History Part 2.2 – Fred P Tosch and The Master Model Home Continued

Following on the success of the first year, the Homeowner’s Service Institute and the Democrat and Chronicle selected Fred Tosch to build the 1928 Master Model Home. The 1928 home was built just half a block down from the 1927 home, and was to be accompanied by the simultaneous construction of nine other additional homes on Wimbledon Road. This spectacle of home building activity from the breaking ground of the Master Model Home on June 7, 1928 to the conclusion of the four-week exhibition of the completed and decorative house on October 7, 1928 reportedly drew over 20,000 visitors. Continue reading

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History Part 2.1 – Fred P Tosch and The Master Model Home

Over the last few years of owning the house, I have become pretty obsessed with researching and reading everything I can find about the builder and reputed designer of our house, Fred P. Tosch. Last year I was able to share my obsession with others through a modest illustrated talk I gave on Mr. Tosch at a local historical society. I was approached earlier this year by Historic Brighton about giving an updated talk this coming spring on Tosch that was to be accompanied by an article. Since this forced me to finally put something down in writing about Tosch, I thought it was about time I continued my history post series from a few years ago, so here it goes… Continue reading

History Part 1 – In the Beginning

For centuries the eastern lands of the verdant Genesee River valley were home to the Seneca people. A member of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Seneca’s were noted for their fierceness and bravery during battle as well as being accomplished farmers. Several small villages were located through out the territory including some at the river’s edge. The Casconchiagon “River of Many Falls” provided rich lands on which to farm as well as powerful scenery. The Senecas traded with the few intrepid Europeans who had ventured inland from the coasts during the 17th and early 18th centuries…some of whom ventured into the valley of Casconchiagon. Soon after Captain M. Pouchot of the French Army at Fort Niagara briefly visited the valley in 1759, a lithograph print was published in 1766 of the “Great Little Seneca Falls” (now the High Falls of the Genesee River) by Thomas Davies a British Army Officer and surveyor.

"A View of the Casconchiagon or Great Seneca Falls" by Thomas Davies - via Wikimedia Commons

“A View of the Casconchiagon or Great Seneca Falls” by Thomas Davies – via Wikimedia Commons

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Eligible to Register

As I mentioned in the last post, I had some visitors over to see the house in the hopes of pursuing listing on the National Register of Historic Places. You might be asking why…so I’ll tell you.

The National Register of Historic Places is the federal list of districts, sites, buildings, and structures deemed worthy of preservation. Established in 1966 as part of the National Historic Preservation Act, the register is an honorary distinction that does NOT prohibit a property owner from altering their property in any way they see fit (including demolition). What it does protect is any listed property from being altered or adversely affected by any project that utilizes federal funds without due-process and oversight from the State Historic Preservation Office and National Park Service. Also, your property does not have to be a building of national significance, instead the whole goal of the register is to instill pride and spread knowledge of communities’ cultural heritage at a local level. Where it gets more enticing are the Rehabilitation Tax Credits offered at the State and Federal levels. The rehabilitation tax credits seek to incentivize the revitalization of historic properties and communities. In New York State the combined tax credits available for the rehabilitation of income producing properties that are listed on the National Register is a whopping 40% of the construction costs. This rehabilitation tax credit system is one of only a few government tax incentive programs that actually nets a significant return on investment, but don’t take my word for it, check out what others more knowledgeable than me have proven about it.

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Drinking the Kool-Aid

Well the showing went well (obviously, why would I have this blog?). The key of course, and perhaps when others went through the house they found it hard to do so, was to look past the decorations and see the house for what it was. So what was it???

An outright time capsule wrapped in an unfortunate vinyl and aluminum wrapper…with a LOT of needed tender loving care, especially the garage (asphalt shingles that should have been replaced at least 5 years ago, paint peeling off all surfaces). The flow of space felt right. For its 1450 sqft, it certainly had some generously sized rooms, especially the living room and master bedroom, there definitely was no shortage of natural day light from all of the windows, and boy were there a lot of original light fixtures! The plentiful gumwood woodwork, built-ins, stained glass, archways, and McKinney Wrought Iron hardware (I know this because my parents house has this unique hardware) were just icing on the top.

French Doors

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