Tag Archives: Rochester

19th Century Celebrity Phat Boy Babbage

EF BabbageThis is a story about a fat guy. In this politically correct and hyper-sensitive world, some of you might already be reaching for your keyboards to send me a nasty message for being so thoughtless. But without referring to him as fat, I couldn’t have written this piece. I’m pretty sure he knew he was obese, as did anyone who met him. But if there was ever any doubt, one could always refer to his professional name: Phat Boy. (Imagine … a name like that, 150 years before the birth of Rap music.)

His given name was Edward Frederick Babbage, the son of John and Frances Babbage, who emigrated from England in the early 1800s and settled in Rochester, New York. Among their five children was a pair of twins, Edward Frederick and Edwin Francis, born about 20 miles west of the city in 1841. Early on, Edward exhibited a propensity for gaining weight. He was considered large at age six, and weighed 200 pounds when he was fourteen. Continue reading

Adaptive Reuse in Rochester: Bread and Water Theatre

6a01157088010c970b017c387a3014970bWhat follows is a guest essay by J.R. Teeter, the founding artistic director of Bread &amp- Water Theatre. Since 2000 Bread &amp- Water Theatre has had as its purpose the development of new dramatic works and affordable arts programming for the public. This essay first appeared on the site Preservation News.

Rochester, New York has fallen on hard times, not unlike many of the cities across the nation. The Erie Canal, once a major shipping route, is now considered obsolete. The city’s biggest employer, Kodak, is now bankrupt. Major businesses have either downsized, moved out of town, or both. When a new company takes an interest in the city, the red carpet is rolled out and tax breaks are doled out, sometimes at the cost of the city’s legacy. Continue reading

New Director for George Eastman House

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film announced today the appointment of Dr. Bruce Barnes as the Ron and Donna Fielding Director. Barnes will assume his role as eighth director of the museum—the world’s oldest museum of photography and one of the largest motion-picture archives—in October 2012.

Barnes is the president and founder of American Decorative Art 1900 Foundation (ADA1900), a private foundation based in New York City, that works independently and in collaboration with museums across the United States to foster understanding and appreciation of American decorative art from the period around 1900.

Barnes is coauthor and editor of The Jewelry and Metalwork of Marie Zimmermann (2011), which was copublished by ADA1900 and Yale University Press. ADA1900 also copublished The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs (2008), an award-winning scholarly book that accompanied an exhibition of the same title co-organized by ADA1900 and the Milwaukee Art Museum. The exhibition traveled to the Dallas Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Huntington Art Collections, and Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Barnes was chief executive officer of Element K, a Rochester-based company and pioneer in online learning, from 2000-2004, overseeing more than 800 employees. Over the course of his career, Barnes has held senior executive positions at Ziff Communications Company, Ziff Brothers Investments, Wasserstein Perella & Co., Reservoir Capital Group, and QFS Asset Management. He received a B.A., magna cum laude, and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

“I am honored to be selected to serve as the next director of George Eastman House,” said Barnes. “The range of its activities and opportunities is exhilarating. George Eastman House is a vital part of Rochester’s community. The museum’s unparalleled collections—in the areas of photography, cinema, and their technologies—and curators make important contributions on the international cultural scene, and its leading post-graduate programs advance the imperative of photography and film preservation around the world.”

“Having devoted most of the last seven years to collaborating with major museums across the country and furthering art scholarship, I am eager to apply my strategic and management skills to leading George Eastman House,” he said. “The house and a great many of the museum’s objects fall precisely within my longstanding interest in American art, decorative art, and architecture of the period from 1876 to 1940. My background in innovative online education will be invaluable to the creation of a virtual museum that will provide global access to its superb collections. I look forward to returning to Rochester and working with the Eastman House board of trustees and staff to advance the museum’s tradition of excellence and service to the community.”

“George Eastman House is an international treasure, a source of local pride, and a complex organization,” said Thomas H. Jackson, chairman of the George Eastman House Board of Trustees. “In Bruce Barnes, we have found the perfect individual to continue the museum’s progress and build the local, national, and international infrastructure and connections that will be essential to Eastman House’s future.

“Our collections and location, important in themselves, are also the springboard for essential work in preservation and an understanding of how the image can inform as well as reflect society,” Jackson said. “Dr. Barnes understands these interconnections in an impressively deep way and has the vision to take our past accomplishments and turn vision into reality. His extraordinary talents across so many dimensions are matched by his passion for George Eastman House and its potentiality. That’s a wonderful, winning, combination.”

Barnes’s appointment is the outcome of an international search process. He succeeds Dr. Anthony Bannon, who retired from George Eastman House in May after 16 years in the position.

“The Search Committee feels extraordinarily fortunate to have found in Dr. Barnes the combination of skills, experience, and passion needed for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the George Eastman House,” said James A. Locke III, the George Eastman House trustee who chaired the Search Committee. “He is quite a remarkable fit for us with his excellent academic background, financial acumen, with prior positions with top Wall Street financial firms, and tested leadership as a CEO in Rochester.

“He is also an engaged collector with scholarly and passionate interests in the arts and museums,” Locke said. “Dr. Barnes can and will be an energetic and transformational leader who surely will make a great difference at George Eastman House and, in the view of the Search Committee, he will make a great difference in the presence and importance of the museum and its varied missions here and globally. We are thrilled with his appointment.”

About George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film combines world-class collections of photography and film with an active program of exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, and the National Historic Landmark house and gardens of George Eastman, the philanthropist and father of popular photography and motion picture film. Eastman House is also a leader in film preservation and photograph conservation, educating archivists and conservators from around the world through historic-process workshops and two graduate schools, the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation and the Photographic Preservation and Collections Management master’s degree program. Eastman House, which was established as an independent non-profit museum in 1947, is one of the world’s foremost museums of photography and the third largest motion-picture archive in the United States. The museum intertwines unparalleled collections, totaling more than 4 million objects, of photography, motion pictures, and cameras and technology, as well as literature of these fields of study. Learn more at eastmanhouse.org

Susan B. Anthony Festival Set For Saturday

The annual Susan B. Anthony Festival is set for Saturday, August 18, 2012 from noon to 5 p.m. in the Susan B. Anthony Square Park between Madison and King streets in Rochester. The events celebrates the 92nd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, granting women throughout the country the right to vote.

Music and entertainment will be provided in the park by the Hochstein School of Music and Dance as well as the Rochester Raging Grannies, a group that promotes peace, justice, and social and economic equality through song and dance. Food vendors and unique crafts vendors will sell their goods in the park.

 Authentic nineteenth-century base ball (it was actually two words when it first began in the 19th century!) 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.

Walking tours of this historic 19th century Historic Preservation District will also be offered. Tours of the Anthony House will be available beginning at 11 a.m. at the special admission price that day only of $5.00 for all ages.

The event is presented by the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association and the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House. Deborah L. Hughes, President of the Anthony House, explains, “This annual event is close to our hearts because it recognizes the date—August 26, 1920—when the 19th amendment was officially declared law by the Secretary of State after it was ratified by the required 36 states. It honors the women and men who struggled so long—over 72 years—and so hard—often at personal danger—to achieve equality for women. Many of those who worked so fervently in the cause, including Susan B. Anthony, did not live to see the amendment finally ratified. We thank them each year with this festival.”

For more information, visit www.susanbanthonyhouse.org or call 585-279-7490, ext. 10.

Kodak Elegy: A Cold War Childhood

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

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

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

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 Fail, 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.

In June 1919, he arrived at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel pronouncing himself the “President of Ireland.” He was on a mission to convince the United States to recognize Ireland as an independent nation, and also to fund the independence movement, which would be a clear affront to Britain. De Valera went on to give speeches in some of America’s largest venues, including Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park, where he drew crowds of 60,000 people. Over the course of that year, he accumulated fame and scandal, but more importantly, he gained essential financial support for the fledgling Irish Republic.

For the first time, a book follows de Valera on his controversial trip across America, exploring his personal and political relationships, and the costs and benefits of his perilous crusade. From newspaper headlines to cloak and dagger antics, Hannigan delivers a truly unique slice of Irish Americana, bringing to life this pivotal moment in history.

Dave Hannigan is a columnist at The Sunday Tribune in Dublin, the Evening Echo (Cork) and The Irish Echo. A former Irish young journalist of the year, he is also an adjunct professor of history at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island. He lives in Rocky Point, New York.

19th Amendment Festival in Susan B. Anthony Park

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.

Walking tours of the historic 19th century Historic Preservation District will also be offered. Tours of the Anthony House will be available beginning at 11 a.m. at the special admission price that day only of $5.00 for all ages. Food and craft vendors will be set up in the park.

The event is presented by the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association and the Susan B. Anthony House. Deborah Hughes, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony House, said, “We hold this event each year just before August 26, the date the 19th amendment was officially declared law by the Secretary of State after it was ratified by the required number of states. It’s a wonderful celebration of a very long campaign to win voting rights for women.” Dawn Noto, president of the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association, said, “The neighbors invite everyone to come visit this incredible preservation district. See the major renovation and construction work that is taking place on West Main Street. See one of the last intact 19th-century neighborhoods in the region. See Rochester history come to life.”

For more information, visit www.susanbanthonyhouse.org or call 585-279-7490, ext. 10.

Rochester: 19th Amendment Festival August 20th

A 19th Amendment Festival will be on Saturday, August 20, 2011 from noon to 5 p.m., in the Susan B. Anthony Park between Madison and King streets in Rochester, NY. The event celebrates the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, finally giving women the right to vote, after a campaign that lasted more than 70 years.

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 baseball demonstrations will be provided by Genesee Country Village’s women baseball team, in period costumes, following the rules and etiquette of the game as it was played in the 1800s.

Walking tours of the historic 19th century Historic Preservation District will also be offered. Tours of the Anthony House will be available beginning at 11 a.m. at the special admission price that day only of $5.00 for all ages. Food and craft vendors will be set up in the park.

Deborah Hughes, executive director of the Susan B. Anthony House, said, “We hold this event each year just before August 26, the date the 19th amendment was officially declared law by the Secretary of State after it was ratified by the required number of states. It’s a wonderful celebration of Susan B. Anthony’s life and work and of all the women and men who campaigned so long and so fervently to win voting rights for women.”

The event is presented by the Susan B. Anthony Neighborhood Association and the Susan B. Anthony House.

The National Susan B. Anthony House and Museum preserves the National Historic Landmark where the great reformer lived for 40 of her most politically active years, collects and exhibits artifacts related to her life and work, and offers programs through its learning center that challenge individuals to make a positive difference in their lives and communities.