place to go was the spectacular Monroe County Map Collection. From there I checked out all of the plat maps, but I’m going to paraphrase the three primary ones here.

First is the 1875 Plat Map.
1875Here we can see there was already a house on the property, and it was relatively small. Interestingly, it is on the corner of Plum Alley, and not Beaver Street. Further, Eagle Street ends halfway to Adams Street. This will be the case for some time.

Fast forward to 1900.
1900The house is much larger and more elaborate. I don’t know if this is a result of additions to the original house, an all new house, or the addition of detail to the plat map. Records from the time period aren’t great, so it may be difficult to ever find out. We’re now at the corner of Beaver Street, though.

Finally, let’s take a look at 1926.
1926The house is the same shape as in 1900, but a garage has been added. One of the interesting things to me throughout these maps is how many houses front Beaver Street. These are all gone and replaced with garages or empty land now.

As you can see, even in 1926, Eagle Street ended before it ever got to Adams. With some further digging at the also excellent Fulton History, I found that 94 Adams was torn down in 1968. Even more interesting is the fact that the house at the corner of Adams and Eagle Streets was moved there from 411 Exchange Street in 1976.

Here is that house from 1927:
scm02385And here it is today:98 Adams I’ll have more to write about that house in a future post.

In the meantime, Eagle Street must have been extended between 1968 and 1976, or moving the house to that corner wouldn’t have been possible. I have been completely unable to find a record of when 37 Eagle Street was torn down, but Miss Edna Berry died in her home at 37 Eagle Street on May 19th, 1960, so the house was there at least until then. There are no more recent newspaper articles referencing 37 Eagle Street that I have found yet.

I will continue to research the history of the property and update when I find out more.


Did you know Rochester has a minimum lot size of 5,000 square feet? That means you can’t newly subdivide a property smaller than that without a variance. You also can’t build anything except for a single family home on an already existing property of that size, no matter the zoning, without a variance (you’ll probably also take up more than a third of the lot with your house and need a variance for that too). Just in case anyone is ever curious what you’re up against when trying to build something new in town vs. an easily thrown together subdivision in Rush (sorry Rush!), give the city’s zoning code a whirl here. Call us crazy, but we still think it’s worth it.


Survey Large

Since we never really discussed it, here’s what we’re working with. We also needed to dig up the survey for the zoning board. We’ll be talking about that extensively in a few months. Have a great weekend in the meantime!


One of the first things the architect asked us to do was to pull together a number of things we liked. I don’t think I’ll bore everyone with the entire list, but I did think it would be a good idea to post the list of houses (Google Streetviews) from Corn Hill that we picked. Many of these houses are “typical” for the neighborhood, and it’s one of the reasons we like it so much.

55 Atkinson St.
97 Adams St.
68 Adams St.
119 Tremont Cir.
106 Tremont Cir.
12 Greig St.
9 Greenwood St.


We met with the first of four architects on September 3rd, and now a month or so later, we finally have one. We’re proud to announce that SWBR will be designing the house. We’re incredibly excited to be working with them. Thank you to all the other architects who took the time to meet with Laura Beth and I – you were all fantastic.


Just a little word on taxes in Rochester or probably anywhere. There are separate city and county taxes. No one will tell you this (when buying a house with a mortgage, the bank takes care of all of this in your escrow). You’ll get both bills separately at completely different times of the year. In case you’re ever interested in this information, you can find city tax for a property here. Oh look, $704.12 to shovel 40 ft. of sidewalk this year. Bargain! Anyway, you need to look here to see your Monroe County taxes, which are again, separate from the city. And there’s another $90.46 for something – not clear what, but probably the pleasure of being a 41’x100′ lot in Monroe County.


One of the more interesting things about owning a piece of land with nothing on it is taking care of the lawn. It’s all lawn, you see, but there’s no garage there for storing a lawn mower or anything else. We’ve rotated through a number of services (and family members) over the years, but it is amazing how much work it takes to maintain a simple patch of grass in the city.  If we had it to do again, we’d consider going for stones before building.


Welcome. Welcome to a little experiment on the internet. Welcome to the biggest adventure of my and my wife’s lives. A little bit of background, since most of this is public record anyway: I’m Matthew Denker. My wife is Laura Beth Lincoln. She’s from Rochester, and I fell in love with it while I attended RIT and then UofR. On January 6th, 2010, we closed on the 100’x41′ piece of land known legally as 37 Eagle Street. Ever since we’ve been slowly but surely working towards building ourselves a house there. I intend for this blog to chronicle that process. Over the next few weeks, most of the posts will be catch-up for the past 5 years (we actually put the offer in on the property on 9/29/09). After that, I’ll update the blog with day-to-day progress. We expect to have selected an architect by then, so stay tuned. Over the course of the project, I will also be writing long-form columns at key milestones over on I’ll be sure to link to those pieces here when they are written. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the ride.