Born in Alford, Mass., in 1771, Abner Adams ventured westward in the 1820s to build a sawmill on Salmon Creek, adjacent to the newly constructed Erie Canal. A basin, or spot for docking boats, was erected on the south side of the canal. For his efforts, the immediate surroundings were dubbed Adams Basin.
Roughly 180 years later, Timothy Flanagan is grateful for Adams’ initiative. In 1998, Flanagan and his wife ventured northeast from suburban Houston to settle in Parma-just a mile north of the corner of Washington Street and Canal Road, the heart of Adams Basin-for proximity to his new job as vice president of academic affairs at SUNY College at Brockport.
“This is one pleasant place to live,” says Flanagan as he mails a package at the local post office on his way into work.
“I’m just six miles from campus, surrounded by several outstanding public golf courses and greeted frequently by wild turkey and deer in an area filled with intriguing, historic homes,” he says. “Adams Basin is a quiet and safe place, not at all congested. It reminds me of that famous sign: ‘Welcome to Oregon-Now Go Home.'”
The hamlet, located in the northwestern portion of the town of Ogden, shows signs of its past as a farming center for apples, potatoes and cabbages as well as its role today as a suburban town.
“In its heyday, Adams Basin was an active shipping site, with goods traveling in and out via train, trolley and canal,” says Carol Coburn, historian for the town of Ogden. “Today, it is a peaceful little town where everybody knows everybody else. And folks here are proud of the hamlet’s heritage. They love delving into the area’s history.”
Alexander Milliner-a drummer boy and body guard for Gen. George Washington-lived out his latter years in a farmhouse at the corner of Washington and Canal.
Three Civil War heroes are buried in nearby Locust Grove Cemetery.
And the Little Red School House, dating back to the late 1800s, still thrives: It currently houses a preschool program and a summer camp for area children.
A population survey dated 1870, provided by historian Coburn, gives a feel for the area’s roots.
Residents back then included 56 farmers, one surveyor, three justices of the peace, two blacksmiths, one shoemaker, three schoolteachers, one fruit tree agent, one railroad night watchman, one physician/surgeon and one vineyard proprietor.
Today, while a quiet community, Adams Basin still shows signs of its prosperous roots. The hamlet’s zip code-14410-was ranked in the Rochester Business Journal’s January 2, 2004, issue as the 11th-wealthiest area in Monroe County. Yet it is not at all a showy area.
Parishioners gather on Sunday mornings for services at the Adams Basin United Methodist Church. Neighbors greet one another as they file into the post office to transact business. And, increasingly, domestic and international visitors are finding their way to 425 Washington St., site of the Adams Basin Inn Bed and Breakfast.
Halya Sobkiw, a native of Ukraine who moved to Brockport as a child, worked most of her adult life in Michigan and Florida as an accountant.
But her passions lay elsewhere, in the worlds of entertaining, cooking and catering.
So when her widowed mother, for whom she had been the primary caregiver, died in 1995, Sobkiw started researching bed and breakfast inns. Deals on properties in Florida and Rhode Island did not work
out, but the Wayne State University graduate listened carefully in August 2001 when a cousin in Brockport told her that an inn alongside the Erie Canal in Adams Basin had just gone on the market.
Sobkiw traveled from Florida, toured the property, negotiated terms and, three days later, walked out of a bank as sole proprietor of the 4,000-square-foot home that dates to 1810.
With April 15 as official “opening day” of the tourism season (which lasts until Dec. 31), Sobkiw is up to her elbows in paint as she spruces up the four guest rooms and their private baths. Fortunately, the first floor-with an original tavern, parlor and spacious dining room-is in impeccable condition, and the innkeeper, who lives on-site, is confident that the upstairs will be complete when she opens the massive front door in mid-April to greet her first guests.
Hikers, boaters and cyclists-including Europeans taking extensive biking trips throughout the United States-make up most of her clientele. She loves showing off the historic property, which is actually a combination of two separate homes, one once owned by Marcus Adams-grandson of Abner Adams-and the other by the Ryan family, who operated a tavern and inn for canal travelers.
Nightly room rates at the bed and breakfast range from $95 to $125. Sobkiw serves a generous breakfast to her guests, including her signature dish of baked eggs with mushroom and tarragon sauce, which is featured in a recently published book “Best Recipes from American Country Inns and Bed & Breakfasts.”
She happily locks cyclists’ bikes in the backyard carriage house and even transports kayakers and cyclists to nearby restaurants for evening culinary experiences.
On the eve of opening season, Sobkiw’s four guest rooms are already booked for 60 nights straight, and she also rents out the spacious parlor for daytime wedding receptions, baby showers and afternoon
teas. Occupancy for 2003 increased by 75 percent over the previous year, and the innkeeper is confident that business will continue to grow with help from some aggressive marketing strategies.
Preserving the charm of this area is a priority for numerous residents-either newcomers like Sobkiw or folks who have lived in or near Adams Basin for most of their lives.
“I’m delighted that we can run a vibrant
preschool program in a former two-room schoolhouse,” says Diane Church, director of the Little Red School House. “From time to time, older folks who attended this school as children come by to visit and reminisce.”
“This is a very warm and friendly community,” adds postmaster Diana Jeffords, who has run the Adams Basin Post Office for 12 years. “No one is rude. No one thinks they’re better than anyone else. Everyone greets everyone else, just as they did two centuries ago.”
Rita Ginther has lived in a home at the corner of Washington and Canal since she moved there with her now-deceased husband, Jack, in 1949. In fact, the couple-both former postmasters in Adams Basin-built their house on the site of Alexander Milliner’s rundown farmhouse.
Now 78, Ginther-a Spencerport native-raves about her community.
“I love Adams Basin. It’s real pleasant, people are nice and it’s a homey place,” she says.
How long does she plan to stay?
“Until they carry me out,” she replies with a grin.
(Debbie Waltzer is a Rochester-area free-lance writer.)
04/23/04 (C) Rochester Business Journal